The rookie class of the 2022 NFL season was truly impressive. Two running backs covered 1,000 yards on the rush and two receivers covered 1,000 yards on the receiving. Seven players have scored at least five times in the scrum. Twelve freshman quarterbacks had three or more sacks, four had over 100 tackles, and nine had three or more interceptions. Eight quarterbacks have started at least one game, and one currently has a team in the divisional playoffs.

So, how have the rookies performed this season? Let’s compile the top 10, taking into account only the regular season. We polled our very own Matt Bowen, Jeff Legvold, Matt Miller and Jordan Reid to compile their personal lists and combined them to come up with a consensus ranking of the top 10 newcomers. Our experts then weighed each player that made it to the list, as well as the few players that didn’t make it. Finally, they picked someone who got up to watch, an underperforming player in the first round, a top player at the end of the round, and someone who could break out in their sophomore campaign. Let’s start with a fairly obvious top rated player.

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1. Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets

Statistics: 75 tackles, 2 INTs, 20 defensive passes
Sketched: No. 4

Why is he here: He is exactly who we envisioned him for the 2022 draft. He is explosive and self-confident, possesses ball skills and demonstrates the ability to recover quickly from the rare shots that he had in his debut season. His 20 passing breaks are tied for the NFL lead with Jalen Ramsey. — Legvold

Go forward: Gardner has become one of the league’s best cornerbacks as a rookie and there’s no reason to expect him to fall in 2023. He entered into a conversation about the best cornerback in the league overall and will stay here. — Miller


2. Aidan Hutchinson, Delaware, Detroit Lions

Statistics: 52 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 3 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries.
Sketched: No. 2

Why is he here: This is exactly what we expected from Hutchinson, based on the recording of his speech at the college in Michigan. He is a two-sided defensive end capable of destroying the pocket and creating a strong advantage against the play on the run. And the urgency he brings to the position creates more opportunities to track the ball and complete the play. His 46 pressings have led all rookies this year. — Bowen

Go forward: Hutchinson quickly became the Lions’ defensive leader. A versatile pass rusher playing with a ruthless nature, he doesn’t seem to have an off switch. He is constantly on the attack, managing to influence the game in many ways. His versatility allows defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to use his skill set in multiple places on defense, and he will continue to play a big role in Detroit’s defense. — reed


3. Chris Olav, WR, New Orleans Saints

Statistics: 72 catches, 1,042 yards, 4 touchdowns
Sketched: No. 11

Why is he here: Despite playing without a great quarterback, Olav gained over 1,000 yards and became a top target for the Saints. The receiver is one of the toughest positions to transition from college to pro and succeed immediately, but he’s proven to be a player the Saints can build around. His 14.5 yards per catch ranks fourth among rookies and had only one fall in a year. — Miller

Go forward: Olaf had 78 more goals and 44 more receptions than the next wide receiver from New Orleans, so the Saints need to find a way to help him and get some attention off him. But even without a clear No. 2 receiver on the field, Olav scored just the third 1,000-yard rushing season for a rookie in franchise history. There’s no reason why more wouldn’t follow if he got a little stronger, allowing him to win contested catches more often. — Legvold


4. Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets

Statistics: 83 catches, 1,103 yards, 4 touchdowns
Sketched: No. 10

Why is he here: Wilson quickly showed that he could be the best offensive player in the NFL. He was able to play without any consistency under the center, which is a sign of great talent in this position. Wilson is a sudden and creative runner who can also bend his body to make a difficult grab. His 56 first downs led to success for all rookies. — reed

Go forward: Wilson could become a star in this league if the Jets find the answer to the quarterback position. It easily and quickly navigates through each level of the route tree. And Wilson has a dynamic ability to create game-changing games. — Bowen


5. Tariq Woolen, CB, Seattle Seahawks

Statistics: 63 tackles, 6 INTs, 16 defensive passes, 1 TD, 2 fumble rebounds, 1 blocked shot
Sketched: No. 153

Why is he here: His combination of speed (4.36 seconds in a 40-yard dash on a combine) and length (a grip-like 79-inch arm span) is rare. And his knowledge of the route, backed up by three seasons as a wide receiver in college, keeps him in the right place, even as he’s still learning the nuances of the position. His six steals led the NFL with only four players having more defensive snaps (1,095). — Legvold

