Rookie Rankings Week 9: Top NFL rookies at the season’s midpoint

    We have officially passed the midway point of the NFL season, and the rookie class has had some dominant performances. Guys like Tristan Wirfs and Chase Young have played at an All-Pro level. A number of other rookies are playing like Pro-Bowlers and will be vital to the foundation of their team for years to come. We also have some shuffle in the backend of the list as players are fighting for the final five spots. Who appears on our Week 9 Rookie Rankings, and how did the rankings shift after Week 8’s action?

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    NFL Rookie Rankings Week 9 | Top 10 NFL Rookies

    1. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Wirfs moved into the top spot on the list last week and did nothing to change his status as the best of all the top NFL rookies. Wirfs has been arguably the best right tackle in the NFL and is well on his way to being the top tackle in the NFL at some point in his career. He’s already the most talented tackle Tom Brady has ever played with, and he should be in consideration for Rookie of the Year, but sadly won’t be. Wirfs holds on to the top spot in the Rookie Rankings for Week 9.

    Pre-draft ranking: Fifth overall, OT1

    2. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team

    Young was on bye but is still very much in the conversation as one of the top rookies in the NFL. He hasn’t produced the gaudy sack numbers that fans have hoped for, but he’s still been one of the 12-15 best edge rushers in the NFL. Living in the backfield, Young has displayed the ability to be both an elite pass rusher and run stopper in the NFL. The NFL needs to be ready; Young is everything we expected and then some.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top player, EDGE1

    3. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

    Justin Herbert’s wow plays are mesmerizing; however, his misplays seem to get swept under the rug. After going up 24-3 halfway through the third quarter, the Chargers’ offense collapsed and could only produce six points for the rest of the game. Herbert produced 278 passing yards and three touchdowns but also turned the ball over twice. Herbert has been excellent and is clearly one of the top rookies in the NFL. He’s also the likely winner of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but he is still a tier below Young and Wirfs in the Rookie Rankings for Week 9.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 15, QB3

    4. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

    Joe Burrow is fresh off the biggest win of his career. He and the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the then 5-1 Tennessee Titans and left the game with a decisive victory. Ironically, Burrow had one of his least productive games in the win. He was effective and efficient, throwing for 249 yards and two touchdowns. He faces one of the NFL’s top defenses in his next game as they travel to Pittsburgh fresh off a bye week.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, QB1

    5. Mekhi Becton, OT, New York Jets

    The Jets were embarrassed by the Chiefs in Week 8, as Pat Mahomes throw at will for over 400 yards and five touchdowns. The lone bright spot in New York was the continued dominance from Mekhi Becton. Becton put on a pass protection clinic against the Chiefs’ defense while also dominating in the run game as per usual. Becton outperformed fellow rookie Jedrick Wills this past week, and it leads to him jumping into the top 5 of the Week 9 Rookie Rankings.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 25, OT4

    6. Jedrick Wills, OT, Cleveland Browns

    Wills had one of the sloppiest games of his young career against the Raiders in Week 8. He had a number of penalties and was not as dominant as he has been to this point. Wills is still an elite building block, and the Browns are very happy with their selection of him, but he falls to the OT3 ranking in these rankings.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, OT2

    7. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    CeeDee Lamb continues to struggle with the horrid quarterback play of the Dallas Cowboys. Lamb’s best play of the night came early as he had a 19 yard rush on the first drive of the game. He was only targeted five times for the rest of the game, catching four of them for 27 yards. Early in the season, Lamb looked like the best of the top WR rookies in the NFL. But if his production remains pedestrian, he will fall down the ranks.

    Pre-draft ranking: Fourth overall, WR1

    8. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    Similar to Lamb, Justin Jefferson failed to produce at the level he had shown in the past. A common theme throughout Jefferson’s rookie year is a lack of consistency. In seven career games, he’s had over 100 yards three times and under 45 yards every other game. Jefferson has to consistently produce if he wants to take advantage of Lamb’s poor situation and pass him as rookie WR1.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, WR5

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

    On Monday morning, when I start my adjustments for the rankings, I heavily considered dropping Antoine Winfield in the rankings if he was quiet on Monday Night Football. He responded with a dominant game against the Giants, registering seven total tackles, a number of which came on key downs. He also forced the incompletions on the would-be tying 2-point conversion. Winfield was once again a difference-maker for the Buccaneers’ top defense.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, S4

    10. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Chase Claypool was heavily involved in the Steelers game plan with nine targets, but he was only able to haul in five receptions for 42 yards, but he also caught a key touchdown. Claypool has used his physical skill-set to produce early in his career, and he’s managed to fight his way to playing time in a loaded Steelers receiving unit as he proves to be perhaps one of the most surprising top rookies in the NFL this season.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 125, WR15

    NFL Rookie Rankings Week 9 | 11-20

    11. Michael Onwenu, iOL/OT/TE, New England Patriots

    In my eyes, Michael Onwenu has been the most interesting rookie this season. New England took him in the sixth round, and his first action on the year was as a jumbo set tight-end. After dominating every snap he saw on the field, he moved into a starting position on the interior of the offensive line and has now taken over as the full-time starting right tackle. There has not been a rookie that has produced at a higher level on a higher variance of positions than Onwenu.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 200, iOL20

