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2022 NFL All-Rookie Team Honors



(Mandatory Image Credit: Bill Kostroun / New York Post)


Written by: Joseph Yun


The 2022 regular season is in the history books and what a wild ride it was. The playoffs are underway with an intriguing divisional round on deck after a truly WILD Card of a wild card weekend. Who were the top rookies in 2022? Who has some work to do to cement themselves in the league going forward? Can these young dudes continue to progress into being the next wave of superstars? While it is early, who has multiple All-Pro teams and beyond in the future? These players’ stories are worth sharing and reflecting on no matter where they go from here.


You can find it below if y’all want to check out the 2020 and 2021 editions of the all-rookie team:




(Note: All statistics are after Week 18, before the postseason, and courtesy of NFL.com and profootballreference.com)


First Team


Offense


QB: Brock Purdy / San Francisco 49ers


- Mr. Relevant has risen from the depths of Mr. Irrelevant to lead the 49ers to the playoffs after critical injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy G. He sneaks ahead of presumptive first-teamer Kenny Pickett due to his outstanding play even in a brief cameo on a great team. He’s won every start since coming in during Week 13. The former Iowa State product shocked the league with his great play as he came out of nowhere. Purdy has more than earned his spot on the first team leading the NFC West champions with great play down the closing stretch. Enough to the point that some wild speculation that he could be the future instead of Trey Lance.


2022 Statistics: 114 / 170 (67%), 1,370 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions


RB: Tyler Allgeier / Atlanta Falcons


- The former BYU runner burst onto the scene and fully entrenched himself as the starter after star Cordarrelle Patterson missed several weeks due to injury. He finished the closing stretch with a bang, rushing for 431 yards and two touchdowns in four games. At the very least, he’s a fully capable RB2 that could take over as RB1 should Patterson move on in the future. He jumped up into the first team after his consistent performance all season and being healthy at the end. The future remains very bright for the Falcons and his prospects as the lead back. Week 18 saw him crack the 1,000-yard barrier and a franchise single-season rookie rushing record. Allgeier was the fifth-highest-graded running back by PFF with a score of 86.7. Not bad for a fifth-round selection that sat as low as RB3 at certain points of the season.


2022 Statistics: 210 attempts for 1,035 yards and three touchdowns; 16 receptions for 139 yards and one touchdown


RB: Kenneth Walker III / Seattle Seahawks


- Walker had a bit of a slower start compared to his youthful peers, getting the nod only after the injury to Rashad Penny in week 6. Oh, but what an electric start he had before eventually tapering off in the middle and closing strong once more. He had eight touchdowns in his first six starts. The former Michigan State product closed the season strong for the wild card entrants with three consecutive 100-yard finishes, which allowed him to cross the 1,000-yard barrier. Seattle got great value for their second-round investment and it’s looking like it will pay off in spades in the long term. Can he join the illustrious pantheon of great Seahawks backs soon? His PFF grade of 76.7 was good enough to merit a top 20 ranking at his position.


2022 Statistics: 220 attempts for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns; 27 receptions for 165 yards


WR: Garrett Wilson / New York Jets


- Wilson quickly assumed the mantle of WR1 in New York and is among the favorites to win OROY. He was so dominant in terms of the counting stats that he outpaced the next two receivers in both catches (83 to 69) and yards (1,103 to 982) COMBINED! The first-round selection from Ohio State looks to take his rightful place as one of the more elite receivers in the league after a standout rookie season. What makes his debut so impressive is that he didn’t falter despite the maelstrom called the Jets’ quarterback room. This bodes well going forward even if the Jets continue to flounder about in their search for a signal caller. It can be argued that he is a top-ten receiver in the league so soon. He finished just behind Drake London in terms of PFF grade with an 82.7, which was good for a top-15 finish.


2022 Statistics: 83 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns


WR Chris Olave / New Orleans Saints


- Speaking of former first-round Buckeyes receivers tearing up the league despite quarterback issues, enter Chris Olave. Funny enough, Olave was taken just one pick after behind his buddy Wilson. The youngster ascended the depth chart to become the Saints' new WR1. He led the team in receptions and yards to the point that the next three receivers (Rashid Shaheed, Jarvis Landry, and Tre’Quan Smith) could not keep up. He outgained them (1,042 to 1,038) and tied them in touchdowns + receptions. If the Saints can find a stable situation at quarterback, the sky’s the limit for young Olave. Another fun coincidence is that Olave finished just behind his counterparts Wilson and London in PFF grading with an impressive 82.5. The finish was good enough for a 1-2-3 finish in the top 15 for all three.


