• Sauce Gardner ends an elite rookie season: Gardner is deservedly in the conversation for being the best cornerback in the NFL after a rookie season in which he looked like a seasoned veteran.
• Drake London leads the way for first-round WRs: The Atlanta Falcons wideout finished the 2022 season with an 83.2 grade that led the class.
Estimated Reading Time: 13 mins
We've checked in on the first-round rookies throughout the 2022 NFL season, grading their performances and highlighting their principal individual opponents in each game. With the regular season now over, we do so one last time.
Here’s how the group fared in Week 18, as well as their overall PFF grades for the season.
Overall Rookie Grade: 60.3 (Rank: 17/36)
Principal Opponent: Dennis Daley
Week 18 Snaps: 64
Walker flashed potential during his rookie season but enters the playoffs with a 58.9 PFF pass-rushing grade, notching 36 total pressures from 422 pass-rushing snaps. Like college, some of his best plays have actually come in coverage, and he has been a better run defender than a pass rusher.
2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Overall Rookie Grade: 81.5 (Rank: 2/36)
Principal Opponent: David Bakhtiari
Week 18 Snaps: 49
Hutchinson was outstanding in the second half of the season after a relatively slow start to his NFL career. Since Week 11, he ranks below just Myles Garrett and Micah Parsons in overall PFF grade and has 25 pressures as well as two interceptions. He has been as good as any rookie in the league over the second half of the year.
Overall Rookie Grade: 49.1 (Rank: 38/49)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 18 Snaps: 0
Stingley never made it back onto the field after a hamstring injury suffered in Week 10. He allowed 67.3% of passes thrown his way to be caught this season for an 84.9 passer rating. Stingley flashed plenty of coverage ability but was often at the wrong end of a play at the catch point.
Overall Rookie Grade: 88.5 (Rank: 1/48)
Principal Opponent: Jaylen Waddle
Week 18 Snaps: 55
Gardner wasn't just the best first-round rookie this season, but also the best rookie in the league and arguably the best cornerback overall in just his first season of play. He was outstanding in both man and zone coverage, allowing just 45.2% of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught.