Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

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Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season

Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Justin Fields roller coaster hit an upswing this week with the best performance of his NFL career to date while his head coach, Matt Nagy, was sidelined due to COVID-19. 

Gregory Rousseau and Patrick Surtain II highlight the defensive standouts, but some of the best performances of the week came from offensive linemen. Rashawn Slater, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Penei Sewell all had fine games, solidifying their statuses as high-level offensive linemen in Year 1.


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PICK NO. 1: QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Rookie Grade: 58.1 (Rank: 5/6)
Week 8 Grade: 63.5

Some garbage time throws will put a gloss on his performance that may not be deserved, but Lawrence was struggling again this week after being up and down over the past few games. He recorded a 44.2 overall grade over the first three quarters of the contest before dialing up a couple of big-time throws in the fourth quarter and ending up with a 68.1 passing grade. Lawrence shows some flashes of brilliance each week, but there is still a long way to go before we get a complete performance within this struggling offense.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.5 (Rank: 2/6)
Week 8 Grade: DNP

About the only positive thing from Wilson’s rookie season heading into Week 8 was that at least when he was knocked from the game, backup Mike White had looked worse in his place. That changed this week when White balled out, passing for over 400 yards to suddenly heap pressure on the No. 2 overall pick to prove he can execute the offense with the same degree of efficiency. Wilson has the second-highest turnover-worthy play rate in the NFL this season and is averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.0 (Rank: 4/6)
Week 8 Grade: DNP

Lance was back available after recovering from a knee injury, but he didn’t see the field against the Chicago Bears while Jimmy Garoppolo had the best game of his season. Garoppolo was even being used as a rushing threat, carrying the ball into the end zone for a pair of scores — a role typically more befitting of Lance within this offense. Garoppolo had been on the hot seat before this week, and while his Week 8 performance certainly aided his cause, he won’t have much room for mistakes if he is to keep Lance at bay all season. 

PICK NO. 4: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Overall Rookie Grade: 80.8 (Rank: 2/9)
Week 8 Grade: 50.3

After a few games in which he looked phenomenal, Pitts had a much tougher day against the Carolina Panthers' defense this week. He was targeted six times, catching just two of them for 13 yards. He was the target on the game-sealing interception by Stephon Gilmore and didn’t help matters by drifting deep on the route rather than staying more shallow to be able to contest at the catch point. Pitts is clearly a dynamic playmaker that the Falcons are closer to understanding now compared to Week 1, but this was far from his best game.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 81.3 (Rank: 2/22)
Week 8 Grade: 61.0

It was a quiet week for all of the first-round receivers, but Chase did at least maintain his scoring run, notching a receiving touchdown on one of his seven targets. Overall, those targets netted just 32 yards in part because Chase dropped a pair of passes, almost matching his total from the previous seven weeks combined.

Chase already looks like an elite player at the position, and even in a down week, he was again a scoring threat for the Cincinnati offense. It would be hard to look at this draft pick and see anything other than a home run.

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