Redraft Grades for the 2020 NFL Draft First Round: End of Season 

Redraft Grades for the 2020 NFL Draft First Round: End of Season 

by January 14, 2021 3 comments

The end of the regular season signifies the conclusion of many rookies’ first seasons in the league. Many played extraordinary, whereas others had concerning showings.
These rankings do not include playoff performances and are based on the regular season. Thus, when assigning each grade, readers should understand they are based on three factors: the play of the individual, usage by their coach, and the respected value of each player for where they were drafted.

You can read the Week 4 grades article here.

You can read the Week 11 grades article here.

As for the scale, I’ve illustrated what each grade means:

         Grading Scale for NFL 2020 Rookies

A+
Looks like a franchise player.
C+
Could be a good contributor, remains to be seen. Somewhat promising.
A
Exceeded expectation, borderline franchise player.
C
Mediocre pick, kind of like the 70-74 grade on Madden. Could still turn it around.
A-
Great pick, extremely promising player.
C-
Borderline bad pick.
B+
Good pick, promising player.
D+
Baaaddddd pick.
B
Contributor, may not be a pro bowler, but a promising pick.
D
Very bad pick.
B-
Somewhat promising, okay pick.
F
Terrible Pick.

1. Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow, QB, LSU   

Burrow is the future of the franchise and was excellent as a rookie for this team. He was promising when the offensive line was lackluster. While fans didn’t see him after Week 11 when he tore his ACL and MCL, there should only be optimism for the future. The team must do whatever they can to improve the offensive line, which should support Burrow. 

After Week 4 Grade: A+

After Week 11 Grade: A+

Final Rookie Season Grade: A+

2. Washington Football Team, Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State

Young should be the shoo-in for Defensive Rookie of the Year as he’s been one of the best defenders in the NFL. Offenses now have to tailor their game plan to him, as he’s a threat to wreak a play every snap. 

After Week 4 Grade: A+

After Week 11 Grade: A+

Final Rookie Season Grade: A+

3. Detroit Lions, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

It is concerning that Okudah has not shown any high-level play and has struggled all season. Moreover, the loss of experience after being placed on injured reserve after Week 11 does him no favors. Okudah still has the potential to be a great corner in the league, but until we’ve seen some high-level play, this pick is concerning. 

After Week 4 Grade: B-

After Week 11 Grade: C+

Final Rookie Season Grade: C

4. New York Giants, Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

An A- was handed out for not wanting to give all four of the offensive linemen the same grade, so I compared Thomas’s play against the other three great tackles (Wills, Becton, and Wirfs). 

The improvement of Thomas is something of an underrated narrative throughout the season. He was terrible to start, giving up lots of pressure against weak opponents. However, during the last part of the season, Thomas has been New York’s best offensive linemen. He’s reliable and able to take on one-on-ones without assistance. Overall, Giants fans should be ecstatic about his ascension and his continual improvement. 

After Week 4 Grade: C+

After Week 11 Grade: B

Final Rookie Season Grade: A-

5. Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama 

What do we make of Tagovailoa? Ultimately, he’s been inconsistent and has hindered the team. Yet, fans have to remember he lost two stud receivers, was a rookie, and came back from a career-altering injury. There have been good games like in Week 13 against the Bengals, where he showed poise and accuracy. Overall, his up-and-down play has shown he has the potential to be a great quarterback and has lots of upside going forward. 

After Week 4 Grade: B

After Week 11 Grade: A-

Final Rookie Season Grade: B+

6. Los Angeles Chargers, Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Herbert has excelled despite having a horrid offensive line. His deep throwing accuracy and pocket mobility have made him a playmaker who gives his receivers a chance to score every play. He’s a contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and overall is a bright star for years to come. 

After Week 4 Grade: A

After Week 11 Grade: A+

Final Rookie Season Grade: A+

7. Carolina Panthers, Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

Brown may lack positional value, yet the more he plays, the more he affects the offense. Brown’s steady improvement while rushing the passer and collapsing the pocket is exactly the development scouts wanted to see. He’s been good against the run and should continue to improve with more experience. With his promising play going forward, he could make the push to be a top-10 interior defensive lineman. 

After Week 4 Grade: B-
After Week 11 Grade: B

Final Rookie Season Grade: B+

8. Arizona Cardinals, Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Simmons came on late in the season. Nevertheless, any time you see the Cardinals defense on the field, the Clemson product is around the ball. His speed and physicality make him a threat to generate turnovers and be a difference-maker on the field. While he didn’t start most games or get full reps (hence the B grade; why draft someone at No. 8 overall if they aren’t going to be full-time starters?), he was decent in pass coverage, was a good blitzer, and showed he can stop the run. While the B grade may seem low, Simmons has a bright future, provided the team gives him starting reps. 

