Week 3 of the National Football League saw a nearly even balance among standout rookie performances. Many offensive and defensive players had strong performances as the rookies started to get acclimated to the NFL level’s speed and precision. Week 3 saw a handful of offensive skill players top 100 scrimmage yards. Young defensive backs are beginning to emerge as maybe some of the best players in the league. It’s time for this week’s edition of NFL rookie rankings.
Jeff Gladney, CB, Minnesota Vikings
Gladney has been an impressive addition to the Vikings backfield. Last week, he made five tackles, one tackle-for-loss, and defended a pass. The former TCU Horned Frog has emerged as a starter for Minnesota as he played 97 percent of the defensive snaps. Gladney will be a player to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Miami Dolphins
Igbinoghene also had a strong performance in Week 3. The former Auburn Tiger tallied three tackles in the Dolphins win last week. Like Gladney, Igbinoghene has emerged as a starter in the Dolphins backfield after playing 100 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps last Thursday. While his stats haven’t been astronomical, be sure to keep a close eye on the Dolphins corner this weekend and beyond.
15. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Week Three Stats: Four Receptions, 40 Receiving Yards, Two Touchdowns
Higgins has started to get in a rhythm with fellow rookie Joe Burrow. The pair would connect on four passes last week, including two touchdown passes, Higgins’ first of his career. Higgins would grab 55 percent of the passes thrown his way, but he did have one drop against the Philadelphia Eagles. Higgins will continue to build the chemistry between him and Burrow and try to get the Bengals’ first win of the season this weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Projected Stat Line vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Five Receptions, 50 Receiving Yards, One Touchdown
14. Mykal Walker, LB, Atlanta Falcons
Week Three Stats: Eight Tackles, One Forced Fumble
Walker made his first start in the loss to the Chicago Bears last weekend and played relatively well. Walker saw the field for 88 percent of the defensive snaps, racked up eight tackles, and forced a fumble on the day. He would also co-lead the team in tackles with safety Keanu Neal. While Walker was subbing for the injured Foyesade Oluokun, he may have earned himself significant playing time moving forward.
Projected Stat Line vs. Green Bay Packers: Six Tackles, One Tackle-For-Loss
13. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Week Three Stats: 13 Carries, 59 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
Taylor saw a cut in his touches this past weekend, but he still made the most of it and averaged 4.54 yards per carry and found his way into the end zone for the second time this season. Two weeks ago, Taylor saw 67 percent of the snaps and surpassed 100 rushing yards, but this week The Colts cut it down to just 40 percent and half as many carries. Despite this, Taylor is still a big part of the Colts offense and should continue to see a hefty amount of touches this week against a tough Bears defense.
Projected Stat Line vs. Chicago Bears: 17 Carries, 80 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
12. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Week Three Stats: 35-49, 330 Passing Yards, One Touchdown, One Interception
Herbert didn’t have quite the game he had against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. However, he still had a solid performance against the Carolina Panthers in his second career start. The former Oregon Duck completed 71 percent of his passes and limited the number of poor throws throughout the game. Herbert did have a costly interception in the second quarter that killed what had been a good drive and resulted in points for the Panthers. With Tyrod Taylor‘s health still unsure moving forward, Herbert likely will get to see his third start this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Projected Stat Line vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 30-40, 290 Passing Yards, One Touchdown
11. Antoine Winfield, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week Three Stats: Six Tackles, One Sack, One Pass Defended
Winfield continued to look like a seasoned veteran in his third game for the Buccaneers. The hard-hitting safety totaled six tackles last week against the Denver Broncos. He also picked up his second sack of the season after being brought on a blitz ten times. Winfield is one half of a pair of rookie safeties that have performed phenomenally this season. He has also been a massive part of the Bucs defense, with Winfield playing all but one defensive snap this season. Winfield brings his tackle total to 23 on the year and looks to have another strong performance this weekend against the Chargers.
Projected Stat Line vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Eight Tackles, Two Tackles-For-Loss
10. Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
Week Three Stats: Four Receptions, 81 Receiving Yards
After grabbing his first career touchdown two weekends ago, Davis caught all four passes thrown his way last week and amassed 81 yards through the air. Davis played a much larger role this past weekend for the Bills as his snap totals doubled in Week 3, which allowed him to average 20.25 yards per catch. The Bills may have gotten a nice steal in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft with Davis, after showing what he can do when he gets attention from his quarterback. Davis will hope to continue to see touches this weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Projected Stat Line vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Three Receptions, 65 Receiving Yards
9. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Week Three Stats: 20 Carries, 64 Rushing Yards, Five Receptions, 70 Receiving Yards
Edwards-Helaire showed up again last week for the Chiefs in their dominant performance against the Baltimore Ravens. While he only averaged 3.2 yards per carry, it was enough to give the Chiefs what they needed as he rushed for two first downs and moved the chains three times through the air. The 32nd pick is living up to his dual-threat abilities leaving defenses with merely too many players to account for against this loaded Chiefs offense. Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs are hosting the New England Patriots this weekend and will take on a tough defense.
