Five weeks of NFL action are officially in the books, and it's once again time to check in on the first-round rookies.
Rookie receivers were the story of Week 5, with several big performances coming from the group, while Joe Burrow fell down to earth against a formidable Baltimore defense.
[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: 73.1
It felt like this game was inevitable for Burrow, who had been dealing with relentless pressure to start the season and then ran into one of the league’s most creative defenses at not only generating it but disguising coverage behind it. It all proved too much for Burrow, who averaged just 1.6 yards per attempt when pressured and was pressured over 50% of his dropbacks this week.
This was his worst performance as a pro, and while there was little positive to take from this game, we have already seen far better from him this year. This outing will be chalked up as a learning experience for Burrow, but the big takeaway for the Bengals remains a major need to upgrade his protection.
PICK NO. 2: EDGE CHASE YOUNG, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
2020 overall grade: 72.7
Chase Young returned to play from a groin injury this week but didn’t match the level of impact he had before getting hurt. The Rams' offense is in a groove right now, and Young managed only a single hurry on 19 pass-rushing snaps while also struggling to get to grips with the run concepts that were being thrown his way. Andrew Whitworth hit Young with his 15 years' worth of experience and dominated him in the run game on a few plays, even if Young did get him back once on a clean pass-rush win.
PICK NO. 3: CB JEFFREY OKUDAH, DETROIT LIONS
2020 overall grade: 29.3
Jeffrey Okudah got a much-needed break from his gauntlet of a rookie season, as the Lions are on a bye week. Okudah has endured a nightmare run of assignments to begin his rookie season, and he doesn’t get a lot of help from the scheme in Detroit’s unyielding man-coverage system. He will be hoping a week to take stock can help him down the rest of the way.
PICK NO. 4: OT ANDREW THOMAS, NEW YORK GIANTS
2020 overall grade: 57.0
Andrew Thomas caught a big-man two-point conversion in his game against the Dallas Cowboys this week, but he did so in a fashion similar to his blocking so far as a rookie — a juggling catch that was lacking in assuredness. This was the lowest PFF pass-blocking grade of Thomas’ season so far and the highest number of total pressures he has surrendered (nine).
He has now allowed 28 total pressures for the season, which is the highest figure in the NFL — and more than six whole offensive lines have allowed this season. Thomas hasn’t been a disaster in any game, but he has consistently been below average.
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 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: 48.6
Five games into his NFL career, Derrick Brown has been woeful against capable offensive lines and dominant against suspect ones, with nothing in between. You begin to see why when watching the tape. As a run defender, he isn’t always gap-sound, relying on incredible strength to just throw blockers aside and make the play whether or not it was designed to be his gap.
That just doesn't work against better tacklers in the NFL, and it has led to him struggling when he isn’t facing linemen he can dominate physically. As a pass rusher, he has also been virtually anonymous, amassing just four total pressures from five games.
PICK NO. 8: LB ISAIAH SIMMONS, ARIZONA CARDINALS
2020 overall grade: 38.2
If there was a game to get Isaiah Simmons more involved in the defensive game plan, it would be against the hapless New York Jets. And yet, he played just 13 snaps, which is the most since his disastrous debut against the San Francisco 49ers (18). Simmons didn’t do anything wrong in this game, but he also didn't make an impact — in fact, he was completely blanked from the stat sheet.
He also featured on special teams, where his graded plays were, but even on the kick coverage team, he was a mix of good and bad. The team likely still has high hopes for Simmons long-term, but it’s increasingly unlikely we will see it during his rookie season.