2022 Statistics: 72 receptions for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns


TE: Chig Okonkwo / Tennessee Titans


- Tennessee’s young playmaker led the league at one point in yards per reception for his position. He was brought along slowly for some unknown reason by the Titans’ coaching staff despite his immense potential. Okonkwo showed enough in his rookie campaign to garner TE1 honors despite his lack of reps. He similarly flashed a ton of athleticism to another Titans legend, Delanie Walker. It appears that he will be at least in contention for TE2 for Tennessee going forward (depending on what happens to pending UFA Austin Hooper). Tennessee’s string of finding long-term impact tight ends is secure with Chig. Look forward to a potential leap statistically from the former Terrapin in year two and beyond.


2022 Statistics: 32 receptions for 450 yards and three touchdowns


OT: Ikem Ekonwu / Carolina Panthers


- The first tackle off the board had a season in which a lofty ranking was merited. He didn’t allow a sack for ten straight games and was a rock for the Panthers at the franchise tackle spot. Eknowu did finish a little bit inconsistent, allowing sacks in two of three final contests. The physical traits that got him drafted so highly showed every week. Carolina has a key position locked down as they figure out what direction they want to head in. It certainly helps Ekonwu that he gets to face the fearsome Panthers defensive front in practice every day to hone his significant skillset.


PFF Grade: 65.3


OG: Dylan Parham / Las Vegas Raiders


- The undersized rookie from Memphis played both guard spots and center this season but primarily was a left guard by trade. He was a better run blocker than a pass blocker but did hold up rather well given his attributes. Enough good play merited inclusion into the first team over the other rookie guards. He was the second-highest-graded rookie guard. Perhaps a move to the center could do him a world of good as he’s undersized for guard and he played well there in limited reps. Is he the new Rodney Hudson?


PFF Grade: 61.9


C: Tyler Linderbaum / Baltimore Ravens


- Linderbaum was the most dominant center prospect in years despite his physical limitations. The surprise first-round selection had an impressive season for the astute Ravens regardless of the quarterback play. His first-year campaign was so good in fact that he was ranked as the league’s sixth-best center by PFF. It appears that the Ravens got yet another long-term linchpin on the line. Can he ascend to the top of the center throne in a few years?


PFF Grade: 74.7


OG: Tyler Smith / Dallas Cowboys


- I’m bending the rules a little bit here to fit Smith in on the first team. He was drafted to play guard but ended up deputizing for the injured Tyron Smith at left tackle. Smith played very well in Tyron’s stead, which isn’t surprising given his tackle pedigree. It can be argued that he was the best tackle taken in the first round. Another late first-round lineman steal for America’s Team it appears. He was graded as the third highest-rated rookie tackle with an overall grade of 71.4, which was good for 34th overall at his position. It will be interesting to see which direction the Cowboys go with both Smiths going forward. Is this Smith the heir apparent for the older Tyron or will he go back to guard in 2023?


PFF Grade: 71.4


OT: Jamaree Salyer / Los Angeles Chargers


- Salyer was pressed into left tackle duty as a sixth-round rookie after the injury to rising star Rashawn Slater. He played well above expectations as the former Bulldog earned a 69.2 overall grade from PFF. Los Angeles has a key building block in Salyer on its line as he can play both guard and tackle. The current starter at right tackle (Storm Norton) is on IR and a free agent this offseason so he could slide in there depending on what they wanted to do with versatile pieces. At any rate, he deserves starters’ reps next season based on this debut protecting Justin Herbert’s blind side. He’s given up only five sacks and three penalties on the season.


PFF Grade: 69.2


Defense


DE: Aiden Hutchinson / Detroit Lions


- The former Michigan standout loves playing in the Wolverine State. Hutchinson had a standout rookie campaign even by high draft-pick standards. He posted 9.5 sacks to lead the Lions and even chipped in three interceptions and three PBUs while in coverage. Well worth the investment going forward. Part of a high-powered pass rush duo with fellow rookie pass rusher James Houston IV, who could’ve made the list. Flashed every bit of the skillset that we fell in love with that got him drafted second overall. He was the highest-graded rookie EDGE and was good enough to land a top-25 ranking at the position. If all goes well, he will command a deal well north of the AAV and guaranteed dollars that TJ Watt received recently.


