The standard for "evaluating draft classes" is three years, meaning Cam Newton, Jake Locker and company will have their career check after this season. But, in an effort to give an update on how the 2013 rookie class is doing, I've ranked the rookies (both drafted and undrafted). Their ranking is based upon a combination of performance this year and flashes of impressive play when they have gotten snaps this year. Keep in mind that is was VERY difficult to rank these players after just eight weeks into their NFL career.
Lead by talented defensive front seven playmakers Sheldon Richardson, Kiko Alonso, and Star Lotulelei, this rookie class has lacked consistent offensive playmakers but certainly plenty of surprise defensive backs and offensive linemen to make this class a pleasant surprise for many teams.
1 . Sheldon Richardson - DT - New York Jets
-Our top rated prospect headed into the 2013 draft, it doesn't come as a surprise to us that he's playing as well as he is. Despite defensive line not being a glaring need heading into the season with Muhammad Wilkerson in the unit, but Richardson has been a primary reason for the team's defensive success.
2 . Kiko Alonso - ILB - Buffalo Bills
-After recently detailing his play against the Saints and this season, Alonso has clearly emerged as one of the top inside linebackers in the NFL, regardless of rookie status. He's been key to the Bills ability to stay in close games this year.
3 . Star Lotulelei - DT - Carolina Panthers
-While he may not have an overly obvious impact on the defense based on his stat-lines, he's done wonders for this consistently struggling run defense over the past few years. He's provided an instant upgrade to a team in need of defensive help.
4 . Eddie Lacy - RB - Green Bay Packers
-While his lack of top end speed has limited his big plays this year despite the Packers offensive line blocking well down field, Lacy has consistently been productive when he's been healthy, and is likely the favorite for offensive rookie of the year.
5 . Geno Smith - QB - New York Jets
-Smith hasn't been perfect this year, having hot and cold games sporadically throughout the season. However, he's certainly outperformed expectations that led him to falling to the 2nd round of the draft. While the Jets aren't a playoff lock, he's earned the role of starting quarterback so far.
6 . David Bakhtiari - OT - Green Bay Packers
-Despite being 10th drafted offensive tackle in last year's draft, Bakhtiari has been the most impressive lineman I've seen among the rookie class. Stepping in as a starter on playoff team, he hasn't missed a beat, and has handled all types of rushers efficiently.
7 . Larry Warford - OG - Detroit Lions
-Garnering one of the highest ratings at ProFootballFocus.com among guards in the NFL, Warford has showcased why we gave him a first round grade coming into this year.
8 . Tyrann Mathieu - S - Arizona Cardinals
-Mathieu fell on draft day and was a major question mark for evaluators off the field, but he's quickly shown why he was one of the best nickel defensive backs in the NFL.
9 . Keenan Allen - WR - San Diego Chargers
-Our top rated receiver coming into the draft, Allen fell on draft day due to concerns over his injury history and positive drug test at the Combine. But it's his decisive downfield routes and ability after the catch that has quickly forced teams to forget those issues.
10 . Marcus Cooper - CB - Kansas City Chiefs
-A major surprise coming out of Rutgers, Cooper has gone from unknown training camp rookie to the most impressive rookie defensive back in the NFL. It'll be exciting to see if he can keep up his production on this talented defense the rest of the year.
11 . Ziggy Ansah - DE - Detroit Lions
-The athletic freak has already begun to produce in his career, despite struggles in recent weeks. Ansah is obviously still a work in progress, so if he can continue to flash as a rookie, his Pro Bowl future may be coming much quicker than any could have anticipated.
12 . Chris Jones - DT - New England Patriots
-After racking up awesome sack numbers at Bowling Green, Jones has seized the unexpected opportunity this year to finish his tackles for loss at a high rate when he's been given snaps. While I wouldn't expect him to keep it up all year, he's certainly been a surprising bright spot for the non-first round defensive lineman.
13 . Terrance Williams - WR - Dallas Cowboys
-With Miles Austin's injury, Williams got a chance to shine in this talented offense. He's seized the opportunity, showing both vertical ability (expected) and short area routes as well. I don't think he'll be slowing down even when Austin is 100%.
