Week 2 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus each team’s best rookie debut


As we unveil the first regular-season edition of the NFL Power Rankings, we keep in mind the unique circumstances that led to Week 1. This was the first action of any kind for the rookie class of 2020.

For a rookie, seeing regular-season game action for the first time is a sink-or-swim proposition in normal times, but this first-year class didn’t get any preseason experience to work out the jitters. Despite that, several newbies made their marks this week, and our NFL Nation reporters selected the best Week 1 rookie of the teams they cover.

How we rank in our Power Rankings: Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: Preseason

Jump to:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

Preseason ranking: 1

Best rookie debut: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

He added another dimension to the Chiefs’ offense with his ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Edwards-Helaire, who rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries Thursday, is difficult to knock off his feet and should continue to gain yards after contact. He averaged a healthy 2.68 yards after contact in his debut against the Texans. — Adam Teicher



Ryan Clark assesses the Chiefs’ win over the Texans and believes there’s a chance they can go 16-0.

Preseason ranking: 2

Best rookie debut: MLB Patrick Queen

The rookie first-round pick finished as the Ravens’ leading tackler in the opener, making more stops (eight) than points allowed by his defense (six). Queen showed flashes of being a playmaker with a sack and forced fumble. He became the youngest defender to ever start for the Ravens at 21 years and one month old but proved that he knows his history by sporting a Ray Lewis T-shirt in his first postgame news conference. — Jamison Hensley

Preseason ranking: 4

Best rookie debut: DT Malcolm Roach

Slim pickings here, since first-round pick Cesar Ruiz was out with an ankle injury and third-rounder Zack Baun was inactive after missing time in training camp with an injury. But Roach, an undrafted rookie from Texas, deserves to be singled out for his solid debut — which included a tackle for loss. He played 23 snaps, which was three more than starting nose tackle Malcolm Brown, while the Saints held Tampa Bay to 86 rushing yards on 26 carries and sacked Tom Brady three times. — Mike Triplett



Dan Orlovsky outlines why he’s not worried about Tom Brady’s struggles in Game 1 of the season and why he has concerns about the Saints’ offense.

Preseason ranking: 5

Best rookie debut: WR Freddie Swain

The sixth-round pick from Florida had a hand in a game-changing play Sunday, recovering a fumble that Marquise Blair forced on a fake punt. That gave the Seahawks a short field and helped set up Russell Wilson‘s fourth touchdown pass. Swain’s lone catch went for 17 yards and put Seattle in position for a 42-yard Jason Myers field goal. Swain hardly seemed like a lock to make the team heading into training camp. Now it seems like he’ll be a regular contributor, especially when Phillip Dorsett II‘s problematic foot keeps him out like it did Sunday. — Brady Henderson

Preseason ranking: 7

Best rookie debut: ILB Krys Barnes

First-round QB Jordan Love was inactive, second-round RB AJ Dillon carried twice for 14 yards and third-round TE Josiah Deguara caught one pass for 12 yards. But it was an undrafted rookie from UCLA who made the biggest impact. Barnes wasn’t signed until Saturday, then started on Sunday. He played only 15 snaps on defense but made six tackles (including two TFLs). Said coach Matt LaFleur: “There was one play in particular where they tried to run a screen to Dalvin Cook, who is one of the top backs in the league, and Krys did an unbelievable job of diagnosing that play and making the tackle.” — Rob Demovsky

Preseason ranking: 3

Best rookie debut: DT Javon Kinlaw

There really isn’t much to choose from here because the only other Niners rookie to play was tight end Charlie Woerner, who played one snap on offense and seven on special teams. Kinlaw didn’t make much of an impact, posting one assisted tackle on 39 defensive snaps. Kinlaw didn’t play much on passing downs, so his primary job was to occupy blockers and play the run, but this debut didn’t offer any sort of wow factor. — Nick Wagoner

Preseason ranking: 11

Best rookie debut: RB Zack Moss

Moss gets the nod here after scoring a touchdown on his first career reception against the Jets. He wasn’t effective as a runner — no Bills player was besides Josh Allen — but Moss was solid in pass protection and took what the defense gave him as a receiver. It was a solid debut and the 46% of offensive snaps he played show the Bills’ trust in him early in the season. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Preseason ranking: 9

