2010 NFL Draft Rookie Report Card: Grading Every First-Round Pick Through Week 6
After the 2010 NFL Draft's first day, Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh and the other first-rounders might have thought they were done with school and into the professional world.
Fat chance. Since then, they've taken part in rookie mini-camps, training camps, preseason games and six weeks of the NFL regular season.
At this point, it's time to take a look back at how they graded out.
In reading these grades, it's important to keep the two-rule grading rubric in mind.
One, no one's getting off easy with an "incomplete." Frankly, with only five or six games' worth of evidence to go on, any judgment on these 32 players is incomplete.
Two, they're graded on a curve.
If the grade-A standard was Anquan Boldin's 101-catch debut in 2003 or Eric Dickerson's 1,808 rushing yards as a rookie in 1983, no one in the class of 2010 would get above a B-minus.
If the bar for flunking was down near Andre Smith's nonexistent rookie campaign for the Cincinnati Bengals last year, they'd all be passing.
Listed in the same order that Roger Goodell called them back in April, here are the marks.
1. St. Louis Rams: QB Sam Bradford
The St. Louis Rams had to be expecting good things from Sam Bradford, or else they wouldn't have made him the highest-paid rookie in NFL history last April.
But even Oklahomans, who celebrate "Sam Bradford Day" each January, couldn't have expected that Bradford would have taken command of St. Louis' offense so well and so quickly. The surprising Rams are 3-3, and their rookie signal-caller's 1,357 yards are a big reason why.
2. Detroit Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh's numbers don't lie: 21 tackles, 4.5 sacks and an interception of Sam Bradford in Detroit's 44-6, Week 5 win.
They don't tell half of the story, either. The Lions won't get better overnight, especially at linebacker, but Suh and free agent signee Kyle Vanden Bosch have keyed an active front four that Detroit can build a better defense around.
Suh had better hope Michigan allows more than 12 quarterbacks per hunting season.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy
Gerald McCoy hasn't shied away from criticisms of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense. In fact, in the aftermath of Tampa's Week 6 whipping at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, he tried to take the blame entirely on his own shoulders.
Considering the double-team attention he's drawing, it's not entirely McCoy's fault that the Bucs' pass rush is one of the league's worst. Still, they drafted him third overall to get sacks and he doesn't have any.
4. Washington Redskins: OT Trent Williams
That's how All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney fared against Trent Williams this past Sunday.
For Williams, the Redskins' schedule has been a non-stop barrage of top pass rushers: Dallas' DeMarcus Ware in Week 1, Houston's Mario Williams in Week 2, Green Bay's Clay Mathews in Week 3 and Freeney.
It's a steep learning curve, but he's ahead of it.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: S Eric Berry
In the months before the 2010 NFL Draft, analysts were sure the Kansas City Chiefs wouldn't use this pick on Eric Berry.
General manager Scott Pioli had seemingly confessed as much in a comment to Atlanta peer Thomas Dimitroff. But when Berry's name was called at the Chiefs' pick, that reticence recommended the player even more.
Through five games, though, he's been a league-average strong safety at best.
6. Seattle Seahawks: OT Russell Okung
After a grand total of 30 regular season snaps and one full preseason game, rookie left tackle Russell Okung couldn't have inspired too much confidence in the Seahawks fans when he took the field against Chicago's Julius Peppers last week.
But where Okung was the no-show for the first four weeks of 2010, it's Peppers who's almost nowhere to be seen in the Week 6 box score.
Holding one of this year's best defensive ends without a sack rescued Okung's grade from his absence, which put Seattle in a bind early on.
7. Cleveland Browns: CB Joe Haden
Before a tipped Ben Roethlisberger pass fell into his lap in last Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Joe Haden hadn't done much to justify this selection.
Even then, he was just in the right place at the right time—until he took off running.
Haden shot down the sideline, then reversed field between his blockers and several Steelers, going down 62 fast yards later.
Between that show of athleticism and Eric Mangini's recent praise, it looks like he'll be outperforming this grade before long.
