The 2020 rookie class was placed firmly behind the eight ball because of the lack of NFL preseason, so it was nice to have a Week 1 where a good deal of rookies looked as though they belonged.
These are the 15 highest-graded first-year stars who played more than 20 snaps this past weekend.
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1. S Jevon Holland, Miami Dolphins — 82.5
Holland still isn't technically a starter, but he did play 24 snaps for the Dolphins in Week 1. His grade is almost solely due to what could have been a game-changing forced fumble on Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith.
What a hit by Jevon Holland ???????? pic.twitter.com/xqncjkutz0
— Dolphin Nation (@Dolphin_Nation) September 12, 2021
Outside of that, he wasn’t targeted and secured his only other tackle attempt.
2. WR Anthony Schwartz, Cleveland Browns — 82.2
Schwartz provided the much-needed speed element the Browns offense was missing without Odell Beckham Jr. While he was unable to haul in a crucial third-down late in the game, Schwartz still caught three of his five targets for 69 yards.
Anthony Schwartz making PLAYS @AuburnFootball ⚡️⚡️⚡️
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 12, 2021
His ball skills were a work in progress at Auburn, and that issue will likely still rear its head at times with the Browns. But Schwartz will be well worth his third-round selection if he can generate one big play a game and maintain his 24.4-yard average depth of target.
3. QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots — 78.3
After an Aaron Brooks-esque blunder to start the game, Jones settled in better than any other rookie quarterback in Week 1. He finished with an adjusted completion percentage of 83.3%, the sixth-best of any quarterback this past week. The rookie wasn’t simply dinking and dunking, either. He registered four big-time throws against the Dolphins defense.
Mac Jones best throw of the day?
Big 3rd & 11 trailing by 7 in their own territory and he drops it right in the bucket in tight coverage to James White on a wheel route.
I think we’ve seen this before… ???? pic.twitter.com/asEDJRVO1A
— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) September 13, 2021
Considering the competition he was facing, Jones had one heck of an encouraging start, even if it didn’t result in a win.
4. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals — 77.9
Chase was the butt of jokes everywhere this preseason. Between four straight drops and a misconstrued answer about the NFL football being more difficult to catch than the college one, expectations for Chase were decidedly low out the gate.
Luckily, both for him and Bengals faithful, none of what happened in preseason mattered a lick. Chase looked every bit the No. 5 overall pick and WR1 he was billed as coming out. He not only brought the go-ball back into Joe Burrow’s arsenal, but he also made multiple plays underneath.
Drops can be noisy. The ability to get open will almost always outweigh it pic.twitter.com/Cvlp8Igqwj
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) September 12, 2021
Chase finished with five catches on seven targets for 101 yards and a score.