The rookie quarterback landscape continues to be a toss-up, and in Week 7, Justin Fields continued to struggle while Mac Jones put distance between himself and the other first-year signal-callers. At other positions, the Atlanta Falcons are tapping into tight end Kyle Pitts‘ unique skill set, and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is now on a record-setting pace for the Cincinnati Bengals with the inside track for Rookie of the Year honors.
Let’s see how all 32 first-rounders have performed ahead of Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season.
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PICK NO. 1: QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Overall Rookie Grade: 56.8 (Rank: 4/6)
Week 7 Grade: BYE
Lawrence and the Jaguars were on a bye this week after their London game. He has started to show signs of turning things around after a rocky start to his debut season. In his past three games, he's made six big-time throws and posted two 79.0 PFF grades. Now, he needs to eliminate the mistakes and lapses that have marred his first six NFL outings.
PICK NO. 2: QB Zach Wilson, New York Jets
Overall Rookie Grade: 59.5 (Rank: 2/6)
Week 7 Grade: 60.6
In a beatdown by the New England Patriots, Wilson played 18 snaps before being forced from the game with a knee injury that is expected to keep him out for multiple weeks. Wilson wasn’t playing well, but his backup, Mike White, played even worse after his touchdown pass. Wilson’s 11 turnover-worthy plays are one short of the league lead.
PICK NO. 3: QB Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
Overall Rookie Grade: 59.0 (Rank: 3/6)
Week 7 Grade: DNP
Lance missed this week with a knee injury that wasn’t healed enough over the team's bye to see action. Jimmy Garoppolo got the start against the Colts in a rainstorm and didn’t play well. The door is likely open for Lance to assume the starting job before long if he can get healthy and take that opportunity. Lance has played just 111 snaps and 60 passing plays so far this season, the lowest total of any of the first-round rookie passers.
PICK NO. 4: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Overall Rookie Grade: 85.2 (Rank: 1/7)
Week 7 Grade: 93.5
Pitts is being unlocked by a Falcons offense that seems to have realized that the first-rounder is a tight end in name only. Pitts is being used more as an all-purpose receiving threat, lining up as a No. 1 wideout as well as in line and attached to the formation while drawing matchups against everybody on a defense’s coverage unit.
Against Miami, he caught seven of the nine passes thrown his way for 163 yards, including beating Xavien Howard for the only catch he gave up. Pitts has special potential, and Atlanta seems to be closer to understanding how to help him reach it compared to Week 1.