There's always a lot of excitement after the NFL draft. There are high expectations for the incoming rookies, and fans are optimistic thinking that their favorite team has filled several holes with promising young players. It's not that simple, of course. Some rookies will get injured. Some rookies will struggle once they get on the field. And some rookies won't even be good enough to get playing time in their first year.
On the other hand, some become impact players as rookies and some even exceed expectations set on draft day.
Below, Aaron Schatz from Football Outsiders and Alex Vigderman from Sports Info Solutions take a look at all 32 rookie classes in the NFL and rank the value of their contributions in 2022. This list is based only on how much production teams got out of these players in their first season. There might be great future contributions from injured rookies such as Jameson Williams and Phidarian Mathis, but those players didn't count for much in 2022.
To rank the rookie classes, we started with Sports Info Solutions' total points metric. Based on game charting, total points takes every element of a play and uses all of that data to evaluate each player on a scale that allows you to compare between positions: How many points do we estimate that this player either earned for his offense or saved for his defense? You can read more about it here. We then adjusted some teams up or down based on the importance of certain positions or how well players did in ESPN tracking metrics and Football Outsiders' DVOA.
Our list is headed up by a team that had very low expectations going into the 2022 season but made a surprise playoff appearance thanks in large part to the play of its rookie class.