Projected Stat Line vs. New England: 15 Carries, 55 Rushing Yards, Four Receptions, 45 Receiving Yards
8. Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Week Three Stats: Nine Tackles, One Pass Defended, One Forced Fumble
Diggs had a bit of a hit or miss game last weekend against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle completed eight of the 10 passes thrown his way. However, once receivers made the catch, they didn’t get very far, averaging just two yards after the catch. The former Alabama corner also made a great hustle play against Seahawks wideout D.K. Metcalf, who slowed up before the goal line, allowed Diggs to punch the ball out, forcing a touchback. Diggs has played every defensive snap this season, and that trend likely will continue in Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns.
Projected Stat Line vs. Cleveland Browns: Six Tackles, Two Passes Defended, One Interception
7. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Week Three Stats: Five Receptions, 70 Receiving Yards, Three Carries, 31 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
Aiyuk finally had a breakout performance for the 49ers. He connected with quarterback Nick Mullens five times last weekend against the New York Giants. The former Sun Devil put up 70 yards receiving and got involved in the 49ers rushing attack with 31 yards on three attempts. Aiyuk also found himself in the end zone for the first time in his career on a 19-yard rush in the third quarter. Aiyuk missed the first week due to injury, but after an introductory game in Week 2, Aiyuk started to find his groove last week and hopes to carry that momentum into Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Projected Stat Line vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Six Receptions, 75 Receiving Yards
6. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week Three Stats: 11 Carries, 46 Rushing Yards, Six Receptions, 83 Receiving Yards
Robinson topped 100 yards from scrimmage for the third time this season after another excellent performance from the undrafted rookie. The Illinois State standout rushed for 46 yards, averaged 4.1 yards per carry, caught all six passes thrown his way, and averaged 13.83 yards per reception. Robinson also scored for the second and third time this season on 11 and one-yard rushes, respectively. Despite the Jaguars’ loss, Robinson has continued to show that he is their backfield leader. They will need him this weekend as they take on the Bengals.
Projected Stat Line vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 15 Carries, 60 Rushing Yards, Four Receptions, 50 Receiving Yards
5. Jeff Okudah, CB, Detroit Lions
Week Three Stats: Six Tackles, Two Tackles-for-Loss, One Interception
Okudah is starting to come into his own for the Lions defense. After a strong Week 2 performance, he followed it up by grabbing his first career interception in the Lions win over the Arizona Cardinals. Okudah played 91 percent of the defensive snaps for Detroit and did allow seven of the eight passes thrown his way to be completed. However, most of the yards allowed came through the air, and Okudah prevented yards after the catch. The rookie corner hopes to carry this momentum into Detroit’s Week 4 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Projected Stat Line vs. New Orleans Saints: Five Tackles, Two Passes Defended
4. Jeremy Chinn, LB/S, Carolina Panthers
Week Three Stats: 12 Tackles, One Tackle-for-Loss
Chinn had large shoes to fill in the center of the Panthers’ defense with the retirement of Luke Kuechly. However, Chinn has lived up to the hype and totaled 12 tackles in last week’s victory over the Chargers, bringing his season total to 27 total tackles. If the former Southern Illinois safety continues at this pace, Chinn will tie Kuechly’s tackle numbers from 2019 at 144. Chinn has become a vital part of this defense after playing 100 percent of the defensive snaps for the second time this season. Next week, Chinn and the Panthers defense will hope to slow down the Arizona Cardinals.
Projected Stat Line vs. Arizona Cardinals: Nine Tackles, One Tackle-For-Loss
3. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Week Three Stats: 31-44, 312 Passing Yards, Two Touchdowns
Burrow continues to impress in his rookie season. While the Bengals currently sit at 0-2-1, this team could just as easily be 3-0 right now, mainly due to Burrow keeping them in games. Last week the former LSU Tiger completed 70 percent of his passes, surpasses 300 yards for the second time this season, threw two touchdowns, and had his team in a position to win. Burrow did all this while taking hit after hit behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. The rookie quarterback and his offense will look to continue to score points this weekend against the Jaguars.
Projected Stat Line vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: 33-40, 300 Passing Yards, Three Touchdowns
2. Derrick Brown, DL, Carolina Panthers
Week Three Stats: Five Tackles, Three Tackles-For-Loss
Brown has become a dominant force up front for the Panthers. The Auburn standout has brought everything he had from college and has continued to dominate opposing offensive lines. Brown racked up five tackles, including three tackles for loss last week in the Panthers win against the Chargers. Brown has also been a sure-tackler with just one missed tackle so far this season, and showed off his abilities to make plays in the backfield both in the running and passing game. Carolina’s rookies will look forward to continuing their success this coming weekend against the Cardinals.
Projected Stat Line vs. Arizona Cardinals: Four Tackles, Two Tackles-For-Loss
1 Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Week Three Stats: Seven Receptions, 175 Receiving Yards, One Touchdown
It took a couple of games for Jefferson and quarterback Kirk Cousins to get into a rhythm, but it was a fireworks show when they finally did. Jefferson caught seven of the nine passes thrown his way, and all seven receptions went for at least a first down. A 71-yard touchdown catch highlighted Jefferson’s performance. The young wideout’s breakout game seemed to bring some new life into a now 0-3 Vikings team. Despite the performance where Jefferson nearly reached 200 receiving yards, he will need help from his defense if the Vikings want a chance to win this weekend against the Houston Texans.
Projected Stat Line vs. Houston Texans: Six Receptions, 88 Yards, One Touchdown
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