NFL rookie grades heading into final preseason games: Zach Wilson head of class, Trevor Lawrence gets ‘C+’

It might simply be me — the 2021 NFL preseason feels extra fascinating than any I can keep in mind. Possibly we have been taking exhibition video games without any consideration and miss them after we went with out the preseason final yr? This August, we have gotten 5 first-round rookie quarterbacks on show, a trio of prime 10 receivers splitting out broad, and a a great deal of anticipation for a plethora of different marquee draft decisions. As a draft analyst, it has been superb. 

Clearly, I am grateful to observe preseason football, however player evaluations should proceed, in fact. Which first-round rookies have impressed? How concerning the disappointing gamers chosen throughout the preliminary 32 picks in April? I’ve pinpointed them beneath. 


Grade: A-

He seems like he is acquired hair gel in for his highschool’s homecoming dance, and he is not precisely broad-shouldered. However Wilson has reminded the football-watching world why he ascended from obscurity to the No. 2 total choice within the draft throughout his first two preseason video games. The ball erupts from his fast launch, and he is been exact, going 15 of 20 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. In opposition to the Packers, he showcased the play-making expertise born from his pure arm expertise on a 27-yard strike, exterior of the play construction, to Corey Davis. The child’s been rattling good. 

Grade: A-

Nobody is extra shocked at Rousseau’s productiveness by two preseason video games than me. The No. 30 total decide has six pressures on 19 pass-rush snaps to this point. His first stress got here on a nasty one-arm straight-arm towards Penei Sewell of all rookies, and he once more utilized his size to his benefit to generate disruption towards the Bears on Saturday. 

I actually didn’t see that kind of energy on Rousseau’s movie from 2019, and at practically 6-foot-7, the leverage he is demonstrated in a pair of exhibition video games with the Bills was merely not there on the College of Miami throughout his breakout redshirt freshman season. He is gotten moved within the run recreation a bit, however let’s be actual — Buffalo chosen him for his pass-rush upside, and he seems far more able to contribute than I anticipated. Rousseau’s preseason has possible earned him a spot on the second wave of edge rushers for the Payments within the common season. 

Grade: A-

Jones’ stats do not leap off the web page like some do throughout the preseason, and he hasn’t routinely stretched the sphere, but he is seemed as comfy as any rookie working the Patriots offense.

And that is the concept with Jones, proper? Effectively run the offense. He is been nicely protected and gotten it out in a rush in rhythm together with his targets. The few downfield throws have been exact too. Actually, the whole Patriots offense has clicked by two preseason video games — who would’ve thought? — and regardless of the sturdy demonstrations, Jones hasn’t but locked up the beginning gig. 

Grade: B

Has Fields lit the NFL world on hearth in his two preseason appearances? No. However like a number of cell, extremely proficient passers earlier than him — most particularly Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson — Fields has relied on his legs to maneuver the chains throughout his first style of NFL motion whereas sprinkling in a small assortment of spectacular downfield strikes. 

His completion proportion (59%) nor his yards-per-attempt common (5.7) are jaw-dropping, however when he is stepped onto the sphere, the No. 11 total choice has supplied the Bears with the jolt of vitality it has wanted…for just like the final three a long time.

Grade: B

Lance has taken six sacks in two video games. I truthfully do not care. Why? It is a 21-year-old quarterback with certainly one of yr of beginning expertise on the FCS degree we’re speaking about right here. And his lone recreation in 2020 got here towards Central Arkansas — no disrespect meant to the Sugar Bears, by the way in which. 

Past the sacks, there’ve been some clear-cut misses. Lance has additionally demonstrated the game-changing, big-time throw capabilities that made him such a excessive decide. And when the overwhelming majority of rookie quarterbacks examine it down within the preseason, I respect Lance’s willingness to let it rip deep. 


Grade: D

Each former NFL offensive lineman turned analyst will inform you — flipping from left sort out to proper sort out (or vice versa) is a problem. Like being right-handed and making an attempt to jot down together with your left. And Sewell has seemed uncomfortable at proper sort out. There is no manner round it. The depth in his kick slide has been nearly non-existent. He hasn’t managed blockers with energy and longer rushers have gotten into his body and put him on curler skates. The “wins” for Sewell have been few and much between. Not taking part in soccer in a yr then becoming a member of the NFL to play a brand new place has made for a doubly troublesome transition for the massive, inherently gifted blocker. 

Grade: D+

Three drops on three targets towards the Washington Soccer workforce. That is the headline with Chase. And it is an unpleasant one. I am, in fact, not able to bury him but. Not even remotely shut. Chase’s fingers weren’t an issue at LSU. Actually, he dominated in visitors in that epic 2019 of his. Chase has gotten open on a handful of the ten routes he is run. His lone catch recreation on a play I hope the Bengals use with Chase often — a fast display screen. He is A.J. Brown-esque after the catch. 

Grade: C-

Oweh has two pressures on 24 pass-rush snaps (8.3%). One was on a play wherein he wasn’t blocked. The opposite got here when Jameis Winston held the ball for nearly 5 seconds. 

And his 22 different reps have showcased points that have been obvious on movie in school. Regardless of the freaky explosive pro day figures, Oweh has seemed stiff across the nook, and outdoors of perhaps one or two swipes, the pass-rush transfer arsenal is naked. Because the No. 31 total decide, expectations aren’t essentially sky excessive for Oweh, however after dropping Matthew Judon in free company, the Ravens want their first-round choice to supply as a rookie to keep up their elite-level of disruptive methods. Oweh has underwhelmed based mostly on what Baltimore should get from him this season.

Grade: C+

Lawrence lands on this class not as a result of he is been terrible. He is right here based mostly on how he is performed in comparison with the Corridor of Fame expectations. The Jaguars have been totally outclassed as a workforce within the first quarter towards the Saints. I really thought Lawrence held his personal amidst the chaos. 

Nevertheless his pocket presence has been extra paying homage to a traditional, overwhelmed rookie quarterback than an anointed first-year quarterback with nuanced expertise nicely past his years. And most of Lawrence’s work has been beneath — we have been all anticipating extra “wow” throws early. 

I will end with this — Lawrence’s inclusion right here is extra concerning the surroundings round him on the Jaguars than his particular person play itself. 

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