8. Oakland Raiders: LB Rolando McClain
On the stat sheet, Rolando McClain's two tackles against the San Francisco 49ers were the low point of his unremarkable rookie campaign for the Oakland Raiders thus far. With just 33 stops and no turnovers, it's tempting to grade him down.
Then again, have fun telling this man that he's a bum to his face.
McClain's wrestling move was punished with a 15-yard penalty that day, but here's a bit of praise for physicality in a softening league.
9. Buffalo Bills: RB C.J. Spiller
In C.J. Spiller's case, the right thing to do would be to give the Buffalo Bills an "F" and give their explosive rookie a pass.
Between running Spiller into the middle of an unspectacular offensive line and benching him to pimp Marshawn Lynch for a trade, the Bills have been wasteful with last April's ninth overall pick.
It's true that Spiller needs to be more patient behind his blockers, but he shouldn't have to be patient with his coaches, too.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Tyson Alualu
Back in April, everyone outside of the Jacksonville Jaguars' front office was shocked to hear Tyson Alualu's name called 10th overall.
A very vocal segment of Floridians (including the governor) wanted Tim Tebow, the other rookie pictured to the left.
Alualu put that dissent to rest by stopping Tebow cold twice in Week 1, and his motor has been running non-stop against double-team attention since. He has room to improve against the run, but the Jaguars are looking pretty smart for picking the "no-name" guy.
11. San Francisco 49ers: OT Anthony Davis
Through six games as the San Francisco 49ers' starting right tackle, Anthony Davis hasn't had the kind of performance that really grabs your attention, gut-wrenching pun intended.
Then again, drafting a right tackle early in the first round isn't a flashy, attention-seeking pick, either.
San Francisco's ground game has struggled in the early going this year, but Frank Gore managed a heartening 149 yards against the Oakland Raiders last week behind a solid performance by Davis.
12. San Diego Chargers: RB Ryan Mathews
Almost immediately after the San Diego Chargers traded up to draft Ryan Mathews 12th overall, fantasy football sites trumpeted the Fresno State product as this year's stud rookie running back.
Late into August, Mathews had crept into the back end of the first round in 14-team leagues.
Those owners must be wondering if they've been sold snake oil. Mathews' longest run on the year has been 20 yards; he hasn't shown NFL-caliber breakaway speed.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: DE Brandon Graham
Thus far, Brandon Graham's biggest contribution to the Philadelphia Eagles' defense has been his preseason promotion.
When the Eagles bumped their first-rounder up the depth chart at defensive end, they lit a fire under veteran Juqua Parker. Coming off the bench, Parker racked up four sacks in Philadelphia's first three games to win his job back.
A two-trick edge rusher at Michigan, Graham's in for a year of learning experience near the back of the Eagles' rotation.
14. Seattle Seahawks: S Earl Thomas
On the whole, Earl Thomas has been inconsistent and prone to rookie mistakes as the Seattle Seahawks' starting free safety.
That won't make Philip Rivers or the San Diego Chargers feel any better, though. Two of Rivers' passes ended up in Thomas' hands in Week 3, including a game-clinching pick in the red zone with 15 seconds left to play.
He's much the same Texas risk-taker who got caught in front of Michael Crabtree on Texas Tech's classic game-winning touchdown in 2008, for better and worse.
15. New York Giants: DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Behind Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, playing time was scarce for Jason Pierre-Paul early on this season.
But when Kiwanuka went down in Week 3, Pierre-Paul's reps increased significantly. In addition to his special teams duties, such as KO-ing Detroit's Zack Follett, he's caused several sacks and had a pick taken away by a penalty.
It hasn't shown in his production yet, but New York's 6'5", 270-pound rookie is going to be a force in this league.
16. Tennessee Titans: DE Derrick Morgan
If there's a case where an "incomplete" mark would be useful, it's Tennessee's Derrick Morgan. The Titans lost Morgan for the season when he suffered a torn ACL in Week 4.
In an extremely limited sample size, Morgan notched 1.5 sacks in two games at left end, where his thick frame made him a natural fit. Tennessee tried him out on the right side against the New York Giants, but the returns (one tackle) were less promising.
When he returns in 2011, Morgan will have to be a lights-out pass rusher to be worth first-round money on the strong side.
