Nine weeks of NFL action are officially in the books, meaning we are officially past the halfway point of the regular season and most of these rookie debut seasons.
The two-man rookie quarterback show has now become a trio, with Tua Tagovailoa looking well capable in Week 9 of joining the party of outstanding play.
[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: 77.2
The Bengals were on a bye; here’s what we said after Week 8:
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.
PICK NO. 2: EDGE CHASE YOUNG, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
2020 overall grade: 79.9
Chase Young had three total pressures from 36 pass-rushing snaps this week against Daniel Jones and the New York Giants, which will be something of a disappointment given that the Giants have struggled in that area this season.
Jones has been the most pressured quarterback in football in 2020, and Young was unable to match the impact he had early in the season. He has still been one of the bright spots of this group of rookies, particularly on the defensive side of the ball in this season of all offense, all of the time. However, the injury he suffered early in the season has definitely affected his play, and he has yet to return to the highs we saw over the first few weeks.
PICK NO. 3: CB JEFFREY OKUDAH, DETROIT LIONS
2020 overall grade: 41.6
Jeffrey Okudah was having a tough time before an injury forced him out of the game against Minnesota this week. After only 26 snaps, Okudah had been targeted in coverage three times, surrendering a catch on each occasion for a combined 61 yards and a touchdown. He was beaten for a perfect 158.3 passer rating having given up a catch each to Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Irv Smith Jr.
Okudah has struggled so far during his rookie season, a fact that is only mitigated somewhat by a nightmare run of coverage assignments. The Lions obviously still have high hopes for the Ohio State product, but this has been a real baptism by fire so far.
PICK NO. 4: OT ANDREW THOMAS, NEW YORK GIANTS
2020 overall grade: 61.7
Andrew Thomas has had an ugly start to his NFL career, but recent weeks have shown signs of a turnaround, particularly when you consider that the competition has not been getting much easier.
Against Washington in Week 9, he had another solid outing, particularly as a pass blocker, allowing just one hurry across 36 pass-blocking snaps. That marks a season-low for Thomas, and it's the second week in a row in which his pass-blocking grade was at least 65.0 after failing to break that threshold for any of the first seven weeks of the season.
Thomas was an excellent prospect who was tasked with reworking some of his technique at the NFL level, and there are signs he may be slowly turning the corner.
PICK NO. 5: QB TUA TAGOVAILOA, MIAMI DOLPHINS
2020 overall grade: 58.9
Tua Tagovailoa was always going to have to do more in his second start than his first, where the Miami defense and special teams took on the heavy lifting. And he did just that, responding with a far better performance against Arizona.
It wasn’t perfect, and he dodged some bullets early on, but he seemed to settle into the game and made some special plays in the second half that reminded people why he was seen as such an outstanding prospect despite the concerning injury that ended his college career. If Tua maintains this level of play, he will rival both Herbert and Burrow in what looks like a spectacular draft class from the early returns.
PICK NO. 6: QB JUSTIN HERBERT, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
2020 overall grade: 76.3
Somehow, the Chargers keep finding ways to undo Justin Herbert's good work. Though they didn’t blow a massive lead this week, they did rob him of a comeback win by failing to come up with the final touchdown catch in the end zone that would have sealed it for Los Angeles.
Overall, Herbert’s performance was a little more low-key in this game than it has been for most of the season — without the major mistakes that have tended to tarnish it but also with a little less of the spectacular plays. His rookie season remains a massive success story to date, even if the team isn’t yet rewarding him with the wins he has earned.
PICK NO. 7: DI DERRICK BROWN, CAROLINA PANTHERS
2020 overall grade: 54.3
Against Kansas City, Derrick Brown was solid enough against the run but once more offered little as a pass-rusher inside, generating just one hit on Patrick Mahomes from 35 pass-rushing snaps. And that hit was far from an immediate, decisive win.
That has been the theme of Brown’s rookie season. He has flashed the ability to dominate in the run game, even if it has come at the expense of some gap discipline, but he has been relatively anonymous as a pass-rushing force, totaling just 13 pressures across nine weeks of play.
PICK NO. 8: LB ISAIAH SIMMONS, ARIZONA CARDINALS
2020 overall grade: 61.8
Injuries within the Arizona Cardinals' defense have opened up opportunities for playing time, and that seems to be working to top draft pick Isaiah Simmons' advantage. The No. 8 overall selection saw 32 snaps of action on defense this week, a new season-high, though his most notable impact came in registering three solo tackles.
He was targeted once in coverage, and though he gave up a catch, it went for just 6 yards. He also had a cleanup pressure on one of his nine pass-rushing snaps — also by far the most he has had this season. Simmons has a chance to finally earn some significant playing time and prove he can hang at this level after a bumpy transition to the NFL.