With the 2022 NFL season in the books, it's only right that we now rank the rookie classes for all 32 teams. It was imperative to wait until after the Super Bowl, because the Chiefs draft class was one of the best in the business this past season. And now, all those first-year pros will be getting fit for some rings.
The "hits" are ranked in order of how well they performed as rookies, and that ranking is based relative to when they were drafted. Higher expectations for earlier picks etc.
Year 1 hits: LB Brian Asamoah
The Vikings had a large draft class, and injuries derailed the professional debuts for safety Lewis Cine and cornerback Andrew Booth Jr.. While Ed Ingram got significant action in his first season, he was a liability at guard for Minnesota's offense. Asamoah came on strong late in the year, making plays in coverage and against the run but didn't even log 125 snaps.
Year 1 hits: OL Dylan Parham
Parham wasn't magnificent at guard as a rookie, but he did hold his own coming out of Memphis. Like most young blockers, Parham was further ahead as a run blocker than he was in pass protection. The rest of the Raiders class was hardly heard from in Year 1.
Year 1 hits: DT Jordan Davis
Davis toughed his way through some injuries in Year 1, and wasn't much of pass rusher. He did generate a few splash plays in the middle against the run. On a team loaded with veterans, there wasn't room for the rest of the rookie class to see the field.
29. Las Angeles Rams
Year 1 hits: CB Decobie Durant
The Rams were ravaged by injuries in 2022, and their rookie class was part of the wreckage. Durant saved the class with three interceptions, including a pick-six. The former South Carolina State star was around the football frequently with five pass breakups in limited action.
28. Cleveland Browns
Year 1 hits: CB Martin Emerson
Emerson quietly had a strong debut in Cleveland with 15 pass breakups and 63 total tackles as one of the primary outside cornerback starters for the Browns. Other rookies played in 2022, yet were all clearly not ready to be big-time positive impacts on the Browns.
27. Denver Broncos
Year 1 hits: CB Damarri Mathis, TE Greg Dulcich
The Broncos had a sizable rookie class in 2022 but not much to show for it, outside of some splash plays from Dulcich and overall stingy coverage from Mathis. It would've been nice to see more from GM George Paton's second draft in Denver after an awesome debut draft from him.
Year 1 hits: EDGE/DL Cam Thomas, EDGE Myjai Sanders
Neither Thomas nor Sanders were stars as rookies on a bad Cardinals defense, yet they flashed as pass rushers, which of course is vital. Trey McBride was a disappointment from Round 2, and the Day 3 picks barely saw the field.
Year 1 hits: LB Chad Muma
24. Miami Dolphins
Year 1 hits: QB Skylar Thompson
The Dolphins only made four picks in 2022, and the last one, Thompson, was the only to make a serious contribution. For a seventh-round pick who was widely viewed as a developmental type, the former Kansas State quarterback fared relatively well thrust into multiple relief appearances in Year 1.
Year 1 hits: OL Ikem Ekwonu
Ekwonu is the only hit from the Panthers 2022 class, which besides him, was rather ghastly. However, Ekwonu played about as well as advertised, and nailing a left tackle pick in Round 1 is very beneficial in the team-building process.
Year 1 hits: RB Rachaad White, TE Ko Kieft, TE Cade Otton
When given a more substantial role later in the season, White was a dynamic pass catcher like he was at Arizona State. The tight end duo stayed true to their strengths in Year 1. Kieft blocked well and Otton made some plays as a receiver.
Year 1 hits: RB Brian Robinson Jr., WR Jahan Dotson
Robinson made Antonio Gibson an afterthought in 2022. He got more than what was blocked for him en route to more than 700 yards on the ground. Dotson caught seven touchdowns as a rookie but only had one 100-yard game.
Year 1 hits: WR Chris Olave, CB Alontae Taylor
Olave was the main rookie of substance from the Saints 2022 class. Pushed into a top-target role, he had 72 receptions for over 1,000 yards and four scores. Now, he wasn't a YAC or big-play specialist, but he handled WR1 responsibilities well. Taylor held his own filling in for injured star Marshon Lattimore at outside cornerback, finishing with eight pass breakups on the season.
