Top NFL Rookies 2021

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Every year NFL sees new faces with raw talents making their way into the field. The 2021 season was no different, and many rookies made their debut this year.

It might be challenging to say who is the best with so many new talents. However, looking at their performance on the field and rankings, we can list the top potentials ones.

Therefore, with the help of the rankings as the reference, we are attempting to list some of the top NFL rookies of 2021.

Los Angeles Chargers Football Team 2021
Los Angeles Chargers Football Team 2021 (Source:

If you are a fan of the NFL and kept an eye on rookies, can you guess which players are making it on our list?

In that case, keep reading the article and let us go find out which players are on our top NFL rookies of 2021. Without further delay, let us get right into our list.

Top NFL Rookies 2021

We have compiled our list, taking as our primary reference.

But before getting into the details, let us take a quick peek at the overall rankings of the rookies on our list.

Players Name NFL Team
12. Odafe Oweh Baltimore Ravens
11. Penei Sewell Detroit Lions
10. Najee Harris Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Mac Jones New England Patriots
8. Jaelan Phillips Miami Dolphins
7. Patrick Surtain II Denver Broncos
6. Jaylen Waddle Miami Dolphins
5. Creed Humphrey Kansas City Chiefs
4. Kyle Pitts Atlanta Falcons
3. Rashawn Slater Los Angeles Chargers
2. Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys
1. Ja’Marr Chase Cincinnati Bengals


12. Odafe Oweh

  • Position: Outside linebacker

Odafe Oweh is a 25 year old player for the Baltimore Ravens. He was formerly known as Jayson Oweh, and the Ravens drafted him in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Owen played college football at Penn State. In 2018, he was selected to play in the Under Armour All-American Game.

After being drafted, on June 21, 2021, Owen signed a four-year rookie contract worth $12.6 million.

Odafe Oweh
Odafe Oweh (Source: Instagram)

After his performance in a game against Kansas City Chiefs, he was named the week’s defensive player. Similarly, Oweh was also named the Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) All-Rookie Team.

He recorded 33 total tackles, 5.0 sacks, 1 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries during his 2021 rookie season.

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11. Penei Sewell

  • Position: Offensive tackle

Our number 11 of the top NFL rookies is a 23 year old player for the Detroit Lions, Penei Sewell. A native of American Samoa, the Lions drafted him as the seventh overall in the 2021 NFL draft.

Sewell played football since his childhood. Therefore, he was also part of his high school and college football team.

Before joining the University of Origen for college, he played in the 2018 US Army All-American and Polynesian Bowls.

Penei Sewell
Penei Sewell (Source: Instagram)

In the 2021 NFL draft, Sewell was regarded as one of the best overall prospects. However, after testing positive for COVID-19 in May, he had to sit out of the team’s rookie minicamp.

Sewell signed a four-year, $24.1 million rookie contract with the Lions after he made a recovery.

He was named the PFWA All-Rookie Team 2021. His 2021 record stats hold 16 games played and 16 games started.

10. Najee Harris

  • Position: Running back
26 year old Najee Harris was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. He played high school football at Antioch High School, California.

Harris had a difficult childhood, and he even spent time in a homeless shelter when he was in middle school. However, he had a football talent, and in the class of 2017, Harris was considered the number 1 recruit by Scouts and Rivals.

ESPN ranked him as the number 11 overall recruit, while 247Sports ranked him as the number 2 overall recruit. As a result of his skills, Harris received offers from multiple top football programs.

Najee Harris
Najee Harris (Source: Instagram)

He was one of the most hyped running back since 2009. Then in 2015, he joined the Alabama Crimson Tide.

After being drafted by the Steelers, Harris signed a 4-year rookie contract worth $13,1 million, including a $6.9 million signing bonus. He was named the PFWA All-Rookie Team ad Pro Bowl 2021.

Harris recorded his rookie season with 1,200 rushing yards, 3.9 rushing average, 7 rushing touchdowns, 74 receptions, 467 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns.

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9. Mac Jones

  • Position: Quarterback

We have New England Patriots rookie on our number 9 of the top NFL rookies. He is 25 year old Mac Jones, whom the Patriots selected Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Mac played high school football at The Bolles School, Jacksonville, and college football at the University of Alabama. Additionally, he played and notched the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship.

