NFL rookie ladder: Top five candidates for OROY & DROY ahead of Week 18

Ja'Marr Chase
Ja'Marr Chase is in contention for OROY. Photo from USA Today.

The NFL rookie rankings Week 18 2022 prove one thing and one thing only: This rookie class is special.

We could go on for hours about who’s going to end up having the best career, and picking just 10 rookies to do a ranking seems kind of unfair.

NFL rookie rankings Week 18 2022

It’s not usual to see so many young players make such an immediate impact on the gridiron. But thus far, the best NFL rookies 2021-22 look like superstars in the making and players that’ll make plenty of money when their time comes.

For the purposes of this article, however, we’re just going to talk about the 5 best in both the offense and defense. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our official NFL rookie ladder, featuring the biggest OROY candidates and DROY candidates.

OROY candidates

5. Creed Humphrey

The Kansas City Chiefs had serious concerns about pass protection and their offensive line seemed shaky before the start of the season.

Rookie center Creed Humphrey has put those concerns at ease, establishing himself as a physical force upfront since day one. Making the transition is especially tough for centers, and even though he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, he’s nearly a lock to get All-Pro honors at the end of the season.

4. Kyle Pitts

We already knew that Kyle Pitts was built like Calvin Johnson but the question was whether the Atlanta Falcons would succeed in getting him involved.

Fast-forward to today and he’s now the first rookie TE to amass 1,000+ yards in one season since the legendary Mike Ditka. Pitts’ physical traits make him the ultimate mismatch in the endzone, and his athleticism and hops put him in the elite category right away. Beware Travis Kelce, there’s a new alpha-dog in the league.


3. Jaylen Waddle

Standing out in the Miami Dolphins‘ pedestrian and predictable offense should be enough for Jaylen Waddle to be at the top of the NFL rookie ladder.

The Alabama product is on pace to break the league’s all-time record for most receptions by a rookie. His chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa is clear and his route-running and speed make him a big-play threat even in a conservatory offense.

2. Ja’Marr Chase

Remember when everybody roasted the Cincinnati Bengals for taking Ja’Marr Chase in the first round?

Remember when people called him a bust for all the drops in the preseason? Well, it’s officially time to apologize.

Chase looks like the best WR prospect we’ve seen in years and his Randy Moss-like skillset has shown since day one. That Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase connection will give the AFC North nightmares for years to come, and he could even sneak in and take down Mac Jones to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

1. Mac Jones

Mac Jones continues to lead all OROY candidates but the gap isn’t that wide anymore.

Jones has been efficient, poised, and effective when called upon, albeit unimpressive or flashy.

He’s now the sole owner of the New England Patriots‘ rookie for most passing touchdowns (20) and has thrown for a respectable 3,540 yards while completing nearly 68% of his passes. He may not be a superstar but he’s just what Bill Belichick needed to lead the post-Tom Brady era.

DROY candidates

5. Jevon Holland

Jevon Holland has been one of the best NFL rookies in 2021-22.

The most impressive part of his play is how he’s been able to make such a smooth transition from the slot to play at free safety for the Miami Dolphins. He’s already logged 46 solo tackles and 2.5 sacks to go along with 10 passes defended, 7 QB hits, and 3 tackles for a loss.

4. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah turned a lot of heads during his first year in the league.

He needs to bulk up and add more muscle but what he lacks in size and weight he makes up with elite footwork and blocking ability.

He’s great at filling up for other blockers and hasn’t been pushed around despite being one of the lightest at his position. He’s athletic, fast, and only needs to hit the gym to become an elite player in this league.

3. Greg Newsome II

Greg Newsome made an immediate impact at cornerback, logging 7 passes defended and 26 total tackles.

He’s athletic, fast, is a strong tackler; and has been quite efficient in the run support as well.

However, he’s no longer near the top of the NFL rookie ladder, as he hasn’t been able to play since Week 12 and there are serious concerns about his durability. Hopefully, he’ll be able to stay on the gridiron and live up to his draft stock.

2. Patrick Surtain II

It’s still early to tell but Patrick Surtain II is looking like a generational cornerback already.

Surtain has intercepted more passes (4) than allowed touchdowns. He’s already got a 70-yard pick-six under his belt and has logged 58 total tackles (43 solo) and 1 tackle for a loss.

He’s defended 14 passes and has limited rival QBs to a rating of 69 with under 60% of completions. He was one of the biggest reasons behind the Denver Broncos‘ late-season turnaround.

1. Micah Parsons

There aren’t many things we could say about Micah Parsons that haven’t been said before. Not only he leads all DROY candidates, but he also leads the Defensive Player of the Year race.

His versatility and ability to line up at every spot in the front seven make him a unique, once-in-a-generation kind of guy. He’s drawing comparisons to Lawrence Taylor and even though it could be soon to put him in the same sentence as the greatest defender of all time, he’s definitely making a case early in his career.

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4 Comments

  1. Naked Harris with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He broke Franco Harris rushing record this year. I can’t believe he wasn’t mentioned.

  2. Mac Jones? Seriously? The guy has been solid but he hasn’t been asked to do much other than throw a handful of passes and don’t mess up. The ROY needs to be more than a caretaker.

  3. I guess all the critics are going to forget about najee Harris he carried the ball almost 387 times without even fumbling the ball he was very productive the whole year all because he ain’t on a high profile playoff team people are going to overlook he might not be the number one but he should be at least on the list. Ask Klein critics don’t know what they’re looking at when they talk sports that’s all I got to say

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