1st-Round Rookie Report-Card Grades at NFL's Quarter Mark
Early splashes and duds—it's time for first-quarter rookie report cards following Week 4 of NFL action.
It didn't take long to see all five first-round quarterbacks on the field. By the end of Week 3, rookie signal-callers selected within the top 32 had their welcome-to-the-league moments. Even though one passer hasn't started a game, he's played enough snaps for us to judge his development.
We'll focus solely on first-rounders for the report card grades below. The evaluations are based on what the players have done during the regular season regardless of their sample sizes.
Of course, starters will have more strengths and weaknesses on display, but rookies who saw the field sparingly showed flaws and potential as well.
In the order in which they were drafted, we'll take a look at all the Day 1 picks four weeks into the 2018 season.
No. 1 Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
Quarterback Baker Mayfield garnered early buzz for his performance when he took over for Tyrod Taylor during the second quarter of the Browns' Week 3 contest with the New York Jets in Cleveland.
He led the team to its first victory since Week 16 of the 2016 campaign. The Oklahoma product completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 201 yards in his debut.
Head coach Hue Jackson named Mayfield the starter against the Oakland Raiders, and he completed 21 of 41 passes for 295 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the 45-42 overtime defeat.
Mayfield's first interception resulted in a pick-six after the ball bounced off wide receiver Antonio Callaway's hands. The second one occurred as the rookie signal-caller tried to make something happen near the end of regulation with the game tied at 42. He also lost two fumbles, one on an ill-timed snap from center JC Tretter.
Browns receivers cost Mayfield some yards because of drops, but the former Sooner showed he's able to move the ball more efficiently than Taylor.
No. 2 Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Running back Saquon Barkley has performed as advertised. He's a top-notch dual-threat option out of the backfield with the ability to break off a big play on any given snap.
In three out of four contests, Barkley logged a carry of 24 or more yards. As a pass-catcher, he's recorded one reception of 18 or more yards in three games.
The Penn State product doesn't run over defenders, but he accumulates yards after contact. He bounces off attempted tackles, allowing him to rack up more yardage, resulting in explosive plays.
The New York Giants don't have the best offensive line, but Barkley has managed to average 4.6 yards per carry with 14 rushing attempts per contest. Big Blue's offense hasn't reached its peak yet, but the former Nittany Lion is a special talent capable of elevating this club's ground attack.
No. 3 Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
Among the five first-round quarterbacks, Sam Darnold was the only Week 1 starter. He has a lot more of his flaws and strengths on film.
At times, we're able to see Darnold's brilliance—like when he makes an incredible throw after scrambling around the pocket. The 21-year-old will toss some passes into small windows that can make fans cringe. Sometimes, it pays off—other times, not so much.
In Week 3 against the Browns, Darnold converted on a must-have fourth down to keep the game alive and followed that up by throwing the ball into double coverage, resulting in an interception. Based on his collegiate tape, that's almost expected as he develops.
Overall, Darnold has thrown four touchdowns and five interceptions. The USC product would likely boast more efficient early results with a stronger offensive line. He's been sacked 10 times.
The rookie signal-caller must protect the ball, though. Head coach Todd Bowles likely had a conversation with him about his four interceptions over the last three contests.
No. 4 Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns
Cornerback Denzel Ward picked off two passes in a productive NFL debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Through four weeks, he's also shown the ability to help out in run defense with solid tackling near the line of scrimmage. The Ohio State product has 12 total tackles and forced a fumble.
Incomplete passes thrown in Ward's direction don't show up in the box score, but he's typically in a position to disrupt plays in his area. Through the first quarter of the season, it seems the Browns have a boundary cornerback who can challenge lead wideouts in man coverage.
At 5'11", 190 pounds, Ward may struggle against bigger pass-catchers, but his field awareness gives him an opportunity to battle for throws. He's tied with cornerback Terrance Mitchell and linebacker Joe Schobert for second on the team in pass breakups with three.
