Week 1 NFL Rookie Rankings

CeeDee Lamb

The NFL season has finally returned. That means that weekly NFL rookie rankings have also returned. Defensive rookies shined last week, and some top draft picks had remarkable performances in their career debuts.Of course, a particular running back earned himself several “youngest” player awards. It’s time to dive into week one’s top-15 rookie performances. But first, a couple of honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

Gibson didn’t quite live up to the hype heading into the week one match against the Eagles. He did still put together some decent carriers in Washington’s Week 1 win. While most of his yardage came on a 20-yard rush, Gibson still managed to average four yards per carry, which is promising. Gibson also had two passes thrown his way for eight total yards.


J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

While Dobbins didn’t get a lot of touches Week 1, he made the most of it. While he didn’t see the ball in the middle of the field, Dobbins got the call at the goal line and was able to push his way into the endzone from two and three yards respectably. Dobbins also managed to average 3.14 yards per carry.


15. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 1 Stats: 2 Receptions, 39 Yards

While Claypool didn’t get several looks on Monday Night Football, he showed off on the ones he got. On his first reception of 28 yards, Claypool made a beautiful toe-tap catch on the sideline that would help set up the Steelers’ first score. He would get just one other target the rest of the game as he sat behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington. Claypool also had an impressive eight-yard scamper on the second to last play of the game. This could suggest that they may look to get him involved in multiple ways on offense moving forward.

Projected Stat Line vs. Denver Broncos: 3 Receptions, 45 Yards, 2 Carries, 18 Yards

14. Derrick Brown, DL, Carolina Panthers

Week 1 Stats: 3 Total Tackles, 1 Tackle-for-Loss, 1 Pass Defended


Brown certainly didn’t disappoint in his career debut for the Panthers, putting up three tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. While he did come off the field early with an injury, Brown would tough it out and play most of the Panthers’ snaps and provided stout interior pressure. Brown even got up and knocked down a pass from Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. While the game result didn’t go their way, Brown certainly delivered in his career debut. Brown and this Panthers defense will look to rattle a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense that looked off at times in week one. 

Projected Stat Line vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles-for-Loss

13. Jordan Fuller, S, Los Angeles Rams

Week 1 Stats: 8 Total Tackles

The Rams may have found themselves another tackling machine for their secondary in Fuller. Not only would he tally eight total tackles, but Fuller also earned himself a significant role in this defense. He Played 99 percent of the Rams defensive snaps against the Dallas Cowboys. Fuller seems to have earned his way to the starting role over second-year veteran Taylor Rapp, who dealt with a knee injury during camp. This coming weekend, Fuller will hope to continue this type of performance against the Eagles.

Projected Stat Line vs. Philadelphia Eagles: 7 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Defended

12. L’Jarius Sneed, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

Week 1 Stats: 3 Total Tackles, 2 Passes Defended, 1 Interception

Sneed had to step into a prominent role last Thursday as the Chiefs were down starting outside cornerback Bashaud Breeland. He did just that and played reliable coverage nearly all night long and even broke up a couple of passes. While his interception came on a wobbly, high pass, it only put the bow on top of a solid debut performance. Breeland’s starting spot may be in jeopardy if Sneed can continue this type of play over the next three weeks, including this weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Projected Stat Line vs. Los Angeles Chargers: 6 Total Tackles, 2 Passes Defended

11. Krys Barnes, LB, Green Bay Packers

Week 1 Stats: 7 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles-For-Loss

The undrafted free agent out of UCLA had quite the surprise performance in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. The fact that he even made the 53-man roster was a miracle, let alone putting up a solid week one performance. With injuries at the linebacker spot, the Packers promoted Barnes to starter. While he only played 15 snaps for the Packers, he made the most of it, totaling seven tackles, including an impressive open-field tackle on Dalvin Cook. Barnes looked impressive in coverage and should continue to impress as the season progresses into the team’s Week 2 matchup against the Detroit Lions. 

Projected Stat Line vs. Detroit Lions: 8 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles-For-Loss

10. Henry Ruggs III, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

Week 1 Stats: 3 Receptions, 55 Yards

Ruggs showed off the speed early, putting up 55 receiving yards on just three receptions, including a 45-yard bomb from quarterback Carr. Ruggs showed how he could completely change how defenses have to play this offense due to his game-changing speed. The speedster also showed off the potential in the run game, adding 11 yards on the ground. While he saw limited touches late in the game, Ruggs will look to bring the same impact in week two against the New Orleans Saints.

