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Top 25 NFL rookies: Deshaun Watson usurps Hunt at midpoint

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With the 2017 NFL regular season at the midpoint mark, former pro scout Daniel Jeremiah has reviewed his notes from the first eight weeks to rank the top 25 rookies in the league today.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The rundown below reflects changes from Daniel Jeremiah's quarter-mark rookie rankings.

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1

Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans

1

Watson is very much in the MVP discussion based on his outstanding performance through the halfway point of the season. He's tied for the league lead in TD passes (19), and he hasn't flinched in tough road environments like New England and Seattle.

(UPDATE: Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in practice Thursday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported).

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2

Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs

1

Hunt is also in the MVP race and currently leads the league in rushing. He runs with excellent power and vision. He's also been a big factor in the Chiefs' passing attack.

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3

Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints

7

Lattimore has quickly emerged as one of the top young cornerbacks in the NFL. He has plenty of speed to mirror wideouts down the field and his ball skills have been outstanding.

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4

Jamal Adams, S, Jets

1

Adams has brought toughness, reliability and leadership to the Jets secondary. He can match up with tight ends in the red zone, and he's a physical thumper against the run.

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5

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars

3

Fournette has changed the identity of the Jaguars' offense. He gets stronger as the game goes along, and he's a load to tackle in the fourth quarter.

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6

Marcus Maye, S, Jets

NR

Maye has teamed up with Adams to provide a dynamic 1-2 punch at safety for the Jets. He's very athletic in the back end, and he plays with exceptional instincts in coverage.

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7

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers

NR

Smith-Schuster has been the most impressive rookie receiver through the halfway mark of the season. He is physical as a route runner and showed a little more juice after the catch than I anticipated.

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8

Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints

9

Kamara's role continues to grow in the Saints' offense. He has an outstanding burst both as a runner and receiver. He will be in the Rookie of the Year discussion as his touches increase.

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9

Jarrad Davis, LB, Lions

3

Davis has been very productive in the five games he's started for the Lions. I love his mix of size, speed and instincts.

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10

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears

3

Cohen continues to produce big plays in the passing game for the Bears. I'd like to see him used more in the running game, because he's capable of popping a long run at any moment.

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11

Tre'Davious White, CB, Bills

2

White has had some ups and downs, but he's very competitive against both the run and the pass. He's quickly developing into a very solid NFL starter.

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12

Solomon Thomas, DE, 49ers

1

Thomas has been more disruptive than his stats would indicate. He has shown the versatility to play multiple spots and harass the quarterback.

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13

Jonathan Allen, DE, Redskins

1

Allen has the strength and power to dominate at the point of attack. He'd been a reliable starter for the Redskins before suffering a foot Injury in Week 6 that will keep him sidelined for at least three months.

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14

Eddie Jackson, S, Bears

NR

If Jackson had a clean bill of health, he would've been drafted much higher than the fourth round. He is always around the ball, and he singlehandedly won a game for the Bears, returning two turnovers for scores against Carolina.

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15

T.J. Watt, OLB, Steelers

1

Watt has started all but one game for the Steelers, and he's been very productive (four sacks, one INT). He has the potential to be a double-digit sack artist, and he's athletic enough to cover backs and tight ends.

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16

Evan Engram, TE, Giants

1

The Giants' receiving corps has been decimated by injury, but Engram has been a bright spot. He's explosive in and out of the break point and he's a matchup nightmare.

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17

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers

1

McCaffrey has been very productive in the passing game (his 49 catches are 17 more than the next closest rookie), but I did expect a little more in the run game, where he's averaged just 2.4 yards per carry.

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18

Jordan Willis, DE, Bengals

NR

Willis has an explosive first step and has shown all of the signs of emerging as a top-tier pass rusher. His sack production doesn't stand out, but he's very disruptive.

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19

Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams

1

Kupp has been a favorite target of Jared Goff throughout the first half of the season. He's a very precise route-runner and he's piled up some tough yards after the catch.

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20

O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers

NR

Howard is starting to produce some big plays in the passing game, and he's already a competitive blocker in the run game.

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21

Pat Elflein, C, Vikings

Elflein has started all eight games for the Vikings, and he's provided some stability to the interior of their offensive line.

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22

Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

NR

Jones stepped up after Ty Montgomery's injury in Week 4 and provided a spark for the Packers' ground game, rushing for 125 yards at 6.6 per clip against the Cowboys in his first NFL start. He was underrated coming out of UTEP and he has proven to be Green Bay's most instinctive runner.

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23

Carl Lawson, OLB, Bengals

1

The Bengals have a deep and talented defensive line, but Lawson and Willis have both found ways to have a major impact. Lawson has more sack production, but Willis has been the superior run defender.

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24

Shaq Griffin, CB, Seahawks

NR

I loved Griffin coming out of Central Florida, and he's proven to be a draft-day steal for the Seahawks. He's explosive and very competitive when the ball is in the air.

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25

David Njoku, TE, Browns

Njoku still has issues with drops, but he's also produced some big plays down the field. Ultimately, the good has outweighed the bad, but he simply has to catch the ball more consistently.

Dropped out: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings (previously No. 4), Malik Hooker, S, Colts (No. 5), Josh Jones, S, Packers (No. 13), Kendell Beckwith, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 19), Zach Cunningham, LB, Houston Texans (No. 20), Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 22), Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions (No. 23).

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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