NFL rookie rankings: Derwin James on top, Saquon Barkley falls
9:52 AM ET
Call it necessity, desperation or even the necessity of desperation, but the Kansas City Chiefs just might have had an infusion of youth at just the right time on defense.
A team that doesn’t play any rookies in its pedal-to-the-metal offense had five rookies play — two started: nose tackle Derrick Nnadi and linebacker Breeland Speaks — on defense in Sunday night’s 45-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The win moved the Chiefs to 6-1 on the season and was a welcome sight for a group that had surrendered at least 500 yards three times this season and more than 400 yards five times. On Sunday, the Chiefs face the Denver Broncos, who have four rookies either starting or in a regular rotation on offense.
From game analysis and discussions with personnel evaluators, here’s a look at the top 10 rookies so far this season:
Top 10 (stats are Weeks 1-7 combined) Derwin James has been increasingly more explosive so far this season. David Richard/AP
Stats: 44 tackles, 4 TFL, 3.5 sacks
Previous rank: 1
Chargers’ coach Anthony Lynn summed up James’ high-end play that sometimes mixes with a rookie’s learning curve when he said earlier this month,