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Ranking NFL's best rookies: Who's in the top 10 after Week 3?

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Boyd, Ridley among Berry's favorite Week 4 WR waiver wire adds (1:43)

Matthew Berry breaks down his top five wide receivers, including Tyler Boyd and Calvin Ridley, to consider grabbing off the waiver wire in Week 4. (1:43)

Life comes at you fast. Especially for NFL rookies. Look no further than New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who went from a season-opening victory in Week 1 to four interceptions in the past two games combined.

On the other end is Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley, who went without a reception in Week 1 (despite being on the field for 45 plays in the Falcons' offense) to Sunday's three-touchdown bonanza. Or Baker Mayfield, who went from the bench to folk hero as he helped orchestrate the Cleveland Browns' first win since Week 16 of the 2016 season.

From game analysis and discussions with personnel evaluators, here's the updated look at the top 10 rookies, with total stats from Weeks 1-3:


Top 10

Previous ranking

1. Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts

Stats: 30 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 PDs

Previous ranking: 10

Sure, the Colts are 1-2, but Leonard, a second-round pick, has done plenty of heavy lifting, having played every snap on defense so far this season -- 211 snaps and counting.

2. Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers

Stats: 33 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PD

Previous ranking: NR

Warner has reached double-digit tackles in all three of the team's games and he has done it starting at middle linebacker, a notoriously difficult position for a rookie to handle.

3. Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers

Stats: 20 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 INT

Previous ranking: 8

James has not only made plays in coverage but has had an impact along the line of scrimmage for a defense that is missing Joey Bosa (bruised foot). Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has been quick to use James in a variety of roles, including giving him plenty of opportunities in the pass rush.

4. Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns

Stats: 2 INTs, 1 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR

Previous ranking: 5

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said Ward's "stupid'" tackling caused back spasms early in the season. He has come a long way from that. Williams' defense needs cornerbacks who can hold their own on their own in coverage and Ward continues to show why he's on track for big things.

5. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Stats: 216 yards rushing, 137 yards receiving, 2 TDs

Previous ranking: 4

Barkley has already shown he can bring plenty to the offensive table even if stymied in the run game. The Cowboys held Barkley to just 28 yards rushing in Week 2 (2.6 yards per carry), but Barkley had 80 yards receiving.

6. Ja'Whaun Bentley, LB, New England Patriots

Stats: 13 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD

Previous ranking: 3

Bentley wasn't invited to the scouting combine, but the fifth-round pick has quickly earned coach Bill Belichick's trust as the Patriots try to work through their issues on defense overall. On Wednesday, the Patriots placed Bentley on injured reserve, costing New England's struggling defense one bright spot.

7. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills

Stats: 24 tackles, 1 sack, 3 PD

Previous ranking: NR

Watch Edmunds play and it's easy to forget he is one of the youngest players in the league, having just turned 20 in May. He's active, instinctive and consistently forcing the issue, including in the Bills' upset win over the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday.

8. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Stats: 11 catches, 210 yards, 4 TDs, 2 carries, 12 yards

Previous ranking: NR

After closing out the season opener without a reception, Ridley has begun to roll. On Sunday, he caught three touchdown passes against the Carolina Panthers. Ridley was 11 years old the last time a Falcons player had three touchdown receptions in a game -- Alge Crumpler on Oct. 22, 2006.

9. Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens

Stats: 22 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

Previous ranking: NR

With the injury to C.J. Mosley, Young now leads the team in tackles and has played 102 snaps combined in the past two games. The Ravens lead the league in total defense and are No. 5 in scoring defense. Coach John Harbaugh has said the fourth-round pick doesn't "get overwhelmed by a mistake" and keeps playing fast.

10. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

Stats: 55.7 completion percentage, 515 yards passing, 2 TDs passing, 2 TDs rushing

Previous ranking: NR

Yes, he's still rough around the edges, and Mayfield is headed to this list in short order now that he's starting, but Allen helped orchestrate the biggest upset in the league since 1995 as the Bills beat the Vikings. The dude outraced Anthony Barr to the pylon for one touchdown run, hurdled Barr on another play and threw himself over the Vikings' line for another scoring run. The Bills were 17-point underdogs.

Once more with feeling

After saying Allen could learn from the bench, the Bills tossed him into the lineup when they trailed the Ravens 40-0 in the season opener. The Arizona Cardinals followed suit Sunday when, after giving every indication Josh Rosen would learn behind Sam Bradford, they tossed Rosen into a close loss to the Chicago Bears with just 4:31 left. Rosen was 3-of-6 passing in the closing minutes with an interception and was sacked once.

Three-pack

The Buccaneers, off to a 2-1 start have certainly had their struggles in pass defense -- they're tied for last in the league, with the Chiefs, having given up 362.7 yards per game. But they have also often used a personnel grouping that has included three rookies in the secondary with Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart at cornerback, and Jordan Whitehead at safety. Drew Brees, who took particular aim at Davis, threw for 439 yards in Week 1 against the Buccaneers, and Ben Roethlisberger threw for 353 yards Monday night.

Close, but not quite

Cleveland OB Mayfield (17-of-23 passing); Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch (18 tackles, 1 TFL in last 61 plays); Carolina Panthers CB Donte Jackson (3 INTs); Packers CB Jaire Alexander (18 tackles, .5 sack, 2 special teams tackles); Raiders T Kolton Miller (three starts at LT, 141 snaps); 49ers T Mike McGlinchey (three starts at RT); Chargers LB Kyzir White (17 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PD, 1 TFL); Redskins NT Daron Payne (10 tackles, 1 sack); Browns T Desmond Harrison (three starts at LT); New York Jets QB Darnold (701 yards passing, 3 TD, 5 INTs); Lions G Frank Ragnow (three starts at G).

Kickers need love, too

Bills punter Corey Bojorquez was the best of the specialists, including 43.2 net yards per punt with five of six punts inside the 20-yard line in the Bills' win over the Vikings.