After the Patriots drafted Jones, he became the first quarterback to be drafted in the first round from Alabama since 1993. On July 6, 2021, he signed a $15.6 million contract for four years.

Mac Jones during training
Mac Jones during training (Source:

In his first rookie season, he became the PFWA All-Rookie Team 2021 and a Pro Bowl. He had led the Patriots to their first playoff without Tom Brady since 1998.

Jones recorded 22-13 TD-INT in his rookie season, 3,801 passing yards, 67.6 completion percentage, 92.5 passer rating, and 129 rushing yards. 

8. Jaelan Phillips

  • Position: Outside Linebacker

Miami Dolphins’ Jaelan Phillips takes our number 8 spot for the top NFL rookies. He is a 24 year old player, the Dolphins drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

During his high school years, Phillips was considered the top high school football prospect of 2017. As a result, he received more than 20 scholarships, and among them, he chose to go to the University of California, Los Angeles.

However, after several injuries and being hit by a car, Phillips medically retired from football in 2018. Then he transferred to the University of Miami in 2019.

Jaelan Phillips on the field
Jaelan Phillips on the field (Source:

He returned to playing football the following season, and Phillips entered the 2021 NFL draft. On June 9, 2021, he signed with the Dolphins on a four-year rookie contract worth $14 million.

Phillips became the PFWA All-Rookie Team 2021. His rookie year statistics include total tackles of 42, 8.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection, and 1 fumble recovery.

7. Patrick Surtain II

  • Position: Cornerback

Partick Surtain II is the son of former NFL player Patrick Surtain and our number 7 top NFL rookie. The Denver Broncos drafted the 24 year old Surtain II as the ninth overall in the 2021 NFL draft.

Being the son of a former NFL player, his father coached him in football. In 2018, Surtain II played in the US Army All-American Bowl and entered the University of Alabama the same year.

During his college year, he won several awards like the CFP national champion, SEC Defensive Player of the year, Unanimous All-American, and First-team All-SEC.

Patrick Surtain 2021
Patrick Surtain 2021 (Source:

On May 18, 2021, after the NFL draft, Surtain II signed a $20.9 million worth rookie contract for four-year. He also became the PFWA All-Rookie Team 2021.

Surtain II recorded 58 total tackles, 14 pass deflections, 4 interceptions, and 1 touchdown during his rookie year statistics for 2021.

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6. Jaylen Waddle

  • Position: Wide receiver

Jaylen Waddle is a 25 year-old football rookie who plays for the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins selected him as the sixth overall in the 2021 NFL draft.

Waddle played high school and college football. He played in the US Army All-American Game during his senior high school year. After that, he enrolled at the University of Alabama.

After the 2021 draft, on May 14, Waddle signed with the Dolphins on a $27.1 million contract. His first game was against the New England Patriots and former Alabama teammate quarterback Mac Jones.

Jaylen Waddle
Jaylen Waddle (Source: Instagram)

Waddle set the NFL rookie record for receptions in a season in the 16th game of his rookie season. Similarly, he was also named PFWA All-Rookie Team 2021.

Waddle recorded statistics of 104 receptions, 1,015 receiving yards, 9.8 receiving average, and 6 receiving touchdowns in his rookie season.

5. Creed Humphrey

Position: Center

The number 5 spot of the top NFL rookies goes to 24 year old Creed Humphrey of Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs drafted him in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Humphrey played high school and college football. Similarly, he also played in the 2017 US Army All-American Game. He was a highly-touted prospect in his high school years.

Creed Humphrey
Creed Humphrey (Source: Instagram)

Furthermore, he was the 5th best prospect from the State of Oklahoma and ranked as the 3rd best center in the country. Humphrey signed the rookie contract with the Chiefs on May 13, 2021.

Similarly, he also became the PFWA All-Rookie Team 2021, and his 2021 NFL rookie statistics read 17 games played and 17 games started. 

4. Kyle Pitts

  • Position: Tight end

Kyle Pitts is a 23 year old professional player for the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons drafted him as the fourth overall in the 2021 NFL draft.

