Top 10 NFL rookies entering Week 5

After a Week 4 win at San Francisco, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott sits at No. 2 in PFF's rookie rankings.

| 3 weeks ago
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Top 10 NFL rookies entering Week 5

With Week 4 in the books, we’ve witnessed one of the largest shakeups in PFF’s race for rookie of the year yet. Four new faces make the list, including three players in the secondary. Of course, it’s the quarterbacks that still reign supreme.

1. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

Status quo here at the top, as Wentz rests on his impressive laurels with the bye week. Feel free to read our take on the rookie’s play to date here.

2. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

Week 4 brought Prescott’s lowest-graded game so far this season after a dropped interception and little in the way of downfield passing. Still, there is very little to quibble about, as the rookie’s poise and efficiency have been superb through four games. He’s completed 56.1 percent of his passes when facing pressure, the sixth-best figure in the league.

3. Jack Conklin, RT, Titans

It’s only four games in, but the Titans look like they have a good one on their hands. Conklin is the second-highest graded right tackle in the NFL, and has surrendered just six total pressures all year. He’s also keyed a Tennessee run game that has given DeMarco Murray 2.5 yards prior to contact this season.

4. Rashard Robinson, CB, 49ers

A newcomer shoots up the list after dominating in his first extended action of the season. Robinson recorded 45 snaps through the first three weeks before playing 67 against Dallas on Sunday. In that game, he was targeted six times, allowing only three catches for 20 yards to go along with three pass breakups. After Robinson was one of the highest-graded corners in the preseason, it’s time to start asking if the fourth-round pick is the real deal.

5. Will Fuller, WR, Texans

After an ugly outing against the Patriots, Fuller bounced back with a seven-catch, 81-yard outing against the Titans that included a game-winning punt-return touchdown. The concerns over whether or not he could be anything besides a deep threat in the NFL seem completely unfounded at this point. And even though he’ll likely always have his issues with drops, Fuller has only been unable to haul in two of his 21 catchable targets this year—a manageable rate.

6. Karl Joseph, S, Raiders

Joseph has played so well over the past two weeks that Raiders fans have to ask the question: what took so long? Joseph was benched before Week 1 in favor of Keith McGill, who then proceeded to surrender six-of-six targets into his coverage for 98 yards against the Falcons in Week 2 before ceding the job back to Joseph. Since then, the rookie has been beyond solid, racking up four stops and missing only one tackle.

7. Jatavis Brown, LB, Chargers

It’s the year of the Day 3 pick, as we see another Saturday selection make the top-10. Jatavis is currently grading above-average in run defense, coverage, and when rushing the passer. With that kind of production, the Chargers’ coaching staff has taken notice, moving him to a full-time role after the season-ending injury to Manti Te’o, instead of limiting the rookie to sub-packages. He played 68 snaps against the Saints, and is currently PFF’s 25th highest-graded linebacker.

8. Brian Poole, CB, Falcons

Brian Poole was an afterthought a season ago in the Florida secondary that featured first-round picks Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal, along with possible future first-rounders in Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor, and Quincy Wilson. Poole actually has a bigger role with the Falcons than he did with the Gators in 2015, and he’s making the most of it. His 0.91 yards per coverage snap mark is 21st among corners in the league, and the best of any rookie full-time starter.

9. Cody Whitehair, C, Bears

Outside of four penalties now in four games, there’s not much Bears fans can complain about with their new center. Whitehair has surrendered only five pressures, and currently owns the seventh-highest run-blocking grade at the position.

10. Michael Pierce, DT, Ravens

If you don’t recognize the name, don’t worry. I only first heard about Michael Pierce leading into Week 1 after he had one of the top pass-rushing grades in the preseason. Pierce went undrafted out of Samford, yet has thrived early on in a sub-package role. The Baltimore DT has six pressures in 48 pass-rushes this season, and has performed well week after week.

| 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.

  • TC

    One rookie you left off who is doing a great job is Ryan Kelly of the Colts. With a totally crap O-Line, he is THE only bright spot.

  • Charles

    Wtf? What about the nfl lead rusher?

