2017 NFL rookie rankings through Week 8
All season long, PFF will be ranking the best performing NFL rookies as they race for Rookie of the Year. Below is our weekly rookie rankings after the Week 8 games.
1. Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
PFF Grade: 94.5
PFF Elite Stat: Lattimore has surrendered a mere 0.56 yards per coverage snap so far this season, the seventh-lowest rate among cornerbacks.
Marshon Lattimore – a rookie let me remind you – is currently our third-highest graded player eight weeks into the season. Not our third-highest graded rookie, nor our third-highest graded corner, our third-highest graded player in the entire league. Lattimore is yet to surrender more than 38 receiving yards in a game – and it took Detroit throwing at him nine times to eek out those 38 yards – and opposing quarterbacks have just a 33.3 passer rating when targeting him in coverage, the second-lowest rating among qualified corners.
2. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
PFF Grade: 91.4
PFF Elite Stat: Hunt ranks second among RBs with a 100.5 elusive rating.
Just a little bit of a slide for Hunt this week – in terms of overall grade, he still maintains his No. 2 spot on this list – after arguably his worst performance of the season on Monday night, finishing that game with just a 45.7 overall grade. Even still, he leads all running backs in terms of overall grade through eight weeks of the season and continues to be the only running back to rank within the top-five in both rushing and receiving grade.
3. Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills
PFF Grade: 88.9
PFF Elite Stat: 28 corners have seen at least 40 targets into their coverage, among that group, White ranks third by allowing just one catch per every 14.3 snaps spent in coverage.
White joins Lattimore as being one of our five highest graded cornerbacks after the first eight weeks of the season and he’s one of just four corners to rank within the top-10 in terms of coverage grade while also ranking within the top-30 in run defense grade. One theme with White so far this season has been his ability to get his hands on the football, he leads all cornerbacks with nine pass breakups and his 22.7 playmaker index (pass breakups and interceptions / targets) ranks seventh among 114 qualified cornerbacks.
4. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
PFF Grade: 75.1
PFF Elite Stat: Watson leads the league with 30.3 percent of his attempts coming off play action, his 121.5 passer rating on those throws ranks fifth.
Eight weeks into the season and the rookie quarterback from Clemson begins to make his ascent up this list. While Watson’s grade may stick out a bit here, two things: A). He’s a quarterback and there is always going to be a slight bump for QBs; B). If you remove his disastrous grade from Week 1 (remember he did not start that game but came in midway to relieve Tom Savage) his overall grade sits at 81.2, which would rank 10th. Watson leads all quarterbacks with an 87.1 run grade, and although he’s had flaws as a passer, it’s tough to deny the skills he has shown, along with the production he’s earned. His 124.1 passer rating on throws coming from a clean pocket leads the position, his 47.5 adjusted completion percentage on deep passes ranks eighth (and his 40 attempts are the fourth-most) and his 8.3 big time throw percentage is nearly double the league average of 4.5 percent. Watson earned an 86.0 overall grade in Week 8 against Seattle and he’s finished three of his last four games at 78.0 or better. If he maintains his current level of play we may be seeing him crack into the top-3 sooner rather than later.
5. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
PFF Grade: 86.7
PFF Elite Stat: Jones is one of just three RBs who have carried the ball fewer than 70 times this season to have at least five runs of 15 yards or more.
Jones drops down a spot within this race following the Packers’ Week 8 bye. He ranks third among all running backs in terms of overall grade, sixth with an 85.8 rushing grade and second with an 85.4 pass blocking grade. Jones is one of just six running backs to convert his carries into either a first down or a touchdown at a rate of at least 25 percent (27.4 percent, ranks fourth) and he’s surrendered just one pressure in pass protection.
6. Desmond King, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
PFF Grade: 84.0
PFF Elite Stat: King is one of just two cornerbacks to record at least 10 stops in coverage who have also not missed a tackle in coverage yet this season.
King makes his debut on this list following a Week 8 performance in which he earned a 90.5 overall grade against Tom Brady and the Patriots. King now ranks 17th among cornerbacks this season in terms of overall grade while his 83.7 coverage grade also ranks 17th. King ranks second among all corners with 16 total stops on the season.
7. Dalvin Tomlinson, DI, New York Giants
PFF Grade: 83.3
PFF Elite Stat: Tomlinson leads all rookies with nine stops in run defense.
Tomlinson ranks 25th among all interior defenders in terms of overall grade and his 86.2 run defense grade ranks 14th. While Tomlinson hasn’t necessarily stuffed the stat sheet his consistent play in run defense has nicely replaced the void left by Johnathan Hankins’ departure this offeseason: Tomlinson ranks 20th among 73 interior defenders who’ve seen at least 200 snaps in run defense by receiving a positive grade on 23.3 percent of his run defense snaps while also ranking 11th among that group with just 7.8 percent of his run defense snaps resulting in a negative grade.
8. Carl Lawson, Edge, Cincinnati Bengals
PFF Grade: 82.7
PFF Elite Stat: Lawson ranks third among edge defenders with a 14.8 pass rushing productivity.
Lawson ranks 24th among edge defenders in terms of overall grade, bolstered by an 85.2 pass-rushing grade which is good enough for 10th. There have only been two passing plays in which Lawson has been on the field and not rushed the opposing quarterback and the results have been fruitful, he’s tallied multiple pressures in every game of his career to this point.
PFF Grade: 82.3
PFF Elite Stat: 36.1 percent of Fournette’s rushing yards this season have come on runs that went for 15 yards or more, the 10th-highest rate among RBs.
Fournette’s overall grade still ranks ninth among HBs following Jacksonville’s Week 8 bye and he joins Kareem Hunt and Melvin Gordon as being the only backs to possess a top-10 rushing grade while also owning a receiving grade over 75.0. Fournette has finished three of his last four games with overall grades of 80.0 or better, he’ll look to continue that trend after the mid-season week off.
10. Eddie Jackson, S, Chicago Bears
PFF Grade: 81.2
PFF Elite Stat: Jackson has surrendered a catch just once for every 36.8 snaps he’s spent in coverage, the 11th-lowest rate among safeties who’ve dropped back in coverage at least 200 times.
Jackson ranks 22nd among safeties in terms of overall grade and he’s one of 11 safeties to rank within the top-30 in both coverage grade and run defense grade. There have been 68 safeties who have allowed at least five catches into their coverage this season, among that group Jackson ranks third by allowing just 16 yards after the catch.