No. 5 Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos
On occasion, edge-rusher Bradley Chubb will drop into coverage, which cuts into his pass-rushing duties, but he's logged 1.5 sacks and seven tackles through four outings.
Chubb nearly sacked Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Monday and finished with two quarterback hits. The North Carolina State product has shown the potential to collapse the pocket, but another step or two will allow him to close the deal on big plays.
The rookie edge-rusher doesn't provide much to the run defense. Chasing down ball-carriers isn't his primary focus, but he'll need to flash in that aspect to become a complete player like veteran counterpart Von Miller.
After Chubb's first solo sack in Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens and multiple close calls on Mahomes, he's beginning to flash consistently near the pocket.
No. 6 Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts
The front office selected offensive guard Quenton Nelson to strengthen interior pass protection and potentially open pathways for the ground attack. Through four weeks, the Colts rushing offense ranks 29th, but mediocre performances have contributed to the unimpressive production.
None of the running backs with at least 10 carries averages more than 3.6 yards per attempt. It's worth noting: Colts ball-carriers average 4.40 adjusted line yards per carry when targeting the guard-center area, per Football Outsiders.
As a pass protector, Nelson allowed some pressures over the last couple of games. Stampede Blue writer Zach Hicks broke down some of his miscues in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah took to Twitter to highlight an unflattering moment for the rookie when he attempted to block Houston Texans pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
Nelson still has room to grow when facing pass-rushers who use power to force their way into the pocket.
No. 7 Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Quarterback Josh Allen took over for Nathan Peterman during a blowout Week 1 loss to the Ravens. He posted a 111.2 passer rating against the Minnesota Vikings in his second start, completing 15 of 22 pass attempts for 196 yards and a touchdown.
Looking at his cumulative performance, Allen has only completed 53.4 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions. The Wyoming product's ability to run compensates for a poor pass-blocking offensive line. On the flip side, that part of his skill set could also inflate sack numbers. He took the most sacks (18) through four weeks.
During the draft process, critics focused on Allen's low completion percentage (56.2) as a hole in his game. He hasn't done much to answer those concerns. Despite his throwing inaccuracies, the rookie signal-caller gives this offense opportunities to accumulate chunk yardage with his legs and his arm strength.
No. 8 Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears
Roquan Smith played eight snaps in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, but he made an instant impact after stepping between the white lines.
Smith logged a sack on backup DeShone Kizer on his first live snap. He's been on the field for at least 81 percent of the team's defensive plays over the last three weeks. The Georgia product is second on the team in combined tackles with 18.
Lined up on the inside, Smith has been a strong component to the Chicago Bears' No. 2-ranked run defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown. As a downhill defender, he's typically in the middle of the action when attempting to stop the ground attack. The former Bulldog also has a pass breakup.
Smith's ability to thwart the run doesn't generate flashy headlines, but he's willing to do the underappreciated hard work for arguably the best linebacker unit in the league.
No. 9 Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey's career started off with unexpected changes on the front line. Right guards Mike Person and Joshua Garnett went down with foot injuries in the regular-season opener. Head coach Kyle Shanahan moved the rookie inside, and he struggled in the temporary transition against the Vikings.
McGlinchey critiqued his debut following a 24-16 loss, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle: "I think I should have done it a little bit better than I did it, but that's how it shakes out sometimes."
In Week 2, McGlinchey had a highlight moment when he sealed off a block beyond the line of scrimmage on running back Matt Breida's 66-yard touchdown run against the Detroit Lions. The Notre Dame product sprinted downfield to celebrate the long score.
He talked about the sequence on David Lombardi's and Matt Barrows' the No Brakes Podcast: "Pierre [Garcon] got on his block and stayed on it, and my slow ass was able to catch him at the end."
McGlinchey allowed a clean sack to Chiefs edge-rusher Justin Houston in the fourth quarter of the team's Week 3 contest—a few plays before quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL.