17. San Francisco 49ers: OG Mike Iupati
As the San Francisco 49ers' first-year starter at left guard, Idaho's Mike Iupati has been exactly as advertised in last year's Senior Bowl: big, strong and incredibly unpolished.
It's apparent that he's not going to be the next in a line of guards who've started hot as pros, from Michigan's Steve Hutchinson in 2001 to Auburn's Ben Grubbs in 2007.
The nicest thing Oakland's Richard Seymour had to say about Iupati after Week 6 was that he's "raw." Iupati hasn't committed a holding penalty yet, though, which suggests he's taking well to coaching.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: C Maurkice Pouncey
It's a general NFL Draft rule that centers don't get drafted in the first round. God-bodied tackles and the rare prototype guard are prized early as much for their physical gifts as the shorter learning curve at those positions.
It takes a ton of mental seasoning to shoulder a center's responsibilities in the NFL, which makes Maurkice Pouncey's quick ascent as the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting snapper all the more impressive.
At 6'4" and 304 pounds, he's built like a guard, which is an incredible advantage in the middle.
19. Atlanta Falcons: LB Sean Weatherspoon
One of the biggest reasons that the Atlanta Falcons' defense has jumped to fifth in the NFL in points allowed and ninth against the run in 2010 has been the presence of starting rookie Sean Weatherspoon on the strong side.
The Falcons' coveted first-rounder wrangled the job away from Stephen Nicholas over the summer and hit the ground running with 24 tackles and a sack in his first three games.
A knee injury will keep him sidelined for the third time this year in Week 7, but "Spoon" has been well worth this pick on the field.
20. Houston Texans: CB Kareem Jackson
If it's tough enough to start at cornerback in the NFL as a rookie, why would the Houston Texans want to make it tougher by matching their rookie against opponents' best receivers?
Because they don't really have a choice. When Dunta Robinson left town for more money after last season, the Texans' depth at his position shrunk to nearly nothing.
Six games into 2010, Houston's pass defense is the league's worst and Jackson has been burned to a crisp by the likes of Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks and Dwayne Bowe.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: TE Jermaine Gresham
After Week 1, the fantasy football community was ready to hop on board with Jermaine Gresham as a high-priority target in the Cincinnati Bengals' offense.
That week, Gersham had opened his rookie campaign by catching six passes from Carson Palmer, including Cincinnati's first touchdown in 2010.
His production has been steady, if unspectacular, since. Graham should aspire to be more than Palmer's big-bodied check-down option underneath coverage.
22. Denver Broncos: WR Demaryius Thomas
Yep, that's Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets grasping at Denver's Demaryius Thomas in the picture on the left.
Turns out Revis Island is only a shimmy-shake, a sprint and a jump away from the end zone when you're 6'3", 230 pounds, and quick off the line.
Aside from Thomas' ability to go up and get this pass, the most impressive aspect of this Week 6 play was the shiftiness and burst he flashed in skirting Revis' initial bump. He's been banged up and somewhat inconsistent, but Thomas has the goods.
23. Green Bay Packers: OT Bryan Bulaga
According to James Campen, the Green Bay Packers' offensive line coach, Bryan Bulaga is a player who "learns real well from one mistake. He rarely makes the same mistake."
That's good for the Packers, because their rookie swing backup has made quite a few of them. Bulaga has shown great versatility, spending time at left guard and left tackle, and is slated to start in place of Mark Tauscher at right tackle in Week 7.
But he was grabby and slow-footed against Washington's Brian Orakpo in Week 5. It's par for the course on Green Bay's line, but Bulaga was drafted to be an upgrade.
24. Dallas Cowboys: WR Dez Bryant
In this young season, there have been plays where Dez Bryant has looked like an NFL star.
His Week 6 double-move roasting of Minnesota's Lito Sheppard on a 31-yard touchdown was one, and his punt return score against the Chicago Bears was another.
With that said, don't crown the rookie just yet.
As the odds-on preseason favorite to take veteran Roy Williams' starting job, Bryant has disappeared for stretches while Williams has thrived early this season.
25. Denver Broncos: QB Tim Tebow
What a waste of a first-round draft pick.
