The 2020 NFL season is in its final four-game stretch, which is pretty remarkable considering the challenges the league has faced with COVID-19. A full 16-game season appears likely to happen, which means we’ll have a complete rookie year in the coffers for the first-rounders from the 2020 NFL draft.
Four games can do a lot to change the narrative around a player. Rookies who are struggling right now can finish their first season strong and enter next year with very high expectations. If a first-rounder isn’t living up to his draft status after 12 games played, hope isn’t lost. Concern is justified, of course, but panic isn’t.
The same is true when it comes to overrating early-career performances from rookies. Twelve games is too small of a sample size to say for sure who or what a player is, but a good start from a first-year guy can set the stage for a successful future.
So who’s been the best 2020 first-rounder so far this year? According to Pro Football Focus, it’s Vikings wide receiver, Justin Jefferson. His 90.0 grade is by far the highest of any first-round pick. The next closest grade belongs to Buccaneers offensive tackle, Tristan Wirfs (79.1). It’s a sizeable gap and it’s easy to understand why.
Jefferson is having one of the best rookie seasons from a wide receiver since the days of Randy Moss, who went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career. Jefferson has 61 catches for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns. His yardage total is the fourth-most in the league this year.
The next closest rookie receiver to Jefferson’s production is Cowboys’ first-rounder, CeeDee Lamb, who has 59 catches for 696 yards and four scores. To be fair, Lamb has been playing most of the season with a hodgepodge of bad quarterbacks since Dak Presscot’s injury, but even if Prescott had been healthy, it’s hard imagining a scenario where Lamb would’ve outpaced Jefferson.
Other first-round picks who are faring well in 2020 include 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (78.8), Washington Football Team edge rusher Chase Young (78.0), and Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (76.8).