Top 10 Rookie of the Year candidates entering Week 5

PFF's Khaled Elsayed brings you the list of our top Rookie of the Year candidates thus far.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

(AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Top 10 Rookie of the Year candidates entering Week 5

The Pro Football Focus race for Rookie of the Year returns, after a massive slate of Week 4 action. Last week, the Bills’ Ronald Darby jumped to the top of the leaderboard, but the cornerback position can be a fragile one for a first-year player.

Here are our top 10 rookies entering Week 5 of the NFL season:

1. Ronald Darby, CB, Bills (+7.3)

Darby is simply getting better and better, with his effort against Eli Manning and the Giants his best performance yet. The second-round pick wasn’t expected to contribute this much, this soon. But he is, so credit goes to our list leader after four weeks.

2. Leonard Williams, DE, Jets (+10.7)

Williams rocketed up the list with the best performance of any rookie all year in Week 4. The Jets’ DE showed how destructive he can be against the pass, with a phenomenal five hits and four hurries against the Dolphins in London.

3. Henry Anderson, DE, Colts (+9.4)

Anderson is already a big part of the Colts’ defense, and has seen his grade grow week after week. His effort against Jacksonville was his best yet, as he put together a strong effort rushing the passer (five hurries), and an even stronger performance against the run.

4. Mitch Morse, C, Chiefs (+3.6)

Offensive lines around the league are struggling, as they tend to in the early weeks of a year, but Morse has hit the ground running. The Chiefs’ second-round pick is a natural at the center spot, even if he did get beat for a couple sacks this past week.

5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans (-1.0)

Mariota enjoyed a bye in Week 4, and held onto a top 5 spot. Will be looking to jump back up the rankings when he takes to the field this week.

6. Hau’oli Kikaha, LB, Saints (+5.1)

Ignore the sacks, his pass rushing hasn’t really taken our breath away. But the relentless Kikaha is turning into a force in the run game—no 4-3 outside linebacker has a better grade in this regard.

7. Karlos Williams, RB, Bills (+2.9)

It looks like a concussion might slow him down, but Williams has really made things happen when he’s been on the field. It’s a shame his momentum is about to take hit.

8. Jordan Hicks, LB, Eagles (+2.4)

Hicks has done a nice job filling in for the Eagles’ plethora of injured players at the inside linebacker position. The former Texas Longhorn definitely has a knack for flying to the ball.

9. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers (+2.4)

Is churning away the yards without ever getting that big, game breaking carry that might open the floodgates. Leads the rookies in forcing 12 missed tackles.

10. Vic Beasley, DE, Falcons (-0.5)

Beasley made this list because of the strength of his pass rushing (+2.7). While the Falcons schedule has been relatively easy, he’s had to deal with Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, and Duane Brown. That’s a baptism of a fire for a rookie, and it won’t get any easier with Trent Williams this week.


Dropping Out

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: Winston had one of his worst outings of the year against the Panthers. How rough? Rough enough to drop from top 5 on this list to completely out of the top 10.

Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs: The Chiefs’ corner has been a little boom or bust, and against the Bengals, he was most definitely not boom.

Shaq Thompson, LB, Panthers: After three encouraging efforts, Thompson had a really off day, missing more tackles than he made.


Five To Watch

Maxx Williams, TE, Ravens: Williams has impressed with limited playing time. If he can stay on the field, he’ll have a shot at cracking the top 10.

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars: Yeldon leads rookies in total yards, but he’s not making as much out of his opportunities as the two other rookie runners who made the list.

Adrian Amos, S, Bears: Never far from making the top 10, Amos has quietly gone about his business. His play has been solid, if somewhat unspectacular.

Carl Davis, DE, Ravens: After back-to-back bad weeks, Davis responded with a nice effort on his 35 snaps against Pittsburgh.

Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: Cooper is certainly not being shorted on opportunities, but has at times struggled with the upgrade to the pros.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The only rookie under more pressure to succeed than Mariota is Winston so I think that factor has to be taken into account. The hardest part of turning around a franchise is altering the mindset and getting players to believe that success is possible. The Titans mindset is changing in a positive way and that’s largely because of the play of Marcus Mariota.

