Analysis

NFL rookie rankings: Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson and Chase Young headline top 25

With the 2020 NFL regular season in the books, former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah has reviewed his notes from the entire campaign to rank the top 25 rookies.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from the midseason rookie rankings.

Rank
1
Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · QB

Herbert shattered a number of rookie records -- including touchdown passes (31) and passing yards per game (289.1) -- and he's already emerged as one of the top 10 players at his position. Oh, and he closed the season on a four-game win streak.

Rank
2
4
Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings · WR

Jefferson deserves consideration for the No. 1 spot on this list after breaking Anquan Boldin's rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards. Not to mention, he's the lone first-year Pro Bowler on the offensive side of the ball.

Rank
3
1
Chase Young
Washington Football Team · DE

Some traditional counting stats don't jump off the page (SEE: 7.5 sacks), but the only rookie defender to earn a Pro Bowl bid was a dominant force against both the pass and run. Young forced four fumbles, recovered three and returned one for a game-altering touchdown.

Rank
4
2
Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · QB

Despite playing behind a suspect Bengals offensive line, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick lived up to lofty expectations before suffering a season-ending knee injury in his 10th game.

Rank
5
2
Tristan Wirfs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · OT

Wirfs was consistently dominant throughout the entire season. The right tackle helped keep 43-year-old Tom Brady clean and was a big reason why Tampa fielded the NFL's third-ranked scoring offense.

Rank
6
19
Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts · RB

After logging some uneven play in the first 10 games of the season, Taylor took off at just the right time for Indy's offense, rushing for 741 yards and seven touchdowns as the Colts won five of their final six tilts to nab the last AFC wild-card bid. His size/speed combination is elite.

Rank
7
11
Tee Higgins
Cincinnati Bengals · WR

Higgins is a smooth route runner with outstanding size and ball skills. Considering how profoundly injuries and poor line play stifled Cincy's offensive attack, the rookie's 67/908/6 line looks quite impressive.

Rank
8
8
Derrick Brown
Carolina Panthers · DT

Brown looks to be the anchor of the Panthers' defense for years to come. He mauls offensive linemen at the point of attack and improved as a pass rusher throughout the season.

Rank
9
8
Chase Claypool
Pittsburgh Steelers · WR

The latest example of Pittsburgh's unparalleled ability to evaluate WR prospects. Despite being the 11th wideout off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft, Claypool led all rookies with nine receiving touchdowns. He's like a faster version of Plaxico Burress.

Rank
10
1
Antoine Winfield Jr.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · S

Winfield is a tackling machine with excellent range and instincts. He stuffed the stat sheet with 91 tackles, six passes defensed, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a pick.

Rank
11
3
Jeremy Chinn
Carolina Panthers · S

Chinn brought some much-needed speed and playmaking tools to Carolina's defense. He led all rookies with 116 total tackles and notched back-to-back scoop-and-score touchdowns in the span of 10 seconds against Minnesota.

Rank
12
Mekhi Becton
New York Jets · OT

Becton did miss some time due to injury, but the 6-foot-7, 363-pounder is close to establishing himself as the best run-blocking left tackle in the NFL.

Rank
13
1
Jedrick Wills
Cleveland Browns · OT

Wills was an extremely polished product coming out of Alabama and he was a steadying presence on one of the league's best offensive lines.

Rank
14
1
Mike Onwenu
New England Patriots · OG

The sixth-round pick started all 16 games for New England, showcasing the kind of versatility and physicality that coaches crave.

Rank
15
10
James Robinson
Jacksonville Jaguars · RB

Signed by Jacksonville after the 2020 draft, Robinson was the best rookie free agent this fall. It's not easy to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards on a 1-15 team.

Rank
16
4
Antonio Gibson
Washington Football Team · RB

Primarily a receiver at Memphis, Gibson didn't have much experience at the RB position heading into his rookie campaign, but he played like a savvy veteran. His vision, balance and explosiveness adds a fun component to the Washington Football Team.

Rank
17
4
Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers · WR

Aiyuk was one of my favorite players throughout the 2020 draft process -- and he didn't disappoint this fall. Electric with the ball in his hands, Aiyuk excels in Kyle Shanahan's catch-and-run system.

Rank
18
8
Patrick Queen
Baltimore Ravens · LB

Queen had some ups and downs, but his speed and effort provides splash plays for the Ravens defense. And he has the physical makeup of a modern, three-down linebacker.

Rank
19
12
CeeDee Lamb
Dallas Cowboys · WR

Lamb displayed polish and savvy as a route runner, putting up great numbers (74 catches for 935 yards and five touchdowns) despite being without his starting quarterback for the majority of the season.

Rank
20
NR
Kamren Curl
Washington Football Team · S

A seventh-rounder taken 216th overall, Curl was one of the biggest surprises in this year's class. He is an excellent all-around safety, having piled up 88 tackles, five QB hits, four passes defensed, three picks (one returned for a touchdown) and two sacks.

Rank
21
NR
J.K. Dobbins
Baltimore Ravens · RB

I love the way Dobbins fights for every yard as a runner. The Ravens have a deep roster of running backs, but the rookie has already emerged as the best of the bunch, leading Baltimore with nine rushing touchdowns.

Rank
22
NR
D'Andre Swift
Detroit Lions · RB

Swift earned more playing time and touches as the season went on, and he displayed his explosiveness as a runner and receiver. This is a nice piece for the new regime to build around.

Rank
23
NR
Julian Blackmon
Indianapolis Colts · S

I didn't know what to expect from Blackmon after he tore his ACL in Utah's 2019 Pac-12 title game loss. I was very impressed with his ability to earn a starting job and play at a very high level for one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Rank
24
13
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Kansas City Chiefs · RB

Edwards-Helaire missed a handful of games, but he made a big impact when he was on the field. A weapon in the run and pass games, CEH is a perfect match in Andy Reid's offense.

Rank
25
NR
Kenneth Murray
Los Angeles Chargers · LB

Murray had some growing pains in coverage, but his speed and range were impressive against the run. The first-round pick's best football is still ahead of him.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter.

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