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Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 14 of the 2021 NFL season

Linebacker Micah Parsons is pushing potential rookie honors to the side and is now vying for Defensive Player of the Year with performances that keep impressing for the Dallas Cowboys. The Detroit Lions were down 18 players due to COVID-19 and the regular flu, but tackle Penei Sewell didn’t take that as an excuse to slow down his dominant pace. For the Cincinnati Bengals, Ja’Marr Chase left some opportunities on the table but came up big in other situations in a nail-biter against the San Francisco 49ers

The edge rusher class had a tough weekend, with the three who played outside of Parsons all earning below-average grades. At quarterback, things continued to look bleak for Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, the top two picks in the draft.

Let's dive in to each 2021 first-rounder's Week 14 performance and season overall.

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PICK NO. 1: QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.1 (Rank: T4/7)
Week 14 Grade: 44.0

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Lawrence and the Jacksonville offense were ugly this week in another disappointing showing. Lawrence averaged 5.5 yards per attempt and threw four interceptions with just one big-time throw. He passed for just nine first downs on 44 dropbacks, and only one of the incompletions was a drop.

There is no doubt that Lawrence has little in the way of help around him, but he's not showing enough positives in his own play, and the volume of mistakes emanating from his game is concerning. 

PICK NO. 2: QB Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.1 (Rank: T4/7)
Week 14 Grade: 53.2

When you are outdueled by Taysom Hill as a passer, something has gone wrong. That’s the reality Wilson faced this week after another ugly loss. The rookie dropped back to pass 49 times against the Saints, completing only 19 for 202 yards (4.8 YPA). A silver lining was that he avoided any turnover-worthy plays, but the lack of rhythm and a baseline of production has been a theme to his rookie season.

Wilson may be down some of his best receivers, but that only goes part of the way to explain his performance.

PICK NO. 3: QB Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Overall Rookie Grade: 60.0 (Rank: 3/7)
Week 14 Grade: DNP

Lance again did not see the field this week for the 49ers. Though the 49ers were deploying him for a handful of snaps early in the season, they have abandoned that strategy lately while Jimmy Garoppolo is playing his best football. Lance has played just five snaps since Week 5.

PICK NO. 4: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Overall Rookie Grade: 77.8 (Rank: 1/14)
Week 14 Grade: 80.0

Kyle Pitts was targeted six times against Carolina, catching five of them for 64 yards. The lone incompletion came on a well-contested throw down the left sideline against Myles Hartsfield. Pitts showed good hands and strength at the catch point to bring in more than one target in this game, and he was again deployed all over the formation. He saw snaps in line, in the slot and split out wide as a true wide receiver, giving the Falcons' offense some true matchup advantages, should they choose to exploit them.

PICK NO. 5: WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Overall Rookie Grade: 77.0 (Rank: 3/26)
Week 14 Grade: 73.6

The Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase connection is a potentially devastating one for the Cincinnati offense, and the Bengals found their most success when the game plan became “just let those two make plays.” Burrow threw Chase’s way eight times, resulting in five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Chase dropped one of the incompletions, and video replay took away another after it had been initially ruled a touchdown. The 49ers didn’t have anybody who could cover him all game, and he averaged 1.97 yards per route run despite that deep score coming off the board.


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PICK NO. 6: WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

Overall Rookie Grade: 78.7 (Rank: 2/26)
Week 14 Grade: BYE

Waddle was on a bye this week with the Miami Dolphins. He has been an impact player for their offense in recent weeks and a chain-mover all year. He leads all rookies in targets and receptions by a significant margin and ranks tied for fifth in yards per route run.

PICK NO. 7: OT Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions

Overall Rookie Grade: 79.1 (Rank: 2/18)
Week 14 Grade: 91.0

Sewell is quietly starting to dominate on the offensive line — not just play well “for a rookie.” Against Denver, he posted a 91.0 overall PFF grade and allowed just two hurries across 42 pass-blocking snaps. He dominated in the run game and sports the highest overall PFF grade of any tackle in the league outside of Trent Williams since Week 6. Sewell has allowed just one sack all season and boasts an 88.7 PFF run-blocking grade. He's earned two game grades of at least 93.0 in that area across the past three weeks.

PICK NO. 8: CB Jaycee Horn, Carolina Panthers

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.8 (Rank: 6/37)
Week 14 Grade: DNP

Horn broke his foot on Thursday night in Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season after an encouraging start to the campaign. He is expected to miss the rest of his rookie year.

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