Despite the early curveball thrown McGlinchey's way, the 49ers average 6.13 adjusted line yards per carry when running behind the right tackle, per Football Outsiders, which is McGlinchey's natural spot on the offensive line.
No. 10 Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks tossed Josh Rosen into a tough situation during the team's Week 3 matchup against the Bears. The rookie signal-caller entered the game late in the fourth quarter with his team trailing 16-14.
Rosen completed four of seven pass attempts for 36 yards and an interception, falling short of a comeback. On the bright side, he didn't allow the result to shake his confidence. Wilks named him the starter for Sunday's game, and he went 15 of 27 for 180 yards and a touchdown under center.
Rosen would've likely finished with a better stat line if not for multiple drops. The Cardinals may have also come away with a victory. Wilks talked about the rookie's performance in the postgame press conference:
"He handled it well. We didn't get down, even though we had a couple of drops there. He was still encouraging his teammates, went back and stayed the course, continued to try and operate and run the offense well. I can't keep saying it enough—the guy is very poised, very confident and I like him back there."
The UCLA product's confidence could take him a long way with better execution around him. Based on his performances, he's ready to elevate this offense from its poor outings under Sam Bradford.
No. 11 Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Miami Dolphins
Minkah Fitzpatrick's versatility has already paid dividends for the Miami Dolphins. He opened the season as a primary defender in the slot and started at safety in place of Reshad Jones (shoulder) in the last two games.
Fitzpatrick has three pass breakups, an interception and ranks second on the team in combined tackles with 29. Through four weeks, he's flashed as a reliable open-field tackler and provided solid pass coverage.
The Alabama product's ability to shift positions allows play-caller Matt Burke to move around players in the secondary based on the opponent or because of injury.
In a league with more running backs catching out of the backfield and tight ends running pass routes, the Dolphins have a defender who can defend either asset in the aerial attack. Fitzpatrick should continue to progress whether he's in the slot or lining up at safety.
No. 12 Vita Vea, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Defensive tackle Vita Vea suffered a calf injury early in training camp. The ailment lingered into the regular season and cost him the first three games. He made his debut Sunday against the Bears.
Based on just one contest, it's difficult to grade the first quarter of Vea's season. In his first outing, he didn't record a tackle or make a significant contribution in a 48-10 blowout loss.
The Washington product lists as a rotational component on the interior of the defensive line. The Buccaneers could use his 347-pound frame to eat up space on the interio, where he'd further strengthen the league's sixth-ranked run defense.
We'll have a better understanding of Vea's development following the Buccaneers' Week 5 bye. Right now, he doesn't have anything of note on his NFL resume.
No. 13 Da'Ron Payne, DT, Washington Redskins
In Week 3 against the Packers, Da'Ron Payne played 64 snaps, nearly matching his workload from the first two weeks (69). For the No. 13 overall pick, more time on the field led to increased production.
Payne provided solid defensive run support in a limited role and continued to do so with an added sack on Aaron Rodgers in the last outing. He and fellow Alabama product Jonathan Allen meshed well on the interior.
Head coach Jay Gruden seemed pleased with Payne's Week 3 performance when discussing his activity in an expanded role, per Dante Koplowitz-Fleming of the team's official website.
"We didn’t draft him in the first round to sit by me," he said. "We wanted him to play as much as possible, and I was impressed with the way that he and Jonathan played, not only at the start of the game but at the end of the game."
Last year, Washington finished with the worst run defense in the league. It's still early, but the unit lists seventh currently with much-needed help from Payne in the middle. If he continues to pressure the pocket, there's room for a grade boost in the next quarter of the season.
No. 14 Marcus Davenport, DE, New Orleans Saints
Defensive end Marcus Davenport goes up against high expectations from outsiders as a trade target who cost the New Orleans Saints two first-round picks—one this year and one next year.
