NFL News & Analysis

Grading all 32 first-rounders this season

New York Jets defensive end Leonard Williams (92) bull rushes against Indianapolis Colts guard Lance Louis (60) during an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

It’s check-in time on the 2015 first-round rookies. Yep, that’s right—we’re going to delve into each and every one of the first 32 selections to tell you how much they’ve played and, more importantly, how well they’ve performed.

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers

Snaps: 775

Grade: 68.5

Summary: It’s been a season of progress for Winston, who has looked more comfortable with each passing week. At times, there have been some accuracy issues, and by no means is Winston a finished product, but his first season can be filed under the category “incredibly encouraging” for the future.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans

Snaps: 590

Grade: 65.6

Summary: His season has neither hit the highs, nor lows, of what Winston has offered, which is probably indicative of a lower ceiling, higher floor prospect status. Mariota’s awareness in the pocket has been an issue (six sacks attributed to him), but he looks, at the very least, a safe pair of hands going forward.

3. Dante Fowler, Jr., DE, Jaguars

Snaps: 0

Grade: n/a

Summary: Fowler has been out all year on injured reserve.

4. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders

Snaps: 657

Grade: 77.7

Summary: There has been a lot to like about Cooper, who has that kind of top-end ability to be a prolific receiver. If there is one gripe, it’s his hands. Eleven drops are too many, and an area he’ll need to clean up.

5. Brandon Scherff, G, Redskins

Snaps: 752

Grade: 70.4

Summary: Scherff struggled early in the year in pass protection, but with three games consecutively without allowing a pressure, is he accelerating toward a new level of play? The former Iowa Hawkeye is already flashing his smarts and consistency in the run game.

6. Leonard Williams, DE, Jets

Snaps: 570

Grade: 84.5

Summary: The suspension of Sheldon Richardson probably saw Williams get more early-season playing time than expected, and he capitalized to ensure he remains a central part of the Jets' defense. He has been a tad spotty at times, but Williams has shown an ability to win against the run or when rushing the passer, making this year an unqualified success.

7. Kevin White, WR, Bears

Snaps: 0

Grade: n/a

Summary: Out all year injured so far, but White could return for the latter portion of the season.

8. Vic Beasley, DE, Falcons

Snaps: 387

Grade: 73.0

Summary: Beasley has done his best work against rookie tackles, but too often has been kept quiet by the more experienced pass protectors. A combine freak last February, Beasley has demonstrated that he has the tools to get to the quarterback, but needs to take that next step to contribute more.

9. Ereck Flowers, T, Giants

Snaps: 664

Grade: 35.0

Summary: Flowers has done a pretty decent job in the run game, but that’s where the accolades end. Though his pass protection form has improved slightly, it’s clear that injuries put him into a spot he’s wasn’t quite ready for.

10. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

Snaps: 338

Grade: 80.2

Summary: Gurley took the league by storm when he first got on the turf, but things have really hushed since those explosive first four starts. Gurley does carry with him a home run threat that can open things up elsewhere for the Rams, even when he’s not churning out yardage.

11. Trae Waynes, CB, Vikings

Snaps: 102

Grade: 75.4

Summary: After an incredibly rough preseason, Waynes looked set for a redshirt year before injuries forced him onto the field. Credit to him—he put his August woes behind him to contribute when needed, but with more experienced guys ahead of him, he’s just depth right now.

12. Danny Shelton, NT, Browns

Snaps: 375

Grade: 62.5

Summary: Shelton hasn’t been the asset to the Browns' defense many originally predicted. He hasn't done a terrible job, but given how good he was in college, you certainly expected him to have made more impact plays by now.

13. Andrus Peat, T, Saints

Snaps: 170

Grade: 63.4

Summary: Peat filled in serviceably when Terron Armstead went down, and his spot starts likely played in a role in New Orleans' deciding he could replace the struggling Tim Lelito at guard. One game playing on the inside, though, and this Peat experiment looks like it could turn out poorly. But with five games left, let’s reassess his worth come January.

14. DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins

Snaps: 175

Grade: 65.6

Summary: A lingering injury and the emergence of Rishad Matthews stunted Parker’s ability to contribute—he’s only topped 25 snaps in two games this season. With an even lower sample size of just 16 total targets, Parker’s 2015 season is shaping up as a year of “what if?”

15. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Snaps: 325

Grade: 53.0

Summary: Those five fumbles really cloud everything about Gordon’s rookie season. He’s run well at times, but ball security is paramount in the NFL, and he just hasn’t developed a knack for it.

16. Kevin Johnson, CB, Texans

Snaps: 598

Grade: 76.4

Summary: Johnson started the year as a sub-package player, and after climbing to full-time starter, he has not looked out of place. It can be a tricky adjustment playing against NFL wide receivers, but Johnson has been a solid new addition to Houston’s defense.

