Another week of NFL action is officially in the books, so there is no better time to check in on each team's first-round rookies.
Through Week 4, Joe Burrow remains a stud, but he’s being pushed hard even at the quarterback position by Justin Herbert, who continues to shine despite occasional big mistakes.
[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: 79.9
Joe Burrow came close a week ago, but he went one better this time around and earned his first NFL win by overcoming the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. This is just when Burrow’s rookie preseason would have been ending in normal circumstances, but he looks like a player who really didn’t need the dress rehearsal.
His numbers in this game weren’t incredible — with one touchdown offset by an interception — but that pick was a well-thrown ball stolen from his tight end by Myles Jack in the end zone at the catch point. You could make the argument that such a throw should result in a touchdown more often than not — and very rarely a pick. He also had another well-thrown score taken off the board by a holding penalty on the offensive line. Overall, Burrow continues to look like the real deal, and the team did a much better job of keeping him upright this week.
PICK NO. 2: EDGE CHASE YOUNG, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
2020 overall grade: 78.0
Chase Young didn’t play this week due to a groin injury. We have seen how potent he can be as a pass-rusher already this season, and the team will be itching to get him back on the field to discover just how high his ceiling is.
PICK NO. 3: CB JEFFREY OKUDAH, DETROIT LIONS
2020 overall grade: 29.3
It hasn’t reflected in Okudah's overall grade for the season yet, but this was his best game in the NFL so far. He didn’t add to the interception he notched against Arizona last week, but he also didn't give up as much in coverage and was far better against the run. He allowed two catches for 38 yards against New Orleans, with Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith both beating him for 19-yard receptions, but he also had a defensive stop in the run game.
It’s been something of a trial by fire for the young corner, and Detroit’s defensive scheme doesn’t make that any easier, running man coverage on well over 50% of its defensive snaps, but we’re starting to see signs he can turn his rookie year around.
PICK NO. 4: OT ANDREW THOMAS, NEW YORK GIANTS
2020 overall grade: 53.7
The most notable thing about Andrew Thomas so far has been how consistent his grades have been each week, regardless of opposition. He has faced some pretty stiff competition already in his rookie season, but he performed no better when facing a relatively easy assignment by comparison.
Against the Rams, he allowed six total pressures, with two of them being sacks, and had three further losses in pass protection. Though he occasionally had to contend with Aaron Donald, the majority of the damage was done by Samson Ebukam or Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on the edge. Thomas hasn’t been a disaster through four weeks of the season, but the Giants will be wanting to see more, especially given the play of the other top tackles in his draft class thus far.
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: 69.0
Justin Herbert continues to surprise and strengthen his case to be the team’s quarterback going forward, regardless of the unfortunate circumstances of how Tyrod Taylor was removed from the lineup. Herbert made a couple of huge plays against the Bucs and demonstrated composure and poise in the face of pressure.
His biggest flaw so far has been at least one horrendous decision and throw per game, and he saved it this week for the worst possible time — late in the game after Tampa Bay had taken the lead, with a chance to answer and execute a comeback of his own. Those are plays he and the team will hope get fixed over time,. But even if they don’t, he is doing so much good in between that it’s a no-brainer to keep him as the starter.
PICK NO. 7: DI DERRICK BROWN, CAROLINA PANTHERS
2020 overall grade: 58.6
For the second consecutive week, Panthers top pick Derrick Brown had a strong day, particularly against the run. It’s also the second consecutive week he has played a below-par offensive line. At the moment, his season and PFF grades are directly proportional to how strong his opponents have been inside. He was again destructive against the run and caused real problems for the Cardinals on the ground, particularly when lined up opposite center Mason Cole.
Cole was the victim for Brown's two best plays — a tackle for loss and another for no gain. Brown’s strength was always against the run, but the concern some had about his ability to impact the passing game remains, even in his better games. He had just one hurry on 20 pass-rushing snaps and has only three through four games on almost 100 snaps.
PICK NO. 8: LB ISAIAH SIMMONS, ARIZONA CARDINALS
2020 overall grade: 32.3
Week 4 saw another low game for Isaiah Simmons in terms of defensive snaps, as he was on the field for just nine plays. That isn’t a career-low, but it is the second time in four weeks where he has been in the single digits. Simmons did make a tackle, but that’s the only statistical evidence that he played in the game at all.
He also saw snaps on the kickoff coverage team as part of the special teams unit, but no matter which way you slice it, the Cardinals have gotten very little return thus far for a guy who was supposed to be a real impact playmaker on defense. If he is to become that force, it will be a much slower burn than many were anticipating.