After Week 4 Grade: D

After Week 11 Grade: C+

Final Rookie Season Grade: B

9. Jacksonville Jaguars, C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

Overall, Henderson’s play has been promising largely from his high-end performances throughout the season. While he was inconsistent at best, cornerback has a significant adjustment and seeing good reps against Davante Adams and T.Y. Hilton is encouraging. While we went on Injured Reserve at the later part of the season, Jaguars fans should be confident that they landed one of the better cornerbacks from the 2020 draft. 

After Week 4 Grade: B+

After Week 11 Grade: B+

Final Rookie Season Grade: B+

10. Cleveland Browns, Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama. 

An A- handed out due to not wanting to give all four of the offensive linemen the same grade, so I compared Wills’s play against the other three great tackles (Thomas, Becton, and Wirfs). 

Wills is part of the reason the Browns have one of the best offensive lines in the league. He dominates in the passing game, only allowing four sacks. To have an impressive season in the passing game as a rookie illustrates how great of a player he is. 

After Week 4 Grade: B+

After Week 11 Grade: A-

Final Rookie Season Grade: A-

11. New York Jets, Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

An A was given largely as a result of not wanting to give all four of the offensive linemen the same grade, so I compared Becton’s play against the other three great tackles (Wills, Thomas, and Wirfs). 

Overall, Becton gets an A, as he was dominant in the pass and run game week in and week out. Becton was the best player on the Jets as a whole, and he was often left without help due to poor scheming. This was one of the reasons he gave up seven sacks and why he gets an A instead of an A+. Becton could very well be a top-three tackle by the end of next year if his dominant play continues and the coaching staff gives him some help against elite opponents.  

After Week 4 Grade: A
After Week 11 Grade: A

Final Rookie Season Grade: A

12. Las Vegas Raiders, Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Ruggs’s evaluation is difficult for several reasons. He wasn’t targeted as much as you would expect. When he was targeted, he was somewhat effective. He only had three drops through over the year but wasn’t on the same page as Derek Carr and wasn’t used effectively in the offense. Thus, Ruggs’s grade is a B-, as he still possesses significant promise and had some great plays. If the coaching staff and scheme can’t fully utilize him, why did they take him 12th overall? Overall, Ruggs should see a big jump in targets and better play in the 2021 season.

After Week 4 Grade: B

After Week 11 Grade: B

Final Rookie Season Grade: B-

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Colts via 49ers), Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

An A+ was given largely as a result of not wanting to give all four of the offensive linemen the same grade, so I compared Wirfs’s play against the other three great tackles (Wills, Thomas, and Becton). 

If Rookie of the Year wasn’t a stats-based and optics award, Wirfs would have the award in the bag. He was one of the top linemen in the league, showing power in the run game while having an understanding of the nuances of his pass sets. Wirfs will be one of the best offensive linemen in the game if his play continues to improve. 

After Week 4 Grade: A
After Week 11 Grade: A+

Final Rookie Season Grade: A+

14. San Francisco 49ers, Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

Kinlaw was average by rookie standards, not showing tons of flash plays. He was solid when rushing the passer but not as good as most draft analysts (including myself) expected. Accordingly, he struggled against the run for the majority of the season. However, the physical and mental tools are there, and with a regular offseason, Kinlaw could be a breakout candidate for Year 2. As it stands, he gets a C+ for being average and showing some decent play. 

After Week 4 Grade: B

After Week 11 Grade: B-

Final Rookie Season Grade: C+

15. Denver Broncos, Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

The jury is still out on Jeudy from a career arc perspective. On one hand, Jeudy is a dominant route runner; cornerbacks are three yards away, and Jeudy is taking off into the end zone. However, he has also been responsible for extremely concerning drops, which can ruin a career. With both factors said, Jeudy’s first year was highly volatile, showing some of the best highlight reels. Unfortunately, he also had critical drops in crucial situations. While there is lots of uncertainty with Jeudy, one thing is certain, if he can fix his drops, he has the potential to be one of the best receivers in the league. 

After Week 4 Grade: B+

After Week 11 Grade: A

Final Rookie Season Grade: B+

16. Atlanta Falcons, AJ Terrell, CB, Clemson

Terrell had a stretch of bad games; against the Chargers, he gave up 13 catches on 16 attempts. However, as mentioned in the Henderson description, cornerback is one of the most difficult transitions, and Terrell had flashes where he dominated receivers. He only had five penalties all year, so for a player who was physical and “grabby” in college, such a transition is extremely impressive. Terrell’s potential is high, and Falcons fans should rest easy, knowing he should only get better. 

