The 2021 NFL rookie crop has now reached the halfway point in the season. These first-year phenoms are a cut above the rest. Most of those on this list have been here before, but it’s fluid and any given Sunday a new star could emerge on the scene, a new breed, potentially on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
1. Ja’Marr Chase (38 catches for 786 yards and 7 touchdowns)
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has been the most impactful rookie through 8 Weeks. With game-breaking ability and savvy route-running, he’s had his way with just about all defensive backs who’ve attempted to thwart the 2019 Biletnikoff winner. He’s easily in the driver’s seat to take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
2. Jaylen Waddle (48 receptions, 413 receiving yards, 3 TDs)
If Ja’Marr Chase is the cream of the rookie receiver crop, then Waddle isn’t far behind. The Miami Dolphins player leads all rooks in catches and he’s third behind Chase and Devonta Smith (Eagles) in receiving yardage. Another gem from the crop of elite receivers to emerge from Alabama in recent years.
3. Najee Harris (622 scrimmage yards, 4 TDs, at least 21 touches each of past five games)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have found their bell cow of the future in Najee Harris. The dual-threat ball carrier has been the most consistent weapon on a very subpar offense in the “BURGH.”
Running behind a pretty average offensive line hasn’t stopped Harris from being productive. Harris had 26 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown while snatching his three targets for 29 yards during Sunday’s 15-10 slugfest at Cleveland. Amid the O-Line struggles, Harris is still on pace for a 1,000-yard rushing season. The Steelers have a 8-10 year starter if they use him correctly.
To find out which NFL rookies round out the Top 5, click here