But the Saints don't feel the need to hastily expedite Davenport's development because of what the front office gave up to acquire him. He's played 110 snaps through four weeks in a reserve role.
Davenport logged his first sack against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. He used pure power to drive five-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack into the pocket for a pathway to quarterback Matt Ryan. He battled through a hip injury to suit up against the Giants and flashed his quickness while chasing down Saquon Barkley for a tackle that resulted in a loss.
Davenport has three solo tackles, a pass breakup and a sack in a minimal role. He's shown some signs that justify why the Saints moved up to draft him but hasn't done enough to see an expansive workload.
No. 15 Kolton Miller, OT, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders took a huge risk in reconfiguring the offensive line. The coaching staff groomed Kolton Miller to take over the left tackle spot then moved three-time Pro Bowler Donald Penn to right tackle.
Following a Week 2 matchup with the Broncos, head coach Jon Gruden seemed pleased with the UCLA product's performance in the trenches, per Eddie Paskal of the team's official website:
"Pretty good," said Head Coach Jon Gruden when asked how Miller held up against Bradley Chubb. "We like Miller a lot, he is going to be a heck of a player. He's played against two of the top defenses in football his first two outings. The film speaks for itself."
Gruden also pointed out Miller's ability to lead the way on screen passes. The play design has served as an effective way to put the ball in wideout Amari Cooper's hands and exploit matchups for the running backs as receivers out of the backfield.
Miller experienced some difficulty blocking Browns pass-rusher Myles Garrett Sunday, but he's been a protective wall on quarterback Derek Carr's blind side.
No. 16 Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills
Head coach Sean McDermott prepared Tremaine Edmunds for a starting role at middle linebacker in the spring. Thus far, he looks primed to become the heart of Buffalo's defense. The Virginia Tech product leads the unit with 30 combined tackles and four pass breakup. He also has a sack and forced fumble in four starts.
It's telling that Edmunds has played 100 percent of the Bills' defensive snaps. The coaching staff has shown trust in him regardless of the down and distance.
Edmunds isn't the best cover defender in the middle, but his ability to break up a few passes shows potential and room for growth. He deflected one of Aaron Rodgers' pass attempts, and safety Jordan Poyer recorded an interception on the heads-up play Sunday.
At 6'5", 250 pounds, Edmunds gives the Bills a second-level playmaker who can bolster the run defense, short-area coverage and pass rush.
No. 17 Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers
Safety Derwin James has done a little bit of everything for the Los Angeles Chargers defense. He leads the team in sacks (three) and pass breakups (six). He also secured an interception in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Right now, James should be considered a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Quarterback Philip Rivers talked about the first-year safety's quick start and intangibles, per Ricky Henne of the team's official website:
"He has the demeanor, and he's made the plays obviously, but he has the demeanor of one of those double-digit year safeties," Rivers said. "That's what he is. He will ascend in a hurry to that kind of role. That's just his demeanor (with) the way he plays, the passion he has and the aggression he plays with. He was a heck of a pick."
As Henne wrote, James also attacked the pocket late in Week 4 to force an interception. The magnitude of James' involvement in that particular play won't show up on the stat sheet, but the Chargers certainly have a difference-maker at safety.
No. 18 Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers
Cornerback Jaire Alexander logged 70 percent of the team's defensive snaps in three out of four contests. He exited the last outing with a groin injury.
In Week 2 against the Vikings, Alexander intercepted a pass that would've likely sealed a victory for the Packers, but Clay Matthews' roughing-the-passer penalty negated the takeaway. The Louisville product officially recorded his first pick Sunday when Josh Allen took a deep shot to wideout Zay Jones.
"If you didn't know who was who and just evaluated our defense the first two weeks, you’d be hard-pressed to say that Jaire's not potentially our top defensive player, if not one or two," he said. "Just his effort, his energy, playmaking ability, he's been outstanding."
Alexander has lined up primarily in the slot but also took snaps on the outside as a versatile cover defender. The Packers seem to have a solid budding talent in a revamped secondary.
