- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
It's fun to see improvement from rookies over the course of the season. For a guy like Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, it seemed like an inevitable storyline. After all, for most NFL teams, Ansah was a mystery for most of last season. If you watched BYU, you'd occasionally see him show off his elite pursuit speed, or a powerful bull rush that would see him deposit a tackle in the backfield, but there were only glimpses, because Ansah didn't have enough variation in his game to consistently produce. He was late to football and still learning.
But now with the equivalent of another full college football season under his belt, he's showing more and more. Over the past two weeks, he has four sacks and is showing more refinement to go with the special athleticism and power. He's moving up these ranks, as well.
Again, the usual parameters:
• The rankings reflect play over the whole season, not just the previous Sunday.
• Positional value matters, but overall performance and impact on the team matter more.
• I do ask: Would this player be a starter on most teams? (I think that hurts QBs a bit.)
• Total snap count matters. Staying on the field is important because you get taken off to conceal weaknesses.
With the rules in place, here we go. This week, I've ranked a total of 30 and included a number of others I've noticed.
1. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Buffalo
Mel Kiper updates his ranking of the top 30 rookies in the NFL, with Kiko Alonso retaining the No. 1 spot.