2022 Statistics: 52 tackles, 9.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss, three passes defended, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries


DT: Jordan Davis / Philadelphia Eagles


- The big man didn’t receive a ton of reps compared to his peers but when he was in, he was more than advertised. An ankle injury derailed his rookie season, however. A much-ballyhooed former first-round selection didn’t log a sack but was a surprising force in the passing game regardless. A noted run stopper already given his measurables, he shined there too. He played behind a pretty stout interior/defensive front so his reps were limited but he is the future. 2023 will likely feature an increase in playing time for him as he gets a full offseason of S&C work to firm up his body. He has Haloti Ngata type of potential if all goes right.


2022 Statistics: 18 tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass defense


DT: Travis Jones / Baltimore Ravens


- Ngata, Siragusa, Brandon Williams, and Jones? He certainly has the potential to join the lofty ranks of those hallowed names in Ravens history. While the numbers aren’t eye-popping, he did play well enough to earn his way onto the first team over the other IDL. Jones was the top-ranked rookie IDL (with significant reps) by PFF grades with a 62.5 overall. Athletically, he profiles similarly to Muhammad Wilkerson who had a few years in the league. He’s a typical Ravens pick that they develop into a lot more than his original selection grade.


2022 Statistics: 24 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, and one pass defense


DE: Kayvon Thibodeaux / New York Giants


- The uber-athletic edge rusher was highly touted as a top-five draft pick but took some time to get going. Overall, he had a solid rookie debut and started to break out toward the end of the season. Thibodeaux burst onto the scene finally in Week 15 with a 12 tackle, one fumble forced, and one sack performance against Washington. Still, his impact was felt with his quick twitch bendy frame forcing blockers to account for his whereabouts constantly. PFF had him as the third highest-graded EDGE defender and a top 40 ranking.


2022 Statistics: 49 tackles, four sacks, five passes defended, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries


LB: Quay Walker / Green Bay Packers


- The first of two Packers' first-round selections had the start from the word go. He’s a toolsy prospect who has some learning left to do but flashed well in the front seven. Walker racked up a ton of tackles and an impressive seven passes defended as a combo linebacker. Yeah, he had two stupid unfortunate incidents involving contact with off-field personnel but it doesn’t take away from a promising rookie season. The former Bulldogs ‘backer can be a key building block as the Packers look to retool around their defense. He did just enough to surpass fellow impressive rookie linebackers on the second team for the first team.


2022 Statistics: 121 tackles, 1.5 sacks, seven passes defended, five tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery


LB: Malcolm Rodriguez / Detroit Lions


- “Rodrigo” was arguably the biggest star of “Hard Knocks” this past offseason and carried that productivity over to the season. While the Lions were fun offensively, they were a bit inconsistent defensively, thanks to playing a ton of youth. Kids like Rodriguez got drafted in the sixth round after a stellar draft process despite being undersized. He was all over the place starting every game but one. He earned the first-team honor for being the most consistent rookie linebacker. Rodriguez slowly morphed his way into being the defensive general and will look to assert his case for the green dot next season. The true America’s Team ® is in Detroit and the former Oklahoma State youngster will be a crucial part.


2022 Statistics: 87 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one sack


CB: Sauce Gardner / New York Jets


- Look out, Gotham, you have a new star corner patrolling the gridiron that evokes the memory of highly exalted Darrelle Revis. Mr. Sauce is the runaway favorite for the DROY award much like Micah Parsons dominated his freshman class. The young man from Cincinnati was recently nominated for the Pro Bowl and took to NFL life like a duck to water. Teams rarely or outright tested him. A very bright future awaits the man in the city that never sleeps indeed. He’s going to get a lot of accolades before it’s all said and done. Well worth the high first-round investment made by the Jets. He’s the first overall rated corner by PFF.


