It’s time for the second edition of the Sports Info Solutions All-Rookie Teams.
Using SIS’s Total Points metric as our guide, we have come up with the All-Rookie 1st- and 2nd- Teams. We’ve tweaked some of the position groups this year compared to last year in order to account for depth at certain position groups in this draft class.
With that, this year’s teams consist of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, and a full offensive line on offense, and four defensive linemen/edge rushers, two off-ball linebackers, a hybrid edge/linebacker, and four defensive backs on defense.
While Total Points was used in most of the decision making, we also factored in playing time and a few other advanced stats to break any ties or close calls.
Here are the 2021 Sports Info Solutions All-Rookie Teams.
Rookies of the Year
Offensive Rookie of the Year was as tough a choice as there was, so we ultimately chose Co-OROYs of Mac Jones and Ja’Marr Chase. When it comes to these types of awards, it’s hard to look away from the quarterback position with how important and valuable it is.
So, Mac Jones gets a nod by leading all rookies with 82 Total Points and leading the Patriots back to the NFL Playoffs. When looking away from the quarterback position, Ja’Marr Chase accumulated 25 Total Points, ranking 3rd among rookie receivers, but it’s hard to argue with his 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
Micah Parsons was a no-brainer for our Defensive Rookie of the Year. He led all rookie defensive players with 68 Total Points.
Finally, with 17 Total Points to lead all rookie special teamers, Bengals kicker Evan McPherson is crowned Special Teams Rookie of the Year.
|Sports Info Solutions All-Rookie 1st-Team Offense|
|Running Back||Javonte Williams||Broncos||26|
|Running Back||Najee Harris||Steelers||23|
|Wide Receiver||Amon-Ra St. Brown||Lions||31|
|Wide Receiver||Ja’Marr Chase||Bengals||25|
|Tight End||Kyle Pitts||Falcons||30|
Quarterback: Mac Jones, Patriots
Our 2021 rookie class leader in Total Points and pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Mac Jones continued his Total Points reign from his 2020 season at Alabama, where he led the country in the same category.
He started all 17 games for Bill Belichick’s Patriots going 10-7, finished 8th in the NFL in completion percentage, and set numerous franchise rookie QB records. While statistical decline for all rookies from their final years in college is to be expected, Jones’ accuracy and depth numbers experienced the shallowest decline in the class, making for an easy 1st-Team selection.
Running Back: Javonte Williams, Broncos
The Broncos could not have had a more evenly split backfield committee between Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon, each carrying the ball exactly 203 times for 903 and 918 yards respectively.
Similar to Mac Jones’ Total Points success, Williams led all of college football in broken tackles in 2020, and that physicality made an easy transition to the NFL, pacing the league in the same category with 35 this year. His 670 yards after contact were 6th in the NFL, his 43 receptions tied him for 13th among all running backs, and he entered the league as an excellent pass protector, which earned him the early trust and playing time.
With Gordon’s contract expiring, Williams may be poised for full-time work next season.
Running Back: Najee Harris, Steelers
It felt like the one player-team landing spot everyone predicted in the first round of the Draft seemed to be Harris to Pittsburgh. The need was there. The fit was there. The production was there.
And, it worked out.
Harris far and away led all rookie running backs in most categories. His 1,200 rushing yards ranked 4th in the entire league, while he also added 7 touchdowns. He also broke 31 tackles, good for 2nd most. He was the bell-cow back the team was looking for to give Big Ben a run game, and he should be that type of player for them for years to come, health permitting.
Wide Receiver: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions
With all the 1st Round receivers in the Draft: Chase, Waddle, Smith, Toney, and Bateman, it was a 4th-round pick who led all rookie receivers in Total Points with 31. St. Brown turned into a reliable and productive slot receiver for the Lions at a position that didn’t have much talent and had a lot of volatility throughout the season.
It took a few games for the new staff to get St. Brown consistently in the mix, but once they did, he flourished. From Week 4 on, his 84 receptions ranked tied for 9th and his 869 receiving yards were 15th. Additionally, among receivers with at least 50 targets in that span, his 97.5% on-target catch rate ranked 2nd in the NFL, while his completion rate and drop rate both were in the Top 5.
Wide Receiver: Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals
Along with a few other players on this list, Chase proved sitting out the 2020 COVID college season didn’t slow him down. Teaming up with his former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow didn’t hurt, either.
