Three weeks of NFL action are officially in the books, so there is no better time to check in on everybody’s first-round rookies.
Joe Burrow remains the headliner of the group, and he is arguably in pole position for the Rookie of the Year — as long as the Bengals' offensive line limits how many big hits he takes over the course of the 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: 76.1
Joe Burrow had his best game yet as a pro despite standing in the face of severe pressure at times from Philadelphia's pass rush and taking a huge shot at one point from Malik Jackson. Burrow earned an 86.5 PFF grade in Week 3— one of the best marks of the week among quarterbacks — and his grade actually improved when he was under pressure.
Burrow has looked poised, confident and accurate through his first three NFL games, and the only real concern thus far is the volume of pressure he has to endure and the beating he is taking because of it. Burrow looks every inch the franchise quarterback, but the constant collapsing pockets (pressured on 23 of 52 dropbacks against Philadelphia) have an attritional effect on a young quarterback and could become a problem the longer it continues.
PICK NO. 2: EDGE CHASE YOUNG, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
2020 overall grade: 76.2
Chase Young lasted just 13 snaps against Cleveland before a groin injury forced him to miss the rest of the game. It's hopefully not a significant problem, because Young’s start at this level has been exciting. Though he had yet to make any noise against the Browns, he impressed in both of his previous two outings and looks set to be a top-level pass rusher in the NFL.
PICK NO. 3: CB JEFFREY OKUDAH, DETROIT LIONS
2020 overall grade: 28.2
There have been few careers off to rockier starts than that from the No. 3 overall pick this year. Okudah missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury before being schooled by Davante Adams and the Packers' offense in Week 2. This week, he was left grasping at air by the elusive Kyler Murray near the goal line and also struggled to contend with DeAndre Hopkins in coverage.
Overall, he allowed a catch on five of the six passes thrown his way for 79 receiving yards. He earned an ugly overall PFF grade (35.7), but he did at least get himself back in the positive column with an interception later in the game.
PICK NO. 4: OT ANDREW THOMAS, NEW YORK GIANTS
2020 overall grade: 55.5
No Nick Bosa for the San Francisco 49ers should have been a signal for Andrew Thomas to enjoy the best game of his NFL career in much the same way that Mekhi Becton’s day became much easier in Week 2 after Bosa exited the game. However, Thomas allowed four pressures and earned an overall PFF grade (56.8) that was in line with his previous outings.
When he lost, it was typically decisive, and he had two more pressures nullified due to penalties. Overall, this has not been a great start to life in the NFL for Thomas. But he has at least been consistently just below average, rather than a complete disaster, which was more encouraging when he had faced only elite-level opposition.
PICK NO. 5: QB TUA TAGOVAILOA, MIAMI DOLPHINS
2020 overall grade: N/A
Tua Tagovailoa is healthy, but he has yet to win the starting job from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
PICK NO. 6: QB JUSTIN HERBERT, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
2020 overall grade: 67.1
For a second consecutive game, Justin Herbert looked good overall as the Chargers' starting quarterback, this time with a full week to prepare for that scenario — and, critically, a week of the opposition preparing for him in turn. Herbert’s play is a little more of a rollercoaster than you would like, with another ugly interception to go along with the good plays, but that is somewhat expected for a rookie passer, especially one whose head coach didn’t believe he was ready to play.
The fact that Herbert was able to maintain that level of play despite a worsening offensive line situation is also encouraging, and the longer he continues to play well, the harder the case is to make that Tyrod Taylor should reclaim the starting job when he recovers.
PICK NO. 7: DI DERRICK BROWN, CAROLINA PANTHERS
2020 overall grade: 48.2
If you want a rough start to turn around, a game against the Los Angeles Chargers' offensive line is just the tonic required. Derrick Brown hadn’t had a PFF grade above 40.0 in his first two weeks of play, but he finished with a mark of 84.6 against the Chargers, the second-best figure on the Panthers' defense.
Brown was still relatively anonymous as a pass-rusher, generating just one pressure from 27 pass rushes, but we did finally see the dominant run defender from his college tape. Brown notched four defensive stops, and his average depth of tackle in the run game was actually behind the line of scrimmage, averaging a tackle for loss on the play.
PICK NO. 8: LB ISAIAH SIMMONS, ARIZONA CARDINALS
2020 overall grade: 30.3
It’s difficult to know if the way Isaiah Simmons was attacked by Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers in Week 1 has led to his lack of playing time since, or if his NFL adjustment was always planned to be a slow-burn, but this marked the second straight week in which he played 10 snaps or fewer on defense. The Lions didn’t find him with the kind of laser sight the 49ers did, and he allowed just one catch for eight yards — the only time he was targeted this week.