NFL Rookie Rankings: Bosa beats out four offensive first-year stars for the top spot

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The 2019 rookie class had a lot of intrigue, and with the NFL’s regular season well behind us, we ranked the best of the best in the year’s group.

We asked six writers and analysts — Matt Bowen, Mike Clay, Jeff Legwold, Cam Mellor, Kevin Seifert and Field Yates — to rank the top 10 rookies throughout the season; then we tabulated the results using Heisman-type scaling for each set. The product features nine players taken in the first 51 picks last April, and although it didn’t contribute to his ranking — this is regular season only — the top seed served as a defensive force in helping power his team to the Super Bowl.

We also looked at two first-year players who closed the season well and saw their stock rise, and two whose stock declined in the final month. But first, here is our final ranking of the top 10 rookies of the 2019 regular season, starting with that Super Bowl-bound pass-rusher.

Stats: 47 tackles, 9.0 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Drafted: No. 2 overall
Previous rank: 1

Bosa was second in sacks and No. 1 in quarterback hits for the top pass defense in the league during the regular season. He was an especially fierce presence in the pass rush down the stretch, with nine QB hits over the final four games. Football fans will get another look at the top rookie in the Super Bowl, when his Niners face the Chiefs.


Stats: 242 carries, 1,150 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns
Drafted: No. 24 overall
Previous rank: 2

Jacobs missed the final three games of the season with a shoulder injury and a skin infection. But he still finished eighth in the league in rushing and led all rookies in yards on the ground, consistently breaking tackles and providing yards after contact.


Stats: 3,722 passing yards, 544 rushing yards, 24 total touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Drafted: No. 1 overall
Previous rank: 3

He threw four of his 12 interceptions in back-to-back games (Weeks 13 and 14), but the body of work over the course of the season at the most difficult position for a rookie puts him at No. 3. Murray and Cam Newton are the only rookie quarterbacks in league history to have passed for at least 3,500 yards and rushed for at least 500.

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Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald gives high praise to QB Kyler Murray on his rookie season.

Stats: 52 receptions, 1,051 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Drafted: No. 51 overall
Previous rank: NR

In the 11 games that Ryan Tannehill started at quarterback for the Titans, Brown had four 100-yard games, caught six of his eight touchdowns and averaged at least 15 yards per catch seven times. And he topped 20 yards per catch four times during that stretch. Some in the league believe Brown was actually the NFL’s best rookie by the time Week 17 rolled around.


Stats: 58 receptions, 919 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns
Drafted: No. 76 overall
Previous rank: 6

McLaurin made many cornerbacks pay the price for trying to press him at the line of scrimmage. And while his production dipped some in the weeks immediately following fellow rookie Dwayne Haskins Jr. being named starting quarterback, McLaurin eventually had at least seven targets and averaged at least 14 yards per reception in three of the final five games.


1 Related

Stats: 44 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Drafted: No. 7 overall
Previous rank: 5

He has some work to do in the run game, but Allen was drafted to impact the pass rush and was the league’s only rookie to nudge his way past 10 sacks this season (the Raiders’ Maxx Crosby finished right at 10). Allen should get more snaps overall moving forward — he played 58% or fewer of Jacksonville’s defensive snaps in its final seven games — when he improves his work on early downs.


Stats: 109 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Drafted: No. 10 overall
Previous rank: 4

After playing at least 90% of the defensive snaps in four of the first seven games (and 89% in another), Bush lost some coverage snaps in the season’s second half as Mark Barron saw more time in down-and-distance situations. But this is a player with dynamic closing speed who will flourish over the long haul in the Steelers’ scheme.


Stats: 16 starts, 93.3% pass block win rate
Drafted: No. 48 overall
Previous rank: 8

McCoy played all but six snaps this season — he briefly left a Week 8 win over Arizona just before halftime — for the league’s No. 3 scoring offense. The Saints also tied for the third-fewest sacks allowed in the league and averaged 4.6 yards per rush in run plays over the center.


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Stats: 14 starts, 95.0% pass block win rate
Drafted: No. 44 overall
Previous rank: 9

Jenkins took over as the Packers’ starting left guard in Week 3 and didn’t miss a snap the rest of the way. He did not allow a sack all season in one-on-one situations, and the Packers averaged at least 5.2 yards per carry in run plays over the left guard or behind the left guard and center. Jenkins’ 95% pass block win rate — the percentage of blocks sustained for at least 2.5 seconds, an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats — was the best of any rookie.


Stats: 38 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Drafted: No. 17 overall
Previous rank: 10

After playing at least 70% of the defensive snaps in a five-game stretch from Week 10 to Week 14, Lawrence was on the field less and had just four tackles combined in the final three games. But he was an early-down force for much of the season and his potential was easy to see.

Just missed

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Sanders, who played through an MCL sprain in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Seahawks, flashed lead-back potential throughout the season. He averaged at least 5.7 yards per carry in four games, and his 50 receptions made him the only rookie running back to reach that total this season. He finished with 1,327 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.

Gardner Minshew II, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Minshew responded to his benching well and rebounded with seven touchdown passes and only one interception in his final four starts of the season. He consistently showed premium deep-ball accuracy throughout the season. Minshew closed the season with 3,271 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Also received top 10 votes: Juan Thornhill, Jamel Dean, Marquise Brown, Maxx Crosby, DK Metcalf, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Dalton Risner, Mecole Hardman, Deebo Samuel

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