Go forward: Woolen is more than just a great formation player. He is a fantastically versatile talent with the speed, length and instincts to quickly become one of the top five cornerbacks in the NFL. — Miller


6. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Statistics: 228 carries, 1050 rushing yards, 27 catches, 165 receiving yards, 9 total TDs
Sketched: No. 41

Why is he here: Walker led the playoff team’s rushing offense, interrupting 29 runs of at least 10 yards (the most by a rookie). Walker, tense between tackles and a devastating hit on the edges, ended the regular season in three straight games with a 100-plus rushing yard. And no other rookie has come close to his nine fastest points. — Bowen

Go forward: Seattle clearly believes in effective ball handling, and Walker quickly established himself as the No. 1 option in the outfield. He will continue to play an important role in this offense regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Seahawks next season. — reed


7. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Baltimore Ravens

Statistics: 17 starts, 94.7% win on pass block, 77.2% win on run block
Sketched: No. 25

Why is he here: Like Creed Humphrey in 2021 with the Chiefs, Linderbaum immediately solidified and improved his offensive line as a rookie center. His pass blocking alone made him an All-Pro candidate, and his 94.7% pass blocking win rate led all rookie offensive linemen. — Miller

Go forward: Linderbaum was actually far more adept at the Ravens’ running looks than at pass defense, as some of the more powerful defensive tackles had him running on his heels too often. But he’s instinctive and tough, and he’s going to be one of the best centers in the league. — Legvold


8. Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers

Statistics: 41 catches, 611 receiving yards, 7 carries, 80 rush yards, 9 total touchdowns
Sketched: No. 34

Why is he here: Watson has proven his ability in the last eight games of the season and is a solid building block for the Packers’ offense. Over the course of the year, he became more comfortable on offense and posed a real threat on the pitch, constantly focusing on the opposition’s third level of defense. Watson averaged 14.9 yards per catch (third-best among rookies), and his 6.4 yards per catch per reception was the best of any freshman. — reed

Go forward: The second half of the season tells us that the arrow points to Watson. With his vertical stretch ability and improved trail running, the rookie will be a constant threat to create explosive plays in Green Bay’s offensive structure. — Bowen


9. Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans

Statistics: 220 carries, 939 yards, 30 catches, 165 receiving yards, 5 total TDs
Sketched: No. 107

Why is he here: Had it not been for an ankle injury at the end of the season in week 14, Pearce would likely have led all rookies in the race. He still finished just 111 yards behind Walker and just 61 yards short of 1,000 despite only having 13 games. Pierce is working hard and far-sighted, and there is still a lot of work ahead. — Legvold

Go forward: If Pierce is healthy, he should enter 2023 as a reserve for the new coaching staff. There were times when he didn’t get as many carries as a player with his talent demands, and that should change in his second season. In addition, Pierce is expected to have a new quarterback in 2023. — Miller


10. Brock Purdy, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Statistics: 1,374 passing yards, 13 TDs, 4 INTs, 65.3 QBR
Sketched: No. 262

Why is he here: Purdy replaced an injured Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ offense didn’t slow down. He is level-headed and confident, with quick release and decision making that allows him to work within the system of Coach Kyle Shanahan. With more mobility than the Garoppolo, the 49ers can use Purdy to attack on the edges while playing in boots. His overall QBR of 65.3 would have ranked fifth in the NFL had he qualified. — Bowen

Go forward: Purdy is the latest player to enter and succeed in Shanahan’s system. His determination, calmness and agility have allowed this offense to unlock other dimensions and Purdee is spreading the ball around the perimeter. His ability to diagnose and attack out-of-the-pocket level concepts allowed Shanahan to use the entire play. — reed

just missed

Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons (pick #8): He found some momentum in the Falcons’ fast-moving attack on the leg. Over the last six contests, London has averaged 13 yards per catch in four games and has seen at least eight goals in five. He finished the season with 120 yards in his 18th week. — Legvold

Jalen Pitre, C, Houston Texans (No. 37): He has to practice misses, but Pitre holds the ball steadily. He led all rookies with 147 tackles and his five interceptions tied for second place behind Woolen. — Legvold

Tyler Allgaier, guard, Atlanta Falcons (selected 151st overall): Allgeier set a team record for rookies (1,035 yards), and although he didn’t break tackles like Pierce did, his contact balance was evident week after week (2.6 yards after first contact per throw, the best among rookies). — Legvold

Also received votes: Jakuan…