Best rookie debut: CB Chris Jackson

None of the rookies stood out against the Broncos. Chris Jackson was pressed into action with Adoree’ Jackson being placed on injured reserve. He played the most of all rookies, picking up one tackle, despite being the last player the Titans picked in the 2020 draft. Tennessee picked him in the seventh round (No. 243 overall) out of Marshall. — Turron Davenport

Preseason ranking: 15

Best rookie debut: RB J.J. Taylor

Undrafted out of Arizona, Taylor had to prove that his strong training camp wasn’t a fluke and answered the call when the Patriots worked him into the flow of the game in the third quarter. In nine snaps, he finished with four carries for 28 yards, which included an 11-yarder between the tackles in which he kept his pads low and displayed good ball security. He added one catch for 4 yards. — Mike Reiss

Preseason ranking: 17

Best rookie debut: S Jordan Fuller

A sixth-round pick from Ohio State, Fuller started and made the play of the game early in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys attempted to convert on fourth-and-3 at the Rams’ 11-yard line. Fuller tackled CeeDee Lamb a yard short of the first down to preserve a 20-17 lead. “That was huge,” Aaron Donald said. “He is a young guy that stepped up for us.” After starting at safety in lieu of second-year pro Taylor Rapp, Fuller finished with eight tackles. Sean McVay said Fuller’s performance in training camp earned him the spot. “He’s mature beyond his years,” McVay said. — Lindsey Thiry

Preseason ranking: 13

Best rookie debut: WR Chase Claypool

The Steelers spent training camp hyping up the second-round pick from Notre Dame, who delivered from his first catch Monday. Claypool got started with a 28-yard, toe-tapping reception to keep a drive alive on third-and-long. He followed that with an 11-yard catch to open the fourth quarter, helping set up a 36-yard field goal. The Steelers drafted him to be a big, athletic target for Ben Roethlisberger, and though he had only two catches on two targets in his debut, he was exactly that. — Brooke Pryor

Preseason ranking: 8

Best rookie debut: WR CeeDee Lamb

Maybe the first-rounder could have run his route on the ill-fated fourth-down play a little deeper, but Rams safety Jordan Fuller deserves more kudos than Lamb does blame. He caught five passes on the six throws his way for 59 yards and had a 20-yard punt return. He also was penalized for a block in the back. Bigger days are ahead for Lamb, but — as he did at Oklahoma — he showed the game is not too big for him. — Todd Archer

Preseason ranking: 6

Best rookie debut: S Antoine Winfield Jr.

Winfield recorded six combined tackles, a pass breakup and a QB pressure. His 66 snaps were fourth-most in the league among rookies on defense and he helped the Bucs limit Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara to a combined 64 rushing yards. “He’s smart, he’s heady, he makes plays and he makes you trust him,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said of Winfield. “He just goes out and plays football.” — Jenna Laine

Preseason ranking: 10

Best rookie debut: WR Justin Jefferson

The Vikings didn’t get a ton of contributions from their rookie class in Week 1. Third-round cornerback Cameron Dantzler played the most of any rookie, but his outing was marred by giving up a 45-yard touchdown pass. Jefferson is the easiest answer, as he had two catches for 36 yards and was on the field for 36 of 52 plays. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak hinted last week at easing Jefferson into a significant role with time. What the rookie wideout did in his debut, including a 17-yard grab in the fourth quarter, is indicative of more to come. — Courtney Cronin

Preseason ranking: 19

Best rookie debut: LB Isaiah Simmons

None of the Cardinals’ rookies had an impressive showing in Week 1, but Simmons, who played in just 18 snaps, showed glimpses of what he could be despite looking a lot like a rookie who didn’t get preseason work. He had a horse-collar penalty on the game’s first play while defending tight end George Kittle, then running back Raheem Mostert crossed up Simmons en route to a 76-yard touchdown. It’ll take time for Simmons to figure out the NFL game while getting used to being on the field playing at NFL speed. — Josh Weinfuss

Preseason ranking: 12

Best rookie debut: WR Jalen Reagor

Reagor broke loose for a 55-yard completion early in the game, showing the speed and explosiveness that made Philadelphia want to select him in the first round. That was his only catch of the day on four targets, though he likely would have added a 75-yard touchdown if another Carson Wentz offering was a couple yards shorter. A promising debut all in all, especially given that Reagor was playing through a small tear in his shoulder. — Tim McManus

