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Ranking the top 25 rookies in the NFL for the 2019 season

These fellas graduated at the top of their class
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) celebrates against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The 2019 NFL Draft produced a few Pro Bowlers, but the class’ best years are ahead of them. There are many Pro Bowlers and All-Pros in the making, some of which might not even be on the public’s radar yet.

For now, we can only judge the members of the 2019 class based on their rookie seasons. Looking through their performances produced this list of the top 25 rookies for 2019.

25. Marquise Brown WR, Baltimore Ravens

46 receptions, 584 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns

The first wide receiver taken and only one of two takes in the first-round, Hollywood Brown’s debut turned heads. Against the Miami Dolphins, Brown caught four passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Injuries limited his production, and he didn’t cross the 100-yard mark during the rest of the regular season.

24. Diontae Johnson WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

59 receptions, 680 receiving yards, five receiving touchdowns, 248 punt return yards, one punt return touchdown

The Steelers know a good receiver when they see one. Pittsburgh drafted Johnson in the third-round, and he became a crucial part of the offense during the second half of the season. He revitalized the team’s punt return game and gave the offense new life. The Associated Press named Johnson as the Second Team All-Pro punt returner for 2019.

23. Darius Slayton WR, New York Giants

48 receptions, 740 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns

The fifth-round pick out of Auburn started 2019 on the right foot, catching three passes for 82 yards in his first game. While Slayton didn’t make his debut until Week 3, the rookie became a fixture of New York’s passing game. He and Daniel Jones showed a strong connection down the stretch.

22. Daniel Jones QB, New York Giants

3-9 record, 61.9 comp. %, 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 87.7 passer rating

Despite appearing in just 13 games, Jones led the NFL in fumbles with 18. The Duke product did throw for four or more touchdowns in three games, but the majority of his performances combined some promising moments with obvious blunders.

21. Gardner Minshew QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

6-6 record, 60.6 comp. %, 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns, six interceptions, 91.2 passer rating

When Nick Foles broke his clavicle in Week 1, Minshew stepped in. The sixth-round pick from Washington St. quickly garnered a massive following. A rocky stretch saw the rookie benched for Foles in the middle of the season, but he soon returned to the starting role. If the quarterback situation doesn’t change in Jacksonville, Minshew should be the team’s starter in 2020.

20. Taylor Rapp S, Los Angeles Rams

Two interceptions, eight passes defensed, 99 tackles, one touchdown

The Rams did not plan on starting their second-round pick, but an injury to John Johnson pushed Rapp into the lineup. He showed steady improvement throughout the season, flashing surprising pass coverage skills. Rapp displayed great run defense capabilities at Washington and brought those skills to the NFL. He should start for Los Angeles in 2020.

19. Dexter Lawrence DL, New York Giants

2.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, 38 tackles

New York fans had unrealistic expectations for Lawrence. While the Giants did reach for the interior lineman with the 17th overall pick, Lawrence looks and plays more like a nose tackle than the modern pass-rushing defensive end or tackle. He’s a strange fit for New York’s 3-4 defense, especially because he should be far inside, not lining up at the defensive end position.

18. Ed Oliver DT, Buffalo Bills

5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, 43 tackles, one forced fumble

A somewhat polarizing prospect, some people believed Oliver was the best player in the 2019 draft. The Bills picked him at ninth overall but removed the Houston product from the starting lineup after seven disappointing games. Oliver rebounded in the second half of the season, recording four sacks between Week 11 and Week 13.

17. Deebo Samuel WR, San Francisco 49ers

57 receptions, 802 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns, 159 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns

The 49ers tagged Samuel as part of their rebuilding process, which turned into an incredible 13-3 season. He moved in and out of the starting lineup early before earning a permanent starting job. On San Francisco’s roster, the second-round pick only trailed George Kittle in receptions and receiving yards during the regular season.

16. Brian Burns EDGE, Carolina Panthers

7.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 23 tackles, one forced fumble, one touchdown

Some critics thought Carolina reached when they drafted Burns with the 16th overall pick. While he did not earn consistent starts throughout the season, Burns flashed his potential early in the year, producing 4.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits in the first six games. He needs more consistent production in 2020.

15. Terry McLaurin WR, Washington Redskins

58 receptions, 919 receiving yards, seven touchdowns

The third-round, 76th overall pick wasted no time introducing himself to NFL fans. McLaurin went off for 125 yards and a touchdown on five receptions in Week 1. Despite missing two games, the Ohio St. product nearly hit the 1,000-yard mark. McLaurin more than doubled Washington’s second leading receiver’s yardage total.

