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2022 NFL Season: Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 14

Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) runs on to the field during player introductions before their game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Aidan Hutchinson‘s best game as a pro: The Lions edge rusher recorded a sack after blowing right past right tackle Brian O’Neill, and he ended the game with the best pass-rushing grade of his season (90.7).

Sauce Gardner continues his stellar season: Against Buffalo, Gardner allowed just one catch for 6 yards and added a pass breakup.

Garrett Wilson stands out again: He caught six of the seven passes thrown his way for 78 yards, two of which were contested targets. Wilson forced two missed tackles with the ball in his hands and moved the chains every time he caught the football.

Estimated Reading Time: 12 mins

We'll be checking in on the first-round rookies throughout the 2022 NFL season, grading their performances and highlighting their principal individual opponents in each game.

Here’s how the group fared in Week 14, as well as their overall PFF grades for the season.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.2 (Rank: 15/34)
Principal Opponent: T DENNIS DALEY
Week 14 Snaps: 31

Walker was dominant against a Tennessee offensive line that ranks dead last in the NFL. He recorded three pressures, one of which was a sack, and two defensive stops. His 91.6 pass-rushing grade was by far the best of his season, and his 77.3 overall grade also represents a new high-water mark. 

2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Overall Rookie Grade: 75.6 (Rank: 3/34)
Principal Opponent: T BLAKE BRANDEL
Week 14 Snaps: 56

Hutchinson had arguably his best game as a pro this week against the Minnesota Vikings. He recorded a sack after blowing right past right tackle Brian O’Neill, and he ended the game with the best pass-rushing grade of his season (90.7). He was a consistent threat in the game, producing multiple defensive stops for the second consecutive week.

3. Houston Texans: CB Derek Stingley Jr. LSU

Overall Rookie Grade: 49.1 (Rank: 33/43)
Principal Opponent: N/A
Week 14 Snaps: 0

Stingley missed this week’s game against Dallas with a hamstring injury. He has allowed 67.3% of passes thrown his way to be caught this season, allowing an 84.9 passer rating. He has yet to surrender a touchdown.

4. New York Jets: CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati

Overall Rookie Grade: 87.2 (Rank: 1/43)
Principal Opponent: WR GABRIEL DAVIS
Week 14 Snaps: 54

Gardner was once again imperious and looks set to earn not just Defensive Rookie of the Year honors but potentially a spot on an All-Pro team, as well. Against Buffalo, he allowed just one catch for 6 yards and added a pass breakup. Gardner has had a phenomenal season and has been one of the best players in the league.

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5. New York Giants: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.1 (Rank: 10/34)
Principal Opponent: T JORDAN MAILATA
Week 14 Snaps: 53

Thibodeaux tallied four hurries across 28 pass rushes against the Eagles. He found himself matched up with Jordan Mailata, the easier of the two possible tackles he could have attacked, and he handed Mailata his worst pass-blocking grade since Week 9. Thibodeaux has some juice as a pass-rusher and ranks third among rookies in total pressures this season (36).

6. Carolina Panthers: OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.4 (Rank: 8/16)
Principal Opponent: Edge BRUCE IRVIN
Week 14 Snaps: 72

Ekwonu had a solid game against the Seahawks, allowing two pressures from 29 pass-blocking snaps. One of those pressures was a sack, which came on one of Ekwonu’s worst reps of the day. He was also impressive as a run-blocker and has been a positive force for the team overall in his rookie season.

7. New York Giants: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Overall Rookie Grade: 45.6 (Rank: 15/16)
Principal Opponent: Edge HAASON REDDICK
Week 14 Snaps: 51

Neal predictably struggled against Reddick and the Philadelphia Eagles pass rush this week. He allowed eight pressures (including a sack) from 34 pass-blocking snaps. Neal has particularly struggled to deal with quick and sudden movements from defenders so far in his rookie season but has the size and strength to envelop and dominate defenders if he can secure his block.

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