Preseason ranking: 21

Best rookie debut: WR Henry Ruggs III

Yeah, he is as fast as advertised. The starting wideout flashed his 4.27-second 40-yard speed early and often, especially on his 45-yard catch-and-run to the Panthers’ 1-yard line. Ruggs banged up his left knee on an awkward tackle late in the first half and went to the locker room but returned after halftime. His three catches for 55 yards and two runs for 11 yards all came before halftime, though he said he “kind of went down a little crazy, but I’ll be all right.” — Paul Gutierrez

Preseason ranking: 14

Best rookie debut: RB Jonathan Taylor

Taylor went from being the third running back in Sunday’s game against Jacksonville to being thrust into a more prominent role after starter Marlon Mack was lost due to a torn Achilles in the second quarter. Taylor picked up 36 yards the first time he touched the ball on a catch-and-run play. He finished the game with 67 receiving yards and 22 rushing yards. Taylor will have a chance to move into the starting lineup if he can handle the workload now that Mack is done for the season. — Mike Wells

Preseason ranking: 16

Best rookie debut: CB John Reid

Without a first-round pick, the Texans don’t have a true impact rookie. Only two of the four rookies on the 55-man roster were active in Week 1. Reid, a fourth-round pick, was part of Houston’s four-man rotation at cornerback in the season opener against the Chiefs, playing 46% of the defensive snaps. Reid’s 32 defensive snaps topped second-year cornerback Lonnie Johnson‘s playing time, as well. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has praised Reid’s maturity and said he likely had the best training camp of any rookie. — Sarah Barshop

Preseason ranking: 22

Best rookie debut: CB Jaylon Johnson

The rookie out of Utah finished the game with six tackles and several pass breakups, including one on the final play when Johnson knocked the ball away from Lions receiver Marvin Jones Jr. to preserve the Bears’ come-from-behind victory. Outside of being run over by Jones during a memorable first-half collision, Johnson had a noteworthy NFL debut. The second-round pick played all 78 snaps on defense and became the first Bears rookie to start Week 1 since Walt Harris in 1996. — Jeff Dickerson

Preseason ranking: 18

Best rookie debut: OG Matt Hennessy

He played just 18 snaps coming off a knee injury, but the third-round pick performed well, rotating with starter James Carpenter at left guard. Hennessy helped open a hole for Brian Hill‘s 10-yard run on his very first play. His most impressive snap was blocking Rasheem Green and Bruce Irvin on a third-and-6 to give Matt Ryan a little more time to throw. — Vaughn McClure

Preseason ranking: 24

Best rookie debut: RB Joshua Kelley

Kelley, a fourth-round pick out of UCLA, rushed for 60 yards on only 12 carries — one of which went for 26 yards — and scored the Chargers’ only touchdown. The performance was huge given Justin Jackson‘s departure because of a quad injury. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn admitted that his team probably would not have won the game if not for Kelley, which is in no way a stretch. Look for him to factor more prominently into the game plan — healthy Jackson or not — moving forward. — Alden Gonzalez

Preseason ranking: 23

Best rookie debut: C Lloyd Cushenberry III

Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy had flashes of his vast potential but also had two key drops in the game, including one that could have gone a long way to seal an upset win. Cornerback Michael Ojemudia was tossed into the deep end of the pool when A.J. Bouye left the game because of a shoulder injury and held up well. But Cushenberry, against a stout Titans front, held up well on a night when quarterback Drew Lock wasn’t sacked. The Broncos like Cushenberry’s smarts and athleticism, and both were on display for much of the evening. — Jeff Legwold

Preseason ranking: 31

Best rookie debut: DE Chase Young

Young had one of the best debuts of any rookie in Week 1. Young recorded 1.5 sacks, forced a fumble and had a quarterback hurry. He also played the run well, once splitting a double-team to emerge for a stop. Young’s presence was felt whenever he was on the field. He didn’t always have success, but he did make a big impact and helped set up others to make plays. It’s not just his burst; it’s also his balance. He’ll be good for a long time. — John Keim

