NFL Week 12 Rookie Rankings: Zay Flowers and Rashee Rice Give Hope for 2023 WR Class

Which first-year players headline our NFL rookie rankings after Week 12? Zay Flowers, Rashee Rice, and other prolific WRs join C.J. Stroud atop the list.

Several notable wide receiver performances dot our Week 12 NFL rookie rankings, but a familiar face at quarterback leads the list for another consecutive week. Here’s the latest batch of impressive rookie performances in the NFL.

NFL Week 12 Rookie Rankings

As a disclaimer, these rankings prioritize the most recent body of work from the latest week of action. It’s not a composite ranking of rookies over the course of the season but, instead, a list meant to highlight some of the latest standout performances.

1) C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans

This list changes every week, but more often than not, there’s one ranking that always stays the same: C.J. Stroud at the top.

Stroud continues to embark on one of the best rookie QB campaigns in NFL history, and although his Texans lost a close battle with the Jaguars, he turned in a 304-yard, three-touchdown performance with no turnovers.

Stroud’s connection to fellow rookie Tank Dell remains exhilarating, and as the play below shows, he’s now giving us glimpses of legitimate playmaking potential in addition to his sharp passing ability inside the pocket.

Stroud is up to 3,266 yards, 19 touchdowns, and just five picks on the season, and his Texans are still in the thick of the AFC playoff race.

2) Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Arthur Smith had to have known Bijan Robinson was talented when his Falcons took Robinson eighth overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. Luckily, it appears as though Smith has finally rediscovered that fact.

MORE: Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

Robinson’s utilization reached new heights in Week 12. Not only did he log 91 yards and a score on 16 carries, but he also found the end zone as a pass catcher on a delayed boundary fade from the backfield.

Robinson has the size and athleticism to be a volume back but also the elite versatility and creation capacity to be a dangerous red-zone threat.

Football is all about turning drives into points, and Atlanta is finally discovering Robinson’s full potential in that area.

3) Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are firing on all cylinders, and in Week 12, the full impact of Zay Flowers’ arrival as a dynamic offensive threat was on display.

Flowers helped the Ravens maintain their lead earlier in the game with a touchdown on one of his five catches. And toward the end, inside the two-minute window, he iced the game with a 37-yard carry off a jet sweep motion.

Flowers’ “Goal” celebration was immaculate, but even more so was the way he’s been integrated into the offense as a diverse playmaker capable of generating big plays in countless ways with his speed, balance, vision, and agility.

4) Rashee Rice, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Flowers got the victory and the bright spotlight on Sunday, but the Chiefs quietly got a very promising performance from their second-round rookie WR Rashee Rice.

The Chiefs need somebody — anybody — to step up at WR, and Rice got it done in Week 12. He caught eight passes for 107 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown on which his long-strider explosiveness and RAC ability took center stage.

Drops are still an issue for Rice at times, but he’s slowly expanding his imprint on the Chiefs offense and building his confidence. If he can become a go-to threat alongside Travis Kelce, the sky is the limit for Patrick Mahomes and Co.

5) Kobie Turner, DT, Los Angeles Rams

With Aaron Donald slowly approaching the twilight of his career, it’s good to know that the Rams have another disruptor developing quickly on the interior with third-round rookie Kobie Turner.

The Shrine Bowl product notched two sacks on Sunday against the Cardinals, the most impressive of which was a violent swim-rip combo that sent the opposing guard lurching.

Turner’s ability to explode off the line and torque through contact is eye-catching for a 6’2″, 288-pound defender, and his motor is helping him finish plays.

6) Deonte Banks, CB, New York Giants

The Giants were swarming the Patriots quarterbacks in Week 12, and rookie cornerback Deonte Banks capitalized with the second interception of his NFL career. He also logged his 10th deflection of the season.

MORE: NFL Week 12 Winners and Losers

Banks’ blend of speed, physicality, and size has helped him integrate quickly this season. He’s allowing a passer rating of just 78.0 on the season and is slowly trending toward lockdown status.

7) Tommy DeVito, QB, New York Giants

Bill Belichick is usually kryptonite for rookie quarterbacks. But in Week 12, Tommy DeVito said, “not today,” lifting his Giants to a 10-7 win with an efficient passing performance.

DeVito now has a 2-1 record in three starts at New York and has completed 66 of 105 attempts for 697 yards, seven touchdowns, and just three interceptions.

Despite entering the room as an undrafted free agent, DeVito looks mature and composed beyond his years, and he’s earning an extended NFL tenure with his play.

8) Aidan O’Connell, QB, Las Vegas Raiders

It hasn’t always been perfect, but at this point, the Raiders know they have a quality backup and spot-starter QB they can rely on with a cheap four-year deal.

Aidan O’Connell proved that more so than any week this season with his Week 12 performance against the Chiefs, where he completed 23 of 33 passes for 248 yards and a score.

O’Connell’s situational accuracy, in particular, stands out as a strength of his. Perhaps no throw exemplified that more than this one to Jakobi Meyers.

Las Vegas will still need to search for its long-term starter at QB at some point. But they can feel comfortable knowing that O’Connell is a quality safety blanket in the No. 2 spot.

9) Jalin Hyatt, WR, New York Giants

DeVito helped the Giants achieve victory with his poise in the pocket, but Jalin Hyatt was the producer of several very important plays for the New York offense.

The rookie, who went on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, caught five passes for 109 yards, becoming the first Giants WR to crack the 100-yard mark this season.

Within that sample, Hyatt did a little bit of everything. He made more than one impressive grab on the boundary after stacking with his speed and was also used on the lateral plane as a RAC threat.

10) Jayden Reed, WR, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers’ young receiving corps has been under pressure to grow up quickly this season, especially with fellow up-and-comer Jordan Love under center.

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They reached an important milestone on Thanksgiving, earning a surprising victory over the Detroit Lions, and the impact of rookie Jayden Reed helped that outcome reach fruition.

The Senior Bowl star caught four passes for 34 yards and a tight-window score and also racked up 16 yards on two carries. He’s versatile, nuanced, and already a glue guy for Green Bay at WR.

11) Steve Avila, G, Los Angeles Rams

In a battle of young rosters, the Rams comfortably outmatched the Cardinals in a 37-14 drubbing. And along the way, rookie guard Steve Avila put up some of his best NFL tape yet.

Avila already looks like a veteran guard with his combative hand usage, angle awareness, and intensity as a space blocker. And when he latches onto his opponent, it often dismantles the rep entirely.

12) Broderick Jones, OT, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers offense had its first 400-yard outing in almost three full years on Sunday.

Much of that can be attributed to the firing of offensive coordinator Matt Canada. But more specifically, Canada’s departure helped unearth some of the redeeming qualities of the offense — and it also helps that rookie Broderick Jones is dominating at right tackle.

There are still occasional lapses, especially in pass protection. But by and large, Jones’ starting stint has been a major positive for Pittsburgh. His anchor strength is suffocating as a pass blocker, and his ability to pave and seal lanes in the run game is top-tier.

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