How all 31 first-round picks have played this season
With just one game remaining in the NFL regular season, we’ve seen a decent sample size from most 2016 first-rounders. While some stars have emerged from later rounds in this class (think Saints WR Michael Thomas and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott), top-level talents like Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa have lived up to—or even exceeded—their billing so far in their short pro careers.
Here we take a look at how every 2016 first-round pick has played this season, as well as their snap count and overall grade entering Week 17. Please note that this list is ordered by draft selection—this is not a ranking.
1. Jared Goff, QB, Rams (California)
PFF overall grade: 42.9
The decision to play Jared Goff eventually came down from on high before head coach Jeff Fisher was ultimately fired for his body of work this season, and so far, Goff has shown why Fisher was reluctant to put him in sooner. The former Cal standout has looked every bit like a rookie struggling to adjust, and a poor offensive line with limited receiving weaponry hasn’t aided his cause. The best the team can hope for is that this experience is constructive, and not harmful for Goff’s future prospects.
2. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles (North Dakota State)
PFF overall grade: 77.3
Carson Wentz began the season on fire, but has steadily declined since then (though he did produce a quality outing against Washington in Week 14). After beginning his career with a record-breaking streak of pass attempts without an interception, Wentz has now thrown at least one pick in six straight games, and 13 in his last 10 performances. The jury is still out on what Wentz can become, but his upside is still significant.
3. Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers (Ohio State)
PFF overall grade: 88.8
Finally getting on the field in Week 5, Joey Bosa has looked like a dominant force for the Chargers. He has 54 total QB pressures on the season, playing a mixture of defensive end and outside linebacker for the Chargers—that’s a comparable pressure total to Jason Pierre-Paul, but on almost 300 fewer snaps. Bosa has looked like a star from day one, and even if he doesn’t get any better, he has been a ready-made Pro-Bowl caliber player for San Diego.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys (Ohio State)
PFF overall grade: 86.3
If you haven’t been paying attention, Ezekiel Elliott has been doing pretty well for Dallas. He leads the league in rushing with over 1,600 yards, is averaging 5.0 yards per carry, almost 3 yards per carry after contact, and has scored 15 rushing touchdowns behind the league’s best offensive lines. It’s hard to find much fault with Elliott’s rookie year—though four fumbles on carries is a little more than you’d like to see—and he should be a big part of the Cowboys’ playoff push.
5. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jaguars (Florida State)
PFF overall grade: 83.1
The first half of the season saw Jalen Ramsey flash big potential, but over the past few weeks, he has begun to look more like a shutdown corner. Over the past four weeks, in fact, he has been the league’s highest-graded cornerback, allowing just 12 of the 35 passes (34.3 percent) thrown into his coverage to be caught, picking off two of them and breaking up another eight.
6. Ronnie Stanley, LT, Ravens (Notre Dame)
PFF overall grade: 78.2
Like Ramsey, over the past month, Ronnie Stanley has been the league’s best-graded tackle, narrowly edging Houston’s Duane Brown. Outside of one wretched game earlier in the year against Pittsburgh, he has been playing pretty well, especially in pass protection, and seems to be hitting his best form. Stanley looks like a quality offensive tackle going forward.
7. DeForest Buckner, DE, 49ers (Oregon)
PFF overall grade: 77.6
There has been little help for DeForest Buckner on a San Francisco defense that has been ground into dirt at times by teams. He has almost topped 1,000 snaps already, which is 322 more snaps than any other rookie interior defender, and overall, has played reasonably, albeit with some ugly games in there. Buckner has 45 total QB pressures and 34 defensive stops on the year.
8. Jack Conklin, RT, Titans (Michigan State)
PFF overall grade: 89.2
One of the surprises of the season, Jack Conklin has been excellent for the Titans. Tennessee certainly gives him (and LT Taylor Lewan) more help than many offensive tackles receive, minimizing the snaps they spend isolated on an island against elite pass-rushers, but that results in the two doing what they do best: dominating on the ground with power. Conklin has surrendered only two sacks all season and been penalized only twice.
9. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Bears (Georgia)
PFF overall grade: 65.1
Leonard Floyd’s rookie season has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. He had been largely anonymous until a midseason run of fine play made it seem as if something had clicked, but then he disappeared again in recent weeks (albeit against some of the best pass-blocking linemen in the game). Overall, Floyd looks to have big potential as a pass-rusher, but still has work to do to realize it.
10. Eli Apple, CB, Giants (Ohio State)
PFF overall grade: 71.0
Cornerback is one of the toughest positions in the game to come in and play well at as a rookie, and Eli Apple has typified that expected level of play. He has allowed 60.7 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught and surrendered a passer rating of 92.6 when targeted, but has shown good coverage on plenty of plays. His best play is likely ahead of him.
11. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Buccaneers (Florida)
PFF overall grade: 62.3
Vernon Hargreaves III is leading all rookie corners in receiving yards allowed this season (971), and is likely approaching the ugly landmark of a 1,000-yard year. He has only given up one touchdown, but has allowed 71.8 percent of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught (100.4 passer rating when targeted).
12. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Saints (Louisville)
PFF overall grade: 42.5
A broken fibula suffered in the preseason kept Sheldon Rankins off the field well into his rookie season, and he has struggled since his return. We won’t see the real Rankins until 2017.
13. Laremy Tunsil, OL, Dolphins (Ole Miss)
PFF overall grade: 70.6
Laremy Tunsil has started at left guard for Miami, but has moonlighted at left tackle when injuries called for changes. He has still allowed just one sack all season (and that came at left tackle), and has been the reason his quarterback hit the ground just five times (three of which came at left tackle). Has been solid, if unspectacular.
14. Karl Joseph, S, Raiders (West Virginia)
PFF overall grade: 79.9
Karl Joseph has been a pretty consistent presence for Oakland’s secondary, with a series of positive performances punctuated by just two poor games. Joseph has missed just two tackles all season while racking up 53 solo and 11 assisted tackles.
15. Corey Coleman, WR, Browns (Baylor)
PFF overall grade: 53.5
It’s hard to judge anything in the Cleveland offense this season given the revolving door at quarterback. Corey Coleman has a 58-yard reception to his name and has broken eight tackles after the catch on only 28 receptions, but he has also caught only 50.9 percent of the passes thrown his way and dropped four balls.
16. Taylor Decker, LT, Lions (Ohio State)
PFF overall grade: 81.7
Tackle, like cornerback, is one of the tougher positions in the league to succeed at right away, but you wouldn’t know it from this rookie class. Taylor Decker has played pretty well from the outset for the Lions. He has allowed nine total sacks or hits over his 15 games so far, and run-blocked well.
17. Keanu Neal, S, Falcons (Florida)
PFF overall grade: 81.0
The Falcons found a real impact player in Keanu Neal, at least judging by his rookie season. Neal has shown the ability to deliver big hits, and has so far avoided the missed tackles those can cause, missing just five of an attempted 95 tackles. He has also been able to come up and make tackles short of the first-down marker in coverage. Simply put, the Atlanta defense is a much better unit when Neal is on the field.
18. Ryan Kelly, C, Colts (Alabama)
PFF overall grade: 81.2
Ryan Kelly still hasn’t surrendered a sack this season, and has only been the cause of Andrew Luck hitting the turf three times, with two of those three hits coming in the first four weeks. His run blocking has been a little more inconsistent, but Kelly has been—at minimum—a safe, solid player in his first season.
19. Shaq Lawson, DE, Bills (Clemson)
PFF overall grade: 46.2
Shoulder surgery shut Shaq Lawson down before he had a chance to get near the field, and the Bills have been trying to get something out of his rookie season in recent weeks. He has two sacks and 12 total QB pressures, but has been, if anything, a downgrade on the players he has taken snaps from. Buffalo will be hoping that year two reveals the player they thought they were drafting.
