With a quarter of the season in the books, that also means a quarter of the 2020 rookie class’ debut season is completed. We’ve had some bright moments, some darker moments, and a whole lot of fun. This list has changed dramatically over the past four issues, and we should expect it to continue changing over the next four. It likely won’t be until the second half of the season that we have an obvious idea of what the rookie hierarchy is like. For now, how do they all stack up in the Week 5 edition of NFL Rookie Rankings?
As always, these rankings are based on both my pre-draft rankings for these players as well as their performances throughout the season so far. Who do I believe to be the top 25 rookies so far this season, who do you agree with, and who should be on this list? Let me know on Twitter at @MVScouting or in the comments!
NFL Rookie Rankings Week 5
1. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team
Chase Young, when on the field, has been the best performing rookie in the NFL. He’s played like a top-15 edge defender and is still the favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. He suffered a groin injury in the first half against Cleveland in Week 3 and missed the ensuing Week 4 contest against Baltimore. However, the expectation is that Young will return against the Rams this week, and continue his play as the NFL’s top rookie.
Pre-draft ranking: Top player, EDGE1
2. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Antoine Winfield Jr. had an opportunity to seize the top spot this week with Young on the sidelines, but he failed to take advantage and remains in the second spot for now. Winfield was not bad per se, but he had his worst game of his young career. A few coverage miscues and overall lack of game impact kept him from rising to the top spot.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, S4
3. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
For the third week in a row, Joe Burrow threw for three hundred yards. The difference this week? He also got his first NFL win. He was assisted by a dazzling performance from running back Joe Mixon, but Burrow was still able to complete 69% of his passes for 8.33 yards per attempt. Far and away the most yards per attempt he’s had in a game. Burrow looks like the franchise quarterback Cincinnati drafted him to be.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, QB1
4. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
My top-ranked wide receiver pre-draft, and the most consistent of the rookie receivers this season, CeeDee Lamb has been and is still the top rookie wideout in the NFL. Justin Jefferson has made an interesting case over the last two games, but don’t get it twisted. Lamb is the WR1 of the 2020 rookie class. Against the Browns, he caught five receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets.
Pre-draft ranking: Fourth overall, WR1
5. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tristan Wirfs has not just been the best rookie tackle, you could make the argument he’s the best right tackle in the NFL through four weeks. He’s been a model of consistency and his rare athletic ability were on full display in his match-up against the Charger’s Pro Bowl pass-rusher Joey Bosa. Expect Wirfs to develop into one of the NFL’s premier tackles as soon as the start of next season.
Pre-draft ranking: Fifth overall, OT1
6. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert went head to head with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers and gave them all they could handle. He completed 80% of his passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. He’s had his rookie moments and will continue to have them each week, but his flashes are special. Herbert has the physical tools to be one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, and he looks like he’s already on his way there.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 15, QB3
7. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
When writing about Jefferson in last week’s rookie rankings, I said that “in order for me to put him higher on the list, I need to see him find consistent success.” His response was a second consecutive 100 yard game on only four receptions. QB Kirk Cousins has developed more trust in Jefferson, and we should only expect to see his involvement with the offense grow.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, WR5
8. Mekhi Becton, OT, New York Jets
Despite not starting the game due to injury, Mekhi Becton played a few drives during Thursday Night Football for New York before getting injured again. Becton has been one of the top run blockers in the entire NFL and has done a much better job protecting Sam Darnold’s blindside than I had anticipated pre-draft. Becton’s frame combined with his athletic ability make his ceiling tremendously high, and he’s already shown a glimpse of it.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 25, OT4
9. Jedrick Wills, OT, Cleveland Browns
Jedrick Wills was part of a Cleveland offensive line that embarrassed the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He was dominant in the run game, leading the way for Cleveland to produce over 300 yards of rushing offense. Wills is such a well-rounded player, and his contribution to Cleveland can not be overstated.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, OT2
10. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Chicago Bears
Kyle Fuller is not the best cornerback on the Bears, Jaylon Johnson is. Who would have guessed that when the Bears took Johnson 50th overall? Having already produced seven pass deflection, Johnson’s long frame has already proven to be an elite weapon. He’s the next cornerstone in a very talented Chicago defense.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 75, CB12
Continue for Week 5’s #11-25 top-ranked rookie performances.