After Week 4 Grade: C+

After Week 11 Grade: B+

Final Rookie Season Grade: B 

17. Dallas Cowboys, CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Lamb is explosive and everything Cowboys fans wanted him to be. However, there are concerns that lower him to an A-. Lamb had a bit of a concentration and drop problem throughout the season with nine drops. While some inaccurate and mistimed throws may contribute to this, it is something to look out for. Other than that, Lamb has the talent to be one of the best players in the league, and getting him at 17th overall was still one of the best steals of the draft.

After Week 4 Grade: A-

After Week 11 Grade: A+

Final Rookie Season Grade: A-

18. Miami Dolphins, Austin Jackson, OT, USC

Jackson landed on the COVID-19 list throughout the season, but there was still more inconsistency than fans would like. Jackson was billed as a developmental tackle with upside if he figured out pass-blocking technique. He wasn’t consistent enough to warrant anything more than a B grade, yet the improvement in pass sets is encouraging. If he can continue this trend, he could be a solid tackle for the Dolphins for years to come. 

After Week 4 Grade: B+
After Week 11 Grade: B 

Final Rookie Season Grade: B

19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Bears), Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State

Arnette spent part of the year on Injured Reserve and did not see the experience he desperately needed. Moreover, recent rumors indicate Jon Gruden was “disappointed: with Arnette’s rookie season. There isn’t any other way to sugarcoat it: when he was on the field, he was bad, and when he was missing games, it was horrible for his development. Overall, it was a concerning rookie season for Arnette. 

After Week 4 Grade: D+

After Week 11 Grade: D

Final Rookie Season Grade: F

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams), K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

After Week 12, Chaisson was a different player as he flashed on a poor Jaguars defense week-to-week. There were two noticeable differences after Week 12. First, Chaisson was noticeably more comfortable rushing the passer and used a variety of different moves, showing speed to power, bend, exceptional hand use, and highlight-reel spins. The second difference was mental as he began to rush with a plan. He would intentionally set linemen up with an outside move enough that he could counter with an inside move when they overset. Overall, the beginning of the season was extremely poor, but his end-of-year play should reassure Jaguar fans that Chaisson can be dominant in the NFL. 

After Week 4 Grade: C+

After Week 11 Grade: D

Final Rookie Season Grade: B+

21. Philadelphia Eagles, Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

Reagor had some barriers to a successful rookie season, with one being the Eagles’ system, which is difficult for rookies to adapt to. Even when Reagor was on the field, he was consistently underwhelming. The nagging injuries and somewhat inconsistent catching ability make this pick slightly concerning. Still, Reagor showed flashes of the dominant player we saw in college, which is why there is lots of promise for next year. 

After Week 4 Grade: C+

After Week 11 Grade: B-

Final Rookie Season Grade: C 

22. Minnesota Vikings (from Bills), Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Jefferson was not only one of the best rookies but one of the best players in the NFL. His seamless transition to a starting wide receiver for the Vikings and quick rise to becoming a premier pass-catcher is astounding. Jefferson was great in college, showing decisiveness, deception in his routes, and suddenness, but for all of that to translate in the NFL shows his hard work and intelligence. Overall, Jefferson is special and should be one of the frontrunners for Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

After Week 4 Grade: A-

After Week 11 Grade: A+

Final Rookie Season Grade: A+

23. Los Angeles Chargers, Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Murray deserves an award for most improved coverage skills, which were pretty bad for the first half of the season. His ability to drop into a zone and read the play improved significantly throughout the year. Moreover, he was always a decent run defender, but what was holding him back was what to do during the pass. For Murray going forward, there is lots of potential to get better and solve the Chargers’ perennial interior linebacker problem.

After Week 4 Grade: F

After Week 11 Grade: D+

Final Rookie Season Grade: B-

24. New Orleans Saints, Cesar Ruiz, G, Michigan

Ruiz was exactly what the Saints wanted in a guard, being a mobile piece that could reach the second level and stretch sideline to sideline. While his play was up and down, he was given more responsibility throughout the season. What is impressive is that he didn’t give up any sacks and only five quarterback hits. He did struggle somewhat throughout the season against the pass and good run defenders. His up-and-down play earned him a B-, but he has lots of potential.