No. 19 Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys
Leighton Vander Esch logged 49.61 percent of the Dallas Cowboys' defensive snaps through four weeks, and he entered the starting lineup in place of Sean Lee (hamstring) Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Vander Esch finished without making any glaring mistakes in his first start. There's a reason defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli calls him "Steady Eddy", per Dallas Morning News reporter Brandon George.
Bryan Broaddus of the team's official website picked out a specific play that showcased Vander Esch's read-and-react skills:
"I thought his best tackle was the screen pass where he split both Graham Glasgow and Frank Ragnow to bring down the difficult Theo Riddick for a short gain. ... He read the play well to get into position and the finish was textbook wrapping up Riddick’s legs."
The Boise State product ranks second on the team in total tackles (27). The Cowboys will certainly miss Lee commanding the defense, but the unit shouldn't have many lapses in taking down ball-carriers with the rookie filling the void.
No. 20, Frank Ragnow, OL, Detroit Lions
We saw a balanced offensive attack benefit this club in a 26-10 win over the Patriots in Week 3. Running back Kerryon Johnson became the first Detroit Lions running back to log 100-plus yards since Reggie Bush in 2013.
According to Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett, Frank Ragnow played a vital role in Johnson's 100-yard performance after a sluggish begin to his rookie season:
"After two uneven performances to start his career, Ragnow was the lead blocker on several of Johnson’s biggest runs. He did draw an early holding penalty, his second in as many weeks, but he was a big part of the Lions' best overall blocking performance since Bob Quinn took over as Lions GM in 2016."
Detroit's top two draft picks worked in tandem successfully, and it's a sight the offense needs to see going forward. Ragnow's has experienced some hiccups in pass protection, per Birkett, but the Arkansas product has already added some push up front to clear lanes for ball-carriers.
No. 21 Billy Price, C, Cincinnati Bengals
Center Billy Price started two games but went down with a foot sprain in Week 2. According to Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Paul Dehner Jr., the Ohio State product didn't suffer a Lisfranc injury, and the team will re-evaluate him. The rookie has targeted Week 6 against the Steelers as a return date, per Geoff Hobson of the team's official website.
Price and Dalton didn't experience any mishandled snaps that may occur between a rookie and veteran.
But in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, Price allowed pressure up the middle, which led to an interception, per John Sheeran of Cincy Jungle. Nonetheless, the rookie showed his agility and quickness, blocking downfield, per Joe Goodberry of The Athletic.
Price left the Ravens game during the first half, limiting his sample size, but he's flashed the ability to help the ground attack reach the second level and potentially break off for long gains. Cincinnati should have offensive balance with him clearing running lanes.
No. 22 Rashaan Evans, ILB, Tennessee Titans
Linebacker Rashaan Evans missed a large portion of the offseason program because of a hamstring injury. He didn't suit up for the Tennessee Titans' regular-season opener and played one snap on special teams in Week 2.
Over the last two weeks, the Alabama product took the field for 78 snaps on defense and finished light on productivity. Evans logged just two solo tackles and assisted on two others. He needs more game experience before we'll be able to see his potential.
After sitting out practices and all of the preseason, Evans will take some time to acclimate to the defense. The coaching staff had the confidence to start him in Week 4, but he hasn't shown much through the first four weeks.
Assuming his hamstring injury is behind him, Evans' production should pick up as the season progresses through October.
No. 23 Isaiah Wynn, OL, New England Patriots
Isaiah Wynn tore his Achilles in New England's second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, prematurely ending his rookie campaign. If healthy, the Georgia product could've lined up at multiple positions, left tackle, left guard or right tackle.
Wynn started at left guard during his sophomore year. He moved to left tackle in his last 15 games with the Bulldogs. Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia decided to give him a shot at replacing Nate Solder on the blind side before Trent Brown claimed the starting job. The No. 23 overall pick suffered the season-ending injury while playing right tackle.