14 . Gio Bernard - RB - Cincinnati Bengals
-Bernard hasn't completely secured the starting spot over BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but he's certainly proved to be the more talented and versatile of the two. Bernard's ability as a pass catcher and pass blocker has allowed him to increase his snaps throughout the season.
15 . DJ Fluker - OT - San Diego Chargers
-After Bakhtiari, Fluker has been the most consistent offensive tackle in this class. He's still been subject to inside counter rushes, something he'll need to clean up, but it's his pure strength that has been on display for the rookie.
16 . Kyle Long - OG - Chicago Bears
17 . DeAndre Hopkins - WR - Houston Texans
18 . Barkevious Mingo - OLB - Cleveland Browns
19 . Robert Woods - WR - Buffalo Bills
20 . Kenny Stills - WR - New Orleans Saints
21 . Zac Stacy - RB - St. Louis Rams
22 . Alec Ogletree - OLB - St. Louis Rams
23 . Jordan Reed - TE - Washington Redskins
24 . John Jenkins - DT - New Orleans Saints
25 . Jon Bostic - ILB - Chicago Bears
26 . Vince Williams - ILB - Pittsburgh Steelers
27 . Jordan Mills - OT - Chicago Bears
28 . Kawann Short - DT - Carolina Panthers
29 . Eric Reid - S - San Francisco 49ers
30 . Kenny Vaccaro - S - New Orleans Saints
31 . Sio Moore - OLB - Oakland Raiders
32 . EJ Manuel - QB - Buffalo Bills
33 . Travis Frederick - OC - Dallas Cowboys
34 . Kenbrell Thompkins - WR - New England Patriots
35 . Le'Veon Bell - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers
36 . Devin Taylor - DE - Detroit Lions
37 . Joplu Bartu - OLB - Atlanta Falcons
38 . Dee Milliner - CB - New York Jets
39 . Mike Glennon - QB - Tampa Bay Bucs
40 . Robert Alford - CB - Atlanta Falcons
41 . Andre Ellington - RB - Arizona Cardinals
42 . Tommy Bohanan - FB - New York Jets
43 . Tavon Austin - WR - St. Louis Rams
44 . Chance Warmack - OG - Tennessee Titans
45 . Aaron Dobson - WR - New England Patriots
46 . Tyler Eifert - TE - Cincinnati Bengals
47 . Eric Fisher - OT - Kansas City Chiefs
48 . Michael Bowie - OT - Seattle Seahawks
49 . Cordarrelle Patterson - WR - Minnesota Vikings
50 . Nickell Robey - CB - Buffalo Bills
51 . Justin Hunter - WR - Tennessee Titans
52 . Josh Boyce - WR - New England Patriots
53 . Manti Te'o - ILB - San Diego Chargers
54 . Matt Elam - S - Baltimore Ravens
55 . Dion Jordan - DE - Miami Dolphins
56 . Brice Butler - WR - Oakland Raiders
57 . Khiry Robinson - RB - New Orleans Saints
58 . DJ Hayden - CB - Oakland Raiders
59 . Michael Buchanan - DE - New England Patriots
60 . Joseph Randle - RB - Dallas Cowboys
61 . Sharrif Floyd - DT - Minnesota Vikings
62 . Montee Ball - RB - Denver Broncos
63 . JJ Wilcox - S - Dallas Cowboys
64 . Xavier Rhodes - CB - Minnesota Vikings
65 . Andy Mulumba - OLB - Green Bay Packers
66 . Kayvon Webster - CB - Denver Broncos
67 . Logan Ryan - CB - New England Patriots
68 . Justin Pugh - OT - New York Giants
69 . Desmond Trufant - CB - Atlanta Falcons
70 . Jarvis Jones - OLB - Pittsburgh Steelers
71 . Bennie Logan - DT - Philadelphia Eagles
72 . Bjoern Werner - DE - Indianapolis Colts
73 . Jon Cyprien - S - Jacksonville Jaguars
74 . David Amerson - S - Washington Redskins
75 . Marlon Brown - WR - Baltimore Ravens