    12. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Chicago Bears

    Jaylon Johnson has been the best performing rookie cornerback since the second week of the season. He’s run away as the class’ CB1, and he’ll continue to be the top guy barring a major drop-off in his play and a large jump in development from another rookie like Jeff Okudah or CJ Henderson. Both were top 10 selections, while Johnson looks like one of the draft’s biggest steals as a mid-round selection. Johnson sits right in the middle of the Rooking Rankings for Week 9.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 75, CB12

    13. Julian Blackmon, S, Indianapolis Colts

    Julian Blackmon has been arguably the most efficient rookie defender this season. In six games as a safety, he’s registered 14 tackles, two interceptions, and six pass deflections. With the injury to Malik Hooker, Blackmon has come in and looks to be the long-term solution at the free safety position. Another second-day gem for Chris Ballard and company.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 175, S13

    14. Jonah Jackson, iOL, Detroit Lions 

    I’m not a Lions fan, but after this season, I will seriously consider purchasing a Jonah Jackson jersey. He was such an easy evaluation, a great blend of power, attitude, and technique from his left guard spot at Ohio State. His emergence on the Lions’ interior offensive line has made the entire unit serviceable after many thought it would be a weakness coming into the season.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, iOL5

    15. Jeremy Chinn, LB/S, Carolina Panthers

    Jeremy Chinn registered his second offensive touch of his career, and his athletic display was on full display as he had a 28 yard rush on a fake punt. Chinn also had a massively productive game registering 10 total tackles, a QB hit, and a pass deflection. Chinn continues being the overall most productive rookie this season.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 100, S5

    16. Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore Ravens

    Patrick Queen was quiet for a majority of the Baltimore game, but he had a number of key stops late in the game and put the Ravens’ offense in a position to win the game. Queen has had struggles this year that have gotten swept under the rug, but he played a very strong game against his biggest divisional opponent.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 125, WR15

    17. Michael Ojemudia, CB, Denver Broncos

    Michael Ojemudia has been the strongest cover cornerback for Denver this year. He looks like a future star on the boundary, and his physical tools are some of the best in the NFL. However, he has heavily struggled as a tackler as of late, and it’s likely a reason we’ve seen a slight dip in his snaps. If he wants to truly develop into an elite cornerback, he must develop his tackling at least an average level. That said, he is very much deserving of a spot on this list as one of the top defensive rookies in the NFL.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 150, CB16

    18. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    James Robinson had a bye this past week but was fresh off the best game of his young career and remains the top-ranked of the RB rookies in the NFL. His next game is against a Houston team that is typically weak against the run but did a nice job limiting Robinson in their last match-up. Can Robinson take advantage of a weak Texans’ run defense, or will he continue to struggle against his divisional opponent?

    Pre-draft ranking: Unranked

    19. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

    Despite a dominant win for the Chiefs, the Kansas City run game was not a major factor. Clyde Edwards-Helaire only registered nine total touches for 31 total yards, as he took a backseat to Mahomes and the Kansas  City passing attack. This will likely be a recurring theme throughout his career, as no sane coach will consistently take the ball out of the hands of the NFL’s top quarterback.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, RB5

    20. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    Antonio Gibson was on bye this week, so he did nothing to move up or down the rankings. Coming off a bye week, Gibson has a very favorable schedule over the next four games where he faces the Giants, Lions, Bengals, and Cowboys over the next four weeks. There is a legitimate possibility that Gibson double’s his rushing production this season in the next four weeks alone.

    Pre-draft ranking: RB10, Top 100

    The five rookies trying to break into the top 20

    21. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

    Tee Higgins had another strong game and was a big impact on the Bengals big win over Tennessee. He’s on pace for over 900 yards on the season, and I expect he’ll be a 1,000-yard receiver at the end of next year. His chemistry with Burrow is obvious, and they should make for one of the best young QB-WR duos in the NFL.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, WR7

    22. Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears

    Darnell Mooney continues to be one of the most impressive rookies, finding a great home in Chicago. Mooney caught five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. He’s displayed impressive route running to pair with his natural athletic ability. He creates separation and has been a bright spot for the underwhelming Bears’ offense. Whoever the QB of the future for Chicago is, they have a very nice weapon in Mooney.

    Pre-draft ranking: Unranked

    23. Solomon Kindley, iOL, Miami Dolphins

    The only thing more consistent than Solomon Kindley’s play on the field is his appearance on these rankings. Kindley likely won’t ever be considered a top guard in the NFL; however, for the majority of his career, he’ll be more than a capable starter. Miami found a gem with this one, and he figures to be a major part of their plan moving forward.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 200, iOL18

    24. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos

    Jerry Jeudy has finally started getting more opportunities in the Denver offense, and the impact was obvious. He registered a season-high 73 yards on four receptions. He was targeted 10 times but was missed a few times by Drew Lock early in the game. Hopefully, this production can continue for Jeudy, who is as talented as any receiver in the class and will likely end the season as one of the top-ranked offensive rookies in the NFL.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 15, WR

    25. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

    Brandon Aiyuk has been one of the leagues’ productive receivers since getting healthy, and his fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense is obvious. There wasn’t a better landing spot for Aiyuk, as San Francisco takes advantage of his ability with the ball in his hands. He’s registered two rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns, and he has 440 yards from scrimmage on the season. Aiyuk rounds out the Rookie Rankings Week 9.

    Pre-draft ranking: Top 75, WR9

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