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Rivals Rankings Week: Who should be No. 1 in 2026?

Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Last week the 2025 class rankings got a refresh so the focus this week will be on the new 2026 rankings. Five-star Jahkeem Stewart sits atop the Rivals250 but there are a few highly-regarded prospects challenging for his No. 1 spot.

The national recruiting analysts - John Garcia Jr., Adam Friedman, Adam Gorney, Marshall Levenson and Greg Smith - give their takes on who they think should be ranked No. 1 in the Rivals250.

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RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK

Monday: Five-Star Countdown

Tuesday: New Rivals250 unveiled | Gorney goes position-by-position | Biggest risers

Wednesday: New offensive position rankings released | QB rankings breakdown | RB rankings breakdown | WR/TE rankings breakdown | OL rankings breakdown

Thursday: New defensive position rankings released | DL rankings breakdown | LB rankings breakdown | DB rankings breakdown | ATH rankings breakdown

Friday: New state rankings released | Who is No. 1 in each state?

Saturday: Roundtable on the 2026 rankings

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FRIEDMAN’S VIEW: Jahkeem Stewart

Usually if there is a shoe-in top quarterback in a class, they’d be ranked No. 1 overall because of how valuable the position is in the NFL Draft. The 2026 class doesn’t have one of those but I’m not sure it would matter because of Stewart. The massive, powerful, and explosive defensive lineman has been tossing offensive linemen around for a couple years and he continues to refine his technique. In the last few years only a couple defensive linemen have put together such an impressive resume this early in their career.

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GARCIA’S VIEW: Jahkeem Stewart

It's one thing to be nicknamed Thanos as an underclassman, it's another to back up lofty expectations at just about every turn. Stewart has the frame, athleticism and maturity to become a true interior force, and he shows up to compete for the crowns in the process having won Defensive Line MVP honors at Rivals Camp Series events for the last three years. Of course being from Louisiana, he typically makes the camp stops in the state of Texas, often winning against older Power Four offensive line prospects in the process. His frame could lean towards a versatile role or eventually push him inside for good, but interior defenders who can rush the passer are hard to come by so the five-star, No. 1-type projection feels relatively safe at this stage.

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GORNEY’S VIEW: Jahkeem Stewart

This one is easy. Stewart would have been in the five-star discussion in the 2024 class, he would have been in the discussion for No. 1 overall in 2025 and he's definitely the best prospect in the 2026 class that we've seen. What I love about Stewart is not just his on-field dominance but he already has NFL size and a determination to be great that only comes with the elite ones. The New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine defensive lineman is always working to get better, always looking to compete against the best and is never averse to getting after it and competing.

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LEVENSON’S VIEW: Jahkeem Stewart

Stewart is the only prospect that I feel deserves legitimate conversation for the No. 1 spot and I feel that will continue. Stewart shows up to camps and consistently dominates in exciting and explosive fashion. From his height, weight, arm length and wingspan, he is the mold of a premier NFL Draft pick on the defensive line. Among the other seven five-stars in the class, none have shown any reason to jump Stewart at this time.

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SMITH’S VIEW: Jackson Cantwell

From a genetic standpoint it doesn’t get much better than the Nixa (Mo.) High star. Both his parents were Olympic throwers. Cantwell could probably go to college on a track scholarship himself as he continues setting records in the shot. He is massive to go along with that explosive athletic ability.

The potential is there for Cantwell to be a high first-round pick in the NFL Draft and he plays a premium position. The only knock on Cantwell is that we haven’t gotten a chance to see him against elite competition like others vying for the No. 1 spot.