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Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season

Zach Wilson’s time on the sideline goes from bad to worse this week, as Mike White and Josh Johnson have looked far better within the New York Jets‘ offense. While Ja’Marr Chase regressed hard, DeVonta Smith finally had a breakout game. 

Christian Darrisaw had another strong game for the Minnesota Vikings at left tackle and was even part of some rookie-on-rookie crime, holding the Baltimore RavensOdafe Oweh to a quiet day.

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PICK NO. 1: QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.0 (Rank: 6/6)
Week 9 Grade: 52.8

The Jaguars pulled off a huge upset win over the Buffalo Bills this week, but that doesn’t mean Lawrence had an outstanding game — something one might have considered necessary for such a result. Lawrence made one really nice throw after escaping pressure in the pocket but remains too inconsistent and inaccurate to earn the kind of grades we expected from him as a highly touted prospect. Lawrence suffered from three dropped passes, which moved his adjusted completion rate to 72% against the Bills, but one of the misses on the run could easily have cost him a turnover.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.5 (Rank: 3/6)
Week 9 Grade: DNP

Things went from bad to worse for Wilson, as Mike White picked up where he left off and continued to impress before getting hurt and making way for journeyman Josh Johnson, only to see Johnson look good as well. At this point, evidence is mounting that Wilson is the perpetrator rather than the victim of many of the issues with the Jets' offense, and he may end up with a spell on the sideline even when he returns from injury. Only White has a higher turnover-worthy play rate than Wilson, but three of his five came in that first action in relief.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 59.0 (Rank: 5/6)
Week 9 Grade: DNP

Lance remains available but unused by the 49ers, who have given Jimmy Garoppolo the full workload at quarterback over the past two weeks. Garoppolo’s best two performances of the season have come in those games, but he likely isn’t many bad games away from Lance being tossed the keys.

PICK NO. 4: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Overall Rookie Grade: 78.2 (Rank: 1/9)
Week 9 Grade: 54.9

Even when Pitts isn’t dominating games, he is affecting them. Against the Saints in Week 9, he was drawing coverage from CB1 Marshon Lattimore, who limited him to one catch from the three targets sent his way when the two were head to head. That lone reception went for 39 yards, showing that Pitts can beat even the game’s best corners. But perhaps more importantly, those were snaps that Lattimore wasn’t covering other Falcons receivers, opening up opportunities for Pitts' teammates.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 76.6 (Rank: 2/22)
Week 9 Grade: 51.2

Chase and the Bengals' offense have been thriving and relying on improbable big plays over the first eight weeks of the season, but regression hit hard against the Browns, and almost everything bad that could have happened when targeting Chase did happen. He was targeted 13 times and generated a woeful 16.7 passer ratingand that doesn’t even factor in a fumble after one of the catches.

Chase dropped one ball and didn’t catch any of the six contested passes thrown his way, but it wasn’t all on him, with Burrow’s ball location being bad on more than one occasion. Chase has been phenomenal as a rookie, but this game was a reminder of how hard it is to maintain that.

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