Brown will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Wynn could take over the left tackle spot if the front office allows the 25-year-old to walk. If not, the versatile offensive lineman could push Joe Thuney for his spot at left guard.
As the only rookie first-rounder who won't play a snap this season, Wynn has an incomplete grade.
No. 24 DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
After a strong opening preseason game with four catches for 75 yards, wideout DJ Moore has been quiet through Week 3. He's logged a pair of receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown, plus two carries for 10 yards.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told reporters the team "has to put more on DJ Moore's plate" after he scored on a 51-yard catch against the Falcons. The No. 24 overall pick saw his snap count increase from 17 in each of the first two contests to 33 in Week 3.
It's a good sign Moore saw a boost in playing time, but quarterback Cam Newton only targeted him twice in the passing game. The Maryland product caught one pass for three yards.
When it comes to this quarterback-wide receiver tandem, it's best to exercise patience while the two nail down timing in live action. Based on Rivera's words, Moore will have some opportunities going forward. Outside of a long touchdown, he's been invisible in the offense.
No. 25 Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens saw a glimpse of tight end Hayden Hurst's skill set during the exhibition period. He caught five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown; most of his production came in the Hall of Fame Game against the Bears. He also fared well as a blocker on the perimeter.
However, Hurst suffered a stress fracture in his foot and had a screw inserted in the foot Aug. 24 to address the issue, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, with an initial timetable of three to four weeks for recovery.
The Ravens listed the South Carolina product as questionable for Sunday's game against the Steelers but decided to hold him out for another week. Hurst will join a crowded tight end unit with Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and rookie third-rounder Mark Andrews.
As a first-round pick, Hurst should see immediate action with limited snaps. He's yet to see the field, though, resulting in an incomplete grade.
No. 26 Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
After recording zero receptions in Week 1 against the Eagles, wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been on a tear over the last three weeks.
According to The Athletic's Dane Brugler, Ridley is the only rookie to catch six touchdown passes in his first four games. He's the lone wideout on the roster with multiple receiving scores.
The Alabama product fills a huge void in the passing attack. Julio Jones only has three touchdowns in his last 20 games. Ridley's ability to slip behind defenders gives quarterback Matt Ryan a dynamic receiving option downfield. As Jones draws double coverage, the rookie can take advantage of one-on-one situations.
Mohamed Sanu put together a strong performance against the Bengals in Week 4, catching six passes for 111 yards, but Ridley has been more productive when comparing yardage totals (264-184). As the top scoring threat, he's made a name for himself in a short period with the Falcons.
No. 27 Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Multiple factors may have contributed to running back Rashaad Penny's delayed development. He broke his finger during training camp, and a subsequent surgery kept him out of action for three preseason games. Running back Chris Carson, meanwhile, recorded his first career 100-yard rushing performance in Week 3 against the Cowboys.
Without Carson (hip) on the field Sunday, it's troubling to see that Mike Davis logged twice as many rush attempts as Penny. The fourth-year running back notched 21 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns; Penny had nine rush attempts for 49 yards. He also returned three kicks for 65 yards.
Perhaps the Seahawks decided to ride the hot hand over the last two weeks at running back, but Penny has 10 carries or fewer in each of the first four contests. Despite his first-round draft status, the San Diego State product doesn't look ready to produce in a significant role.
No. 28 Terrell Edmunds, S, Pittsburgh Steelers
It's difficult to separate the positives from a 29th-ranked pass defense that's allowed 12 touchdowns through the air in four games.
When taking a look at safety Terrell Edmunds' individual contributions, he's shown field awareness with an innate radar for the football. The 21-year-old has hauled in an interception, recovered a fumble and broken up two passes.
The Virginia Tech product has filled in adequately for Morgan Burnett, who's battling a groin injury, but Edmunds has shown lapses in tackling. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo highlighted one instance against the Chiefs in Week 2. Ravens running back Javorius Allen also delivered a nasty stiff arm to the rookie Sunday.