After drafting Tim Tebow in April, the Denver Broncos' passing offense has improved to the NFL's third-best in 2010. The 2-4 Broncos are averaging 311 yards per game through the air, and rookie receiver Demaryius Thomas has shown flashes of his first-round talent.
Problem is, Tebow's responsible for none of it. Literally. He has yet to throw a pass.
Allegedly, the spread option offense is coming to the NFL. That's great news for Tebow, who'll be a glorified goal-line back until it does.
26. Arizona Cardinals: DT Dan Williams
Where there's fat smoke, there's often fat fire.
The Arizona Cardinals' decision to deactivate Dan Williams in Week 4 after he weighed in on the wrong side of 327 pounds might end up being a one-time punishment, but the odds are against it.
Hefty players like Shaun Rogers and Kris Jenkins have needed weight clauses and incentives in their contracts to stay motivated.
Williams blamed the weight on "late-night Gatorades." The Cardinals' strength coach has some teaching to do about which calories are good and when to ingest them.
27. New England Patriots: CB Devin McCourty
Ahead of the New England Patriots' Week 6 clash with the Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick raised a lot of people's eyebrows by comparing rookie Devin McCourty to Ray Lewis as a film room geek.
The Rutgers product won Belichick over before the draft by knowing his teammates' jobs in the Scarlet Knights' defense.
As a pro, that intelligence has yet to translate to more production than 23 tackles (21 solo) and a handful of passes defensed. McCourty is quick to recover and capable in run support, but he's not a playmaking headliner yet.
28. Miami Dolphins: DE Jared Odrick
The ultimate candidate for an "incomplete" grade, Jared Odrick broke his leg in the Miami Dolphins' season opener.
Then, in the Dolphins' Wednesday practice ahead of their Week 7 clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Odrick re-injured the leg and is now a candidate for injured reserve.
Despite favorable matchups against the Bills, Patriots and Packers, Miami's run defense has allowed nearly 110 yards per game on the ground. Odrick is a bit lean for his frame and position, which might explain the injuries.
29. New York Jets: CB Kyle Wilson
The brains at Baseball Prospectus have an interesting take on errors in the national pastime. Some fielders, they've argued, are charged with fewer errors because they don't have the same range as their seemingly error-prone peers.
That concept is roughly similar to rookie Kyle Wilson's situation in the Jets' secondary.
Wilson hasn't helped himself this year by letting his eyes wander into the backfield, but he's also shown great range and closing speed to be near the ball so often.
30. Detroit Lions: RB Jahvid Best
Through six weeks, the Detroit Lions have seen all the pluses and minuses from Jahvid Best's college scouting report come to life.
On the field, Best has been as electric as advertised. In Detroit's first two games, he scored five touchdowns, including a 75-yard breakaway catch-and-run against Philadelphia.
On the other hand, a nagging toe injury from the Lions' Week 3 loss at Minnesota has grounded him lately. He hasn't made a play longer than 22 yards since, and he's flirting with the "injury-prone" label.
31. Indianapolis Colts: DE Jerry Hughes
When the Indianapolis Colts drafted Jerry Hughes, the rock-solid top of their depth chart at defensive end meant that playing time would be hard to come by for the rookie out of TCU.
But in six games, he hasn't even been able to consistently crack the 45-man active roster.
No one expected Hughes to bump Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis out of their starting roles, and it's understandable that the Colts wouldn't want to risk their first-rounder in the chaotic sphere of special teams play.
Still, the fact that he's not even a situational pass rusher speaks volumes about his lack of development thus far.
32. New Orleans Saints: CB Patrick Robinson
Four weeks into the 2010 season, Patrick Robinson hadn't seen the field much for New Orleans behind the Saints' starters.
Then, with Porter and Gay unavailable in Week 5, he was forced to take the field with only six NFL tackles under his belt. After shaking off an apparent head injury in the first quarter, Robinson spent the day flying to the ball for eight solo stops.
Not bad for a wiry playmaker who fell in the draft due to questions about his physicality.
Against Cleveland's Colt McCoy, Robinson will get one last tune-up before his real test with Ben Roethlisberger in Week 8.
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