There will be more of a mixed bag in the Week 8 NFL Rookie Report Card. A few of the top names had big days, particularly at wide receiver, but many of the offensive linemen and backs had tough days at the office.
But there are a few rookies that continue to play at an incredibly high level, and some are doing so at arguably the second-most difficult position to play in the sport. Meanwhile, the mixed bag stems primarily for the top offensive linemen in the class.
Week 8 NFL Rookie Report Cards
Remember, there are no half-measures here. We do not cheat with pluses and minuses –complete letter grades only.
Steelers QB Kenny Pickett: D
When three of your first four starts are against the Bills, Buccaneers, and Eagles’ defenses, it’s safe to say things probably aren’t going to go very well as a young quarterback. When you’re in a situation as ugly as Pittsburgh’s, that’s probably closer to a guarantee.
MORE: Dak Prescott Might Be Back and Kenny Pickett Whithers in Week 8 Recap
But even independent of his situation, Pickett has struggled. The quarterback who looked comfortable in the preseason playing against the backups is looking lost against opposing starters. Pickett wasn’t a first-round QB prospect, but the Pittsburgh ties and the lack of a true top talent led to this.
There is a legitimate chance that Pickett is Josh Rosen’d if the Steelers get a chance at one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jets WR Garrett Wilson: A
The Jets might not have their long-term answer at quarterback, but they appear to have their answer at receiver. Garrett Wilson now has two 100-yard receiving games early in his rookie year, but it’s his skill set that is most promising.
Brian Hartline is arguably the best receiver coach in the nation at the college or pro level. His receivers enter the league as the most pro-ready they could realistically be. We’re also seeing that with Chris Olave in New Orleans.
Wilson is a silky route runner with big-time playmaking ability in the air as well. Even in a tough offensive day against New England, Wilson caught six of seven targets and averaged 19 yards per reception!
Ravens TE Isaiah Likely: A
Isaiah Likely played the most snaps of his young career on Thursday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He made the most of the opportunity by catching six of his seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown.
While there weren’t a ton of blocking opportunities in the game for him, he looked better as a run blocker than he did while at Coastal Carolina. In a crowded Baltimore TE room, Likely needed to make a mark, and he did just that in the Ravens’ win.
Texans G Kenyon Green: F
It’s never fun to face Jeffery Simmons. Kenyon Green learned that for the first time on Sunday against his division opponent. Unfortunately for Green, he’ll have to run it back against Simmons in Week 16.
Green allowed nine pressures and two QB hits against Tennessee. But that wasn’t the only issue for Green. He also struggled as a run blocker against the Tennessee interior, which boasts a few rather large gap-plugging defensive tackles in addition to Simmons.
Ravens C Tyler Linderbaum: B
Tyler Linderbaum allowed a sack to Vita Vea on Thursday Night Football, but it was his ability to move bodies on the interior that got him a “B” grade. Tampa Bay has a solid defensive front and two very dangerous linebackers.
MORE: Baltimore Ravens Acquire Roquan Smith From Chicago Bears
However, the Ravens converted a first down on 92% of their drives that started with a running play, and it was partially due to Linderbaum’s ability to work double teams and effortlessly climb to the second level.
We all knew the Ravens got a steal with Linderbaum late in Round 1, and he’s proven his worth so far as a rookie.
Rapid-Fire Week 8 NFL Rookie Report Card Grades
It’s time for some quick hitters.
Eagles DT Jordan Davis: F
Jordan Davis gets a failing grade only because of his injury. Missing out on an opportunity to see this graceful behemoth stinks. A high ankle sprain with his 340-pound frame will take time to heal from.
Broncos TE Greg Dulcich: B
The UCLA TE was many draft analysts’ favorite tight end prospects in the 2022 class. Greg Dulcich is quickly becoming one of Russell Wilson’s favorite targets. In his third NFL contest, Dulcich caught four of his five targets for a career-high 87 yards.
Panthers OT Ikem Ekwonu: A
Ikem Ekwonu is a quick learner. You could see it on his college tape, and he’s already improving drastically during his rookie season. He hasn’t allowed a sack or more than two pressures since Week 2.
Bears OT Braxton Jones: C
Braxton Jones allowed three pressure against Dallas, but that’s a much better result than what could have been against the league’s best rushing unit. Jones and the Bears’ run game continues to move the ball at a good pace, ranking fourth in rushing EPA.
Jets CB Sauce Gardner: A
It’s become boring to discuss Sauce Gardner’s play. The rookie cornerback actually allowed negative yards against the Patriots, but his consistently high-level play relegates him to the quick hitters. The Jets found something special with the rookie CB.