Year 1 hits: CB Cam Taylor-Britt, OL Cordell Volson
Taylor-Britt and Volson played a lot as rookies on each side of the ball and were quality players. The Bengals could upgrade from Volson in 2023, yet they do know they have a quality swing blocker on the interior. The Bengals would've been higher if they got more from first-round pick Daxton Hill.
Year 1 hits: OL Jamaree Salyer, OL Zion Johnson
Johnson underwhelmed as a first-round pick but wasn't entirely a turnstile. Salyer on the other hand was tremendous locking down the left tackle spot -- a position most analysts didn't believe he could play in the NFL -- after Rashawn Slater's early season-ending injury. Other than that, the Chargers didn't get much return from the rookie class.
17. New York Giants
Year 1 hits: Kayvon Thibodeaux, TE Daniel Bellinger, CB Cordale Flott
Thibodeaux hit the ground running after an injury delayed the start to his pro career. Bellinger, who many thought was a project, caught 30 passes in Year 1. Flott was a part-time cornerback and chipped in with two pass breakups and a big one in the playoff win.
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16. Buffalo Bills
Year 1 hits: CB Christian Benford, RB James Cook, CB Kaiir Elam
Benford had five pass breakups and a pick despite two long lapses sidelined due to injury. Cook didn't generate a major stir as Buffalo's backup runner, so you probably won't believe he averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Elam didn't start all year, so his action was limited. He did finish with four defended passes and a pair of interceptions.
Year 1 hits: WR Alec Pierce, TE Jelani Woods, OL Bernhard Raimann
No one from this trio was a standout in their first seasons with the Colts, yet Pierce was a reliable contributor, and Woods got three touchdowns on 25 receptions in a backup role. Raimann started as a major liability at tackle. His development was clear late in the season.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Year 1 hits: RB Tyler Allgeier, WR Drake London, EDGE Arnold Ebiketie
Allgeier quietly went over 1,000 yards on the ground at well over 4.0 yards per carry. London was held back by quarterback play -- and of course Atlanta would be higher here if Desmond Ridder played better. Ebiketie's season-long efficiency as a pass rusher wasn't there, but he did have three contests with five or more pressures.
13. Tennessee Titans
Year 1 hits: TE Chigoziem Okonkwo, WR Treylon Burks, CB Roger McCreary
Okonkwo flashed as a YAC specialist in a low-volume role, and once he was nursed to full health, Burks proved to everyone why he was a first-round pick. McCreary was able to get past his short-arm deficiency as an inside-out corner in Year 1.
12. Chicago Bears
Year 1 hits: OT Braxton Jones, S Jaquan Brisker, CB Kyler Gordon
Jones had a low-key awesome season at left tackle blocking for Justin Fields, Brisker logged almost 1,000 snaps and was reliable in all phases of playing the safety position. Gordon was victimized from the jump, but I respected his perseverance and how his play got steadier as the season progressed.
Year 1 hits: WR George Pickens, QB Kenny Pickett, TE/FB Connor Heyward
Pickens looks like a future 70-plus catch, 1,300-yard No. 1 wideout, and Pickett slowly but surely improved as the season progressed. Even Heyward made some plays down the field late in the year.
Year 1 hits: CB/WR Marcus Jones, CB Jack Jones, OL Cole Strange
The Jones duo was outstanding for Bill Belichick, and heck, Marcus won the Patriots a game against the Jets. Strange, the most eye-opening first-round pick on draft night, looked the part at guard in Year 1. He does has plenty of room for improvement, though.
Year 1 hits: QB Brock Purdy, OG Spencer Burford
Of course, Purdy's presence buoys an otherwise disappointing class for the 49ers. And, yes, playing quarterback in Kyle Shanahan's scheme was extraordinarily helpful. But Mr. Irrelevant was impressive making decisions and threw with outstanding accuracy and a veteran-level grasp of the playbook in Year 1. Burford had his moments at guard and is trending toward being a quality interior blocker once he adds more strength to his frame.