2022 Statistics: 75 tackles, three tackles for loss, 20 passes defended, two interceptions


S: Jaquan Brisker / Chicago Bears


- The former Penn State second-round selection stepped in and played brilliantly from the jump. Brisker was generally on point in both pass and run defense, snagging four sacks and five tackles for loss in year one. He missed two games due to a concussion but started every other game and played nothing below 96% of the snaps in those healthy contests. The second-highest-ranked rookie safety by PFF (65.3) played nearly everywhere including a few reps at cornerback. Primarily used as a box safety but he has been used at free safety on more than a few occasions. The young man was the key cog in the youthful Bears' secondary and it appears that he’s on his way to ascending toward the top of the league at his position.


2022 Statistics: 104 tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks, one fumble forced, one fumble recovery, two passes defended, one interception


S: Kerby Joseph / Detroit Lions


- All that Lions’ youth that was previously talked about? Yeah, Joseph was part of the movement. He had a great season, finishing with a bang by picking off the exalted Aaron Rodgers three times in two games. The young man from Illinois leaped up the depth chart and started every game at free safety after Week 3. He fits in with the philosophy of being strong up the middle of a defense. A terror in pass coverage with eight passes defended and 82 total tackles. The third-round selection was a FIND by the Detroit staff and will likely anchor the back end going forward. He will be a name to watch for in the future that probably includes the top 15 safety talk. As he and the Lions defenders grow up, look for multiple playoff-contending years from this group. Could he be a more athletic Kenny Vaccaro?


2022 Statistics: 82 tackles, eight passes defended, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery,


CB: Tariq Woolen / Seattle Seahawks


- While Woolen didn’t exactly come out of nowhere to claim a horse in the DROY race, he certainly had a great debut. The physical attributes were eye-popping already with some technical refinements needed and boy he delivered in spades. Woolen tied for the league lead in interceptions with six and had a whopping 16 passes defended. His supreme athleticism was quite evident when he used his blazing 4.26 speed to catch up to receivers if they beat him. He’s quickly ascended to the top tier of the elite cornerbacks so soon even as a fifth-round rookie. The former Roadrunner is helping Seattle recreate the infamous Legion of Boom days of yore. He’s a physically imposing corner at 6’4 with long arms and terrific quickness. If Sauce Gardner was in any other class, he would have more than a puncher’s chance at DROY. That’s how good his rookie campaign was. Richard Sherman 2.0, anyone?


2022 Statistics: 63 tackles, one tackle for loss, six interceptions (one pick 6), three fumble recoveries


NB: Jack Jones / New England Patriots


- The fourth-round rookie was a preseason world-beater and made a great first impression before ultimately bowing out after 13 appearances. He logged 26 solo tackles, one forced fumble, and two interceptions (one pick 6). He was a standout in every game he played, allowing only a 64.7 QB rating when thrown at (39 targets). He shut down a litany of receivers that came his way, which is impressive given the lack of secondary help. The future is very bright for this rookie corner if he can return healthy. Like Stephon Gilmore bright. High praise but with some luck, he can get there. Jones was so good this season that he’s running for second-best rookie corner and is currently the 15th-best corner overall, according to PFF. He earned a 74.7 overall grade.


2022 Statistics: 30 tackles, three tackles for loss, six passes defended, two interceptions, and one forced fumble.


2nd Team


Offense


QB: Kenny Pickett / Pittsburgh Steelers


- The only first-round quarterback selected in last year’s draft certainly got the most reps so he got the second-team position by default. Pickett’s rookie season was full of what one would call rookie inconsistencies. He had some good moments but flashed some typical head-scratching young moments. The young passer from Pitt grew up a ton so tangible progress can be pointed out to quell the prospective tenor of Pitt taking another quarterback so soon. Will he end up in the elite superstar ranks of the Mahomes and Herbert class? Likely no, but he is serviceable and won’t destroy the Steelers’ chances at being competitive. He did an admirable job despite having the second-worst offensive coordinator and having to replace the Steelers legend, Ben Roethlisberger. It will be interesting to track his career path from here on out. Is he a gloved Jared Goff or can he be a Ryan Tannehill type who makes decent bank as a just-below franchise type?


2022 Statistics: 245 / 389 (63%), 2,404 yards, seven touchdowns, and nine interceptions


RB: Breece Hall / New York Jets


- The second-round selection from Iowa State was well on his way to securing OROY honors before injury ultimately derailed his season after six complete games. He was hurt in his seventh start against Denver and never played again this season. Hall was a force in both the pass and run game, delighting Jets fans and fantasy owners alike. The rookie runner finished his rookie year with a 69.8 grade from PFF, ranking eighth of nine runners who played a significant role.