17. Arik Armstead, DE, 49ers

Snaps: 220

Grade: 78.1

Summary: When Armstead played with the third-string in preseason, it highlighted that maybe he was a bigger project than anticipated. But strangely, as the 49ers year imploded, he’s gotten more playing time, and has put those physical tools to good use. San Francisco fans can live with their first-rounder blossoming into a bright spot in an otherwise lost season.

18. Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs

Snaps: 721

Grade: 69.3

Summary: It’s been an eventful first year in Kansas City, to say the least. Peters has an impressive four interceptions and 13 pass break-ups, but has also allowed seven touchdowns and has been picked on in coverage. This season has shown his potential—but also how far away he is from realizing it.

19. Cameron Erving, OL, Browns

Snaps: 172

Grade: 49.4

Summary: The ultimate utility lineman, capable of playing every spot on the docket, Erving has recently filled in for injured left guard Joel Bitonio. The transition hasn’t gone smoothly for Erving, and there’s been a noticeable drop-off in play. Erving continues to look like a pick for the future, with the seemingly inevitable free agency departure of center Alex Mack.

20. Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles

Snaps: 412

Grade: 47.7

Summary: It plainly hasn’t been the rookie year he or the Eagles had hoped for. Agholor has just 16 catches and a woeful 0.65 yards per route run (lowest of all receivers to run 150 routes). The former USC Trojan has struggled with the leap to the NFL.

21. Cedric Ogbuehi, T, Bengals

Snaps: 0

Grade:  n/a

Summary: Viewed as a long-term option, Ogbuehi has missed the entire year so far, but is still on Cincinnati’s active roster. Barring an injury, a garbage time situation or sixth lineman duties, absorbing the Bengals' winning season may be the best he can hope for.

22. Bud Dupree, OLB, Steelers

Snaps: 413

Grade: 48.1

Summary: Dupree was brought in to bolster the Steelers' pass rush, but it hasn’t quite worked out the way Pittsburgh envisioned. Dupree has still logged plenty of snaps, but he’s done so without producing much damage.

23. Shane Ray, OLB, Broncos

Snaps: 190

Grade: 65.7

Summary: Ray missed some time with an injury, but with DeMarcus Ware currently mending on the sidelines, the role has opened up a new opportunity for the rookie. So far, Ray is still just a tiny piece of the puzzle in the Broncos' brilliant defense this year.

24. D.J. Humphries, OT, Cardinals

Snaps: 0

Grade: n/a

Summary: In a telling display of just how far from ready Humphries is, the Cardinals lost their starter to injury and opted not to play their first-round pick. The 2016 season may well be Humphries’ time, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that he will see the field during his rookie campaign.

25. Shaq Thompson, LB, Panthers

Snaps: 230

Grade: 64.0

Summary: Thompson hasn’t really been needed all that much, given just how good the guys in front of him have been. Carolina will likely stick to his sub-package and reserve role, of which there is no shame given how lights-out the Panthers' defense is playing.

26. Breshad Perriman, WR, Ravens

Snaps: 0

Grade: n/a

Summary: Perriman is out for the entire 2015 season.

27. Byron Jones, CB, Cowboys

Snaps: 536

Grade: 78.4

Summary: An athletic freak, Jones has been able to play a number of spots in the Cowboys' secondary, and despite their disappointing year, the rookie can be considered a win for the team going forward.

28. Laken Tomlinson, OG, Lions

Snaps: 668

Grade: 55.8

Summary: There’s been more downs than ups for Tomlinson. It does appear there is hope, though, as he’s looked better in recent weeks after initially appearing overwhelmed by the NFL.

29. Phillip Dorsett, WR, Colts

Snaps: 112

Grade:  66.0

Summary: Expected to be a situational deep threat, Dorsett fractured his lower left leg at the end of October, and understandably hasn’t been on the field since since. The speedster could return this month, which would boost the Colts’ postseason chances.

30. Damarious Randall, CB, Packers

Snaps: 557

Grade: 76.7

Summary: Randall has had some issues the past couple of weeks after his strong start to life in the NFL. Initially, he displayed a knack for making plays on the ball, but are opposing teams starting to figure him out?

31. Stephone Anthony, LB, Saints

Snaps: 739

Grade: 47.1

Summary: It just hasn’t been the year he or the Saints had been hoping for. It can’t be easy joining a unit that has struggled as much as the New Orleans' defense, but Anthony undeniably hasn’t provided the boost they were looking for.

32. Malcom Brown, DT, Patriots

Snaps: 316

Grade: 56.8

Summary: After a slow start, Brown has become a dependable contributor as part of the Patriots’ defensive line rotation. Brown has the ability to penetrate in the run game on early downs, which is putting the New England defense in favorable down and distances.


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