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Grading Every First-Round Rookie at NFL's Quarter Mark

The first quarter of the NFL season has concluded, and we've seen several rookies make their mark on the league. But which ones stood out the most in the first four games? And which players have left a lot to be desired? Here are the grades for every first-round pick after the NFL’s quarter mark:

Grading Each 1st-Round Draft Pick

1. Carolina Panthers (From Chicago Bears)

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

It's too early to panic on Bryce Young, but the early returns haven't been great. He’s averaging just 4.9 yards per attempt. He’s taken a bunch of sacks (11 in three starts) and has already suffered an ankle injury.

The good news is Young played better against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4 than in his previous two starts. You can see things starting to slow down for him, and he is moving better in the pocket. The Carolina Panthers have got to surround him with more weapons, but Young needs to become more of a playmaker, too.

Grade: C

>> Spielman: What's Wrong With Young, Panthers?

2. Houston Texans

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Houston Texans hit a home run with C.J. Stroud at No. 2. He's looked fantastic and has led the Texans to back-to-back wins despite the offensive line missing four starters. Stroud has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions while posting three straight games with a passer rating over 103.

More importantly, he has a calmness and poise about him that is starting to infect the entire team. Stroud is the real deal, and his early-season play has been one of the most surprising storylines in the NFL this season.

Grade: A+

>> READ: Has Stroud Surpassed Young, Richardson?

3. Houston Texans (from Arizona Cardinals)

Will Anderson Jr., Edge, Alabama

The Texans gave up a ton to get Will Anderson Jr., and whether they gave up too much can be debated. But what can’t be debated is the player that Houston acquired.

Anderson is already one of the better edge rushers in the league. He has just one sack, but he is constantly around the quarterback and should start converting more pressures into sacks in the next few months.

Grade: A

4. Indianapolis Colts

Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Anthony Richardson remains a raw player, but it's not hard to see the vision here. Richardson makes three or four "WOW" plays a game that only a few quarterbacks can make.

The Indianapolis Colts will need to exercise patience, but Richardson looks like a player who can be the face of the franchise moving forward.

Grade: B

5. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos)

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

Everything about Devon Witherspoon is perfect for the Seattle Seahawks. He is physical. He loves to tackle, and he can set the tone on defense. His Week 4 performance against the New York Giants was about as impressive as it gets, recording two sacks and a 97-yard pick-six.

He was the best player on the field for the Seahawks, and pairing him with Tariq Woolen gives Seattle one of the best cornerback duos in the league. Witherspoon is a star in the making.

Grade: A+

6. Arizona Cardinals (from Detroit Lions)

Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

Paris Johnson Jr. has been tested a ton in the first month of his career, facing Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa, Montez Sweat and other top-end rushers. He's held up incredibly well and should only improve as the season progresses.

He needs to improve as a run blocker, but everything else looks incredible. It shouldn't be long before he is viewed as one of the best right tackles in the NFL.

Grade: B+

7. Las Vegas Raiders

Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

It's been tough sledding so far for Tyree Wilson, who hasn't recorded a sack. Not only that, but he doesn’t have a single tackle for a loss, quarterback hit or any other notable stat other than four total tackles.

It should be noted Wilson missed almost the entire offseason after undergoing foot surgery, which has stunted his development. It is too early to panic, but the early returns haven't been encouraging for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Grade: D-

8. Atlanta Falcons

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Selecting a running back in the top 10 still isn't a good decision, but Bijan Robinson has been as good as advertised. The Atlanta Falcons have been wise not to overwork him in the first month of the season, but he's been every bit as good as he was at Texas.

Robinson averages 6.0 yards per carry and has totaled 452 yards on just 72 touches. Bigger weeks are coming for Robinson and the Falcons because they will surely lean on him more as the season progresses.

Grade: B+

9. Philadelphia Eagles (from Chicago Bears)

Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia

You can already make a case Jalen Carter is one of the NFL's top five interior defensive linemen. He's been absolutely dominant for the Philadelphia Eagles and could be an All-Pro selection as a rookie.

The box score numbers aren’t eye-popping (1.5 sacks), but he has been sensational in creating opportunities for other defensive linemen. There were legitimate reasons why he fell to No. 9, but the Eagles have a superstar on their hands with Carter.