2022 Statistics: 80 rushes for 463 yards and four touchdowns; 19 receptions for 218 yards and one touchdown


RB: Dameon Pierce / Houston Texans


- The preseason revelation continued into the regular season as the little-used back from Florida romped through the early part of the schedule. He tailed off a smidgen as the Texans continued to lose before being placed on IR before week 15. He certainly is a building block as Houston looks to emerge from the quagmire that was prior administrations. Who will be the quarterback next to him in 2023? Multiple 1000-yard seasons look to be in his future. Pierce finishes his debut campaign with a 78.9 overall grade from PFF, which ranked third overall for first-year runners.


2022 Statistics: 220 attempts for 939 yards and four touchdowns; 30 receptions for 165 yards and one touchdown


WR: Christian Watson / Green Bay Packers


- Well, it’s not how you start but how you finish as Watson started with a brutal drop but finished as a leading receiver for Aaron Rodgers. The former Bison product was used in a variety of ways including running the ball out of the backfield. Watson is a solid bet to assume the throne as WR1 for the storied franchise as Allan Lazard is a free agent. The tall speed demon acquitted himself well for the Packers in his rookie season despite the low counting stats. He finished as the fifth highest-rated rookie receiver by PFF with a score of 77.1. The grade was good enough to merit a top 25 ranking at his position. Well worth the long-term investment made by Green Bay.


2022 Statistics: 41 receptions for 611 yards and seven touchdowns; seven attempts for 80 yards and two touchdowns


WR: Drake London / Atlanta Falcons


- London was the first receiver taken off the board in April and finished that way in terms of rookie receiver rankings by PFF with a top 15 score of 83.2. He finished with 866 yards and four touchdowns despite a QB situation that featured a hapless Marcus Mariota and a young Desmond Ridder making his debut. The former Trojan blossomed when Ridder took over, posting 333 yards on 25 receptions in four contests. A good enough rookie campaign to merit a lock status on the second team despite being the focal point of the passing offense when Kyle Pitts got injured. Atlanta has a stud WR1 on their hands to build around as they find their way to contention once more.


2022 Statistics: 72 receptions for 866 yards and four touchdowns


TE: Daniel Bellinger / New York Giants


- While he wasn’t the first option for Giants’ passers, he was a key safety outlet for the playoff-bound New York franchise. Bellinger was a fourth-round rookie who posted modest numbers on the year so a second-year outlook might not be too high, fantasy-wise. He’ll be a building block to pair with however the Giants choose to address the QB position. While he likely won’t be Travis Kelce, he can be a second-tier TE1 going forward.


2022 Statistics: 30 receptions for 268 yards and two touchdowns


OT: Braxton Jones / Chicago Bears


- The Bears found a franchise left tackle amidst a lost season it seems. Jones was a fifth-round selection graded as the top rookie tackle and the 20th-rated tackle overall. A small school product like Jones making this kind of jump is good for his prospects. He was an excellent run blocker while slightly less as a pass blocker. The left side is locked down for Chicago while the right side is a question that needs to be answered. Could Jones be looking forward to a top-of-the-market deal in the future? His second year will be a fun one to watch with the Bears poised to make a big jump.


PFF Grade: 75.4


OG: Zion Johnson / Los Angeles Chargers


- The ultra-versatile former first-round selection was the starter at right guard from day one. He was very good, ranking as the top-rated rookie guard by PFF and a top-40 guard overall at that. Johnson looks to be a very good building block as the Chargers go forward in attempting to protect star passer, Justin Herbert. His positional versatility will be a plus as the front office will reform the line around the young pieces. Perhaps a kick out to tackle next season if he’s willing? A long-term star guard is in the cards for young Zion.


PFF Grade: 64.8


OC: Cam Jurgens / Philadelphia Eagles


- Jurgens played sparingly (obviously because of who is in front of him) but was generally solid when called upon. He was graded to be a really good pass blocker, scoring slightly below 80, according to PFF. The former Nebraska product was athletic enough to be used as a tight end in some packages. While Jason Kelce is the present for the currently one-seeded Eagles, Jurgens is his heir apparent. A nice transition is set up for the second-round pick in the coming years as Kelce approaches retirement.


