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Grading NFL's next generation of quarterbacks: Trey Lance flashes for 49ers, Joe Burrow sharp again


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Grading NFL's next generation of quarterbacks: Trey Lance flashes for 49ers, Joe Burrow sharp again

Let's grade first and second year quarterbacks' performances in Week 17

Chris Trapasso
21 hrs ago8 min read

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Joe Burrow went bananas, especially in the second half, against the Chiefs in a down-to-the-wire win over Kansas City in Week 17. In a much more low-profile game, Trey Lance showcased many of the abilities that made him the No. 3 overall pick in April in his spot start for the 49ers in a convincing victory over the Texans.

There were nine quarterbacks selected in the past two NFL Draft classes that saw considerable playing time -- more than 10 pass attempts -- in Week 16.

Let's dive deep into the individual efforts of each quarterback and assign a grade on a per-snap basis, taking every individual aspect of their performance into account.


Best Throws: 

  • Early in the game, he eluded a free rusher and found a target for five yards. Great improvisation.
  • In the second, he avoided another sack and scrambled for three yards.
  • His first touchdown to Ja'Marr Chase was perfectly placed near the front right pylon.
  • In the fourth, he dropped one in the bucket to Tee Higgins for a big gain.
  • The five-yard touchdown to give the Bengals the lead in the fourth quarter was thrown with perfect touch and placement to Tyler Boyd.
  • The 35-yard strike to Chase down the sideline late was zipped through a tiny window near the sideline.
  • His last throw of the game was another exquisite down-the-sideline connection with Chase against tight coverage.

Worst Throws: 

  • Midway through the second, he underthrow a deep ball to Chase that was broken up. Ball needed to be further out in front.
  • He was late and low on an in-breaker that was defended and fell incomplete.

Summary: Another stellar performance from Burrow. Big-time throws down the field. Minimal mistakes. He's playing outstanding football right now. 

Grade: A
Season Grade: B+



Best Throws: 

  • Late in the first, he hit Keenan Allen on a rollout near the sideline for 10 yards against tight coverage.
  • He hit Mike Williams in stride on a 45-yard touchdown in the fourth.

Worst Throws: 

  • In the third, he rolled left and badly misfired on a throw into the end zone.

Summary: The Chargers needed need much from Herbert in this one. The bad throws were barely there. Same with the high-end tosses. Lots of underneath, schemed-open throws for him.   

Grade: B
Season Grade: B-



Best Throws: 

  • Right before the end of the half, Jones threw a nicely lofted, well-placed ball to Jakobi Meyers for a touchdown.

Worst Throws: 

  • In the second, a longer throw toward the sideline to Hunter Henry was broken up by an underneath defender.
  • Late in the second, he sailed a deep flag route by Hunter Henry
  • In the fourth, he missed a back-shoulder attempt down the right sideline.

Summary: Jones wasn't asked to do much -- and didn't need to in the trouncing of the Jaguars in Week 17. Workmanlike performance from the rookie

Grade: C+
Season Grade: C+



Best Throws: 

  • Late in the first quarter, he looked left, before coming to his right to find an open receiver while rolling outside the pocket.
  • Late in the second, he placed a perfect pass to Brandon Aiyuk in the back corner of the end zone, just high enough to get over the underneath corner but the second-year wideout as unable to reel it in.
  • The 43-yard touchdown to Samuel wasn't a super-difficult toss but it required monster arm strength deep across the field. 
  • Early in the third, he ripped a fastball between defenders on a slant run by Aiyuk that maximized YAC potential.
  • His second-to-last throw was a rifle shot to Kittle down the seam through traffic.. 

Worst Throws: 

  • Midway through the second quarter, Lance didn't put enough arc on a wheel route run by George Kittle that was intercepted.
  • Late in the second, he threw behind Samuel on a scramble drill.

Summary: There were some misfires from Lance in this one, but more flashes of his athleticism and supreme arm talent that should have the 49ers very excited about his future and a more vertical-based passing offense.

Grade: B-
Season Grade: C



Best Throws: 

  • Late in the first, Lawrence threw an absolutely gorgeous ball on a deep cover to Laquon Treadwell that was blanketed by two defenders. The play went for 40 yards. 
  • In the second, off play action, he delivered a strike to Marvin Jones for 24 yards between two defenders.
  • While dangerous because he faded away, Lawrence dropped one in the bucket to Jones for 22 yards late in the first half over an underneath defender. 

Worst Throws: 

  • He overthrew a shot into the end zone in the first quarter. 
  • Lawrence threw too far to the outside on a short target for Tavon Austin that was intercepted.
  • In the third, he was late on a throw over the middle to Jones that was picked by Kyle Dugger.

