Reacting to Rookie Quarterbacks from Thursday and Friday Night

Week One of the Preseason is a great time to see how this year’s rookie quarterback class will do. Thursday and Friday night games showcase six of them, players ranging from first-round picks to undrafted signees, making the preseason exciting as some of these rookies may start week one of the preseason. Here is an analysis of the players that played in their first NFL game at the start of a three-game schedule that is the preseason. 

Reacting to Rookie Quarterbacks from Preseason Week One

C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans

Grade: D

Stroud’s career started rocky as he completed two passes on four attempts with one interception. He was also sacked for a 15-yard loss. Stroud couldn’t seem to get comfortable in the pocket as the Patriots were coming after him from all angles. He only played two drives but was outshined by Case Keenum and Davis Mills, who both threw touchdowns.

These are growing pains for the rookie. However, he is the perceived starter going into the regular season unless this type of production continues.

Malik Cunningham, New England Patriots

Grade: B

Cunningham also had little playing time behind Bailey Zappe and Trace McSorley but fared better than Stroud. He completed three passes on four attempts and rushed for 34 yards on five carries with a touchdown, securing a quarterback rating of 84.4. Cunningham showed his versatility, which made him a big-time threat at Louisville.

Keep an eye on him as he pushes Zappe for the number two spot behind perceived starter Mac Jones.

Jaren Hall, Minnesota Vikings

Grade: D-

The Brigham Young product started his career backing up Nick Mullens, who played the first half of the game. After halftime, Hall played the rest of the game. He threw a beautiful 19-yard dart to N’Keal Harry for a third down conversion at the beginning of the fourth quarter but didn’t seem to be comfortable in the pocket. He was sacked twice in a row and finished with six completions on 14 attempts with 37 yards.

The Vikings don’t necessarily need him to be great immediately, as Kirk Cousins still holds the reins. Hall and Mullins are fighting over the second-string position, although Mullins is firmly ahead after week one.

Sean Clifford, Green Bay Packers

Grade: B

Clifford did not start the game for the Packers as the team wants Jordan Love to get comfortable with the first-team offense. He came in at the end of the first quarter and looked very comfortable making throws in the pocket, putting the ball only where his receivers could get it. Clifford had the most completions with 20 and threw for over 200 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

He played well, and the Packers won. What more could you ask for?

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Cleveland Browns

Grade: A

DTR continues to impress this preseason. He rejuvenated the offense after halftime and led the Browns to their only touchdown of the game. He continues to climb up the ranks, overtaking last week’s starter Kellen Mond this game. DTR finished with nine completions on ten attempts with 102 yards and a touchdown, an excellent stat line for the fifth-round pick.

Look for him to get more snaps as the preseason continues.

Clayton Tune, Arizona Cardinals

Grade: C

Tune shared drives with veteran Colt McCoy as Arizona tries to decide who will start as Kyler Murray rehabs from his ACL surgery. The first half wasn’t pretty, with Tune completing six passes on fourteen attempts with one interception. He was also sacked twice. The second half was better. He looked more poised in the pocket and had a few beautiful passes, including one on third down that set up a manageable field goal for Arizona’s first points of the game. He threw a seven-yard touchdown to Kaden Davis early in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

The Cardinals are clearly in rebuild mode as they work with an underwhelming roster to prepare for the regular season. 


Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s performance against the Washington Commanders was the best showing of these six quarterbacks. Sean Clifford also impressed many as he came in behind Jordan Love and threw for over 200 yards, the most out of this rookie class so far this week. C.J. Stroud did not exactly live up to everyone’s expectations this week as the second-overall pick, he threw an interception on his second pass of the game. The preseason is a time for the rookies to make mistakes and learn before they have the pressure of winning that comes with the regular season. 

Main Image: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

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