After Week 4 Grade: B

After Week 11 Grade: B-

Final Rookie Season Grade: B-

25. San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

Niner Fans were quick to come to the defense of Aiyuk after my last write-up:

“Aiyuk has been solid for the Niners. He’s never going to be a dynamic #1 receiver, but he will be a high-end #2 who can provide run after catch skills. Overall, this is a great pick and fits with what the Niners want to do on offense.” 

Largely they were defending the fact I said he’s not going to be a #1 receiver, and with certainty, I can say, I was wrong. Aiyuk displayed improved technical ability throughout the year, including a nuanced understanding of defenses and route running. His baseline as a run after catch receiver mixed with his improvement throughout the year should make fans excited.

After Week 4 Grade: B

After Week 11 Grade: B+ 

Final Rookie Season Grade: B+

26. Green Bay Packers (from Texans through Dolphins), Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Going back to the Week 4 grade, it was this low as Love was selected a lot higher than many anticipated. He was a reach in the draft, and the pick motivated Rodgers onto an MVP campaign. Overall, for Love as a player, we don’t know what he is going to be thus, it is tough to give the pick any better than a D+.

After Week 4 Grade: D+

After Week 11 Grade: D +

Final Rookie Season Grade: D+

27. Seattle Seahawks, Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech

Brooks has been good down the stretch when it comes to stopping the run. His quick diagnosis of run plays and the ability to get sideline to sideline was evident early on. It is clear he’s the heir-apparent to K.J. Wright, however, he has a ways to go in coverage – in man and zone. This is one of the reasons Brooks’ grade is largely lowered. He was consistently late reacting to the pass, however, this may improve with experience and coaching, so not all hope is lost. 

After Week 4 Grade: F

After Week 11 Grade: C

Final Rookie Season Grade: C+

28. Baltimore Ravens, Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Queen, by rookie linebacker standards, has played better than the expectations were. While stopping the run and blitzing the passer, Queen has been astute and showed significant promise. Based on those factors, his grade should have been a B+/A-, but his pass coverage has not been great. Dropping into a zone, he was late responding to a pass-catcher, and in man coverage, he struggled. Both are aspects that should improve with time and experience. So overall, Queen receives a B grade for great play despite poor coverage. His ceiling will depend on how good he is in coverage, yet Ravens fans should be excited over the young player’s outlook. 

After Week 4 Grade: B

After Week 11 Grade: B

Final Rookie Season Grade: B

29. Tennessee Titans, Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia

The word concerning does not exemplify what Titans fans should feel, perhaps alarming? Wilson played three snaps this entire year, which was for a variety of reasons. As it stands, this is currently the worst pick of the first round. Hopefully, fans get to see Wilson on the field next year. 

After Week 4 Grade: D

After Week 11 Grade: F

Final Rookie Season Grade: F

30. Miami Dolphins (from Packers), Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn

Igbinoghene only played Weeks 12, 13, and 17 since Week 11, but in those three games, fans saw a glimpse of what he could be. Igbinoghene went up against A.J. Green in Week 13 and played well against him. However, sample size aside, Igbinoghene was always a project coming out of Auburn as he only started playing cornerback in 2018. There is significant upside to his play, but it might remain to be seen how impactful he can be in the NFL. Thus, the grade is a C+, as there were glimpses of good play, but fans have to understand he is a project. 

After Week 4 Grade: B-

After Week 11 Grade: C

Final Rookie Season Grade: C+

31. Minnesota Vikings, Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

I was harsh on Gladney throughout the season, largely due to what he was in College – where he showed he could use his length, intelligence, and aggressiveness to play the position. While the position is extremely difficult to transition to, Gladney did have a few great plays. Yet, Vikings fans should acknowledge that his play for most of the year was downright bad and that fundamental technique needs to improve if Gladney is going to be a good starter. 

After Week 4 Grade: C-

After Week 11 Grade: D+

Final Rookie Season Grade: C+

32. Kansas City Chiefs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

Edwards-Helaire has been disappointing as you’d expect a first-round running back to be top ten statistically. While injuries kept Edwards-Helaire off the field for three games, there were no explosive and dynamic highlight reels. It was effective chunk plays where he was able to make a great cut. Overall, the season was somewhat disappointing with a few things considered, like the production of running backs taken after round two. While Edwards-Helaire was good, the team could have had a player with more impact here. 

After Week 4 Grade: B+

After Week 11 Grade: B+

Final Rookie Season Grade: B


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3 Comments so far

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  1. Eddy
    #1 Eddy 23 January, 2021, 13:46

    Why write about football if you know nothing about football? Good grief. Will was light years better than Thomas 6 slots lower. Whoever wrote this doesnt understand the game.

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