Year 1 hits: S Kyle Hamilton, OC Tyler Linderbaum, TE Isaiah Likely
Hamilton was an elite safety in Year 1 -- and not just for rookies. Linderbaum has to get stronger to deal with bull rushers in pass protection. As a run-blocker, he looked nearly as comfortable as he did at Iowa. He routinely paved lanes for Baltimore ball-carriers.
Year 1 hits: RB Dameon Pierce, S Jalen Pitre, CB Derek Stingley Jr., LB Christian Harris
Before his injury, Pierce was in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, and the two defensive backs were playmakers, although Stingley didn't reach his full potential, likely because he played far more zone than he was accustomed to from his time at LSU. Harris missed tackles at an alarming rate but was a super-active three-down linebacker.
Year 1 hits: WR Christian Watson, WR Romeo Doubs, LB Quay Walker, EDGE Kingsley Enagbare, OL Zach Tom
Watson and Doubs kind of took turns in the receiver spotlight, and both showed glimpses of major potential. Enagbare was a relatively consistent pressure-creator, and Tom filled in nicely along the offensive line. Walker had a pushing-an-official problem but otherwise was a good three-down playmaker.
Year 1 hits: OL Tyler Smith, S DaRon Bland, EDGE Sam Williams, TE Jake Ferguson
Smith's Tulsa film was a wild ride, a multitude of All-Pro caliber wins and more holds than most seventh-round picks. But he stepped in like an established veteran in Year 1, even manning the left tackle spot after earning a guard gig through the summer. Bland, the inauspicious fifth-round pick from Fresno State, snagged five picks as a rookie. Williams was buried behind the likes of Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence but chipped in with 22 pressures on fewer than 200 pass-rush snaps. Even Ferguson showed a glimmer or two of receiving ability at tight end.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
Year 1 hits: RB Isiah Pacheco, CB Joshua Williams, CB Jaylen Watson, CB Trent McDuffie, S Bryan Cook, LB Leo Chenal
The Chiefs rookie class was integral to Kansas City's Super Bowl title, one that seemed somewhat out of reach after the trade of Tyreek Hill. Pacheco eventually passed all the backs on the depth chart, and while it had some lapses, the rookie cornerback trio of Williams, Watson, and McDuffie shined down the stretch in the regular season and playoffs. Even Cook flashed in the AFC title game against the Bengals.
Year 1 hits: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE James Houston, S Kerby Joseph, LB Malcolm Rodriguez
Hutchinson was a three-down monster in Year 1, Not quite on, say, a Nick Bosa, Aldon Smith, or Javon Kearse-esque level of rookie impact at the edge spot, but down the stretch he was borderline unblockable. Houston didn't see the field on a consistent basis until November, then, too, was unblockable. Joseph was always around the football in coverage, finishing with four picks and eight pass breakups. Rodriguez played like he's been in the NFL for five years right from the jump. Awesome class for GM Brad Holmes.
Year 1 hits: CB Tariq Woolen, RB Kenneth Walker, OT Abraham Lucas, OT Charles Cross, CB Coby Bryant
The Seahawks wouldn't have sniffed the postseason without stellar play from their rookie class. Walker got the most first-place votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year, while Lucas and Cross were nasty blockers from Week 1 on. Then there's Woolen, an impossibly tall, fast cornerback who was supposed to be a long-term project. He wasn't super-sticky in coverage late in the season yet hauled in six interceptions early. Impressive city.
1. New York Jets
Year 1 hits: CB Sauce Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall, EDGE Micheal Clemons
GM Joe Douglas hit a towering home run with this draft class. Heck, if Hall stayed healthy, he probably would've been Wilson's stiffest competition for Offensive Rookie of the Year. And Gardner wasn't just the Defensive Rookie of the Year but an obvious All-Pro selection in his debut NFL season. Even Clemons, a Day 3 edge rusher, shined against the run and when rushing the passer in 2022.