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Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season

Week 5 of the NFL season saw San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance‘s first start, giving us real data on all five of this year's first-round quarterbacks for the first time. New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney had a monster day after the team was forced through injuries to feed him the football, even if he undermined that effort by getting ejected for throwing a punch later in the game. Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts had the best game of his young career in London, while Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was virtually unstoppable against the Green Bay Packers.

Offensive linemen had mixed results, with the Los Angeles Chargers' Rashawn Slater surrendering his first NFL sacks but still enhancing his reputation given that his competition was Myles Garrett

Here is how all 32 first-round players graded out in Week 5 and where they stand for the season overall.

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PICK NO. 1: QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Rookie Grade: 50.4 (Rank: 6/6)
Week 5 Grade: 45.2

A week ago, we were speculating whether Lawrence had turned a corner in his rookie season after an impressive game against Cincinnati, but this week was another mistake-riddled performance from him and the Jaguars. Lawrence threw two interceptions in the end zone, and even though one was nullified by a defensive hold and the other came very late in the game, each was a poor decision that cost his team points. He is now in sole possession of the most turnover-worthy plays in the league this season (11), and though he has flashed impressive plays every game, they haven’t come frequently enough to offset those major mistakes that are a near-weekly occurrence.

PICK NO 2: QB Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.4 (Rank: 2/6)
Week 5 Grade: 53.9

The Atlanta Falcons' defense has been a good get-right spot for several teams this season, so it isn’t the most encouraging sign in the world that Wilson and the Jets' offense didn’t look any better this week than they have in previous games. Wilson’s interception was his lone turnover-worthy play — a bad pass left behind his intended receiver where the defensive back could make a play on it — but this game also saw a lack of the impressive plays from him that have been encouraging thus far. 

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.0 (Rank: 3/6)
Week 5 Grade: 66.3

Lance started for the first time this week and was at the forefront of everything the 49ers did on offense. He carried the ball 16 times, seven more than any running back, and also attempted 29 passes. His worst passing play came early, where he sailed a throw that flew right into the hands of a waiting defender, but his arm talent is clear to see, and there were some very nice passes as the game progressed.

He was dynamic as a ball carrier, gaining 90 yards after contact but getting blasted by the goal line and coming up just short of a critical touchdown. Lance may not have been a clear upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo as a starter, but he wasn’t a major dropoff, either.

PICK NO. 4: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Overall Rookie Grade: 76.3 (Rank: 1/6)
Week 5 Grade: 91.1

Removed from the option to throw the ball anywhere else, the Falcons were all of a sudden forced into maximizing the impact of Pitts, who showed he is a special talent in the NFL. Pitts saw 10 targets, catching nine of them for 119 yards and a score. He spent just six of his 40 passing snaps lined up in-line as a true tight end, and he instead functioned far more as a true No. 1 wide receiver — something he showed the potential to be in college. Pitts is an elite receiver regardless of position, and Atlanta made the most of it in London this week.


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