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Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) celebrates a catch in the second quarter of the NFL Week One game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. The Bengals led 14-7 at halftime. Minnesota Vikings At Cincinnati Bengals

First-round rookies inspire hope in their respective NFL teams every year. Training camp and preseason offer glimpses of future potential, but regular-season action is where things finally start to take shape.

And now that Week 1 of the 2021 NFL regular season is in the books, it’s time to check in on how the first-rounders are faring.

Note: Ranks are among all rookies at each position, and some grades are vulnerable to small sample sizes early in the season.


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PICK NO. 1: QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall Rookie Grade: 57.7 (Rank: 5/5)
Week 1 Grade: 57.7

It was a wild debut for Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick of the draft and a player billed as the best prospect to enter the NFL since at least Andrew Luck — and perhaps even as far back as Peyton Manning in 1998.

Lawrence made some throws to justify that billing in Week 1, but each of his three turnovers was a terrible play (two being poor decisions and one being poor execution), and that placed a firm and low ceiling on his game grade.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 63.2 (Rank: 3/5)
Week 1 Grade: 63.2

Another player to highlight how different preseason is from real NFL football, Wilson made everything look so effortless and easy until his regular-season debut. Mistakes began to manifest in Week 1, though. He was sacked six times, at least four of which he had a hand in with indecision or questionable reactions from the pocket. He did make a couple of nice throws, but as is the case for Lawrence, it’s going to be a work in progress.

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

Overall Rookie Grade: 47.7 (Rank: 4/5)
Week 1 Grade: 47.7

The question heading into the 49ers' Week 1 contest was how much game time Lance would see as part of a two-quarterback rotation. The answer was just four snaps, three of which were designed run plays. The 49ers let him pass one time, down in the red zone, and he completed a quick throw on a whip route to Trent Sherfield for a touchdown.

PICK NO. 4: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Overall Rookie Grade: 58.9 (Rank: 2/2)
Week 1 Grade: 58.9

Pitts looked good in his NFL debut, but the Falcons' offense as a whole did not, and there is a significant way to go before the rookie can represent any kind of replacement for Julio Jones within the offense.

Pitts caught five of his eight targets, with three looks being contested, and he had to show good hand strength and extension to make some of the receptions. Atlanta moved Pitts around a little but could still lean more into his potential as a true wideout. He lined up split wide on 15 of 51 snaps.

Kyle Pitts by alignment
In Line 12
Slot 24
Out Wide 15

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