Chase’s 1,455 receiving yards ranked 4th in the entire league, as he set the single-game rookie record of 266 along the way in Week 17. He finished 3rd in the league in yards after catch and touchdowns, and 2nd to noted yards-after-contact specialist Deebo Samuel in that category, as well. The Bengals young core of skill players is special, and it is a huge reason for their 2021 division title.
Tight End: Kyle Pitts, Falcons
Pitts’ early returns have certainly justified his lofty draft status for his position. He became the first tight end in 60 years to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie season, trailing only Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews at the position this year. He led the Falcons in receptions and led all tight ends in pass interference penalties drawn, yet his overall dominance only resulted in one touchdown. His mismatch ability and profile as a red zone marvel in his time at Florida suggest positive scoring regression is on the way in future years.
Tackle: Rashawn Slater, Chargers
Let the pre-draft Slater vs Sewell debates continue, as both make our 1st team.
Slater settled in at left tackle for the Chargers from day one and had instant success. Among all NFL left tackles with over 1,000 snaps in 2021, Slater produced easily the fewest total blown blocks. He protected the blind side of this season’s NFL Total Points leader Justin Herbert, and his quality work led to the 6th most points earned among LTs.
Tackle: Penei Sewell, Lions
It looks like the Lions got a steal with the 7th pick in the Draft as Sewell fell to them. While projected as a left tackle, the Lions moved him to right tackle due to Taylor Decker already being on the roster.
After a learning curve and a few rough weeks, Sewell turned into one of the better right tackles in the league before ending the season with a near even split between left and right tackle. His 29 Total Points placed him 2nd among rookie tackles, behind only Slater, and his 2.6% blown block rate placed him in the top 20 of all tackles in the league with at least 500 snaps played.
Guard: Trey Smith, Chiefs
Smith seemed like a sure-fire 1st-round pick a few years ago, but after battling injuries his last couple of college seasons, he fell to the 6th Round in 2021. And all he did was lead all rookie guards with 31 Total Points. He was a staple on a revamped and mostly young Chiefs offensive line, playing over 1,100 snaps, and teaming up with fellow All-Rookie selection Creed Humphrey.
Guard: Landon Dickerson, Eagles
A year after tearing his ACL again, Dickerson proved his long injury history wouldn’t impact his future. He was ready to step in as an injury replacement for Brandon Brooks in Week 2 and started every game at guard the rest of the way, other than when he missed time due to COVID. The Eagles led the NFL in rushing yards this year and Dickerson played a large role in that success – his 20.7 Points Earned as a run blocker were 2nd in the entire league among guards.
Center: Creed Humphrey, Chiefs
Our top-ranked center in the 2021 version of The SIS Football Rookie Handbook, Humphrey has come in and cemented himself as one of the best centers in all of football in his first season.
Humphrey’s 35 Total Points were by far the most among rookie centers, and it ranked top 5 among all centers in the entire league. Also, his 0.8% blown block rate ranked 2nd among all centers with at least 500 snaps. Humphrey and Smith satisfied anyone doubting their abilities quickly and helped lead Kansas City back to the playoffs once again.
Kicker: Evan McPherson, Bengals
The only kicker drafted in the 2021 Draft was McPherson out of Florida after he chose to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Playing in 16 games, he made 28-of-33 field goals, going 9-of-11 on kicks 50+ yards. He also made 46 of his 48 extra point attempts on the season.
|Sports Info Solutions All-Rookie 1st-Team Defense|
|Interior Defensive Lineman||Osa Odighizuwa||Cowboys||21|
|Interior Defensive Lineman||Christian Barmore||Patriots||16|
|Defensive Back||Pat Surtain II||Broncos||53|
|Defensive Back||Asante Samuel Jr.||Chargers||33|
|Defensive Back||Eric Stokes||Packers||30|
|Defensive Back||Jevon Holland||Dolphins||24|
|Punter||Pressley Harvin III||Steelers||-2|
Interior Defensive Lineman: Osa Odighizuwa, Cowboys
Odighizuwa proved to be a strong defender along the interior defensive line for Dallas, showing the ability to make plays against both the run and the pass. Against the pass, his 29 pressures ranked top 25 among all defensive tackles, and he also drew 3 holding penalties. In the run game, he finished with 35 tackles and 9 TFL with an average tackle depth of 2.1 yards.
