NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players after Week 16 | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics

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• The race for OROY is on: Puka Nacua produced an incredible 92.5 overall grade in Week 16, his highest as a pro. He tallied six receptions of 15 or more yards, averaging 4.69 yards per route run. His 90.9 receiving grade was the third-best at the position.

• Rashee Rice stepping up for his team: Rice is proving to be a lethal threat with the ball in his hands. Through Week 16, only Tyreek Hill has more yards after the catch (633) than Rice, with the latter doing it on 30 fewer receptions.

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes


Members of the 2023 draft class are primed and ready to face down the bright lights of the NFL stage. Whether they were drafted first or 259th, the best will rise to the top when the games are played.

Here are the 15 highest-graded rookies after NFL Week 16.

1. RB De’Von Achane, Miami Dolphins: 92.5

Since returning to the Dolphins lineup in full capacity in Week 13, Achane has earned the second-highest overall grade at the position (82.6), behind only Christian McCaffrey. Over that span, Achane is one of just two backs to earn a 75.0-plus grade as both a runner and receiver.


2. WR Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams: 89.7

Nacua produced an incredible 92.5 overall grade in Week 16, his highest as a pro. He tallied six receptions of 15 or more yards, averaging 4.69 yards per route run. His 90.9 receiving grade was the third-best at the position.


3. DI Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles: 87.8

Carter may earn his respect through pass-rushing, but his run-stuffing ability has taken the spotlight recently. Over the past two games, Carter has earned a positive grade on 28.6% of his run snaps, all without earning a single negative grade. The former Georgia standout has earned a respectable 77.2 run-defense grade over that span.


4. WR Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs: 83.8

Rice is proving to be a lethal threat with the ball in his hands. Through Week 16, only Tyreek Hill has more yards after the catch (633) than Rice, with the latter doing it on 30 fewer receptions.

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5. WR Tank Dell, Houston Texans: 83.4

Dell suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 13, but he maintains his spot on this list due to his incredible playmaking ability over the first three-quarters of the season.

The Texans’ 2023 third-rounder averaged 2.22 yards per route run and hauled in 21 receptions of 15 or more yards, both of which ranked top-20 at the position through Week 13.


5. CB Devon Witherspoon, Seattle Seahawks: 83.4

Witherspoon (hip) was unable to suit up for a second straight game after suffering an injury in Week 14. That created a sizable hole in this Hawks’ secondary, as the first-year corner’s 83.3 overall grade ranks fifth among 128 qualifying corners this season.


7. QB C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans: 81.8

Stroud continues to deal with concussion symptoms that have unfortunately sidelined him for the past two games.

Through Week 14, Stroud stands as one of the most aggressive passers in the league. He’s produced a 9.7-yard average depth of target while throwing at or past the sticks on 49.2% of his attempts, the highest rate in the league.


8. EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans: 81.6

Anderson (ankle) was also sidelined for a second straight week due to injury, leaving the Texans short an explosive young pass-rusher. Through Week 14, Anderson racked up 51 total pressures, the most of any first-year defender, amounting to an impressive 14.5% pressure rate.


9. CB Christian Gonzalez, New England Patriots: 80.8

In his limited time on the field, Gonzalez proved to be one of the most promising defenders to come out of this class. He earned a 71.0-plus grade in all three major grading facets, highlighted by a 79.3 coverage grade. He also allowed the third-lowest passer rating at the position (67.5).


10. S Ronnie Hickman Jr., Cleveland Browns: 79.9

Hickman makes his debut on this list after just missing qualifying snap thresholds last week. Since taking on an increased role in Week 14, Hickman has earned a fantastic 83.0 overall grade, sixth among 95 qualifying safeties over that span.


11. CB Mekhi Blackmon, Minnesota Vikings: 79.3

Blackmon played a bigger role in Week 16, which he leveraged into notching his eighth forced incompletion of the season. That marked his second in two games and pushed his overall forced incompletion rate to 22.2%, the highest among first-year corners.


12. DI Kobie Turner, Los Angeles Rams: 78.4

Over his last five games, Turner has racked up 21 total pressures, including five sacks, for an 18.3% pass-rush win rate. That’s contributed to his phenomenal 90.1 pass-rushing grade, the highest at the position since Week 12.

13. S Jordan Battle, Cincinnati Bengals: 78.1

Battle has generated the third-highest run-defense grade (85.5) among qualifying rookies. This past week, he notched two more run stops, pushing his season total to 12, twice that of the next-closest safety in the class.


14. S Ji’Ayir Brown, San Francisco 49ers: 77.9

Brown has earned three single-game grades above 73.0 since Week 11. He has two forced incompletions and two interceptions on the season and has graded above 70.0 in coverage and as a run defender.


15. DI Keeanu Benton, Pittsburgh Steelers: 77.2

Benton jumped back into the top 15 with an incredible outing in Week 16, which resulted in his highest-graded game of the season (89.8). Benton recorded two pressures but won 26.7% of his pass-rushing snaps.


 

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