NFL Week 7 Power Rankings: Young Risers Making an Impact

of their opportunities and makes the most out of them — Jamison Hensley

Week 7 of the NFL season brought a few unexpected losses that shook up the top in the weekly Power Rankings. The Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, and San Francisco 49ers all registered key losses, leading to a reshuffling of the rankings. As the weeks go on, the separation between the top half and bottom half of the league becomes more and more evident. Let’s take a look at the updated rankings and highlight one young riser on each team this season.

Starting with a new number one team for the first time since the preseason, the Kansas City Chiefs take the top spot in the rankings. A young riser to watch on their roster is cornerback Trent McDuffie. McDuffie, in his second NFL season, has emerged as the top-rated cornerback in the league according to Pro Football Focus. He has shown versatility by excelling in both slot coverage and lining up outside. McDuffie’s impact goes beyond coverage, as he has forced three fumbles, broken up four passes, and recorded four quarterback hits as a blitzer. His contributions have been crucial to the Chiefs’ strong defensive performance this season.

The Philadelphia Eagles also experienced a rise in the rankings, thanks in part to the play of young rising defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Carter, a rookie, has made a strong case for Rookie Defensive Player of the Year. He has consistently generated pressures and sacks, forcing opponents to pay extra attention to him. NFL Next Gen Stats reveal that Carter has been double-teamed on a significant portion of his snaps, yet he still ranks third in pressures when faced with double-teams. His disruptive play up front has been instrumental in the Eagles’ defensive success.

For the San Francisco 49ers, cornerback Deommodore Lenoir has emerged as a young riser to watch. After a disappointing start to last season, Lenoir has showcased his skills as one of the best cover corners in the league. His offseason work on playing the deep ball has paid off, as he ranks highly in passer rating allowed and EPA when targeted among cornerbacks. Lenoir has also recorded two interceptions and has yet to allow a touchdown. With his impressive performance, Lenoir is positioning himself for a significant contract extension this offseason.

The Miami Dolphins have enjoyed a rise in the rankings, and rookie running back De’Von Achane has played a crucial role in their success. Despite currently being on injured reserve, Achane’s stretch from Week 3 to Week 6 put him on the map as the NFL’s second-leading rusher. The Dolphins’ decision to forgo trading for a running back in the offseason has been justified by Achane’s explosive play. Before his injury, he led the league in yards per carry and added another dimension to the Dolphins’ high-powered offense.

In Baltimore, safety Geno Stone has been a remarkable surprise for the Ravens’ defense. Stone, a seventh-round pick in 2020, was waived twice in his rookie season. However, he has now emerged as the league leader in interceptions. Stepping in for the injured Marcus Williams, Stone has picked off four passes in seven games. His rise has been unexpected but serves as a testament to his perseverance and ability to capitalize on opportunities.

As the NFL season progresses, young risers like McDuffie, Carter, Lenoir, Achane, and Stone continue to make their mark on their respective teams. These players, aged 23 years old or younger, have demonstrated their potential and are on the rise. As they develop and establish themselves as top players, their contributions will shape the landscape of the league for years to come.

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