14. Juan Thornhill S, Kansas City Chiefs

Three interceptions, five passes defensed, 57 tackles, one touchdown

Unfortunately, a torn ACL kept Thornhill from participating in the 2020 playoffs. However, the 63rd overall pick played extremely well alongside Tyrann Mathieu. Thornhill started all 16 games for the Chiefs, and it looks like he and Mathieu will keep the safety position stable in Kansas City for years to come.

13. Montez Sweat EDGE, Washington Redskins

Seven sacks, 13 quarterback hits, 50 tackles, two forced fumbles

Most analysts had Sweat going higher than 26th overall, but that’s where the Redskins scooped him up. After producing two ten-sack seasons at Mississippi St., Sweat transitioned well into the NFL. He started all 16 games for Washington and flashed noticeable potential as a run defender.

12. Maxx Crosby DE, Oakland Raiders

10 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 46 tackles, four forced fumbles

The fourth-round pick finished second in sacks among rookies. Crosby’s 14 quarterback hits kept him from advancing further up these rankings, but he easily outplayed first-round pick, Clelin Ferrell. Crosby led the Raiders in sacks and is at the forefront of a group of talented young players striving to put Oakland back in contention.

11. D.K. Metcalf WR, Seattle Seahawks

58 receptions, 900 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns

Concerns about his route running dropped the combine warrior to the final spot in the second-round. Metcalf proceeded to reward the Seahawks for drafting him while punishing all his doubters. With blazing speed and a 6-4, 229 lbs. frame, Metcalf is a force to be reckoned with.

10. Erik McCoy C, New Orleans Saints

16 appearances, 16 games started

Six offensive linemen went in the first-round. Eleven got drafted before McCoy, who the Saints scooped up with the 48th overall pick. The rookie from Texan A&M started all 16 games for New Orleans in 2019, replacing the retired Max Unger.

9. Miles Sanders RB, Philadelphia Eagles

818 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 50 receptions, 509 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns

The second running back taken and the only one drafted in the second-round, Sanders developed a larger role in Philadelphia’s offense throughout the season. Injuries to other key players boosted his workload. Sanders averaged 82.9 yards from scrimmage per game.

8. Elgton Jenkins G, Green Bay Packers

16 appearances, 14 games started

The 44th overall pick played a role in stabilizing Green Bay’s offensive line. In 2018, pass rushers sacked Aaron Rodgers 49 times. The future Hall of Famer received much better protection thanks to Jenkins and a healthy offensive front. Defenders sacked Rodgers just 36 times in 2019.

7. A.J. Brown WR, Tennessee Titans

52 receptions, 1,051 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns

Something went wrong when NFL teams scouted this wide receiver class because most of the top guys weren’t first-round picks. The Titans selected Brown in the second-round, 51st overall, and he immediately became the team’s leading receiver. This is Tennessee’s way of apologizing for spending the 5th overall pick on Corey Davis in 2017.

6. Kyler Murray QB, Arizona Cardinals

5-10-1 record, 64.4 comp. %, 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 87.4 passer rating

The first overall pick looks like he can stick around in the NFL for years to come, but his game is somewhat flawed. Murray needs to take advantage of his mobility more, cut down his interceptions, and maximize his talent as a big playmaker. The Cardinals can build their organization with all of the young talent they accumulated over the past several years.

5. Devin Bush ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers

109 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, one touchdown

The last defensive player the Steelers traded up to take in the first-round was Troy Polamalu. Pittsburgh hopes Bush can bring that same kind of energy to the team. The team needed a speedy linebacker since Ryan Shazier went down, and Bush filled the role well. His pass coverage and tackling still need some work, but the tenth overall pick made plays left and right in 2019.

4. Devin White ILB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

91 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, two touchdowns

Everyone knew White and Devin Bush were the two first-round quality linebackers in the 2019 draft. Tampa Bay selected White with the fifth overall pick, and the young linebacker made the team proud. After overcoming injuries at the start of the season, White played lights out for the Buccaneers, generating five turnovers and two scores.

3. Josh Allen DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

10.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits, 44 tackles, two forced fumbles

The newest Josh Allen led all rookies in sacks. He thrived in Jacksonville alongside former Pro Bowlers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. While Allen’s run defense could use some work, the 7th overall pick looks like the Jaguars’ future at defensive end.

2. Josh Jacobs RB, Oakland Raiders

242 carries, 1,150 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns

The only running back taken in the first round, Jacobs proved his worth with the Raiders this season. The latest addition in the ongoing running back revolution, Jacobs finished third in rushing yards per game this season with 88.5. He totaled 1,316 yards from scrimmage.

1. Nick Bosa DE, San Francisco 49ers

9 sacks, 25 quarterback hits, 47 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble

The younger Bosa is every bit the player his older brother, Joey, is. Nick made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and contributed across the board for San Francisco. He provides a spark of energy for the defensive front and possesses incredible agility and speed for his size. The second-overall pick will battle with his older brother for All-Pro selections soon.

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