  • Nicholas Rogers

    How about some O-line cred for TJ Clemmings? Granted, he had to line up against Von Miller so he didn’t look so hot last week.. But he’s been very impressive for a rookie starting at RT. He’s athletic, shows flashes of brilliance, could be a top RT for years to come in the league with experience. Just a thought (:

    • Jack Jordan

      i’m a Vikings fan and you’re crazy

    • eYeDEF

      There are two rookie starting RTs, Havenstein and Poutasi, that have played better. His run blocking has bee inconsistent and his shade under 3 QB pressures given up per game is far from impressive.

  • Jordan

    Gurley should be on the watch list as well imo. 70 less yards then Gordon with two less games.

  • RMS108

    Surprised to not see Amari Cooper in the top 3, let alone outside the top 10. You’re the experts though I suppose.

    • Malachi

      he’s got stats but his drop rate and grades aren’t that good actually, he’s def the real deal tho

    • Brian

      Seems like he’s had a lot of drops and basic rookie mistakes, clearly he’s a huge talent. If the’s already this good, give him time to develop, gunna be a real threat for a long time

  • MD_in_MD

    WOW!! Go home Khaled, you’re drunk! Amari Cooper is, far and away, the leading candidate for OROY! How can you even THINK about putting chumps like Melvin Gordon or Karlos Williams anywhere NEAR them!? Mariota looks good, but he’s no Cooper with respect to rookie impact and consistent quality of play.

    Absolutely unreal…..LMAO!

    • Tim Edell


    • Malachi

      he’s got stats but his drop rate and grades aren’t that good actually

      • JoshsC

        It’s only cause he’s dropping balls right now, and he fumbled once. He’s easily the best rookie right now, he has had atleast one big play in all his games.

        • Malachi

          he’s likely the best long term of the rookies, just not right now

      • Derek Long

        If grades are so important, why is Mariota’s -1 and Vic Beasley’s -.5 even a consideration? Why isn’t Big Cat #1? He’s got the best grade on the list. You can’t knock Cooper for drop rate and game grades, while ignoring what he’s done. He’s been the best rookie without any doubt.

        • Malachi

          mariota is a QB, so nuff said there lol. Beasley has faced three elite LTs, and is barely on the list. and darby has been more consistent game in game out vs williams who has flashed more. if cooper was the best rookie he’d be on the list. i’m not hating on him, as a broncos fan i was devastated the raiders got him, as i see him as a sure fire all-pro for years to come.

        • Malachi

          it’s a grading site, excuse them for using their grades

  • Mnstorm99

    As a Viking fan, I wonder if Eric Kendricks will start to show up on this list as well. They traded away Hodges, so Kendricks will start to get more time now, and it seems to me like he is doing pretty well.

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  • Ieyasu

    I respect PFF, but I don’t understand their continued snubs of Amari Cooper.

    • eYeDEF

      I do. A 14.29 drop rate is terrible, enough to rank 46th of 53 among wide receivers. His 60% catch rate is barely adequate. I expect he’ll improve, he’s a fantastic talent. But until he improves those percentages, you shouldn’t expect to see him in a top rookies list.

  • Derek Long

    Remember another outstanding WR that struggled with drops early, but KILLED when he got it in his hands. That WR? JERRY RICE. Just get AC some stickum and you can start the fitting for his gold jacket. #OROY

    • JT

      I don’t care what the grades say….if his production is considered “struggling” its kind of a big joke he’s way ahead in terms of rookie receivers this year and has done it on the Raiders on top of that.

  • T.J.

    ‘ best performance by any rookie ( single game) ‘ absurd. go back to the first game of season, the Tenn. QB …. L.Williams

    he’s a freakin D’ line guy, on a team that IF say Coples subbed it wouldn’t make that much diff.


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  • Brian

    Jets could be sick….Wilkerson, Richardson, and now Williams. That 3 man rush alone could be brutal, imagine if they got some actually good edge rushers to boot!

  • Brian

    Bet Gurley will be on this list very soon

  • Eric

    Todd gurley should be first look at him not in week five he’s doing great
    He missed three games and is still in the top 5 running backs