Interior Defensive Lineman: Christian Barmore, Patriots
Like he was at Alabama, Barmore is still utilized more as a pass rusher than run defender, but he’s carved out a strong role for himself in the Patriots defense. He led the team in total pass rushes and finished 2nd in pressures, impacting the game beyond his mere 1.5 sack tally.
Among all NFL defensive tackles with at least 30 pressures, Barmore was a top-10 finisher in pressure percentage. And despite his role, he also drew the most holding penalties in the league among DTs on run plays. He has all the skills to develop into a complete interior defender.
Edge: Greg Rousseau, Bills
Opting out of the 2020 season, along with some of the other top players in the draft class, Rousseau’s calling cards were always athleticism and raw pass-rush ability. In his first year in the NFL, those two things were apparent when watching him on Buffalo’s defense. His 34 Total Points led all rookie edge rushers. He had 28 pressures and a 12% pressure rate in somewhat minimal pass rush snaps. He also compiled 4 sacks and a fumble forced.
Edge: Odafe Oweh, Ravens
Much was made about Oweh’s zero sack final season at Penn State in the pre-draft process, but his natural talent was never a question and it translated immediately to the NFL. He tallied 5 solo sacks, tied for the Ravens lead in pressures, and tied for 2nd on the team in tackles for loss in the run game.
The efficiency can still improve – he had too many tackles broken this season and his pressure percentage should be higher – but his combination of size and speed for a relatively inexperienced player are rare. His ceiling is very high, and this was a strong first year to build on.
Edge/Linebacker: Micah Parsons, Cowboys
A no-doubt first-team selection, runaway Defensive Rookie of the Year, and contender for Defensive Player of the Year, Parsons had a ridiculous inaugural season in the NFL as a true hybrid player.
On passing downs, he rushed just over 51% of the time and dropped into coverage 49% and was excellent at both, giving Dan Quinn as the Cowboys defensive coordinator the flexibility to leave offenses guessing.
Parsons set the Cowboys rookie record for sacks by five. He finished 10th in the NFL in total pressures, yet is the only player in the top 40 with fewer than 300 pass rushes on the season. In coverage, he was 1st in the NFL among linebackers with at least 25 targets in Passer Rating Against and total yards allowed. And he was also 3rd among all NFL defenders in tackles for loss on running plays, just behind TJ Watt and Aaron Donald.
No matter how you cut it, Parsons is in his own category in the 2021 rookie defensive class, and might already be among the NFL’s elite overall.
Linebacker: Ernest Jones, Rams
Jones finished second among rookie linebackers in Total Points. Among LBs with at least 10 targets in coverage, Jones ranked 7th in the league with a 53.9 Passer Rating Against. He allowed only 101 yards on 21 targets, and also grabbed 2 interceptions. Additionally, in the run game, he averaged 5.2 tackles per game with an average tackle depth of only 1.6 yards.
Linebacker: Nick Bolton, Missouri
The Chiefs selected Bolton in the late 2nd round to keep the local Missouri product home, and he rewarded them by easily leading the team in tackles and tackles for loss.
He started the majority of games this season filling in for Anthony Hitchens and Willie Gay for stints, and his progression throughout the year helped the Chiefs defense turn their season around after a dismal start.
Bolton had the 3rd-fewest broken tackles in the NFL among players with at least 100 tackles. And while he’s still improving in coverage, he limited big damage as the primary defender in the passing game, not allowing a touchdown.
Defensive Back: Pat Surtain II, Broncos
Our clear 2nd-ranked defender in Total Points in this class, Surtain II was the 10th-most targeted cornerback in the NFL this season and responded with a strong rookie year in multiple areas.
Among the NFL’s top 20 most targeted corners, Surtain’s Passer Rating Against ranked 4th and his Points Saved were 3rd. He was top 10 across the league in interceptions and passes defensed, and he finished 3rd on the Broncos in run game tackles.
Defensive Back: Asante Samuel Jr., Chargers
After the first 4-5 weeks of the season, it was looking like Asante Samuel Jr. was going to be your Defensive Rookie of the Year. He won the NFL’s Rookie of the Week Award in both Week 2 and 3. While he did come back down to earth as the season progressed, he still had a very solid season.