Grade: A+

10. Chicago Bears (from Philadelphia Eagles)

Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

Darnell Wright has been among the few bright spots for the Chicago Bears this year. You can make a case that he's their best offensive lineman already. He needs to cut down on some of the penalties, but Wright already looks like a seasoned veteran at right tackle.

Grade: B

11. Tennessee Titans

Peter Skoronski, OG, Northwestern

Peter Skoronski has not played much due to an appendix surgery after Week 1. But in the limited sample size we've seen, he has looked like a natural fit at guard. He should be back on the field soon, providing a major boost for the Tennessee Titans.

Grade: B-

Detroit Lions Jahmyr Gibbs

12. Detroit Lions (from Houston Texans)

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

The Detroit Lions haven't used Jahmyr Gibbs much in the season's first month. He's averaged just 9.8 rushing attempts per game. Gibbs has just 53 total touches this season, averaging 4.7 yards per touch.

It’s clear Detroit doesn't want to overwork him and wants Gibbs to be fresh come the playoffs. He’s looked good in limited action, but it’s fair to wonder if the Lions should have gone elsewhere at No. 12.

Grade: C+

13. Green Bay Packers (from New York Jets)

Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa

It's been a struggle for Lukas Van Ness the last few weeks. He looked excellent against Chicago in Week 1 but has not done much as a pass rusher in the previous three games. The Green Bay Packers selected him at No. 13, knowing it would take some time for him to develop, so there is no reason to overreact to a few slow games.

Grade: C

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (from New England Patriots)

Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia

The Pittsburgh Steelers traded up for Broderick Jones in the 2023 NFL Draft, but he could not beat out Dan Moore in training camp. Jones finally got on the field in Week 4 after Moore suffered a knee injury against the Texans.

Jones did not play well in limited action, and it's not hard to see why Mike Tomlin and the Steelers want him to sit and learn from the bench. The good news is we should find out a lot about Jones over the next month with Moore out for the foreseeable future.

Grade: C-

15. New York Jets (from Green Bay Packers)

Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State

The New York Jets selected a 24-year-old edge rusher at No. 15, only to keep him inactive the first few weeks of the season. Will McDonald IV was on the field in Week 4, but only for limited snaps.

For a team with so many needs on the offensive line, picking a situational pass rusher this high in the first round looks like a mistake.

Grade: D

16. Washington Commanders

Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

The last few weeks have not been kind to Emmanuel Forbes, the Bills and the Eagles picked on him a ton and he struggled against D.J. Moore on Thursday night. Cornerback is a tough position to play as a rookie, so don't overreact to a couple poor performances against elite receivers (Moore, Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown).

Grade: C-

17. New England Patriots (from Pittsburgh Steelers)

Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

Christian Gonzalez was forced to leave the field in Week 4 due to a shoulder injury and will miss the rest of the season. That is the only reason for the A- grade because Gonzalez appears to be a future star for the New England Patriots.

He performed exceptionally well against Tyreek Hill, Garrett Wilson and Brown. Here is to hoping he can get healthy and back on the field because he is one of the most dynamic cornerbacks in the NFL right now.

Grade: A-

18. Detroit Lions

Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

The Lions were hoping that Jack Campbell could step right in and be the best linebacker on the team. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. He’s really struggled in coverage during his rookie season. He’ll eventually figure things out, but he has not played well yet for the Lions.

Grade: D+

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh

Calijah Kancey injured his calf during training camp and has played 11 total snaps this season. It’s always tough to grade players who have missed this much time, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t gotten anything out of their No. 1 pick in this year’s draft yet. 

Grade: D-

Seattle Seahawks Jaxon Smith-Njigba

20. Seattle Seahawks

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The idea of Jaxon Smith-Njigba made a lot of sense for the Seahawks. They wanted to give Geno Smith another weapon to make the offense even more dangerous. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case yet.

Smith-Njigba has turned 20 targets into just 62 yards. That doesn't mean we should give up on him, but he's unlikely to have a much bigger role in this offense until one of DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett leaves.

