Top 10 NFL rookies entering Week 15

While Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill sits at No. 8 on the list, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is bumped from his No. 2 spot.

| 6 months ago
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Top 10 NFL rookies entering Week 15


As the season goes on, the two rookie quarterbacks who were seemingly too good to be true are in fact proving to be just that. While Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz fell out of the top 10 altogether a week ago, Dallas’ Dak Prescott takes a tumble out of the No. 2 spot this week.

At this point, Rookie of the Year is really one man’s award to lose.

1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys may have fallen at the hands of the Giants once again over the weekend, but it wasn’t because New York was able to bottle up Elliott. The rookie had yet another 100-yard game, with almost two-thirds of his yards coming after contact. He now has 142 more yards after contact than the next closest running back (Miami’s Jay Ajayi), and is PFF’s top NFC RB pick for the 2017 Pro Bowl roster.

2. Jack Conklin, RT, Tennessee Titans

Facing easily his toughest test of the season in the form of the Broncos’ defensive line, Conklin passed with flying colors. He gave up a myriad of bull-rush pressure to Von Miller, but as has been his MO all season, Conklin didn’t allow a single sack or hit. Against one of the league’s top pass-rushers, I’d chalk that up as a win. Conklin has only surrendered four sacks or hits on the season, and only seven total pressures  in his last four games. Impressive stuff from the rookie.

3. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Sunday night was an unmitigated disaster for Prescott. There is no rationalizing it. Even with a completely clean pocket, Dallas’ rookie quarterback went 7-for-21 for 91 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. A ridiculous 20 percent of his targeted passes were off target—meaning the receiver had some separation, but the throw never gave him a chance of making the catch. Those are worrisome numbers that can’t reoccur for the Cowboys come playoff time.

4. Joey Bosa, DE, San Diego Chargers

Bosa managed only 23 snaps in Week 14 prior to being knocked out of the game with a concussion, but on those appearances, he still managed to record a sack and two QB hurries. He remains on his rookie record-setting pace, with 45 QB pressures through his first nine games. The only thing keeping him from cracking the top three at this point is playing time.

5. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs

I don’t think it’s too early to say that the Chiefs have something special with their rookie defensive tackle. The scary part is that, at 22 years old, Jones is already winning with pure physicality. Last Thursday against the Raiders, Jones had multiple matchups in the run game versus fellow rookie Vadal Alexander. Early in the game, Jones was playing gap-sound defense, standing Alexander up before eventually shedding. As the game wore on, however, he realized Alexander couldn’t physically match up; Jones just started swimming him immediately at the snap.

6. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

At the moment, it’s difficult to see much of a difference as a runner between Jordan Howard and Ezekiel Elliott—other than attempts and the team surrounding them. In terms of rate stats, Howard is actually better in yards per carry (5.0 vs. 4.9), yards after contact (3.1 vs. 2.8), and elusive rating (56.1 vs. 35.3). For Chicago to get him in the fifth round has to go down as one of the biggest steals of the draft.

7. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

It’s encouraging that even Thomas’ down games are still four-catch, 42-yard outputs at this point. When targeted this season, only two receivers have a higher quarterback rating than Thomas’ 118.9, and both of those guys operate out of the slot. The former Buckeye still has only two dropped passes on 71 catchable targets for the eighth-best drop rate in the league. There is nothing not to like about the rookie right now.

8. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Somewhat fortuitously, I wrote last Thursday morning about how the biggest difference for this Chiefs’ roster compared to those of years’ past is the amount of playmakers on offense. Specifically, Tyreek Hill. Against the Raiders on Thursday night, Hill hauled in a huge 36-yard post for Kansas City’s first touchdown, then added a punt-return touchdown to improve his league-high kick-return grade.

9. Cody Whitehair, C, Chicago Bears

After an up-and-down early season, it looks like Cody Whitehair has finally settled in at center. Against the fairly weak defensive lines of the 49ers and Lions over the past two games, Whitehair manhandled all challengers. Over that span, he didn’t allow a single QB pressure, and earned top-three run-blocking grades at the position each week. Whitehair is now the seventh-highest-graded center in the NFL.

10. Tavon Young, CB, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens’ fourth-rounder owns the unlikely honor of being the best rookie cornerback in the NFL this season. Even this week, as Tom Brady racked up over 400 yards through the air against the Baltimore defense, Young was responsible for only 16 of them. His 0.93 yards per coverage snap are tied with Washington’s Josh Norman for 18th-best at the position this season.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • crosseyedlemon

    It’s been 39 years since the offensive ROY was on a championship team but Cowboy fans can always hope Elliot duplicates the feat of Tony Dorsett.

  • Josh Landis

    Joey Bosa did NOT get a concussion last week. Both the commentators during the game and the SD beat writers after said he was not in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He injured his neck. McCoy confirmed that in his press conference as well.

  • RTP210

    Wentz – 13th highest graded QB, not on list
    Dak – 17th highest graded QB, 3rd

    lol, what?

    • crosseyedlemon

      With regards to MVP awards the ability to produce wins has always been given more weight than grades and that is never going to change.

      • RTP210

        This ranking isn’t about the MVP race.

        • http://www.chris-garman.com SteelByDesign

          Wentz may be more efficient, but Dak has been “better”

          Alex Smith might be efficient, but would you take him over a guy like Ben Roethlisberger?

          • RTP210

            Dak hasn’t been better. That’s the entire point. That’s why the grades reflect that Wentz has been better. The difference is that one has a perfect setup to succeed and the other one is his team’s entire offense. The Cowboys offense runs through the running game. Dak is completely secondary to that. Wentz is the best offensive player on the Eagles.

            Big Ben is having a down year but typically completely obliterates Smith in their grading system. Terrible argument.

          • DBLTFanClubPrez

            I think Dak was pretty efficient this week 32 for 36 ain’t too shabby.He is the big difference between 4-12 and 12-2. Ain’t don’t say its all Zeke, last year Mcfadden was a 1,000 rusher on a team that couldn’t throw.

  • Benji Royce

    No shout for Graham Glasgow?

  • CP72

    Artie Burns will be on this list sooner than later. Making huge strides.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      or not at all, since the season is almost over and he hasn’t cracked it yet