Whether they are high draft picks, late-round value picks or undrafted free agents, we’ll take a look each week of the NFL season at how NFL rookies are doing. Here’s this week’s report:
Stock Up: Offensive Players
QB: Mac Jones – Jones impressed in his debut, throwing for 281 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs, finishing with a 102.6 passer rating. He was the most consistent of the rookie QBs and was rewarded with a solid 76.6 PFF grade.
RB: Elijah Mitchell – Mitchell surprised many with his performance on Sunday. The sixth-round pick got 19 carries and rushed for 104 yards, including a score in his NFL debut. He earned a PFF grade of 63.4.
WR: Ja’Marr Chase – The 5th overall pick and the highest-drafted WR picked in the draft left no doubters after his week one performance. Despite some struggles with drops in the preseason, Chase connected with Burrow on several big plays, going for 5/101/1, while earning a PFF grade of 77.9.
WR: DeVonta Smith – Smith had his fair share of doubters before entering the draft but showed off his craftiness at the position, continuing his play from his spectacular 2020 season which resulted in the Heisman trophy. Smith went for 6/71/1, with a PFF grade of 75.3.
OL: Penei Sewell – Sewell caught a lot of criticism after his preseason performances, in which he made the transition to right tackle. During week one, he returned to the left side and performed admirably against a tough, healthy front seven. Sewell looked comfortable in his play and earned a PFF grade of 75.6.
OL: Creed Humphrey: Humphrey got the start in week one and showed why he was beloved coming out of college. He allowed 0 pressures and was tied for the best pass block win rate in the league for centers over the weekend. His PFF grade on Sunday was 68.6.
Stock Down: Offensive Players
QB: Trevor Lawrence: Lawrence’s play was very up and down, as he made some big-time throws, while also making some mistakes. He finished the day throwing for 332 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT, and a passer rating of 70.1 while his team was crushed in the opener. He earned a PFF grade of 57.3 as a result.
RB: Najee Harris: The offensive line struggled to open holes for Harris, but the first-round pick did not help himself either. He gained just 45 yards on 16 carries, good for 2.8 YPC, which earned him a PFF grade of 55.4.
WR: Kadarius Toney: The first-round pick played just five snaps on Sunday, in which he caught two balls for -2 yards. He was given a grade of 58.9 for his performance and was overshadowed by several other Giant WRs.
WR: Elijah Moore: Playing for the other team in New York, Moore also had a hard time getting things going in week one. Despite a strong training camp, Moore pulled in just one catch for -3 yards, earning him a grade of 49.9.
OL: Alijah Vera-Tucker: It was a tough day for the Jets OL in Carolina, and AVT’s play did not help the cause. He was above average in the run game, but had a hard time in pass protection, allowing a sack, and earning a pass-blocking grade of 40.9. His overall grade was not too shabby, however, as he earned a 65.1.
OL: Samuel Cosmi: Similarly, Washington’s rookie offensive lineman performed very well against the run, among the best in the league. However, he was around the bottom of the league in his pass blocking grade, where he earned just a 15 and had an overall grade of 56.6.
Stock Up: Defensive Players
DL: Kwity Paye: The first-round pick from Michigan performed really well in his debut, showing off how much of a force he is against the run. He earned a very solid 77.7 grade for his play.
DL: Odafe Oweh: Oweh recorded his first career sack on Monday Night Football as his team lost a heartbreaker. He played very well against the run, in particular, earning a PFF grade of 68.5.
LB: Micah Parsons: Parsons, who was the highest LB picked in the draft, had an up and down game on the opening night of the NFL season. He had some struggles in coverage but was very solid in the other aspects of the game, helping him earn a 71.9 grade.
DB: Paulson Adebo: The Saints’ third-round selection produced tremendously on Sunday, as he had his first career PD and INT. In addition, he allowed just one catch on four targets, earning him a coverage grade of 70.9. He was impressive against the run as well.
DB: Jevon Holland: The Oregon product showed that even after a year off from football, he hasn’t missed a step. In limited snaps, he had his first career tackles, forced a fumble, and earned a PFF grade of 82.5
Stock Down: Defensive Players
DL: Jaelan Phillips: Phillips was the highest picked edge rusher in the draft, but played just 22 snaps on Sunday, not producing a single tackle. His play earned him a grade of 57.6.
DL: Azeez Ojulari: Despite getting his first career sack, Ojulari had a hard time in the rest of the game, specifically against the run. PFF gave him a grade of 40.8 for his performance.
LB: Jamin Davis: Davis struggled on Sunday, as a whole, despite being pretty solid in coverage throughout the game. He was very poor against the run, which earned him an overall grade of 36.9.
DB: Benjamin St-Juste: Washington’s third-round pick did not play his best football in week one. He was picked on all day, being credited for allowing seven catches on 10 targets. His overall grade for the week was a poor 30.6.
DB: Tyson Campbell: Campbell was the 33rd overall pick in the draft but struggled to play like it in week one, where he was also thrown at more than a few times. He was credited for allowing five catches on five targets, earning a grade of 39.5
Week 2 Matchups
Going into week two, there are some noteworthy matchups of rookies that will be worth keeping an eye on.
Mac Jones vs. Zach Wilson – Jones will be looking to build off of his impressive performance that was mentioned above. Wilson started very slow out of the gate but picked it up in the second half. After a 1/11 for 35 yards and a pick to start the game, Wilson finished 8/9 with 153 yards and a TD. The rookies will have their first matchup of many this Sunday.
Azeez Ojulari vs. Samuel Cosmi – Both of these players are on the stock down list, as they will be looking to improve upon their struggles from week one. Ojulari had some success in the pass rush, while Cosmi struggled to protect. However, Cosmi showed up against the run while Olujari really struggled against the Broncos’ running game.
Trevor Lawrence vs. Patrick Surtain II – Lawrence was incredibly shaky in his NFL debut after having so much success at Clemson. He will need to establish some consistency in week 2 as he takes on a very good Bronco defense. Surtain, their highly touted first-round pick, played just 16 snaps in week one allowing a catch on the only target his way. He will also be looking to improve on his performance and showcase his monstrous talent.