We now have a large enough sample size around the NFL to look at how rookies have performed thus far this season.
Some highly-touted youngsters such as Nick Bosa, Marquise Brown and Brian Burns have been absolutely studly in their initial regular-season action.
Meanwhile, later-round picks in that of Gardner Minshew and Chase Winovich have impressed big time.
It’s in this that we look at the top-10 rookies heading into Week 6 of the NFL season.
1- Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
Bosa was absolutely dominant in a blowout win over the Cleveland Browns last week, recording nine quarterback pressures, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Through the first five games of his rookie season, Bosa has now recorded 35 quarterback pressures, nine hits and three sacks. He’s already playing like one of the top defenders in the NFL. It’s stunning to see how well the No. 2 pick has transitioned to the pros from Ohio State.
2- Devin Bush, Pittsburgh Steelers
We were pretty surprised to see Pittsburgh trade into the top 10 of April’s draft to select this former Michigan standout. Bush had been jumping up the draft boards a lot. But the Steelers have not been a team to make a move of this ilk. It’s paid off big time. The linebacker heads into Week 6 having recorded 45 tackles, three fumble recoveries, an interception and a sack. He’s been a difference-maker on an otherwise lackluster Steelers defense and could be the face of this unit moving forward.
3- Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
Most experts had Burns going in the top 10 of April’s draft. That was thrown for a loop when the Oakland Raiders surprisingly selected Clelin Ferrell No. 4 overall. Though, Carolina is not complaining about this. Its new edge rusher has been brilliant through five games. Burns is on pace to record nearly 30 quarterback hits and 11 sacks this season. Those are Pro Bowl numbers and they couldn’t come at a better time with Carolina in the midst of a three-game winning streak.
4- Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
There was some concern about Brown’s ability to hold up in the NFL. He suffered a serious injury during the offseason and stands at just 5-foot-9. Through five weeks, these concerns have been quieted in a big way. Hollywood, as he is known, has been simply dazzling for second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. Brown has recorded 21 receptions for 326 yards and three touchdowns. He’s been a home run threat every time he’s touched the ball. And it has Brown as one of the most-electric young receivers in the game.
5- Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
Oakland received a lot of flack for selecting a running back in the first round of April’s draft with needs up and down the roster. It now appears that Jon Gruden and Co. are having the last laugh. These Raiders head into their bye at 3-2 on the season. Jacobs has been no small part in that success. He’s on pace for north of 1,600 total yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging a robust 5.4 yards per touch through five games. The former Alabama standout has also been consistently good, putting up 99-plus total yards in four of his five games.
6- Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Historical. That’s the best way to describe Minshew’s success as a rookie. The sixth-round pick has tallied 1,279 passing yards with nine touchdowns and one interception in five games (four starts). It’s the second best touchdown-to-interception ratio for a rookie quarterback in his first four starts in league history. Jacksonville is also a surprising 2-2 in games Minshew is under center as the starter. All of this leads some to believe that the Jags will have a hard time turning back to Nick Foles once he comes off injured reserve.
7- Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yet another Jaguars rookie on this list, Allen has played some tremendous football as a pass-rush specialist after earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season. The Kentucky product has tracked up six quarterback hits and three sacks through five games while playing well over 70% of Jaguars’ defensive snaps thus far this season. Talk about him not translating to the NFL has been replaced by the reality that Allen is a future Pro Bowl performer.
8- D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
We were stunned to see the 6-foot-4 Metcalf fall all the way to the final pick in the second round of April’s draft. Some had concluded that the Ole Miss product was nothing more than a workout warrior. That was a false narrative based on nothing concrete. Metcalf is proving said skeptics wrong through five games. He’s caught 12 passes for a whopping 267 yards and three touchdowns. Metcalf’s average of 22.3 yards per reception ranks first among all qualified NFL receivers. Yeah, it looks like MVP candidate Russell Wilson has himself a shiny new toy.
9- Chase Winovich, New England Patriots
Yet another player we were surprised to see last until he did, the Patriots found an absolute gem in Winovich with the 77th pick in April’s draft. The Michigan product has recorded five quarterback and four sacks head into Thursday night’s matchup against the Giants. He’s done so playing less than 35% of his team’s defensive snaps thus far this season. That’s ridiculous production from a part-time player. And it has New England thinking it has a keeper in the long-haired stud.
10- Justin Skule, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco joins the Jaguars in having two rookies on this list. For good reason. Skule took over for injured six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley as the 49ers’ starting left tackle back in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. All he’s done since in protecting Jimmy Garoppolo’s blindside is allow a total of two quarterback hurries and commit zero penalties. Skule was near-flawless going up against Myles Garrett in Monday’s blowout win over the Cleveland Browns. It’s simply amazing to see how well this Rookie is sixth-round pick has performed thus far this season.