In the first week of the 2021 NFL season, a lot of rookies made an immediate impact. Some of these players were counted on in a big way and helped their team win. This week is headlined by skill players who were integral to their team. Two of the first-round quarterbacks got off to good starts. Below, the 10 best rookies will be highlighted in the Week 2 NFL Rookie Rankings.
10. Nick Bolton, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
The lone defensive player to make this week’s list, Nick Bolton had a strong showing in his first game. He was key to the Chiefs’ comeback and close victory. Bolton had one very impressive tackle for loss. He had a total of seven tackles in this one. Linebacker has been a position of weakness for the Chiefs, expect Bolton to be counted on moving forward.
9. Zach Wilson, QB, New York Jets
Zach Wilson had an encouraging first game for the Jets. He was not helped much in this one from his offensive line, which makes his great second half that much more impressive. Some struggles early on in the first half were to be expected. As the game went on, he made very accurate throws in and out of the pocket. Wilson was special on the move in this game.
8. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
Jaylen Waddle made one key play that was a difference for the Dolphins in this one. He made an impressive catch and did a good job of finishing the play for a touchdown. Waddle also showed his deep threat ability on one long catch. He provides a good combination of speed and quickness in short areas which helped the Dolphins in this important game.
7. Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots
Mac Jones was impressive in his first start. He looked poised and made accurate throws. Most importantly, Jones did not commit any turnovers. Jones did a fantastic job of getting multiple pass catchers a lot of receptions. Ultimately, he did his job well enough for the Patriots to win. Anticipate Jones continuing his early success as he has surpassed expectations thus far.
6. Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Rondale Moore showcased his big-play ability and speed in game one. He is very dynamic with the football getting yards after the catch. Kliff Kingsbury did a tremendous job of manufacturing touches for Moore in a variety of ways allowing him to make things happen. Moore has proven so far how gifted of a talent he is. For the Cardinals to keep up their stellar play, Moore will have to remain productive.
5. Anthony Schwartz, WR, Cleveland Browns
Anthony Schwartz is another wide receiver with the talent to make big plays at any time. He has elite speed. In this game, Schwartz made one very big play down the field getting behind the defense. He was also given a carry and had a big run. For the Browns, they add a new explosive element to their offense in Schwartz. Expect Schwartz to remain one of the more exciting rookies to watch this season.
4. DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
DeVonta Smith was the Eagles leading receiver in his first start. He led the team in targets and caught a touchdown. The touchdown catch was an impressive play from the rookie. Smith is a very quick wide receiver with his elite route-running ability. The rest of the Eagles wide receiver group is young and unknown. For the Eagles, Smith will need to keep up this great play.
3. Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers
The first offensive linemen to make the list, Rashawn Slater had an unbelievable start to his NFL career. He went up against potentially the best defensive line in football. As a pass blocker, Slater was perfect in this one. Not even a pressure was allowed. He is very athletic. Slater also showed his strength as a run blocker. Slater can remain a key difference-maker in year one for the Chargers.
2. Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
After an unfortunate injury to Raheem Mostert, the sixth-round rookie was called upon to step up and did an exceptional job. He had multiple big runs. Elijah Mitchell showed great speed. He ended up rushing for over 100 yards. The 49ers could not have asked for a better start. Moving forward, Mitchell should continue to get a good workload for the 49ers. His speed makes him a great fit for the offensive system.
1. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
After a long summer of struggles, Ja’Marr Chase was the best rookie in Week 1. He had five catches for over 100 yards and a touchdown that helped propel the Bengals to victory. Chase and Joe Burrow picked their connection back up right where it left off. Chase is a dynamic talent who should continue to build on this great first game. He has great size and strength as a wide receiver. If he could continue to make big plays down the field it would help the Bengals in a big way. Chase is a special rookie and just getting started.
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