Six weeks of NFL action are officially in the books, and it's once again time to check in on each team’s first-round rookies.
This was a week of rookie bounce-back games from several of the first-round stars after tough days at the office this time last week, so let’s see how things stand through Week 6 of the 2020 NFL season.
[Editor's Note: PFF's advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]
PICK NO. 1: QB JOE BURROW, CINCINNATI BENGALS
2020 overall grade: 74.9
Joe Burrow had a solid bounce-back game after a nightmarish outing in Week 5 against the Ravens. Facing a formidable Colts defense, Burrow produced a 73.8 overall PFF grade and again threw for over 300 yards with a 71.8% adjusted completion rate. It's a little concerning how Burrow has started to show signs of dropping his eyes and waiting for pressure to get home after five weeks of being battered by opposing defenses.
This week, he was hurried on only nine of 42 dropbacks but was still caught expecting pressure to arrive on some plays, which is a potentially worrying development if it continues. Overall, though, Burrow continues to impress despite the offensive line in front of him.
PICK NO. 2: EDGE CHASE YOUNG, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
2020 overall grade: 79.3
Chase Young was the highest-graded player on Washington’s defense against the New York Giants this week, earning an 88.8 overall PFF grade. He generated just one hurry in the game but also notched two more clean wins as a pass-rusher and a third that was nullified by penalty.
He was again quietly proficient in the run game, chipping in with a sequence of positive grades for generally disrupting what the Giants wanted to do on the ground and notching a tackle for loss. This was Young looking something like his best once more after working his way back from injury.
PICK NO. 3: CB JEFFREY OKUDAH, DETROIT LIONS
2020 overall grade: 37.8
Jeffrey Okudah returned from his bye week and had a much more assured performance against D.J. Chark and the Jacksonville offense. Okudah was targeted seven times in coverage, allowing five catches for 61 yards, but he did have a pair of defensive stops and a nice play in which he cut off Chark's and prevented him from making a play on the ball.
This was probably Okudah’s best game in the NFL so far, and he will be hoping it marks the start of a turnaround to his season.
PICK NO. 4: OT ANDREW THOMAS, NEW YORK GIANTS
2020 overall grade: 59.1
Andrew Thomas was late to a team meeting Saturday and didn't start this game against Washington. His replacement — fellow rookie Matt Peart — earned an 89.7 overall PFF grade and was significantly better than anything we have seen from Thomas this season, giving him a battle to wage internally as well as on the field.
Thomas played 22 snaps and earned a 72.7 grade, but he still allowed three hurries compared to the one that Peart surrendered on the same number of pass-blocking snaps.
PICK NO. 5: QB TUA TAGOVAILOA, MIAMI DOLPHINS
2020 overall grade: 72.8
Tua Tagovailoa made it onto an NFL field! With Ryan Fitzpatrick leading a comfortable win against the New York Jets, Tua saw a couple of minutes of action late in the game and even attempted two passes (completing both) to see out the win.
PICK NO. 6: QB JUSTIN HERBERT, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
2020 overall grade: 73.3
Justin Herbert is on a bye this week, and here’s what we said after Week 5:
Herbert continues to look legit, and he was unlucky to come out of Monday Night Football without his first win for the Chargers. The team had a 17-point lead at one point, and while Herbert did throw the now-customary turnover-worthy pass that he has each game, it was dropped by the Saints and not the reason he lost the game.
Herbert made several big throws once more, and it's clear he is being held back by conservative play calling as much as anything — and perhaps an outdated view that he isn’t ready to shoulder the load. Herbert’s play hasn’t been perfect, but he has surprised a lot of analysts who were concerned by his inconsistency in college. He now has 11 big-time throws for the season.
PICK NO. 7: DI DERRICK BROWN, CAROLINA PANTHERS
2020 overall grade: 51.7
This was the first game of Derrick Brown’s young career that landed somewhere in the middle between extremely poor or dominant. He ended up with a 70.3 overall PFF grade against Chicago and racked up three total pressures — almost doubling his season total (he had four entering the game).
Brown produced his best pass-rushing performance of his season so far, but despite two defensive stops, he wasn’t able to match that with his run defense, where his biggest issues were again with maintaining gap discipline. That has been a trend for Brown so far in the NFL, and it's something he needs to work on if his play is to ever live up to his immense strength and ability to manhandle NFL offensive linemen.
PICK NO. 8: LB ISAIAH SIMMONS, ARIZONA CARDINALS
2020 overall grade: 53.7
With injuries now a factor, Isaiah Simmons might have been expecting an uptick in playing time Monday night against Dallas. That was technically the case, with 21 defensive snaps representing a season-high — but 18 of them came in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand as Dallas tried to chase and protect its pride.
He also earned the best PFF grade of his career, giving up just six yards in coverage from three targets, forcing an incompletion and making a defensive stop. The story for Simmons remains the same — that his transition to a full-time and conventional NFL role will take some time. But this was an encouraging performance despite the circumstances.