NFL Rookie Rankings Week 15: Chase Young, Jeremy Chinn led defensive NFL rookies

    NFL Rookie Rankings Week 15: Chase Young, Jeremy Chinn led defensive NFL rookies

    The end of the 2020 NFL season is quickly approaching as we enter the final three games of the year. The top NFL rookies have battled throughout the entirety of the season to see who the top first-year players are, and time is running out for them to cement their spot in history as top rookie performers. In Week 14, we saw defensive stars like Chase Young and Jeremy Chinn continue to make impact plays for their teams. Who else produced in Week 14, and is there any major movement from last week’s rankings? Find out in these Week 15 NFL Rookie Rankings.

    NFL Rookie Rankings Week 15 | Top 10 NFL Rookies

    1. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Wirfs took advantage of a poor Vikings pass rush and had arguably his best game of the season. He was dominant from start to finish, neutralizing every pass rusher he faced and opening lanes in the run game. In a week where Young could have reclaimed the number one spot, Wirfs didn’t slow down for a second. An elite right tackle already, Wirfs has had a remarkable rookie season. With two games against the Falcons and one game against the Lions, Wirfs doesn’t face any above-average edge rushers for the rest of the season.

    Pre-draft ranking: Fifth overall, OT1

    2. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team

    Maybe the most impactful rookie in Week 14, Young was dominant against the San Francisco 49ers. He led a Washington defense that scored 14 points while only allowing the San Francisco offense to score 15. On the day, Young recorded six tackles, a sack, two pass deflections, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery that he returned 47 yards for a touchdown. He battled former Washington left tackle Trent Williams for one of the most entertaining matchups in the NFL this year.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top player, EDGE1

    3. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    For the first time in about five weeks, Jefferson was slowed down by the opposing defense. In Week 14, he only managed four receptions for 39 yards and no scores. Jefferson is still having one of the best wide receiver rookie seasons in NFL history, and should still finish the season with over 1,200 yards and eight or more touchdowns. 

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, WR5

    4. Jedrick Wills, OT, Cleveland Browns

    Wills continued his streak of impressive play, having an exceptional performance against divisional rival Baltimore. Wills left the game for a short period with an injury but was otherwise strong for the entire game. He’s been the top pass protector of the rookie tackles, and the Browns are ecstatic to have him. A perfect first draft pick for potential Coach of the Year, Kevin Stefanski, and company.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, OT2

    5. Mekhi Becton, OT, New York Jets

    After his first major rookie moment last week, Becton did a great job bouncing back this week against the Seattle Seahawks. As one of the top NFL rookies, it’s good to see Becton play with short-term memory taking everything one game at a time. He didn’t let a poor performance last week affect his play this week, and this is why he rises into the top five of these Week 15 NFL rookie rankings.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 25, OT4

    6. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

    After a dominant start to the season, Herbert has cooled off dramatically. Admittedly, he hasn’t received much help from his coaching staff’s decision making. Over the last three weeks, Herbert is averaging an underwhelming 5.15 yards per attempt and has thrown three touchdowns to four interceptions. Herbert finishes the season with three straight games against divisional rivals. Can he step up and deliver a strong end to an impressive rookie season? He’s going to have to if he wants to ensure he wins Offensive Rookie of the Year.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 15, QB3

    7. Julian Blackmon, S, Indianapolis Colts

    Blackmon is the second-best defensive rookie in the NFL, but what separates Blackmon from Young are the couple of moments week to week where we notice Blackmon is still in his first year in the NFL. An example would be Foster Moreau breaking Blackmon’s ankles in the open field on his way to a touchdown. Blackmon has still been an impressive rookie for the Colts and is a big part of the defense’s future. He is unquestionably one of the top NFL defensive rookies.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 175, S13

    8. Michael Onwenu, OL, New England Patriots

    I can’t imagine the Patriots plan to keep Onwenu at right tackle for the majority of his career like they’ve done for the majority of his rookie season. He moves people with ease, and New England loves to run power concepts behind him and Shaq Mason. However, he lacks nimble feet and natural athletic ability, so his ceiling at tackle is severely limited. We could see the typical Patriots strategy of letting someone like Joe Thuney walk, receive a third-round comp pick for him, and then starting Onwenu at guard without a hitch. 

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 200, iOL20

    9. Jeremy Chinn, LB/S, Carolina Panthers

    Throughout the season, I have been noticeably lower on Chinn than the casual fan. He’s still raw in coverage and still plays reactionary football. He sees plays and then reacts accordingly, which works with his athletic ability but can lead to him being a step or two late from time to time. That being said, his impact is undeniable, and he always seems to come up at the right time for the Panthers defense. He’ll be a fun player to follow throughout the years.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 100, S5

    10. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Winfield finally had one of those games we saw earlier in the year, where he was everywhere making plays for the Buccaneers. He registered 12 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. He also sacked Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins in the red zone, knocking the ball out and preventing a scoring opportunity. Winfield finally makes his return to the top 10 NFL rookies.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, S4