With only one week of the regular season left, we’re entering the final chapter for a majority of the league’s rookie seasons. Every rookie has had ups and downs, but the class has persevered and represents the bright future of the NFL. With only one game left to cement their position amongst their peers in their rookie seasons, which top NFL rookies will shine? Find out where they rank headed into Week 17 in these NFL Rookie Rankings.
NFL Rookie Rankings Week 17 | 1-10
1. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wirfs has been a dominant pass protector for a hot Tampa Bay team, and he should be the primary building block along the Buccaneers offensive line moving forward. He’s already playing at a Pro Bowl level and is the top young offensive tackle in the game right now. Wirfs has been the top NFL rookie this season, but Young’s late-season surge has made the separation minuscule. Wirfs was the biggest steal of the first round in last year’s NFL Draft.
Pre-draft ranking: Fifth overall, OT1
2. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team
After a strong performance last week, Young essentially won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award this week after far outshining fellow defensive rookie Jeremy Chinn. Young registered a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass deflection, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a QB hit that directly led to an interception.
Over the last three weeks, Young has registered 13 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. He has closed the gap between himself and Wirfs for the top NFL rookie. Whoever has a better performance in Week 17 will finish the season as the top-rated rookie on these NFL Rookie Rankings.
Pre-draft ranking: Top player, EDGE1
3. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Jefferson continued his dominant rookie season, bringing his season totals to 79 receptions and 1,267 yards after a six reception, 85-yard day against the Saints. Jefferson is one of the most exciting young receivers in the NFL and should surpass 1,300 receiving yards for his freshman campaign in Week 17.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, WR5
4. Jedrick Wills, OT, Cleveland Browns
Wills missed last week with an illness but will hopefully return to the Browns lineup as they attempt to secure a postseason berth for the first time in nearly two decades. Wills has shown all the traits needed to be an elite offensive tackle for the next 15 years and is an appropriate successor to the greatness that was Joe Thomas.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, OT2
5. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
After Joe Burrow lost his season to a devastating knee injury, it became the Herbert show among rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. Jalen Hurts has done a good job creating some excitement, but the separation between him and Herbert is massive. It’s clear who the top rookie quarterback is, and Herbert provides a bright future for the Chargers.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 15, QB3
6. Mekhi Becton, OT, New York Jets
Becton had an up and down performance against the Browns but was taken to school a few times by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. Now, in Becton’s defense (no pun intended), Garrett could be this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. Becton has a bright future, but he lost the war against one of the league’s elite defensive players.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 25, OT4
7. Julian Blackmon, S, Indianapolis Colts
Blackmon has remained the most nationally unrecognized top NFL rookie yet and the second-highest ranked defender on these Week 17 NFL Rookie Rankings. He’s quickly become a cornerstone of one of the NFL’s top defensive units. You should expect this unit to remain one of the league’s elite defenses in the future, with Blackmon leading the way.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 175, S13
8. Michael Onwenu, OL, New England Patriots
More likely than not, New England views Onwenu as a long-term guard, but this season snaps at right tackle were available. He took them and ran. Onwenu has been an elite run blocker and has shown a pass-blocking ability I didn’t think he’d have in the NFL. He still struggles with speed and burst off the edge, which is why he’ll move to guard next year, but what he’s done at tackle cannot go unnoticed.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 200, iOL20
9. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Lamb’s season, like most receivers, has had its up and downs with QB play. He’s once again gotten hot as Andy Dalton has found his stride in the Dallas offense. Lamb had 65 receiving yards and a touchdown, and a single rush for 19 yards and a score. He’ll be in center stage as Dallas tries to steal the NFC East next week against the Giants.
Pre-draft ranking: Fourth overall, WR1
10. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Despite losing his starting quarterback midway through the season, Higgins still managed to be superbly productive, and he’s only 92 yards away from reaching 1,000 on the year. He’s also already hauled in six touchdowns this season. Higgins looks like a future perennial Pro Bowl selection for Cincinnati and has been one of the top wideouts among the top NFL rookies.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, WR7
11. Derrick Brown, DT, Carolina Panthers
Brown’s second half of the season has been one of the best among all rookies. After a slow start to his season, he’s put things together as a pass rusher.