Preseason ranking: 25

Best rookie debut: RG Jonah Jackson

This is largely due to usage. First-rounder Jeff Okudah didn’t play. Second-rounder D’Andre Swift dropped a game-winning touchdown pass. Fifth-rounder Quintez Cephus caught only three of 10 targets. Third-rounder Julian Okwara and sixth-rounder John Penisini didn’t record a stat. But Jackson played the entire game for the Lions and Detroit ran well — gaining 138 rushing yards. Matthew Stafford was sacked only once (although Jackson might have been the culprit on allowing the sack) and largely had time to throw. It’s something to build on for Jackson for sure. — Michael Rothstein

Preseason ranking: 20

Best rookie debut: LT Jedrick Wills Jr.

Cleveland’s first-round pick played relatively well in his debut protecting the blind side of QB Baker Mayfield, who called his protection “great all day long” despite the 38-6 loss. Wills, however, had to leave the game in the second half with a leg injury. — Jake Trotter



Dan Orlovsky knows Baker Mayfield has to be better for the Browns to be successful and says he is one week away from calling Gardner Minshew a better player than Mayfield.

Preseason ranking: 32

Best rookie debut: CB CJ Henderson

RB James Robinson and WR Laviska Shenault get honorable mention, but Henderson shined in his NFL debut. His second-quarter interception set up a game-tying TD and he also broke up Philip Rivers‘ fourth-down pass to T.Y. Hilton with less than a minute to play to seal the Jaguars’ 27-20 upset. One of the questions about Henderson coming out of Florida was his willingness to be physical and his tackling skills. He showed that wasn’t an issue against the Colts with his five tackles, one of which stopped Parris Campbell a yard shy of a first down on a third-down play. — Mike DiRocco

Preseason ranking: 26

Best rookie debut: LT Austin Jackson

Protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s blind side, Jackson played a strong game neutralizing the Patriots’ front and not allowing a sack all day. In fact, the whole offensive line allowed just one sack that Fitzpatrick ran into late in the game. Jackson, the No. 18 overall pick, faced questions about his strength and NFL readiness coming into the draft but quieted those concerns with a good debut. The game didn’t look too big for him or fellow rookie starting right guard Solomon Kindley. The Dolphins have offensive issues to fix, but if left tackle isn’t one of them that’s a big win. — Cameron Wolfe

Preseason ranking: 29

Best rookie debut: LT Andrew Thomas

Well, that was a welcome-to-the-NFL evening for the No. 4 overall pick. Thomas got to face a ferocious Steelers defense, and that included plenty of snaps against the dangerous Bud Dupree. Thomas had some good and bad moments. It wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t an overwhelming success. What’s certain is that there will be plenty for him to learn from his first NFL game. — Jordan Raanan

Preseason ranking: 28

Best rookie debut: LB Jeremy Chinn

The second-round pick out of Southern Illinois proved the Panthers made a smart move trading up in the second round to get him. He played every down defensively and finished second on the team in tackles with eight. His play was defined by the athleticism and speed it took to stop what appeared to be a touchdown at the 4-yard line during a key defensive stand after the Raiders had first-and-goal from the 6. — David Newton

Preseason ranking: 30

Best rookie debut: QB Joe Burrow

Burrow almost wins this by default considering no other rookie played a significant role in Week 1. Burrow was 23-of-36 passing for 193 yards, one interception and one rushing touchdown. The resolve the rookie showed was the most impressive part of his debut. On Cincinnati’s last drive, Burrow was 8-of-11 passing for 70 yards and came close to throwing a game-winning touchdown to A.J. Green. Burrow looked like a rookie but displayed traits that indicate he could be as good as advertised. — Ben Baby



Mike Greenberg is not a fan of Jets coach Adam Gase, going as far as to say he wouldn’t want him coaching a Pop Warner team.

Preseason ranking: 27

Best rookie debut: LT Mekhi Becton

Facing a very good Buffalo front, the Jets’ first-round pick held up reasonably well, especially in pass protection. He allowed one sack, per ESPN Stats & Info, but it was a borderline “coverage” sack. Becton held his own against Jerry Hughes and displayed the ability to finish blocks in both the passing and running games, tossing the defender on a couple of occasions. He handled speed on the edge, no small task without a preseason. He was one of the few bright spots for the Jets. — Rich Cimini

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