Analysis

2020 NFL rookie grades, NFC East: Washington, Giants earn early returns from late-round steals

Super Bowl LV's in the books, bringing an unprecedented NFL season to a close. So, how did the new guys perform in this uniquely challenging 269-game slate? Gennaro Filice and Nick Shook are taking a division-by-division look at each team's rookie class, providing grades and analysis on Year 1 production. Shook examines the NFC East below.

Grade
B+
Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team
Total picks: 8 · 7-9

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Round 4

Round 5

Round 7

Notable Free Agent Signee


Washington had an easy choice at No. 2 overall and Young did not disappoint. The former Ohio State star made an immediate impact, assembling a Pro Bowl-caliber season that earned him the Defensive Rookie of the Year award at NFL Honors. Gibson emerged as Washington's best running back fairly early and did his greatest damage against division-rival Dallas, racking up 243 rushing yards on 40 carries and scoring four total touchdowns in two meetings. With a clean bill of health and stronger supporting cast, Gibson could take an even greater step down the road. Charles' only chance at earning the starting role permanently was undercut by a season-ending knee injury in late October. Gandy-Golden never really got in the mix, catching only one pass for 3 yards on the season while spending the majority of the campaign recovering from a hamstring injury. Ismael played 38 snaps in the regular season, with 34 coming on special teams. The vast majority of Hudson's snaps also came on special teams, though he did play 44 snaps on defense between Weeks 15 and 16, recording 11 tackles between the two games. Curl was a late-round steal, becoming a key member of Washington's secondary in the second half of the season. He finished second on the team in tackles and snagged three interceptions to go along with four passes defensed and two sacks. Seventy-five percent of Smith-Williams' snaps came on special teams, and he finished with 10 tackles and a half sack. Toohill was a rotational reserve who landed in Washington after starting 2020 in Philadelphia.

Grade
B+
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
Total picks: 7 · 6-10

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Round 6


Lamb was a stud as a rookie, catching 74 passes for 935 yards and five touchdowns. If it wasn't for Chase Claypool's emergence, Lamb likely would have been a member of the PFWA All-Rookie Team. Dallas' latest No. 88 has a very bright future. Diggs got off to a slow start in Year 1, but finished the 2020 campaign on a high note. He ranked first among rookie corners in coverage and interceptions/pass breakups from Weeks 7 to 17, per PFF. He's trending toward becoming the shutdown corner Dallas envisioned. Gallimore gradually received more snaps out of need for the injured Cowboys, and he took advantage at times, recording 28 tackles (four for loss), 18 stops, nine run stuffs and six QB pressures, per Next Gen Stats. Robinson didn't see much playing time until late in the season, tallying a total of 65 snaps, all in the final five weeks. Biadasz didn't see the field much as a rookie despite the Cowboys' aforementioned injury issues, but he did beat out PFWA All-Rookie Team selection Lloyd Cushenberry for the center spot on PFF's All-Rookie Team. Anae, who endured a pre-draft slide last spring, struggled to get going in his first pro season, playing just six defensive snaps while buried behind DeMarcus Lawrence on Dallas' depth chart. Anae spent the majority of his playing time on special teams. DiNucci's lone start all but ended consideration of him as a possible option at the position going forward, with DiNucci's two fumbles dooming the Cowboys in a lopsided Week 8 loss to the Eagles that forced Cowboys management to aggressively pursue other solutions under center.

Grade
C+
New York Giants
New York Giants
Total picks: 10 · 6-10

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Round 7

Notable Undrafted Free Agents


Thomas got off to a slow start in his rookie season, which carried extra pressure seeing as he was selected (a bit surprisingly) at No. 4 overall. But the first-year tackle started to put things together down the stretch (save for New York's nightmare against Arizona in Week 14), finishing with a grade near that of PFWA All-Rookie Team member Jedrick Wills. Thomas would have started all 16 games had he not been benched for the first quarter in Week 6 for what coach Joe Judge called disciplinary reasons. McKinney's evaluation is largely incomplete due to a foot injury that prevented him from playing until Week 12, but he also finished strong, recording his first career interception in Week 17. Peart didn't see a ton of time as a rookie, but he showed flashes of promise as a possible developmental tackle for an offensive line that has question marks at one, if not both, of the tackle positions. Holmes saw considerable defensive snaps and recorded an interception, but struggled in pass coverage not unlike other rookies selected in the same range. His athleticism and instincts make him a potential candidate for Year 2 improvement. Lemieux replaced Will Hernandez at the end of October after the Giants placed the veteran on the COVID-19 list. The rookie played so well, he held onto the job for the remainder of the season, giving New York a potential steal in the fifth round. Brown primarily played special teams, with just 87 of his 397 snaps coming on defense. Coughlin played special teams for most of the first half of the season before seeing his reps increase in the final five weeks, recording 15 tackles between Weeks 12 and 15. Brunson played almost entirely on special teams in a reserve role. Williamson was waived in early September and spent most of the season on the practice squad before the Giants released him in early December. He landed with the Falcons and signed a futures deal with Atlanta in January. Crowder was one of the NFL's more productive Mr. Irrelevants, finishing with 57 tackles (three for loss), one sack, one pass defensed and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Lalos was elevated from the practice squad late in the season and made a key play in his first NFL game, recording an interception in a narrow win over Cincinnati. Mack caught seven of his 11 targets for 91 yards and played more than 200 special-teams snaps.

Grade
C
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
Total picks: 10 · 4-11-1

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Round 7


For a team that was in need of receiving help, the Eagles didn't quite find much of it in 2020 despite spending three picks, including a first-rounder, on the position. Reagor had some positive moments, but missed five games with a torn ligament in his thumb, which hampered his ability to establish a rhythm in Year 1. Hurts found himself in a QB controversy upon taking over as the team's starter in Week 14 following Carson Wentz's benching. With Doug Pederson out, Nick Sirianni in and trade rumors swirling around Wentz, Hurts will enter Year 2 under drastically different circumstances. Amid all the madness last season, the rookie passer showed glimpses of franchise-quarterback potential, but his evaluation remains incomplete. Taylor is a raw player with great upside because of his premier athleticism, but will require more time than usual to become a productive NFL linebacker. Wallace didn't see significant defensive time until injuries/personnel moves gave him an opportunity (albeit a small one), though he was effective on special teams. Driscoll was selected as a depth lineman but was called into action because of the many injuries the Eagles suffered. He gave up three sacks in 299 offensive snaps, earning a PFF pass-blocking grade of 69.6 while gaining valuable experience. Hightower struggled to make a difference in the passing game. Bradley primarily played special teams, breaking 20 defensive snaps in a game only once in 2020. Watkins was a sporadic participant on offense, catching seven passes for 106 yards and one touchdown on 116 snaps. Wanogho spent nearly the entire season on the Eagles' practice squad before seeing game action in Week 17. He signed a futures contract with the Chiefs in late January. Toohill was scooped up by Washington after appearing in one game with the Eagles.

Follow Nick Shook on Twitter.

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