He’s registered at least one QB hit in every one of his last seven games and has brought the total up to 11 on the season. He also clogged passing lanes this past week, registering two pass deflections. The inside-outside duo of Brown and Brian Burns is one of the best young linemen duos in the NFL. Brown continues to rise in these Week 17 NFL Rookie Rankings.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 15, IDL2
12. Jeremy Chinn, LB/S, Carolina Panthers
Chinn was productive but unimpactful in his game against Washington. He registered eight tackles but struggled to cover Logan Thomas and J.D. McKissic in one-on-one coverage. Chinn still has some development to do in coverage before he’s can truly be an elite playmaker for the Panthers defense. Still, his upside is obvious, and his production sideline to sideline is the best in class.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 100, S5
13. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Despite San Francisco winning one of their biggest games, they managed to win without their top rookie performing at his typical level. Since the midpoint of the year, Aiyuk had been rivaling the production of Jefferson, rookie WR1. However, he only managed two touches for 32 scrimmage yards this past week. Aiyuk is an electric playmaker for San Francisco, but I wonder if he’ll ever be the true alpha in the offense.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 75, WR9
14. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the most productive top NFL rookies, Winfield’s early production rose expectations a little higher than they should have been. He’s struggled to maintain consistency in coverage but has been a nightmare for opposing offenses when allowed to attack the offensive backfield. He’s a playmaker for one of the league’s most underrated defenses.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, S4
15. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Among all the top NFL rookies, Claypool is one of the more interesting case studies. Superbly efficient with minimal touches early in the season, he became substantially less efficient in midseason with a larger target share, and in recent weeks he’s done an excellent job finding firm middle ground. With uncertainty surrounding JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington’s future, Claypool could become one of the most productive receivers in the NFL next year.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 125, WR15
16. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
If you had told me Robinson would be sitting comfortably at number 16 on the Week 17 NFL Rookie Rankings in August, I would’ve laughed in your face. Yet here we are. This season, Robinson’s best trait is finding production and helping his team even when his rushing numbers are down. He didn’t play this past week an injury, but his spot is all but cemented as he’s been one of the most productive rushers in the NFL, not just among the top NFL rookies.
Pre-draft ranking: Unranked
17. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team
Gibson returned to Washington’s offense and, despite limited playing time, managed to look as impressive as he has all year. He rushed 10 times for 61 yards and showed continued improvement with his vision and feel for rushing lanes. This is someone with elite physical traits rushing for 4.8 yards per carry, despite having never played running back before this season.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 100, RB10
18. L’Jarius Sneed, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Quickly becoming the top cornerback on Kansas City’s roster, Sneed seems like the perfect rookie to have a dominant postseason and finally receive the national recognition he deserves. Sneed recorded seven tackles, his second sack in as many weeks, and another QB hit. He’s been the NFL’s best rookie cornerback in the second half of the season.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 200, CB21
19. Javon Kinlaw, DL, San Francisco 49ers
Kinlaw has performed about as expected in his rookie season. His flashes are some of the best among the top NFL rookies, but his inconsistency leaves him at #19 on these Week 17 NFL Rookie Rankings. His upside is obvious, and if he can consistently wreak havoc in the opposing backfield, he’ll be an elite interior defender.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, iDL1
Rookie Rankings #20-25
20. Jonah Jackson, iOL, Detroit Lions
The Lion’s offense struggled to get anything going without quarterback Matthew Stafford. Go figure. Jackson did a quality job blocking against Tampa’s front seven, but the offense as a whole was completely overwhelmed. Regardless of how this season ends, expect Jackson to open rushing lanes for fellow rookie D’Andre Swift for years to come, as both are among the top NFL rookies.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, iOL5
21. Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Queen was dominant last week against the Jaguars but wasn’t so productive this week against New York. He registered four tackles and two QB hits as the Ravens held their opponents to 14 or fewer points in back to back weeks. Queen’s lack of consistency in coverage is what keeps him at number 21 in these Week 17 NFL Rookie Rankings.
The last time the Ravens faced the Bengals, Queen was excellent. Will he have a repeat performance against Cincinnati in Week 17?
Pre-draft ranking: Top 100, LB6
22. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Continuing his productive second half, Taylor rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns against a formidable Steelers run defense. Taylor’s path to production has been forced, but he has done a quality job taking advantage. The Colts love to run the ball down an opponent’s throat and suffocate them defensively. Taylor fits that mold perfectly. He’s not the most efficient runner, but he is effective.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, RB4
23. D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
Swift was one of the few “bright” spots of the Lions offense this past Sunday if you can even call it that. He accumulated 70 yards from scrimmage on 14 touches. He looks like a future superstar running back, but it was hard to justify running the ball with how far behind the Lions fell.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 25, RB1
24. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
14 carries for 79 yards rushing was good enough to land Edwards-Helaire on these Week 17 NFL Rookie Rankings. With one week left, it’s good to see him back on the list after a brief hiatus. The Chiefs don’t feel the need to prioritize anyone in the offense, especially not as a running back. Edwards-Helaire will get his production in spurts but should be leaned on more consistently in the playoffs.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 25, RB1
25. Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
The debut of Hurts on this list comes in the Week 17 NFL Rookie Rankings — how fitting.
In games Hurts has started, he’s averaging 282.3 passing yards per game and 79.3 rushing yards per game. He’s thrown five touchdowns to two interceptions and also ran in a score. He’s been a spark plug for the Eagles offense, it just hasn’t translated to winning football. Is Hurts the QB of the future for Philadelphia? Has he shown enough to be ranked among the top NFL rookies?
Pre-draft ranking: Top 100, QB7
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