News & Analysis

Grading all 32 first rounders after Week 3

By Mark Chichester
Sep 25, 2018

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The third full week of the NFL regular season schedule has been completed, giving us a larger sample size to delve into just how each of the 2018 NFL Draft first-round picks has fared in their respective action so far. Some of the 32 first-rounders have not qualified for a grade either based on small snap counts or not playing altogether. On the other hand, some players have jumped out of the screen and have helped strengthen their teams.

Through Week 3 of the 2018 season, here are how each of the 32 first-round rookies from the 2018 NFL Draft has graded in their first two weeks:

Pick No. 1: Baker MayfieldCleveland Browns

2018 SEASON GRADE: 84.3

It took an injury to Tyrod Taylor to make it happen, but the Baker Mayfield era finally began in Cleveland on Thursday Night Football against the New York Jets. Mayfield entered the contest 14 points down and deep in his own half. PFF’s highest-rated draft prospect then proceeded to complete 13-of-16 passes from a clean pocket (including two dropped passes), which gave him an adjusted completion percentage of 93.8 percent when kept clean from pressure – the best mark that we’ve seen this year from a rookie signal-caller. It wasn’t without fault, but it was the highest-graded regular-season debut that we’ve ever seen.

Pick No. 2: Saquon BarkleyNew York Giants

2018 SEASON GRADE: 71.5

The good news for Giants fans is that Barkley has been as good as advertised so far. The bad news is that he’s been stuck behind an offensive line that currently ranks 17th in run-blocking grade (58.7). Despite playing behind a line that has struggled to open up holes for him, he’s still ground out 216 rushing yards from his 46 attempts, with 174 of those yards coming after contact at a very healthy average of 3.78 yards after contact per carry – the third-best mark among running backs.

Pick No. 3: Sam DarnoldNew York Jets

2018 SEASON GRADE: 55.2

While Baker Mayfield basked in the praise of a grateful fan base, fellow rookie signal-caller Sam Darnold found out just how hard life as a franchise quarterback can be. Thursday night against the Browns, Darnold struggled to find a rhythm, and completed just 15 of his 31 pass attempts for 169 yards and threw two interceptions for the second game in a row. Growing pains can and probably should be expected from a 21-year-old quarterback, but that won’t make the fact that he’s now thrown six turnover-worthy passes in three games any easier to stomach.


Pick No. 4: Denzel WardCleveland Browns

2018 SEASON GRADE: 81.9

As we touched on last week, Baker Mayfield isn’t the only first round pick that’s impressed in Cleveland. Through three weeks, the former Ohio State cornerback has played 117 coverage snaps, which is nine more than the next closest rookie, and he’s allowed a passer rating of just 79.6 on throws into his coverage – the third-lowest mark among first-year players at the position.

Pick No 5: Bradley ChubbDenver Broncos

2018 SEASON GRADE: 67.6

The promising young edge defender has now been incredibly productive in two of his three games as a pro. This past week against the Ravens, Chubb produced a sack and two other hurries on 25 pass-rushing snaps, and also added a defensive stop against the run. Through three weeks, the fifth overall pick has produced pressure on 18.9 percent of his pass-rush snaps, the third-highest rate ever recorded by a rookie edge defender with at least 50 snaps in the first three weeks of a season.

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