• Kyle Hamilton thrives in part-time role: The Baltimore Ravens safety was the highest-graded first-round rookie defender in Week 8 after a strong performance on Thursday Night Football.
• Kenyon Green struggles to contain Jeffery Simmons: The rookie guard surrendered nine pressures in pass protection this past week.
Estimated Reading Time: 11 mins
We will be checking in on the first-round rookies throughout the 2022 NFL season, grading their performances and highlighting who their principal individual opponent was in each game.
Here’s how the group fared in Week 8, as well as their overall PFF grade for the season.
Overall Rookie Grade: 62.7 (Rank: 12/31)
Principal Opponent: T Billy Turner
Week 8 Snaps: 52
Walker recorded a sack against Russell Wilson and the Broncos in London, coming on a stunt where his athleticism was able to shine through against a less capable athlete trying to block him. He finished the game with two pressures on 28 rushes and had a missed tackle among his negatives. Overall this season, Walker has flashed ability, but those elite plays came mostly in the first couple of weeks. He has been on something of a barren run recently.
2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Overall Rookie Grade: 66.2 (Rank: 6/31)
Principal Opponent: T Brandon Shell
Week 8 Snaps: 58
A matchup with Brandon Shell was a good opportunity for Hutchinson to make a big impact this week, and it didn’t really happen. Hutchinson tallied three total pressures — all hurries — from 32 pass-rushing snaps. Outside of those plays, he was blanked on the stat sheet other than one assisted tackle. Like Walker, Hutchinson has flashed big-play ability this season so far, but it has been inconsistent.
Overall Rookie Grade: 50.8 (Rank: 24/35)
Principal Opponent: WR Robert Woods
Week 8 Snaps: 58
With the Titans' offense barely attempting to pass the football without Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, Stingley largely spent his day in run support. His biggest negative came when he was stiff-armed to the ground by running back Derrick Henry as he came around the corner on his way to a big gain. Stingley had Henry one-on-one on the play and barely slowed him down, but that’s about as tough an assignment as a cornerback is going to have in run defense. This wasn’t a game for him to showcase his coverage skills, which is what he does best.
Overall Rookie Grade: 83.9 (Rank: 2/35)
Principal Opponent: WR Jakobi Meyers
Week 8 Snaps: 77
Sauce Gardner had another excellent game, this time allowing negative yards in coverage against Mac Jones and the Patriots' offense. Gardner came up quickly to snuff out several quick passes, actually stopping plays behind the line of scrimmage. He even tried to disengage late from a Hunter Henry block to be able to prevent a touchdown down by the goal line after another defender blew the assignment. Overall, Gardner already looks like one of the best cornerbacks in the league for the Jets.
5. New York Giants: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Overall Rookie Grade: 63.2 (Rank: 9/31)
Principal Opponent: T Charles Cross
Week 8 Snaps: 50
Kayvon Thibodeaux got to face off this week against a fellow first-round rookie when he met Charles Cross of the Seahawks. He notched three total pressures across 30 pass-rushing snaps and missed a tackle elsewhere in the game. Thibodeaux has put to rest any pre-draft concerns over lack of effort already this season, but like most of the rookie edge rushers, his production has come in fits and starts.
Overall Rookie Grade: 65.7 (Rank: 3/14)
Principal Opponent: EDGE Lorenzo Carter
Week 8 Snaps: 80
Ekwonu hasn’t allowed more than one pressure in a game since Week 3. He has been perfect in pass protection in two of the past three games and is now coming off his fifth consecutive strong PFF pass-blocking grade for the Panthers. After a few rough games to start his season, he has taken huge strides in recent weeks and is playing as well as any rookie offensive lineman.