PFF Grade: 60.1


OG: Ed Ingram / Minnesota Vikings


- Ingram was generally solid for the Vikings but it could’ve gone better as well. He’s the best of the bunch remaining thus his selection to the second team. The former second-round selection played exclusively right guard in Minnesota. PFF graded him to be a sub-50 rated pass blocker while an above 60 rated run blocker. Regardless, he was a top-60 overall guard so that has to count for something going forward. It’s only going up from here for Ingram.


PFF Grade: 57.1


OT: Abraham Lucas / Seattle Seahawks


- Lucas stayed home in the PNW and thrived as part of an impressive rookie tackle duo. He was the right tackle for the Seahawks from Day 1 and didn’t let go of the job. The former Washington State product was drafted in the third round and earned an impressive 68.5 overall grade. A grade that netted him the fifth highest-rated rookie and a top 40 overall ranking at the position. There was some consideration for him being on the first team because he was that impressive in comparison to his peers. The future at the position is very bright for him it seems. Seattle can just forget about the position for at least the next half-decade.


PFF Grade: 68.5


Defense


DE: Arnold Ebiketie / Atlanta Falcons


- Another year, another surprise early draft pick impressing for the Falcons. Ebiketie didn’t have the numbers like his fellow defensive classmates, but he was an impact pass rusher. The light slowly flickered on for him like a typical rookie adjusting to the speed of the pro level. He’s likely a starter at best, and a key rotational piece at worst going forward. The former Penn State product looks to be a building block for the Falcons as they emerge from the doldrums of the prior regimes.


2022 Statistics: 30 tackles, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and two passes defended, 2.5 sacks


DT: Devonte Wyatt / Green Bay Packers


- Wyatt was in line for a redshirt season behind a pretty decent Packers’ line but he played relatively well when called upon before ramping up late. He was forced into the lineup with a bigger role late when Dean Lowry went on IR. The former first-round selection was an impact on the reps he got, scoring well on PFF in most categories. A late-season cameo can only help his development. He’s the future alongside a burgeoning youth movement in Wisconsin.


2022 Statistics: 15 tackles, one pass defended, one forced fumble, 1.5 sacks


EDGE: Sam Williams / Dallas Cowboys


- Williams landed with the perfect team for his talent to be nurtured. The former third-round selection didn’t crack the 40% barrier all season but when in, he was spectacular. A rotational piece that wasn’t expected to do much behind the all-star-laden Cowboys front, he delivered some juice rushing the passer. He notched four sacks in his 22 tackle effort during the regular season. The off-field concerns allowed the Cowboys to sneak in and scoop up a great value EDGE in the middle rounds of the draft where the depth was needed. PFF grades him as the fifth-highest rookie at his position and he was a top 45 EDGE overall. While he likely won’t crack the starting lineup as long as DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong are there, he can be a great rotation piece. Maybe in a couple of years, as the aforementioned slowly age out, Williams can assume the throne next to superstar Micah Parsons.


2022 Statistics: 22 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, one pass defended, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries


LB: Travon Walker / Jacksonville Jaguars


- The first overall selection had a slow start but caught on fire toward the end of the season. He flashed the athletic traits but also showed that he’s still the raw prospect coming out of college. An inconsistent first year knocks him down to the second team and is challenged by other linebackers in this class. The ascendant Jaguars are a competitive bunch and the arrow only goes up from here. If not for the hilarious theatrics called the Brandon Staley time management experience, Walker would be excoriated for an untimely roughness flag to end their season. He was injured for a little bit of the season so that was taken into account. The former Georgia product needs more development to ascend into the elite pass rusher ranks.


2022 Statistics: 49 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception, two passes defended, one forced fumble


LB: Kingsley Enagbare / Green Bay Packers


- Enagbare stepped up to the plate for the Packers after Rashan Gary went on IR. While he wasn’t a true starter for the whole year, he started getting the majority share of reps after Week 9. The statistics aren’t as gaudy as his contemporaries but he did make a pass-rush impact. He’s part of the future in the Green Bay defensive front going forward. The fifth-round rookie is in line to get significant minutes next season should the Packers make some painful cost-cutting moves.