    • Mike Reisinger

      Agreed, how is anyone suppose to take a Top 10 Rookie list seriously when it does not include a rookie who is leading the league in rushing? Not just leading all rookies, no, leading the LEAGUE! #ListInvalid

    • ImperishablePhantasm

      They take a lot of things into consideration. Zeke’s two fumble performance against the Redskins brought his grade down a lot.

      Another thing they count is YAC. If you’re just running through big holes provided by the offensive line, you’re not really doing anything special.
      You’re doing what virtually every RB would do in that situation.

      • Marchand

        Zeke lead’s in the NFL in Yards After Contact boss..

    • Forrest

      I think the argument is the line is responsible for a lot of the success. I mean Darren McFadden averaged 4.6 yards per carry running behind that line last year. Ezekiel is “only” averaging 4.4 ypc.

      Not saying it’s right or wrong. Just that PFF uses a very specific philosophy that doesn’t look at traditional stats.

    • Frank

      until the last week or so he’s looked fairly clay footed and ordinary, so I can see his grading not being that high (fumbles, etc). The Star on the helmet doesn’t affect grading upwards :)

  • anon76returns

    Boo for taking Janovich off the list. He’s been one of the Broncos top 5 offensive players every week- he’s a good rookie, even if other teams aren’t in love with the position he plays.

  • Brad Barber

    Wheres sterling shepard. He doesn’t drop passes like fuller does.

    • heLLpaso

      Yes because one more drop constitutes such a huge difference.

  • dlund6cutler


    • crosseyedlemon

      As Bear fans we should be asking where’s Leonard Floyd.

      • dlund6cutler

        That’s alright, Jordan Howard will be on this list by the end of the year.

      • Joe

        No- we Bear fans are starting to question the wisdom of the young Mr. Pace.

  • Marchand

    Zeke should be up there.. Lead’s league in rushing, Yards after contact, First downs, and has been great in blocking.Complete back… O-line has been good, but so has Zeke..

  • wva88

    On Fuller, as you allude to, all drops are not created equal. Or more to the point, drops by different players are different. An analogy can be made with strikeouts in baseball: If you look at the career leaders in strikeouts by a batter, you will find that most are in the Hall of Fame or at least in the discussion. Mark Trumbo had 170 K this year, but he also had 47 HR. You can sort of live with the former because of the later. In the same way, you can tolerate a drop a game if the guy is averaging 15+ yards per catch. But for a “possession receiver”, a drop is really bad.

    Also, situation matters. A drop on a first and 10 (when teams traditionally throw deep) isn’t as disastrous as a drop on a 3rd and 3.

  • Rodrigo Campos Pedro

    So,Janovich made it last week and then leaves it after an 88 graded game ?

  • Mike Riley

    Love seeing Karl Joseph on this list after finally seeing action these last 2 weeks. You can see he is wanting to blast ball carriers but doesn’t want to make any mistakes. His steady play is so reassuring after the 1st 2 weeks had so many of us Raiders fans ready to jump off a ledge.

    • Samuel Charles

      I agree. He’s really just making the simple tackles right now, getting in the right place, making sure they don’t get extra yards, and that he gets ball carriers to the ground.

      He’s starting to get a feel for how much bigger NFL players are so he has to get his leverage just right because he is pretty small for such a big thumper.

      Hasn’t really tried to blow anyone up yet. I think that’s really smart, just letting the game slow down before he starts coming down hill and crushing fools.

      That might be why they had him out the first couple games (first game against Drew Brees, then Julio Jones and Matt Ryan). Didn’t want him to have a bad experience in pass coverage.

      I feel like we’re going to see him start being more aggressive soon, taking more chances on the ball, and laying the wood. I love this kid.

  • Clarence Richard

    Anybody heard of Jalen Richard? You know, the undrafted guy who went 75 yards for a TD on his 1st NFL carry. The Raiders are 4-1 and this kid has the most rushing yards, the most RB receiving yards, the most punt yards, the longest punt return, the most kick return yards and the longest kick return for the team. Learn his name!