As another week of the NFL season has passed, it’s time to look back and see which rookies were able to outperform the rest. It’s time for the Week 7 NFL rookie rankings. This week’s list features not just one but two tight ends who made their mark last weekend. As usual, a handful of skill position players surpassed the 100-yard mark, and a certain defensive rookie retained his dominance of opposing offenses.
John Hightower, WR, Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles have continued to struggle depth-wise at the receiver spot. However, this has given Hightower a considerable amount of snaps in recent weeks. Hightower was targeted twice on Thursday in the Eagles victory and hauled in a deep 59-yard catch from Carson Wentz. The former Boise State wideout will likely continue to see looks in the coming weeks.
Jeff Okudah, CB, Detroit Lions – Okudah has consistently been above average this season at a challenging position. Last week in the Lions victory, Okudah made four tackles, knocked down one pass, and allowed just a 50 percent completion percentage on passes thrown his way. While he has struggled in previous weeks, if Okudah can continue building off a good Week 7 performance, he could seal his position as the Lions no. 1 corner.
15. C.J. Henderson, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 7 Stats: Eight Tackles
Henderson has been a tackling machine this past couple of weeks as he added eight more to his total last weekend. While he still has work to do in pass coverage, Henderson was picked on a lot last weekend by the Cincinnati Bengals as he was targeted 11 times in the Jaguars loss. He allowed eight of those passes to be completed and allowed a 101.7 quarterback rating. While these stats aren’t glamorous, he is a strong tackler, which keeps him on the list this week. Henderson will look to improve in coverage over the bye week in preparation for the Houston Texans in Week 9.
Projected Stat Line vs. Houston Texans (Week 9): Seven Tackles, Two Passes Defended
14. Jordyn Brooks, LB, Seattle Seahawks
Week 7 Stats: Seven Tackles, One Tackle-for-Loss
Brooks missed the past three weeks of the season due to a knee injury. However, in his return to the field, Brooks showed off the natural talent and athleticism being used frequently as a spy on quarterback Kyler Murray throughout the game. The former Texas Tech linebacker racked up seven tackles and a tackle for loss in the Seahawks loss. However, he was held to a pitch count serving the defense on just 45 percent of potential snaps. Brooks has an opportunity to continue to build alongside one of the best linebacker rooms in the game, including Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
Projected Stat Line vs. San Francisco 49ers: Six Tackles, Two Tackles-for-Loss
13. Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills
Week 7 Stats: Seven Carries, 47 Rushing Yards, Three Receptions, 25 Receiving Yards
Another player that has dealt with injuries this season is Moss. After missing Weeks 3 through 5 and a down week in Week 6, the former Utah Ute came out and put up a solid performance totaling 72 yards from scrimmage in the Bills win last week. Moss caught all three passes thrown his way and averaged 6.7 yards per carry against the New York Jets. The rookie running back will likely continue to serve as the no. 2 to Devin Singletary and be held to a smaller sample size. However, if he continues to produce the way he did, Moss could find himself on this list more often in the future.
Projected Stat Line vs. New England Patriots: Eight Carries, 36 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
12. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Week 7 Stats: Eight Carries, 46 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
As most expected, Edwards-Heliare’s carry total did shrink with the addition of former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell to the Chiefs offense. None the less, the former LSU Tiger made the most of what he got averaging 5.75 yards per carry and rumbling for an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Edwards-Helaire seemed to just slip out of the Denver Broncos tackles, seemingly breaking a dozen tackles before finding his way to paydirt. Efficiency will be critical for the rookie moving forward. Luckily, they are going up against the New York Jets this weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs. New York Jets: Nine Carries, 60 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
11. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Denver Broncos
Week 7 Stats: Seven Receptions, 60 Receiving Yards
The former Missouri Tiger had somewhat of a breakout performance last weekend against the Chiefs. Okwuegbunam found himself in sync with former college teammate Drew Lock and caught all seven passes thrown his way. The rookie tight-end saw an increase in snaps this past weekend as Noah Fant continues to deal with nagging injuries. However, Okwuegbuman has made the most of them and easily had his career-high in receiving yards with 60. Moving forward, it will depend on the health of Fant as to how much attention Okwuegbunam receives.
Projected Stat Line vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Four Receptions, 35 Receiving Yards
10. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 7 Stats: Five Receptions, 71 Receiving Yards, One Touchdown
Higgins is back in the top-10 this week after putting up 71 receiving yards and hauling in his third touchdown catch of the season. The former Clemson Tiger played his highest amount of offensive snaps this past week, taking the field for 84 percent of the offensive snaps. Higgins also caught all five of the passes thrown his way but was taken off the field late in the game after an apparent upper-body injury. While it is still unknown whether he will take the field next weekend against the Tennessee Titans, Higgins has been a big part of the Bengals offense and would be a significant loss.
Projected Stat Line vs. Tennessee Titans (If Healthy): Six Receptions, 80 Receiving Yards
9. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Chicago Bears
Week 7 Stats: Two Tackles, One Pass Defended
Johnson has easily been one of the most consistent cornerbacks of this rookie class and continued to do so last week in the Bears loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Johnson racked up two tackles, a pass defense, and played for 100 percent of the Bears defensive snaps. The trust is there for Johnson and rightfully so. He allowed just a 50 percent completion percentage on passes thrown his way. Johnson seems to be making a case for being the best or second-best corner on the team.