Projected Stat Line vs. New Orleans Saints: 5 Receptions, 66 Yards, 1 TD

9. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos

Week 1 Stats: 4 Receptions, 56 Yards

While Jeudy may not have had the blockbuster performance that some thought he would with Courtland Sutton sidelined due to injury, he still had a solid performance. Jeudy showed a side that he hadn’t before with a couple of big drops late. These drops likely would have resulted in a couple of crucial first downs, causing him only to catch half the passes thrown his way. With Week 1 jitters gone, Jeudy will hope to bounce back in week two against a tough defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Projected Stat Line vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: 6 Receptions, 50 Yards

8. Jeremy Chinn, LB, Carolina Panthers

Week 1 Stats: 8 Total Tackles

Chinn got the call to start this past weekend at the linebacker spot, and he did not disappoint. The former Southern Illinois star looked great in his debut for the Panthers. Chinn went off with his eight combined tackles against the Las Vegas Raiders. Chinn showed the instincts that teams want and proved he had the athleticism to keep up with the bigger and faster NFL players. Keep an eye on Chinn in the coming weeks, especially this weekend against the Buccaneers.

Projected Stat Line vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles-for-Loss

7. Kenneth Murray, LB, Los Angeles Chargers

Week 1 Stats: 8 Total Tackles

The former Oklahoma Sooner tackling machine had a strong debut for the Chargers. Murray showed off the speed and helped the Chargers grind out a low scoring affair against the Cincinnati Bengals, winning 16-13. While he didn’t put up crazy tackle numbers in week one, he solidified his role as a starting three-down linebacker. He played 91 percent of the Chargers defensive snaps. Murray will be tasked this weekend in helping to slow down a dominant Chiefs offense.

Projected Stat Line vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 7 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Defended

6. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Week 1 Stats: 5 Receptions, 59 Yards

Lamb quietly had a solid start to his NFL career. He would catch all but just one pass thrown his way and cross the half-century mark in receiving yards. Lamb would come out of the gates firing with a 33-yard reception on a deep crossing route. Still, he would simmer down for the rest of the game as he fell into a wide receiver no. 2 role behind Amari Cooper. While the loss covered up the solid performance, Lamb has the potential too light it up this weekend in what will likely be a shootout with the Atlanta Falcons. 

Projected Stat Line vs. Atlanta Falcons: 8 Receptions, 85 yards, 1 TD

5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Week 1 Stats: 15 Total Touches, 89 Yards from Scrimmage

Taylor wasn’t incredibly involved in the running game week one for the Colts. He would put up 22 yards on just nine carries. In the passing game, however, Taylor looked impressive in space coming out of the backfield. He would total 67 yards on six touches, including a screen pass that he took for 35 yards and nearly scored his first career touchdown. With Marlon Mack done for the season, Taylor should bear most of the rushing workload and split third down looks with teammate Nyheim Hines

Projected Stat Line vs. Minnesota Vikings: 15 Carries, 66 Yards, 5 Receptions, 50 Yards, 1 TD 

4. Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore Ravens

Week 1 Stats: 8 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle-for-Loss, 1 Forced Fumble

Queen had an impressive week one performance for the Ravens. He led his team in tackles and would bother quarterback Baker Mayfield all game long, including a sack. Queen would also force a fumble and lived up to the round one hype. He did all of this playing just 74 percent of the defensive snaps. His production could be impressive if he can put in a full game workload, as Queen will look to help slow down Deshaun Watson next week as the Ravens take on the Houston Texans.

Projected Stat Line vs. Houston Texans: 10 Total Tackles, 1.5 Tackles-for-Loss

3. C.J. Henderson, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 1 Stats: 5 Total Tackles, 3 Passes Defended, 1 Interception

Henderson made his case this week for the best defensive rookie performance. The former Florida Gator would rack up five tackles and broke up three pass attempts thrown his way. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers gifted Henderson his first interception after forcing a throw into a tight window. Henderson capitalized to pick up his first career interception. After a career debut, Henderson will look to carry this momentum into next week against the Tennessee Titans and force quarterback Ryan Tannehill into the same mistakes.

Projected Stat Line vs. Tennessee Titans: 6 Total Tackles, 2 Passes Defended

2. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team

Week 1 Stats: 4 Total Tackles, 1.5 Sacks

Young had a phenomenal Week 1 performance. The entire Washington defensive line had an excellent performance totaling eight sacks against a depleted Eagles offensive line. However, Young got pressure all day long and was able to capitalize and grab 1.5 sacks of his own. Young would become one of the few NFL rookies to reach more than only one sack in his debut performance, making him worthy of the second spot on this list. Young will continue his dominance in week two and slow down Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.

Projected Stat Line vs. Arizona Cardinals: 5 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 Tackles-for-loss

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

Week 1 Stats: 25 Carries, 138 Yards, 1 TD

Nobody was able to top Edwards-Helaire, and he did not disappoint in Week 1. After being selected as the 32nd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, expectations were high for the former LSU Tiger. It took a few carries for him to get going. Still, after a few touches, Edwards-Helaire started breaking chunk plays, including a 27-yard dash for his first career touchdown. Edwards-Helaire would average 5.5 yards per carry and became the youngest player to rush for 130 or more yards a grab a rushing touchdown in NFL history.

Projected Stat Line vs. Los Angeles Chargers: 24 Carries, 120 Yards, 1 TD

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Main Image Credit: 
Embed from Getty Images


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