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2018 NFL rookie rankings: Darius Leonard on top at quarter mark

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With the 2018 regular season at the quarter mark, former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah has reviewed his notes from the first four weeks to rank the top 25 rookies in the league today.

Heading into Week 5, it's time to update my rookie rankings. This list will continue to change throughout the season, as we see more rookies given increased roles for their respective teams. I had a very difficult time sorting out the top three players on this list. They were each productive, impactful difference-makers during the first four games of the season.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from the preseason rookie rankings.

1
Darius Leonard
LB
Colts
15

Leonard has stuffed the stat sheet through four games, with 54 tackles, four sacks, two passes defensed and a forced fumble. He has incredible lateral range against the run and he's displayed timing and burst as a blitzer.

2
Derwin James
S
Chargers
1

James is a game-changing defender for the Chargers. He's been their most effective pass rusher (three sacks) and he's excelled in coverage (six passes defensed, one pick).

3
Calvin Ridley
WR
Falcons
NR

Ridley is a smooth and explosive route runner, and he's already hauled in six touchdowns this season. He gets a lot of solo coverage with Julio Jones on the opposite side and he's making opponents pay for it.

4
Denzel Ward
CB
Browns
NR

Ward has made the Browns look smart for selecting him over the top pass rushers with the fourth overall pick. He has the speed and agility to match up with premier wideouts and he's ultra-aggressive in support.

5
Baker Mayfield
QB
Browns
1

The Browns' offense has come alive since Mayfield was inserted into the lineup. I've been very impressed with his poise and ball placement.

6
Saquon Barkley
RB
Giants
4

Barkley has flashed his home run ability as a runner and he's been very reliable in the passing game. His short-area burst is off the charts.

7
Minkah Fitzpatrick
S
Dolphins
3

Fitzpatrick is always in great position in coverage and he has the size/strength to match up with bigger wideouts in the league. He offers tremendous versatility.

8
Donte Jackson
CB
Panthers
NR

Jackson is tied for the league lead with three interceptions. Taken late in the second round, he's proven to be a steal for the Panthers. The LSU product has rare explosiveness and ball awareness.

9
Royce Freeman
RB
Broncos
4

Freeman has been very productive and he's displayed an outstanding combination of vision and power.

10
Phillip Lindsay
RB
Broncos
NR

Lindsay obviously should've been selected -- what a post-draft find for Denver. He is quick as a hiccup and has deceptive strength.

11
Will Hernandez
OG
Giants
9

Hernandez is a powerful run blocker and he continues to improve in pass protection.

12
Fred Warner
LB
49ers
NR

I knew Warner was an excellent athlete, but I've been pleasantly surprised by his physicality. He continues to make plays each and every week.

13
Nick Chubb
RB
Browns
NR

Chubb had his coming-out party against the Raiders in Week 4. He is a violent runner and provides a little more juice than anticipated.

14
Bradley Chubb
OLB
Broncos
10

Chubb has 1.5 sacks thus far and he's shown glimpses of what he can do in passing situations. He should quickly climb this list as we get deeper into the season.

15
Roquan Smith
LB
Bears
NR

Smith is the second-leading tackler for the Bears. He is dripping with instincts, physicality and athleticism.

16
Mike McGlinchey
OT
49ers
NR

I saw McGlinchey up close last week and came away impressed with his improvement in the passing game. He's always been a dominant run blocker.

17
Sony Michel
RB
Patriots
NR

Michel carried a heavy load in Week 4 and proved plenty capable of anchoring the Patriots' rushing attack. He'll get more involved in the passing game as the season progresses.

18
Christian Kirk
WR
Cardinals
6

Kirk is an excellent route runner, and I love his natural instincts to work in zone coverages.

19
Maurice Hurst
DT
Raiders
NR

Hurst is a consistently disruptive force on the Raiders' defensive front. He's a first-round talent.

20
Sam Darnold
QB
Jets
19

Darnold has experienced ups and downs, but I've been impressed with his ability to escape and his accuracy on the move.

21
Quenton Nelson
OG
Colts
14

Nelson is a mauler in the run game, but he's still developing as a pass protector.

22
Harold Landry
OLB
Titans
4

Landry came up with a huge sack/forced fumble in Week 4 to help the Titans upset the Eagles. He generates a lot of pressure with his speed and ability to bend the edge.

23
Jaire Alexander
CB
Packers
NR

Alexander has been a playmaker for the Packers. I love the swagger he's brought to their secondary.

24
Leighton Vander Esch
LB
Cowboys
NR

Vander Esch has quietly played at a very high level. He has a rare blend of size and speed, and is always around the ball.

25
Mike Hughes
CB
Vikings
NR

Hughes has been a bright spot on a very disappointing defense. He recorded a pick-six in his very first NFL game.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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