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Best performances from NFL rookies in Week 15: Brock Purdy’s world with a side of Kayvon Thibodeaux

NFL rookies shined throughout the league’s Week 15 slate. It started Thursday with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy leading his team to a win over the Seattle Seahawks and the NFC West title.

Once the weekend came calling, a drama-filled slate of mid-December football included talented New York Giants edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux doing his thing in his team’s huge win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday Night Football.

These are among the five NFL rookies who put up the best performances during the Week 15 slate of action.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL power rankings

Kyle Hamilton, safety, Baltimore Ravens

nfl rookies week 15: kyle hamilton, baltimore ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Seen as a generational safety prospect heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, Kyle Hamilton has had somewhat of a slow go at it this season. But the Notre Dame product is seeing a ton more action for a Ravens defense that’s still among the best in the game.

Despite Baltimore falling to the Cleveland Browns Saturday evening, Hamilton came to play big time. That included the first-round pick racking up seven tackles (two for loss), a pass defended and a sack in a great all-around performance.

Baltimore ranks in the top seven of the NFL in points allowed. Its defense has yielded 18 passing touchdowns against 14 interceptions. If the Ravens are to make a move in the playoffs, they’ll need this unit to continue playing at a high level. Hamilton taking over center field on nickel situations could play a big role in this.

Related: Best performances from NFL rookies in Week 14

Isiah Pacheco, running back, Kansas City Chiefs

nfl rookies:  isiah pacheco
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Since he took over for a now-injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire as Kansas City’s RB1 back in Week 10, this late-round selection has been among the best NFL rookies on either side of the ball. With his Chiefs facing a surprisingly tough matchup against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Pacheco played a big role in helping them win the game and clinch the AFC West.

Despite losing a fumble, the former Rutgers star went for 86 yards on 15 rush attempts. He added another 11 yards through the air, continuing what has been a great run for the seventh-round pick.

Over the course of the past six games, Pacheco has put up 546 total yards at a clip of well over five yards per touch. Providing this type of balance for NFL MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes will prove to be huge moving forward.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, New York Giants

nfl rookies: kayvon thibodeaux
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If it weren’t for Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Giants would not be in the position we’re seeing right now. New York was able to end its recent skid with a huge 20-12 win over the division-rival Washington Commanders Sunday night. In the process, the team moved to 8-5-1 on the season and is pretty much a lock to make a surprise playoff appearance.

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, this Oregon product came to play early and often. Within the first 17 minutes of the game, Thibodeaux registered seven tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, forced fumble and touchdown. He was elite in every possible way.

New York’s offense just isn’t good enough to go tit-for-tat with other teams in higher-scoring affairs. It needs this defense to continue playing at the level we saw Sunday night in Maryland. When all was said and done, Thibodeaux put up one of the best performances from a rookie this season (11 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, 1 sack, 1 TD).

Related: Top NFL rookies on both sides of the ball

Drake London, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons

nfl rookies; drake london
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Following Atlanta’s decision to bench Marcus Mariota for rookie Desmond Ridder, it became clear that the team needed this fellow rookie to step up. After all, Drake London has been extremely inconsistent thus far this season. That includes putting up two catches or fewer four times on the campaign.

This was not the case Week 15 despite Atlanta falling to the New Orleans Saints in a narrow affair. London caught 7-of-11 targets for 70 yards to help keep the Falcons close. How good was this performance? Ridder completed just 4-of-15 passes for 27 yards when he didn’t target London on Sunday. For a Falcons team that’s still surprisingly alive in the NFC South race, this rookie duo could play an important role over the final three weeks of the regular season.

Related: Best performances from NFL rookies in Week 13

Brock Purdy, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

nfl rookies; brock purdy
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What is there to say about Purdy that has not been said? “Mr. Irrelevant” is now 2-0 as a starter after taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo back in Week 13. His wins included outplaying the likes of Tom Brady and Geno Smith in consecutive weeks.

What we saw from Purdy Thursday night against Seattle as he helped lead the 49ers to the NFC West title defied logic. Almost literally.

That’s all sorts of disrespectful there. And in reality, it’s just a continuation of brilliant play Purdy has put out there since taking over for the Super Bowl contenders. In his two starts, the Iowa State product has completed 70% of his passes with five total touchdowns and zero interceptions for an otherworldly 124.6 QB rating.