Edmunds has been on the field for 86.20 percent of the team's defensive snaps, but he's not providing enough up front as someone who seldom leaves the field. On the bright side, his coverage skills are needed for a leaky secondary. Once his tackling improves, the Steelers should have a complete safety to pair with Sean Davis beyond this season.
No. 29 Taven Bryan, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars
Taven Bryan has played just 57 snaps in four games largely because the Jaguars have quality starters on the defensive line. It's no surprise the coaching staff will bring the Florida product along gradually.
Bryan took meaningful snaps behind defensive end Calais Campbell in Week 3, per Daniel Popper of The Athletic. It's worth watching the 32-year-old Campbell's snap count as the season progresses into November and December. The coaching staff may want to take a longer look at the rookie first-rounder regardless of the team's standing down the stretch.
The No. 29 overall pick has been active for each game, logging two solo tackles and assisting on a pair of takedowns. As a first-round pick, we could assume the Jaguars have big plans for the 22-year-old. Right now, he'll show up in spot duty.
The former Gator hasn't done much worth noting through the first four contests.
No. 30 Mike Hughes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
When the Minnesota Vikings selected cornerback Mike Hughes at No. 30 overall, many wondered how he'd see the field within a stacked unit. Then Terence Newman retired and joined the team's coaching staff, and Trae Waynes hasn't been able to stay on the field.
In Week 1, Waynes suffered a knee injury; Hughes took over and flashed immediately in his place, logging three tackles and returning an interception for a touchdown. In Week 3, the 26-year-old Waynes couldn't finish the first quarter because of an ankle issue. In his place, the rookie had a quiet game on defense but returned three kickoffs for 61 yards.
In the last outing, Waynes exited with a concussion at the end of the second quarter. Once again, the Central Florida product slid into the fourth-year veteran's role and made the most of his opportunity. He led the Vikings defense with seven tackles, but Rams quarterback Jared Goff torched the Vikings pass defense for 465 yards and five touchdowns.
Minnesota's pass defense isn't performing close to last year's level, ranking 23rd in yards allowed. Hughes looks like a bright spot in the unit who could push Waynes for snaps. The rookie cornerback is tied with Xavier Rhodes for most pass breakups (three) on the team.
No. 31 Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
Running back Sony Michel underwent a procedure to drain fluid from his knee during the offseason. As a result, he missed the entire preseason and the regular-season opener.
In good health, Michel has been a factor on the field since Week 2. He logged 10 carries for 34 yards against the Jaguars and then added 14 rush attempts for 50 yards in the following outing.
The Patriots placed running back Rex Burkhead on injured reserve Wednesday with a neck injury, and the 28-year-old's absence in the backfield opened up more opportunities for Michel in Sunday's contest. The rookie ball-carrier recorded 25 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins.
Michel has shown he can produce efficiently with 20-plus carries in a featured role, though he's only caught two passes for six yards. The rookie will likely handle a heavy workload as a ball-carrier with James White as the primary receiving back.
No. 32 Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens rolled out their two-quarterback offensive plays early in the regular season. It's a wrinkle that allows rookie signal-caller Lamar Jackson to see the field as a passer, ball-carrier or receiver. He's yet to catch a pass but saw a target in Week 3 against the Broncos.
Thus far, Jackson has been most effective as a rusher, logging 13 carries for 62 yards. He saw his most action against the Bills (30 offensive snaps) with the game out of reach, but the Louisville product completed just one of four pass attempts for 24 yards.
This is what we should expect from the No. 32 overall pick. He's not handling consistent snaps as a passer, and that won't change barring injury. Quarterback Joe Flacco is on pace for a career-high 32 touchdown passes.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will likely continue to sprinkle Jackson into the weekly game plan. The rookie signal-caller poses a bigger threat with his legs than his arm at this point.