The third and final instalment of our look at the first two outings from this year’s crop of second round rookies. As with our prior two articles we are looking primarily at player’s seeing action against first string opposition and even down in the lower reaches of the second round players are still getting an immediate chance to prove themselves with and against the “ones”.
Once again with contributions from fellow PFF Analysts Steve Palazzolo, Nathan Jahnke and Ben Stockwell, I break down what this last group of second rounders have offered thus far in their pre-season campaigns.
Pick No. 53 – Devon Still (Bengals)
After playing only seven first-half snaps against the Jets (one of which was a QB kneel) we got to see a lot more of Devon Still against the Falcons in Week 2, playing more than twice as much. In both weeks Still was tested far more as a pass rusher than a run defender and he hasn’t stood out as a particularly dynamic or powerful interior player in that regard. He did collect some pressure though the majority of this has come by way of almost a gift from the offense than a great play by Still. His hit against the Jets came as a result of some dubious pocket presence from Mark Sanchez, though he did well to stick with the play to record the knockdown. Twice against the Falcons he was turned loose to pressure the quarterback. The only play where Still really flashed some power was against the Falcons’ second team on a play where he drove right guard Peter Konz back into Chris Redman. We’ll wait to see more from Still in the regular season, but at the moment he seems miscast in his current role in the Bengals’ defense.
Pick No. 54 - Ryan Broyles (Lions)
After not playing in the Lions’ first preseason game, Broyles made his debut with Detroit in the second game against the Baltimore Ravens. He is still behind Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Titus Young on the depth chart, so while the Lions first team offense was in, Broyles didn’t see the field. Late in the first half with the second team offense, Broyles had an 8-yard catch on a slant while lined up in the slot and an 18-yarder after finding a hole in the Ravens’ defense.
Pick No. 55 - Peter Konz (Falcons)
The Falcons have gone with a starting interior offensive line of Justin Blalock at left guard, Todd McClure at center, and Garrett Reynolds at right guard just like they did to begin the 2011 season. When the second team offense came on the field, Konz lined up at right guard. In the first game against Baltimore he moved to center to begin the second half, but in the second game against Cincinnati he stayed at right guard. With the second unit he was asked to perform a number of pull blocks which had mixed results. In pass protection he looked fine except when he lined up against fellow second round pick Devon Still of the Bengals and he was easily pushed back by the defensive tackle.
Pick No. 56 - Mike Adams (Steelers)
After the opening week in which Mike Adams started at left tackle against the Eagles, the Steelers re-shuffled their line, probably said a few prayers of thanks and moved Marcus Gilbert across from the right. The fact that they then moved Ramon Foster (a career guard) to RT shows just how little they thought of Adam’s chances of success. I remember vividly going through each of his 17 snaps in a truck garage in Detroit (with Peter King while our RV’s air conditioner was being repaired) and realizing if this continued Ben Roethlisberger may not play the full season. He gave up two sacks, but always seemed like he had the potential to allow more, and all this wasn’t against Trent Cole either but Phillip Hunt and Darryl Tapp.
There have been good showings by the players in these set of articles, average ones and poor too, but this was by some margin the worst.
Pick No. 57 - Brock Osweiler (Broncos)
The question of whether Brock Osweiler will end up as either the second- or third-string quarterback in Denver is really moot. The purpose of these three articles was to give a flavor of which players were likely to be featured during the season and by reviewing their performances in the preseason against the type of opposition they would face in the regular season (i.e. starters) give an early indication as to how they may fare. Barring some unfortunate eventuality, Osweiler won’t see any meaningful action and hasn’t played against any first-string players so breaking down his play against Seattle’s reserves or Chicago’s thirds have no significant relevance.