In 2018, Pitts played in the Under Armor All-America Game. He attended Abington Senior High School and later transferred to Archbishop Wood Catholic High School, where he played football.

Similarly, Pitts attended the University of Florida. He was named a unanimous All-American during his college football year and won the John Mackey Awards as the most outstanding tight end.

Kyle Pitts
Kyle Pitts (Source:

After the Falcons drafted him, Pitts was the highest-drafted tight end in the NFL history. On June 29, 2021, he signed a four-year rookie contract worth $32.9 million.

He also became the PFWA All-Rookie Team 2021 and Pro Bowl 2021. Pitts recorded 68 receptions, 1,026 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown in his rookie season 2021.

3. Rashawn Slater

  • Position: Offensive tackle

We are down to our top 3 NFL rookies. On our number 3 is a 25 year-old Los Angeles Charger’s Rashawn Slater. The Chargers drafted him as the 13th overall in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

He was part of the football team in his high school and college years. Pro Football rated Slater the best freshman offensive lineman in the nation during his early college year.

Similarly, he was named a preseason All-American, a preseason All-Big Ten, and the Outland Trophy watchlist in his senior year.

Rashawn Slater
Rashawn Slater (Source: Instagram)

On July 27, 2021, Slater signed a four-year rookie contract with the Chargers. Then he has become PFWA All-Rookie Team, Second-team All-Pro, and Pro Bowl 2021.

Meanwhile, Slater’s 2021 rookie record was 17 games played and started.

2. Micah Parsons

  • Position: Outside Linebacker

Micah Parsons of Dallas Cowboys is our top number 2 NFL rookie. He is a calculate_years datestring=”05/26/1999″] year old footballer whom the Cowboys drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Parsons attended Penn State for his college. He was a star player, and he won numerous awards while playing college football.

For example, he was awarded the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year 2019, Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP, etc.

Micah Parsons celebating
Micah Parsons celebrating (Source:

On June 9, 2021, Parsons signed a $17 million worth rookie contract for four-year. Soon after his debut, he immediately made an impression.

Just in his rookie year, Parsons was named PFWA All-Rookie Team, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, First-team All-Pro, Pro Bowl, and Butkus Award.

At the end of the 2021 season, he recorded 84 total tackles, 13 sacks, 3 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles.

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1. Ja’Marr Chase

  • Position: Wide receiver

We present Ja’Marr Chase as our number 1 top NFL rookie. He is a 24 year old footballer for the Cincinnati Bengals. Similarly, the Bengals selected him as the fifth overall in the 2021 NFL draft.

Chase attended the Archbishop Rummel High School and Louisiana State University, where he played football.

During his college year, he won the College Football Playoff National Championship and Fred Biletnikoff Award and was also a unanimous All-American. After the NFL draft, Chase signed a four-year rookie contract worth $38.8 million with the Bengals.

Ja'Marr Chase of Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Marr Chase of Cincinnati Bengals (Source:

Soon after his debut in NFL, he made an immediate impression. He made two different NFL records. He made a record for most receiving yards in a game by a rookie and receiving yards in a postseason by a rookie.

Furthermore, Chase won the PFWA All-Rookie Team, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, Second-team All-Pro, and Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.

His NFL 2021 rookie season record was 81 receptions, 1,455 receiving yards, and 13 receiving touchdowns.


With this, we conclude our list of the top NFL rookies. We can only hope for more spectacular performances as we saw these rookies’ incredible performances in 2021.

What do you think of our list? Who do you think deserves the top NFL rookie spot? Do let us know!

Boby Rai
Boby Rai

Boby Rai

Boby Rai is a dedicated writer who specializes in capturing the essence of sporting excellence through his unique lens. As the creative mind behind numerous sports-centric projects, he brings a fresh perspective to the world of athletics, blending insightful commentary with captivating narratives.


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  • Boby's writing transcends conventional boundaries, offering readers a glimpse into the lesser-known stories.
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Armed with a passion for sports and a gift for storytelling, Boby has honed his craft through years of immersive experiences in the field. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to authenticity, he continues to inspire and inform readers through his thought-provoking work.

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