20. Darron Lee, LB, Jets (Ohio State)
PFF overall grade: 38.8
Darron Lee has all the athleticism and measurables in the world, but it’s looking less and less likely that there is a football player operating the controls. He is the lowest-graded rookie linebacker in the league and has allowed a passer rating of 132.9 when thrown at in coverage. In fact, the only area PFF measures that Lee has graded well in is discipline, thanks to just two penalties on the season.
21. Will Fuller, WR, Texans (Notre Dame)
PFF overall grade: 68.6
Quarterback woes have hamstrung the entire Houston offense, so it’s hard to know what Will Fuller could have achieved with some more competent play there, but he has put up 611 receiving yards on 44 catches, scoring twice. He also has six drops to his name and a few more that have flirted with the floor before being brought in.
22. Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins (TCU)
PFF overall grade: N/A
Josh Doctson’s rookie season has been blighted by injury, and he had only seen the field in two games—the first two of the year—before being placed on IR, ending his season.
23. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Vikings (Ole Miss)
PFF overall grade: N/A
At midseason, Laquon Treadwell had seen just 11 snaps on offense, and while that workload has increased exponentially over the second half of the year, his total still sits at just 79. He has seen three targets all season, catching one pass for 15 yards the first time the ball was thrown his way.
24. William Jackson III, CB, Bengals (Houston)
PFF overall grade: N/A
A torn pectoral muscle suffered in the first padded practice quickly ended Jackson’s rookie season; he has been on IR all year.
25. Artie Burns, CB, Steelers (University of Miami)
PFF overall grade: 76.3
No rookie cornerback has surrendered more touchdown catches than Artie Burns, but he also has three picks, five pass breakups, and has allowed fewer than 60 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage to be caught. One 95-yard catch-and-run by Mike Wallace skews his numbers, and Burns has shown a marked improvement over the second half of the season.
26. Paxton Lynch, QB, Broncos (Memphis)
PFF overall grade: 40.2
Since midseason, Paxton Lynch received one more opportunity to get on the field, with an injury to Trevor Siemian giving him the start in Week 13 against Jacksonville. He was arguably worse than his previous start, completing only 12 passes for 104 yards (just 4.3 yards per attempt). Lynch may be the QB of the future in Denver, but everything he has shown so far says that future is a long way off.
27. Kenny Clark, DT, Packers (UCLA)
PFF overall grade: 68.0
The Packers have worked Kenny Clark into the defensive-line rotation all season, and while he has flashed the occasional good play, they have been 300 largely non-descript snaps. Clark has just nine total QB pressures and 12 defensive stops on the year.
28. Joshua Garnett, RG, 49ers (Stanford)
PFF overall grade: 45.7
After entering the starting lineup in Week 5, Joshua Garnett has started 11 games for the 49ers at right guard, and struggled badly in both run blocking and pass protection. He has surrendered 33 total QB pressures, which is 10th-most among guards, despite playing four fewer games than most; only Arizona’s Earl Watford has a lower pass-blocking efficiency mark than Garnett’s 93.7.
29. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Cardinals (Ole Miss)
PFF overall grade: N/A
A high-ankle sprain kept Robert Nkemdiche off the field early in the season, but he then found his way into head coach Bruce Arians’ doghouse, and has barely been seen all year.
30. Vernon Butler, DT, Panthers (Louisiana Tech)
PFF overall grade: 67.1
An injury limited Vernon Butler over much of the season, but he has played in the past six straight games, with 20-plus snaps in each. Over that time, though, he has flashed rather than performed consistently, with five total QB pressures and four defensive stops.
31. Germain Ifedi, OL, Seahawks (Texas A&M)
PFF overall grade: 37.6
Germain Ifedi has been one of the league’s worst offensive linemen in his rookie season, playing guard on a team that seems stacked with them. He has surrendered 38 total QB pressures (tied for fourth-most among guards), despite playing only 12 games, and been flagged eight times. His run blocking has at least been passable, but his pass protection needs to improve immeasurably for him to be a viable starter.
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