Projected Stat Line vs. New Orleans Saints: Four Tackles, Two Passes Defended
8. Harrison Bryant, TE, Cleveland Browns
Week 7 Stats: Four Receptions, 56 Receiving Yards, Two Touchdowns
Bryant had a breakout performance for the Browns in their win over the Bengals. The rookie caught all but one pass thrown his way and averaged 14 yards per reception. While Bryant did get his first touchdown of the season back in Week 3, he took it to a new level this week, totaling 56 yards and two touchdown grabs. Bryant posted career-highs with five targets, four receptions, and 56 receiving yards. With Austin Hooper dealing with appendix complications and Bryant receiving a promotion last weekend over David Njoku, he could be in for another great performance against the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Five Receptions, 55 Receiving Yards
7. Jeremy Chinn, LB/S, Carolina Panthers
Week 7 Stats: Eight Tackles, One Pass Defended
Chinn had another excellent performance last week in the Panthers loss. The rookie defender made eight stops last week and also defended a pass. Chinn played 94 percent of the Panthers defensive snaps and has established himself as one of the best tacklers on the defense. Aside from Week 6, where he grabbed his first career interception, Chinn has totaled at least seven tackles in each game this season, giving him a total of 57. Chinn and the Panthers defense will be tasked with slowing down Murray this coming weekend as they host the Cardinals in Week 8.
Projected Stat Line vs. Arizona Cardinals: Nine Tackles, One Tackle-for-Loss
6. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Week 7 Stats: Six Receptions, 115 Receiving Yards
Aiyuk has slowly started to become a more significant part of the 49ers offense. Last week, Aiyuk led the team with six receptions, 115 receiving yards and was tied for the most targets at seven with George Kittle. Aiyuk also hauled in a 35-yard deep ball in the third quarter. The former Arizona State Sun Devil likely will continue to be a large part of the offense. Deebo Samuel left the game early with a hamstring injury and currently does not have an exact return date. Aiyuk should have a field day against a subpar Seahawks secondary.
Projected Stat Line vs. Seattle Seahawks: Seven Receptions, 100 Receiving Yards
5. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 7 Stats: 22 Carries, 116 Rushing Yards, 18 Receiving Yards, Two Total Touchdowns
Robinson had another phenomenal day for the Jaguars, posting his second career 100-yard game. The rookie back averaged 5.41 yards per carry and found himself in the end zone for both a rushing and receiving touchdown. It was his fourth rushing touchdown and second receiving touchdown of the year. Robinson also saw his heaviest workload. He was on the field for 90 percent of Jacksonville’s offensive snaps and had a career-high 22 carries. He was two receptions short of tying his career-high in that category. Moving forward, the Jaguars have a bye week to prepare for the Texans, who have struggled to slow down opposing running backs.
Projected Stat Line vs. Houston Texans: 25 Carries, 110 Rushing Yards, Two Touchdowns
4. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 7 Stats: 35-47, 406 Passing Yards, Three Touchdowns, One Interception
Despite still losing, Burrow had a comeback performance this past weekend. After throwing no touchdowns and two picks over the previous two weeks, Burrow came out and slung the ball for over 400 yards passing and three touchdowns. Burrow completed 74 percent of his passes and surpassed 400 passing yards for the first time this season. The rookie also added 34 yards on the ground and earned himself a rushing touchdown. Burrow was responsible for all but six of the Bengals 34 points, and he has kept games close as they have only lost one game by more than five points. Next week Burrow and the Bengals are taking on the Tennessee Titans.
Projected Stat Line vs. Tennessee Titans: 30-40, 300 Passing Yards, Two Touchdowns
3. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team
Week 7 Stats: Six Tackles, One Tackle-for-Loss
After not producing as much for a couple of weeks, Young had an epic return last week for Washington. The rookie pass rusher, while he didn’t record a sack, was lethal against the run racking up six tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage. Young saw the field for 82 percent of Washington’s defensive snaps and has really opened up the potential of Washington’s defensive line. While Young didn’t record a sack, his presence and the attention he draws allowed Washington to rack up six sacks against the Dallas Cowboys.
Projected Stat Line vs. New York Giants (Week 9): Seven Tackles, 1.5 Sacks
2. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team
Week 7 Stats: 20 Carries, 128 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
Gibson has to be one of the most gifted athletes in this rookie class. The former Memphis Tiger was all over the field last week against the Cowboys, taking his 20 carries for 128 yards averaging 6.4 yards per carry. All three of these numbers are career highs for Gibson, and he punched in for his fourth touchdown of the season. Gibson also did all of this while playing just 48 percent of the potential offensive snaps. What makes this crazier is that Gibson was doing this mostly off of just his athletic abilities. So there’s no telling what he could do in the future as his vision and football IQ continues to grow.
Projected Stat Line vs. New York Giants (Week 9): 15 Carries, 75 Rushing Yards
1. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Week 7 Stats: 27-43, 347 Passing Yards, Three Touchdowns, 66 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown
Herbert finds himself atop this list again after a fabulous performance in Week 7 for his first win of the season. Herbert completed 62 percent of his passes for 347 yards, three touchdowns and led his team in rushing yards with 66. The former Oregon Duck also was able to tack on a rushing touchdown. Herbert has been phenomenal through the early weeks of this season and has proven many people wrong about what he could do at the NFL level. Herbert is continuing to make a strong case for Offensive Rookie of the Year. If he continues to have performances like last week, he just may end up winning that award.
Projected Stat Line vs. Denver Broncos: 30-39, 320 Passing Yards, Two Touchdowns
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