Grade: D+

21. Los Angeles Chargers

Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

With Mike Williams now out for the rest of the season (ACL injury), one would expect Quentin Johnston to have a more significant role in the offense. But that wasn't the case in Week 4 when he caught just one pass for 18 yards.

He has just 44 yards in four games and has been outplayed by the two other first-round receivers selected immediately after him.

Grade: D+

22. Baltimore Ravens

Zay Flowers, WR Boston College

Zay Flowers has already developed into the Baltimore Ravens' No. 1 receiver, and his speed was desperately needed in this offense. The next step is to give him more targets down the field, but he already has 24 catches through four games.

The Ravens have finally found a competent receiver to pair with QB Lamar Jackson.

Grade: A-

23. Minnesota Vikings

Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Jordan Addison was shut out in Week 4, but he's been impressive in the first month of the year. He’s already made several long touchdown receptions, and it’s not hard to see why he was a consensus first-round pick.

Addison is a perfect fit with Justin Jefferson with his precise route running allowing him to make big plays down the field. Bigger games are coming for the former USC star.

Grade: B+

24. New York Giants (from Jacksonville Jaguars)

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Deonte Banks has had his ups and downs, just like most rookie cornerbacks. He's given up a few touchdowns but has not been overly exposed in coverage. Banks is still waiting to record his first NFL interception, but he's been a solid player for the New York Giants through the season's first month.

Grade: C+

25. Buffalo Bills (from Jacksonville Jaguars)

Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

The good news for Dalton Kincaid is he’s been on the field a lot, and the Buffalo Bills are giving him a ton of targets. The bad news is Kincaid has totaled 99 yards on 17 targets.

Most of his targets have come near the line of scrimmage, which has limited his big-play potential. Once the Bills start using Kincaid down the field, he’ll have more success.

Grade: B-

26. Dallas Cowboys

Mazi Smith, DL, Michigan

Mazi Smith has been a part-time player for the Dallas Cowboys and hasn't stood out a lot on tape. He’s made the occasional run stuff here or there, but he’s only playing around 15 snaps a game.

It usually takes defensive linemen a year or so before they make an impact, but the Cowboys were undoubtedly hoping for more right away.

Grade: C-

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Buffalo Bills)

Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Anton Harrison has progressed nicely for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the past few weeks and had arguably his best performance of the season in Week 4. Cam Robinson returns in Week 5, so seeing how the Jaguars sort out their tackle situation will be interesting.

Regardless of how they deploy their offensive linemen, Harrison should remain one of Jacksonville's starting tackles.

Grade: B+

28. Cincinnati Bengals

Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

Myles Murphy is buried on the Cincinnati Bengals' depth chart and isn't making a big impact on the field. He did record a sack in Week 4, but that's about all he's done so far.

The Bengals drafted Murphy with an eye toward the future, so it's hard to be disappointed in him now.

Grade: C-

New Orleans Saints Bryan Bresee

29. New Orleans Saints

Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson

Bryan Bresee has some really solid flashes, but he needs to be more disciplined as a run defender. That will come in time, as Bresee hasn't played much football during the past three years.

Overall, the New Orleans Saints should be optimistic about his future and role in the defense.

Grade: B-

30. Philadelphia Eagles

Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

Nolan Smith is buried on the depth chart in Philadelphia and hasn't seen the field much (28 total snaps). He does not have a sack or a hurry yet, but his role should increase with time.

The Eagles have so much depth at the defensive end position it’s hard to say anything too negative about Smith right now.

Grade: C-

31. Kansas City Chiefs

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge, Kansas State

Felix Anudike-Uzomah has been a situational pass rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs in the first month of his career, but that's just about it. He's recorded 0.5 sacks and one hurry on 73 snaps but hasn't made much of an impact.

With the Chiefs struggling at wide receiver, it's fair to wonder if they should have picked someone else at this spot.

Grade: D

Marcus Mosher is an NFL writer with a decade of experience in podcasting and writing for various NFL websites, including Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus and The Athletic. He’s currently a managing editor at USA Today Sports Media Group and host of the Locked On Cowboys Podcast. Marcus has been working full-time covering the NFL since 2015 and works as a betting expert for You can follow him at @Marcus_Mosher.