imagn's Sam Greene

The NFL regular season is complete and the full picture of rookie performance is now available. The league will soon crown Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year but offers a peek into that process. On defense, there was a clear winner but the opposite side of the ball could go to any one of three players. 

It was most difficult to leave promising young players like Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie, Bears offensive tackle Braxton Jones, Ravens center Kyle Hamilton and others off the list, but a line had to be drawn somewhere. 

These rankings are not based on statistical performance but rather overall play. Without further ado, here are the cumulative regular-season rookie rankings:

Final Rookie Rankings
Sauce Gardner New York Jets CB
Gardner finished a sensational season allowing less than two receptions and 20.2 receiving yards per game. The raw stats may not be as impressive as other defensive rookies but there is no question that he has been the best performing.
Drake London Atlanta Falcons WR
London was a big play threat against Tampa Bay. His stats actually could have been even more impressive because he had a step on the defense 40 yards downfield on one play but Desmond Ridder underthrew him.
Garrett Wilson New York Jets WR
Most of Wilson's action occurred underneath. He had 36 of his 89 receiving yards on one play where he slipped through a tackle and evaded others. Joe Flacco threw up his arms on the second to last offensive play in search of a flag, but it was badly underthrown to Wilson.
Chris Olave New Orleans Saints WR
Olave did a great job of creating yardage after the catch. As the future of Michael Thomas in New Orleans becomes more clear, the rookie from Ohio State has established himself as the go-to pass catcher in that offense.
Aidan Hutchinson Detroit Lions DE
Hutchinson added to his sack total in the first quarter against Aaron Rodgers. It is still confusing how he was not able to strip the ball away on that particular play but he continues to pad his rookie resume.
Tyler Allgeier Atlanta Falcons RB
Allgeier does a great job of reading his blocks and using physicality to break through holes. He high steps through traffic and has a natural feel for pace.
Kyle Hamilton Baltimore Ravens SAF
Hamilton's confidence has grown over the course of the season and he is trusting his eyes. He does a great job of playing trail technique and using his length to close at the catch point. Hamilton was able to separate the ball from the pass catcher on more than one occasion.
Kenneth Walker III Seattle Seahawks RB
Walker is a player with good speed and great elusiveness. He can stretch out a play horizontally before finding a gap and exploding for a long gain.
Abraham Lucas Seattle Seahawks OT
Lucas had a strong start to the season, tapered off a bit in the second half of the season and then ended on a strong note against the Rams last weekend.
Tariq Woolen Seattle Seahawks CB
Woolen is not a fluid lockdown cornerback but he is a long cornerback with great ball skills. When he gets turned around, he has the recovery speed to close quickly in space and the length to contest at the catch point. He nearly padded his interception total against Los Angeles.
Christian Watson Green Bay Packers WR
Watson's season can be broken down into two parts: pre-Nov. 12 and post- Nov. 12. Over those first six games, the rookie never had more than two receptions in a game and was averaging less than 15 receiving yards per game. In the final eight games, he had fewer than three receptions in a game just once. He recorded all seven of his touchdowns over that time period while developing into one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets.
Dameon Pierce Houston Texans RB
Pierce has not played since suffering an injury Dec. 11 against Dallas but he has over 500 snaps to his name this season. The rookie from Florida averaged 4.3 yards per carry, caught 30 passes and avoided 79 tackles.
Kayvon Thibodeaux New York Giants OLB
Thibodeaux has delivered big plays down the stretch. He registered a sack in three of the final four games. His best football is ahead of him.
Jermaine Johnson II New York Jets DE
Johnson is a rotational player for New York but it is easy to see what he brings as not only a pass rusher, but a run defender. There was a play where he played disciplined football by not biting on a fake and bursting to bring down Skylar Thompson in open space.
Jaquan Brisker Chicago Bears SS
As Chicago sets out to fill its defensive cabinet with quality players this off-season, Brisker is a promising piece for the future. He has range to play high and low while cleaning up his tackling woes.