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Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 8 of the 2020 NFL season

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) celebrates his first touchdown pass to Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 1, 2020. (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)

Eight weeks of NFL action are officially in the books, and it's once again time to check in on each first-round rookie.

The two-man rookie quarterback show has now become a trio, with Tua Tagovailoa joining the party following his first NFL start. So, let’s update ourselves on all of the grades.

[Editor's Note: PFF's advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]


2020 overall grade: 77.2

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals pulled off an upset win against the Tennessee Titans this week despite fielding one of the worst offensive lines on paper ever to play an NFL game due to all of the injuries that have beset that group.

Burrow earned an 80.1 overall PFF grade and was a big part of the impressive grades from his receivers Tee Higgins (80.6) and Auden Tate (91.8). Burrow had a 74.3% adjusted completion rate and a 119.8 passer rating when kept clean in the pocket. There is little doubt that he is the real deal, even if his season has been relatively lacking in big plays down the field. Now, the Bengals just need to do a better job of protecting him and improving their offensive line.


2020 overall grade: 82.0

The Washington Football Team was on a bye, so here’s what we said after Week 7:

Chase Young had another strong game as he works his way back to being the force he was before injury caused him to miss some time. He had four total pressures against Dallas and also notched three defensive stops while feasting upon a weak Cowboys offensive line.

Young did the majority of his damage against serial liability Cam Erving, so a strong showing was always likely, but he continues an impressive rookie campaign that has him already taking aim at the better edge defenders in the league. Washington will be particularly pleased with his effectiveness against the run, where his 77.2 PFF grade actually beats his pass-rushing grade so far this season.


2020 overall grade: 43.3

Jeffrey Okudah had one of the better games of his season this week against the Colts, as he was a big part of keeping T.Y. Hilton quiet. Okudah was targeted three times in the game, allowing two catches for 26 yards overall, though the incompletion was a dropped pass rather than any play on the ball from the rookie defender.

It still represents the lowest receiving yardage figure he has surrendered in a single game, and it was one of his more accomplished performances. Okudah’s run of assignments so far in his rookie season has been brutal, so it’s not a shock to see his grade as low as it is, but the signs are certainly there that he can be a good player for the Lions down the line. That may start in the second half of the season.


2020 overall grade: 60.3

Andrew Thomas has had a tough start to his rookie season with the Giants, but he actually held up reasonably well against Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football.

On 46 pass-blocking plays, Thomas surrendered four total pressures, three of which were hurries. That represents a notable step up in his baseline performance, even if there is still a way to go before he justifies his lofty draft status.

For the season he has been struggling more than the rest of the first-round tackles, with higher expectations given he was the first of them taken. This week at least showed that he is taking baby steps in the right direction and could turn out to be the right pick over the long haul.


2020 overall grade: 49.4

Tua Tagovailoa got a win in his debut start against the Los Angeles Rams, but it had very little to do with his play. His average depth of target was just 5.1 yards downfield and he averaged 4.2 yards per attempt, resulting in a 46.1 overall PFF grade.

On the few occasions he was pressured, that grade dropped to 25.9, but the Dolphins' defense caused a total Rams collapse, and Miami jumped out to a big lead thanks to touchdowns from other units than the offense. Overall, it’s a good thing that Tua did nothing to lose the game from a position of strength, but we’ll need to see a lot more from him to put him at the level of Burrow or Herbert so far this season.

Nov 1, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) attempts a pass in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


2020 overall grade: 76.4

Justin Herbert’s play continues to dazzle despite failing to be rewarded with wins. The Chargers have now blown three leads of 17 or more points this season, but Herbert is putting them in positions to win, even if there remains the occasional nagging error.

After a bad interception early in the game, Herbert went back to dropping in some excellent passes and making big plays, even if his play under pressure regressed a little this week. Overall, Herbert has been phenomenal in the most disadvantageous passing situations, and while that may be bound for eventual regression down the line, it should be celebrated in the meantime.


2020 overall grade: 55.6

Back on Thursday night, Derrick Brown had a relatively below-average performance that was emblematic of much of the Panthers' defense. He had four total pressures on 30 pass-rushing snaps, which set a new personal best for him for the season, and notched a couple of defensive stops. However, he also missed two tackles and was inconsistent against the Falcons' offensive line against the run.

Brown has been all over the map so far in his rookie season, but his best play has come against very weak offensive lines. He flashes big-time ability every game but is still a ways from ironing out all of the inconsistency, particularly against better offensive lines.


2020 overall grade: 60.0

The Cardinals were on a bye this week, so here’s what we said after Week 7:

Isaiah Simmons came up with one of the biggest plays in the game on Sunday Night Football to help the Arizona Cardinals upset Seattle in overtime. It wasn’t reflective of a greater role overall, however, and despite almost an extra quarter of football, Simmons played a season-low number of defensive snaps — just five.

He has made a couple of plays over the past few weeks, but it appears to be largely due to no longer having a giant bullseye on his back and a role large enough to actively go after. Simmons has played just 83 defensive snaps across seven weeks of action.


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