Summary: After a strong outing in Week 16, Lawrence took a step back in New England. Not surprising given Bill Belichick's track record against rookie quarterbacks. 

Grade: C-
Season Grade: C



Best Throws: 

  • Late in the second, Hurts dodged a defender in the pocket and accelerated up the field for 22 yards.
  • Near the start of the second half, Hurts threw with awesome placement on a corner route to Dallas Goedert through tight coverage.
  • A few plays later, Hurts looked left then scrambled right and found Greg Ward for 27 yards. 
  • In the fourth, while moving right, Hurts somehow threw a pass on target to Goedert who was running across the other side of the field. 

Worst Throws: 

  • In the second, he missed a tightly covered Smith in the end zone.
  • Early in the third, Hurts misfired on a swing pass.
  • He missed Goedert on a intermediate crosser in the fourth.

Summary: Hurts has had better games this season. What's important -- he wasn't bad against Washington. Didn't make many mistakes. He kept the ball out of harm's way and showcased his scrambling ability when things broke down.   

Grade: C+
Season Grade: B-



Best Throws: 

  • Late in the first, he looked right then fired a strike across the middle for a 13-yard gain.
  • His nine-yard touchdown to Braxton Berrios came a throw toward the sideline that had to be on time and with zip. 
  • In the third, he threaded the needle on a slant to Berrios for 11 yards. 
  • On the next play, Wilson fired a laser to Keelan Cole for 21 yards over the middle. The throw was ripped and just high enough to make it over the underneath defender.
  • Late in the game, he caught a bad shotgun snap and slung a sidearm pass to Berrios into the flat. Super-quick release.

Worst Throws: 

  • On his first throw of the game, Wilson didn't see a dropping defensive lineman and nearly threw a pick.  
  • Late in the second, he was late on a sideline throw that should've been intercepted.
  • Midway through the fourth, he tried a sidearm toss to a receiver that was late and outside of its intended target.

Summary: This was Wilson's best performance of the season -- at least up there with the win over the Titans months ago. He had a few misfires but threw with more confidence, velocity, and accuracy than in just about every other game this season.  

Grade: B+
Season Grade: C-



Best Throws: 

  • His first throw of the game was a beauty. He looked right before coming back to the middle of the field and fitting it into DeVante Parker for 20 yards.  
  • At the two-minute warning, he rolled left and squeezed a pass into Mike Gesicki for 14 yards.
  • Early in the fourth, he dropped one in the bucket ot Jaylen Waddle for 45 yards. Great placement. 
  • Late in the game, Tagovailoa got the ball to his receiver on the outside for nine yards with the defender in close.
  • His interception late was actually a good throw to Gesicki that deflected off the tight end's hands.

Worst Throws: 

  • He held the ball too long in the first and took a bad sack.
  • Midway through the first, he rolled left -- his strong side -- and skipped a pass to an open Mack Hollins.
  • Tagovailoa sailed an in-breaking route late in the first quarter.
  • Before the half, Tagovailoa didn't have enough air on an out-breaker that was broken up by an underneath defensive back.
  • Midway through the third, he overthrew a super-short pass to Waddle.
  • Early in the fourth, he got the ball on a trick play, didn't feel pressure and was in the process of attempting what appeared to be a backwards later but was hit and fumbled.

Summary: This was not a good game, in a critical spot, from Tagovailoa. He missed a variety of throws and his lack of arm strength really limited what the Dolphins could do offensively. 

Grade: D+
Season Grade: C+



Best Throws: 

  • With under seven to go in the second, Mills stepped into the pocket and delivered a strike to Nico Collins near the sideline for a first down. 
  • On the next play, he dropped it in the bucket to Brandin Cooks for 24 yards.
  • While Fred Warner tripped slightly on the play, Mills' touchdown to Cooks was a well-placed back-shoulder toss.
  • In garbage time he found Collins tip-toeing the sideline for 20 yards.

Worst Throws: 

  • Midway through the second, Mills was late on a throw to a covered Brandin Cooks that should've been intercepted.
  • A few plays later he badly missed Cooks down the field from a clean pocket. 
  • In the third, he faded away from a throw that went directly to a 49ers defender and was picked.
  • Late in the game Mills threw low and outside on a shallow crosser to Collins that was covered.

Summary: Mills took a step backward against the 49ers. Was it a brutal outing? No. The arm talent flashed a little. But he was less aggressive than he had been in previous starts and had a few clear-cut misses. 

Grade: C+
Season Grade: C+


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