Half a season does not make an NFL player’s career, but as a draft analyst it’s only natural that I check in on the rookies at the midway point of the regular season, right?
Like Justin Jefferson before him, Ja’Marr Chase has future superstar written all over him, and the quarterbacks have been, well, lousy out of the gate.
Let’s assign grades for the play of the first-round picks from the 2021 NFL Draft halfway through their debut seasons as professionals. And these grades are strictly performance-based. I did not factor in cost of trading up/down.
No. 1: Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence
Lawrence has not played like a once-in-a-generation prospect through seven games. Just hasn’t. Sure, the environment in Jacksonville is hardly helping. And it’s understandable that a No. 1 overall pick takes his lumps through the first half of his rookie season. We’ve seen it many times before.
However, in September, Lawrence was routinely clanking layup-type throws and playing uncharacteristically panicked inside the pocket. Toward the end of October, he started to resemble the Clemson version of himself a bit more, yet Lawrence has a ways to go before he’s remotely close to meeting his massive expectations.
No. 2: New York Jets – QB Zach Wilson
Mike White’s 400-plus yard game against the Bengals may ultimately be a monstrous aberration, however it does make Wilson’s rocky start look worse.
Every game — before his injury — did feature some high-end throws, many of which came in garbage time, yet they were outweighed by bad decisions both inside and outside the pocket and occasional bouts of ball-placement issues. Outside of his 297-yard performance in the win over the Titans, it’s been very tough sledding for Wilson out of the gate.
No. 3: San Francisco 49ers – QB Trey Lance
We all kinda/sorta knew Lance needed time, more time than the other…