It’s known that rookie DBs get targeted quite often in coverage. In fact, 3 rookie corners, including Surtain and Stokes, were in the top 13 of most targets seen. However, Samuel ranked just 68th, which indicates that quarterbacks quickly realized not to target him. In all, he finished the season with two picks and a Passer Rating Against of 78.3.
Defensive Back: Eric Stokes, Packers
Georgia’s defense in the 2021 season was outstanding, but it had a lot of great players leave and enter the 2021 Draft. The first Georgia player off the board in the 2021 Draft was Stokes, at pick 29.
Stokes played the 2nd most snaps of any rookie corner in 2021 and held his own all year. Seeing the 2nd-most targets in all of the league, Stokes racked up the 7th-lowest completion % against, 7th-most passes defensed, and 17th=best Passer Rating Against (minimum 25 targets).
Defensive Back: Jevon Holland, Dolphins
Holland did a little of everything for the Dolphins defense in his rookie season. He tied for the league lead in passes defensed among players who lined up in a safety position pre-snap and allowed the fewest yards per coverage snap among the defensive backs on his team. He had the highest pressure percentage in the NFL among defenders with at least 15 pressures. And he tied for Miami’s second most solo tackles in run defense.
Punter: Pressley Harvin III, Steelers
Despite Harvin III accumulating negative Total Points in 2021, he was the only rookie punter to play this season. So, he gets the nod by default. While his overall average and net average were near the bottom of the league, he forced 19 fair catches, which ranked 8th, and his 24 punts inside the 20 tied for 10th.
In all, eight offensive 1st Teamers and eight defensive 1st Teamers received a 6.7 final grade or higher from us in the 2021 edition of The SIS Football Rookie Handbook, suggesting those players will at least be high-end three-down starters beginning their second season. We’ll see if they begin 2022 the way they played this season to warrant those final grades, but we like their chances.
Below, you can find our All-Rookie 2nd Teams which still included big names, such as top overall pick Trevor Lawrence, DeVonta Smith, and Kwity Paye.
|Sports Info Solutions All-Rookie 2nd-Team Offense|
|Running Back||Michael Carter||Jets||33|
|Running Back||Rhamondre Stevenson||Patriots||20|
|Wide Receiver||DeVonta Smith||Eagles||29|
|Wide Receiver||Elijah Moore||Jets||12|
|Tight End||Pat Freiermuth||Steelers||19|
|Tackle||Dan Moore Jr.||Steelers||20|
|Sports Info Solutions All-Rookie 2nd-Team Defense|
|Interior Defensive Lineman||Milton Williams||Eagles||13|
|Interior Defensive Lineman||Alim McNeill||Lions||11|
|Defensive Back||Paulson Adebo||Saints||37|
|Defensive Back||Tyson Campbell||Jaguars||32|
|Defensive Back||Marco Wilson||Cardinals||30|
|Defensive Back||Tre Norwood||Steelers||17|
We want to highlight some of the close calls and honorable mentions, but honestly, most of the picks were pretty straightforward this year.
St. Brown and Smith was one of the closer calls between who was 1st Team and 2nd Team.
Some guys who didn’t make the cut who were in discussions were John Bates (2nd Team TE), Liam Eichenberg (2nd Team OT), and Nate Hobbs (2nd Team CB).
The biggest discussion we had in formulating these teams was the positional structure.
As mentioned earlier, we changed some of the positions to account for the depth at certain positions specific to this draft class. Last year, there was more receiver and safety depth, while the reasoning behind switching to four defensive backs was to fit in the top 6 corners with only two safeties.
Additionally, last year there were two players who really fit the Linebacker/Defensive Back hybrid position in Jeremy Chinn and Isaiah Simmons. You can find last year’s article here.
This year, there weren’t many of those guys and it made more sense to flip the hybrid position to Edge/Linebacker. Again, the entire idea of these teams is to highlight the best players, and we feel we did that.
The Steelers led the way with the most selections this season with six (two 1st Team & four 2nd Team). They had two more than the team with the next-most, the Lions.
We thought the 2020 NFL Draft had a ton of talent, but so did the 2021 Draft. Last year, all but six teams were represented. This year, all but eight teams were represented. Once again, this signifies that plenty of talent is being dispersed throughout the league.
The SIS Football Rookie Handbook is making its way into website form. Make sure to be on the lookout for updates leading up to the 2022 Draft to see it take shape.