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2022 NFL Season: Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 7

Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) throws as Green Bay Packers linebacker Quay Walker (7) pressures during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Quay Walker active throughout: The Green Bay Packers linebacker made seven run stops and allowed only 22 yards in coverage.

• Nothing can stop Sauce Gardner: The New York Jets cornerback put together yet another impressive performance in coverage.

Kenyon Green‘s struggles continue: The Houston Texans guard finished with a sub-45.0 grade after a poor showing as a run-blocker.

Estimated Reading Time: 11 mins

We will be checking in on the first-round rookies throughout the 2022 NFL season, grading their performances as well as highlighting who their principal individual opponent was in each game.

Here’s how the group fared in Week 7, as well as their overall PFF grade for the season.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia

Overall Rookie Grade: 62.7 (Rank: 14/31)
Principal Opponent: Tyre Phillips
Week 7 Snaps: 66

Walker’s best plays against the Giants came when he was matched up with a tight end, particularly in the run game. As a pass-rusher, he was largely shut down, and he had multiple plays where he was late to read what the Giants were actually running, blowing contain on a naked bootleg and letting a jet sweep get outside of him before he chased it down and made the tackle.

2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Overall Rookie Grade: 67.6 (Rank: 7/31)
Principal Opponent: Terence Steele
Week 7 Snaps: 56

Hutchinson and Tyler Smith had an outstanding battle of two rookie first-rounders, even if Hutchinson actually played a marginally greater number of snaps on the other side against Terence Steele. Overall, he recorded four pressures, including two sacks, but Smith also got him with a couple of impressive reps, including one where he buried him to the ground on a bull rush.

3. Houston Texans: CB Derek Stingley Jr. LSU

Overall Rookie Grade: 50.4 (Rank: 26/35)
Principal Opponent: Davante Adams
Week 7 Snaps: 56

Stingley drew one of the toughest assignments in football this week and had to cover Davante Adams. He held up remarkably well, allowing three catches for 38 yards, and we saw some elite movement skills amongst those coverage plays. Stingley hasn’t quite made the immediate impact of Sauce Gardner, but he has consistently flashed his own outstanding ceiling.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 81.2 (Rank: 2/35)
Principal Opponent: Courtland Sutton
Week 7 Snaps: 79

Gardner was a shutdown force against the Denver Broncos, a fact that was made more obvious by the ill-advised insistence from Brett Rypien to keep testing him deep. He allowed just four catches for 16 yards despite 10 targets, breaking up three of the incompletions. He is already reaching the stage of being a complete no-go area on deep shots for opposing offenses.

5. New York Giants: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Overall Rookie Grade: 65.8 (Rank: 9/31)
Principal Opponent: Cam Robinson
Week 7 Snaps: 63

Thibodeaux made a signature play this week when he outran everybody else on the Giants' defense to chase down Travis Etienne from behind and make a key tackle. As a pass-rusher, he had just two pressures from 35 pass-rushing snaps, but that one hustle play emphatically answered a common criticism about his college tape that was thrown around — a supposed lack of effort or the tendency to take plays off. 

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 64.3 (Rank: 4/13)
Principal Opponent: Shaquil Barrett
Week 7 Snaps: 50

Ekwonu now has four successive games with a PFF pass-blocking grade above 70.0 after struggling badly in the first three weeks. He allowed one pressure against the Bucs across 24 pass-blocking snaps and wasn’t flagged for a penalty. His ruin blocking wasn’t as good, but the Panthers will absolutely take that trade-off.


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