2022 Statistics: 31 tackles, five tackles for loss, three passes defended, three sacks


LB: Jack Sanborn / Chicago Bears


- Sanborn showed up in a big way after Roquan Smith was traded to the Ravens near the deadline. The undrafted free agent from Wisconsin only played in six games post-trade but he was a rock in the middle for the Bears, posting a 64.5 grade from PFF, which is good for 38th overall from a group of 83 linebackers. He’s currently on IR but has a pretty good future as the latest point man in the long and storied tradition of Windy City linebacker legends. Hopefully, he returns next season with a clean bill of health. He’s a building block of a rebuilt Monsters of the Midway rendition. The emerging star did just enough to merit consideration on the second team over the much more hyped likes of Devin Lloyd, George Karlaftis, and Nik Bonitto. He finished his brief but brilliant freshman campaign with an overall PFF grade of 64.5, ranking first overall in his class.


2022 Statistics: 64 tackles (50 solos), five tackles for loss, two sacks, and one fumble recovery


CB: Martin Emerson, Jr / Cleveland Browns


- Emerson didn’t make as many starts as some of the others on this team but he was impactful nonetheless. He played a ton after injuries to nominal starters Greg Newsome and Denzel Ward. It was a solid season for him as he finished strong with consecutive weeks of two passes defended. A lot of development reps as a starter will only be beneficial for him and strengthens the team’s secondary unit. He has the size and good enough speed to stick at the outside corner going forward. The former Mississippi State product looks like another hit for the Browns regime looking for one after their offseason debacle. PFF graded him as the fifth highest-ranked rookie, slotting him in just inside the top 30.


2022 Statistics: 63 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, 15 passes defended


S: Jalen Pitre / Houston Texans


- Pitre’s rookie year was a long trial by fire as the team continued its descent into securing the top selection. An effort that was completely and impeccably ruined at the last second by a shock win over a similarly disinterested Colts squad. He started every game of this lost season and led the team in tackles. While he statistically had a good debut, he also missed a lot of tackles as well. The young safety has a ton of developing to do technically but taking the lumps now is a good thing down the road. He can be the leader of the secondary in due time and has athletic traits.


2022 Statistics: 147 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, five interceptions, eight passes defended


S: Kyle Hamilton / Baltimore Ravens


- The all-world first-round safety played nearly everywhere in the secondary, including corner until the Ravens belatedly realized he would prosper as a box safety. Thus a slow start in terms of reps until about Week 9 where he logged above 70% for the first time. The late run of form was impressive even for a rookie of his credentials. Hamilton was deserving of first-team honors but just fell short due to the inconsistencies early on. The physical attributes are tantalizing in the right context as a hybrid nickel safety/linebacker type going forward. PFF certainly thinks so as he’s graded as the third overall safety just behind superstar Minkah Fitzpatrick. Marcus Williams and Hamilton could be the best safety duo in the whole league pretty soon if not already now. Despite his lack of elite coverage ability, he’s more than serviceable in that regard. Could he evolve into a top-five safety in the league soon?


2022 Statistics: 62 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, five passes defended, one forced fumble


CB: Kader Kohou / Miami Dolphins


- It can be argued that the undrafted free agent signee was the most important contributor to the Dolphins' secondary. He played a lot of both slot and outside corners and started primarily as the nickel. A slow burner who didn’t start until Week 3 and didn’t earn all the starter’s reps until Week 5. He was very consistent every week as well, earning a regular season PFF grade of 69.8, good for a top 40 overall ranking and sixth-best rookie corner. Could there be a changing of the guard in the next couple of years as Xavien Howard and Byron Jones age out and become even more cost prohibitive?


2022 Statistics: 72 tackles, five tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, one interception, one forced fumble


NB: DaRon Bland / Dallas Cowboys


- Bland was a revelation during the stretch run as he started seven straight games due to injuries at his position. The fifth-round rookie snagged five interceptions and defended seven passes in his short stint as a starter. The opposite man beside star corner Trevon Diggs figured to get a lot of attention that way but Bland held up pretty well. He was graded to be the fourth-best rookie corner by PFF and scored a top 25 ranking at the position overall. Not a bad start for the young man. He’ll look to emerge as a starter opposite Diggs next season with Anthony Brown and Trayvon Mullen scheduled to be free agents and cost prohibitive. Did Will McClain unearth yet another late-round gem?


2022 Statistics: 54 tackles, one tackle for loss, seven passes defended, five interceptions



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