Pick No. 58 - Lavonte David (Buccaneers)
Taking on the role of a two-down linebacker with the Bucs and filling the shoes and the number of the departed Geno Hayes, Lavonte David is struggling at present to make an impact with the Bucs. He has flashed with two splash plays but neither his interception against Miami (a diving interception of a deflected pass) nor his tackle for loss against Tennessee (a play on which he needed two attempts and the help of pursuit to take down Chris Johnson) is anything to get terribly excited about. In both games David showed that he still has a lot to learn about how to play as an undersized linebacker in the NFL as he tried to take on blocks but showed very little ability to shed them. He was noticeably more disciplined than the Bucs’ linebackers from last season, but got swallowed up by blockers and aside from occasionally showing the ability to stand up a fullback he looked like a target for opposing offenses in the running game. Moving forward the Bucs need to find a way to utilize him more as an unblocked defender; knifing through traffic to utilize his athleticism. David also needs to learn whose blocks he can legitimately attack and which to avoid.
Pick No. 59 - Vinny Curry (Eagles)
Talk about a log jam. Just how much do you have to love your defensive ends to draft a guy in the second round when you have the best defensive right end in football (Trent Cole), a hugely productive back-up in Darryl Tapp and as good a third stringer as there is in the league in Phillip Hunt? I’m not even going to bother you with the list of talent at left end because, in the slim pickings I saw, Vinny Curry was always on the right. How good is he? Well if you can judge from watching him push back guys who will be unemployed on Monday the 27th (NFL roster cut-down day) you’re a better man than me.
Pick No. 60 - Kelechi Osemele (Ravens)
For both preseason games Baltimore have moved Michael Oher to left tackle allowing Kelechi Osemele to start at right tackle. The Ravens have been trying to pick up the pace in their passing game, so for a number of plays Osemele didn’t need to hold his block very long. On the longer pass plays, he did fine when the defensive linemen tried to get to the outside, but the few problems that did occur came when the defensive end started outside, and then turned back inside. Considering the quality pass rushing defensive ends that the Falcons and Lions have though, that should still be considered a success. There were very few runs in his direction, but each time there was he looked reasonably impressive.
Pick No. 61 - LaMichael James (49ers)
It’s fairly obvious that LaMichael James is meant to be the 49ers’ version of Darren Sproles but, so far, the similarities are only in the way he’s used (returning kicks as well as playing tailback) and in his running style. That said, on the few plays he ran in each game, he seemed to be too keen on his spin move and needed to concentrate more in making yards. That aside, he does seem both extremely quick and fast and it would come as no surprise if with more experience he develops into an electric player in the same way Sproles has.
One thing he must do, though – regardless of the quality facing him – is hold onto the ball and his muffed punt against the Texans immediately brought up old questions about his ability to secure it.
Pick No. 62 - Casey Hayward (Packers)
After only playing once the starters had left the field in the first game against San Diego, Casey Haward got a chance to start against Cleveland with Sam Shields still out with an elbow injury.
He played exclusively right corner on every play of the first half (at which point I stopped watching) and didn’t make a convincing fist of trying to win the starting berth full-time.
He initially gave up a 17-yard curl where he was so far off he didn’t even make the tackle and then later allowed a 4-yard curl to became a 12-yard first down, so much separation had he allowed. In the second quarter he was credited with a pass defensed but this was only because Brandon Weedon’s throw was so far behind his intended receiver it went around his back straight to Hayward; a well-thrown ball would have left him in no man’s land.
Worse than this was his apparent lack of interest in getting involved in any run defense. He always gave the appearance of taking on a block but somehow never managed to come close to a ball carrier until the player was down. It was disappointing that never once did the Browns attempt to run right at him because I’d have been interested to see the result.
Pick No. 63 - Rueben Randle New York Giants
The Giants lost WR Mario Manningham in free agency, but Reuben Randle looks ready to replace him. Though most of his action has come against the second and third units, Randle has shown outstanding playmaking ability to this point. In the first game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Randle made a nice adjustment on a low throw from QB David Carr to haul in his first catch for 21 yards. He later caught his first touchdown by showing nice ball skills in a 6-yard fade pass. Against the New York Jets, Carr hit Randle again, this time for a 49-yard gain where Randle had a step on the cornerback and leaped over him for another nifty catch. He’s only been targeted four times, but 25 yards per reception and a touchdown are a good start for Randle who has a good chance to play in 3-WR sets when Victor Cruz moves inside to the slot.