Week 3 of the preseason is in the books and it’s time to check in on the second-round rookies. Many of them saw their first NFL action, while others looked to build upon, or learn from, last week’s debuts.
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We’ve already provided notes on the first 32 picks, so it’s on to the second round.
33. John Cyprien, FS, Jacksonville Jaguars
Analysis: To say Cyprien has been slow out of the blocks would be something of an understatement. He’s been flagged for two penalties, bitten hard on a play action that resulted in a touchdown and been in primary coverage on a number of first downs conceeded. Let’s hope he’s better for the lumps he’s taken now.
34. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans
Analysis: Not the best of entrances to the league. with Hunter constantly called out for his sub-par work in training camp. That means he’s been playing with the second-string offense and has so far turned 45 routes run into 3 of 5 targets for 17 yards and a touchdown.
35. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Analysis: Far from a complete prospect, Ertz has spent the majority of his snaps in the passing game (62.5%) lined up in the slot. For now that’s helped him to five catches for 59 yards as he looks set to be the team’s No. 2 tight end going forward.
36. Darius Slay, CB, Detroit Lions
Analysis: Penciled-in to start at right cornerback, Slay hasn’t seen a lot of action (just six balls into his coverage) but they have gone for five catches and 64 yards. Naturally his biggest struggles came against an on-song Tom Brady, and he’ll be a better player for the four receptions he gave up against New England.
37. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: So that preseason opener is looking more like a case of the nerves than any lack of talent. Bounced back with two strong games that have taken his yards per carry average up to 4.5. Dangerously quick, he’s a player opposing defenses can’t give an inch.
38. Manti Te’o, ILB, San Diego Chargers
Analysis: The cheeky scamp has disappointed those wishing to use him as a headline-maker, with just nine snaps in preseason. Injuries take players out of games, but what about the people who write about them? We’ll see him on the field soon enough at least.
39. Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets
Analysis: Well that wasn’t pretty. He’s part of the process (read circus) that is now turning Mark Sanchez into a sympathetic figure – which is impressive in itself. And that’s a lot more than you can say for his three-pick start against the Giants. Could be a rough year in store.
40. Tank Carradine, DE, San Francisco 49ers
Analysis: He’s extremely unlikely to see the football field this year. A long-term investment for a team that can afford it.
41. Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills
Analysis: He’s got more snaps than any other Bills wide receiver as they look to get him up to speed and in-sync with the team’s new quarterbacks. So far that has led to 10 balls being thrown his way, with eight of them hauled in for a shoulder-shrugging 75 yards. May not be as big a part of the offense as a rookie as many had hoped.
42. Menelik Watson, OT, Oakland Raiders
Analysis: Has won himself the team’s starting left tackle spot courtesy of the injury to Jared Veldheer, and by virtue of Alex Barron looking exactly as you’d expect him to look (bucket-fulls of pressure allowed, penalties galore). This isn’t going to end well.
43. Johnthan Banks, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: So far, so good. The Bucs aren’t wasting any time putting him to the test, and he’s responded encouragingly, with five defensive stops already highlighting his ability to prevent receivers getting behind him. Allowing just 8 yards per reception into his coverage.
44. Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers
Analysis: Is getting the job done and that bodes well for a Panthers team desperate to get some push up the middle. With a sack, hit and five hurries already he’s showing he can be the answer to that particular problem.
45. Kevin Minter, ILB, Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: With Daryl Washington suspended he’s had a chance to stake a claim for a starting spot, but just hasn’t done enough. Yet. A healthy 11 tackles is a decent return, but right now Jasper Brinkley is outplaying him.
46. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Does some things well, and other things not quite so. Has the kind of athleticism where he can stick with skill position players down the field and that provides the Bills’ defense with some flexibility. Does though have a problem when linemen meet him head-on. He’s not built to deal with that right now.
47. Gavin Escobar, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Analysis: It hasn’t gone well has it? He has 100 yards through four games and in that respect he has graded positively. However, his run blocking has been particularly bad (though he kept out of trouble against the Bengals) and he might not make the immediate impact that had been hoped for out of him.
48. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Analysis: That’s all we’ve seen from him in preseason and all we’re going to see for a while with an injury keeping him on the shelf. Back to the running back by committee approach for a Steelers organization who were very tired of it by the end of last year.
49. Johnathan Hankins, DT, New York Giants
Analysis: Don’t go thinking the Giants are a team that will feel the need to rush getting a second-round pick playing time. They’re not. This is a spot they’re deep with veterans, but Hankins is doing enough right now to make a case for playing time this year.
50. Jon Bostic, MLB, Chicago Bears
Analysis: Has laid his share of big hits already, and made some blunders, as he tries to make Chicago fans forget about Brian Urlacher. His better work has been in coverage where’s he showed his closing speed, but has not done a good job of getting off blocks in the run game.
51. David Amerson, CB Washington Redskins
Analysis: After his strong start came crashing back to earth a little against the Bills. Was flagged for two penalties and allowed a couple of first downs. It wasn’t horrific by any stretch, but he set our expectations high with his first two games.
52. Jamie Collins, LB, New England Patriots
Analysis: Welcome to the NFL. Life at outside linebacker isn’t easy and he’s had his share of coverage hiccups. Perhaps the biggest disappointment though is just how little pressure he’s being to generate when the team have used him in that role.
53. Margus Hunt, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: Let’s just say his performances on Hard Knocks have been more impressive than his performance on the field. Right now he’s an athlete more than a football player, and there’s a lack of real production. Chiefly, he’s just not generating enough pressure relative to how much he’s on the field, largely against second-string tackles. Season 2013 is going to be one of learning and development.
54. Jamar Taylor, CB, Miami Dolphins
Analysis: It’s telling that of nine cornerbacks the Dolphins have used in preseason only Richard Marshall (who has since been cut) has seen fewer snaps than Taylor, after he missed the first two games of preseason. That seems to have left him with too much to catch up on if he wanted to challenge for a starting spot to kick-off the season.
55. Vance McDonald, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Analysis: Returned to action against the Vikings with a much improved display. Now has 90 yards in two games worth of action and, from a receiving perspective, looks set to ensure the team doesn’t miss a beat replacing Delanie Walker.
56. Arthur Brown, ILB, Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Was meant to come in and revamp the Ravens’ inside linebacker spot with a jolt of youth. Instead, he’s been upstaged by the evergreen Daryl Smith who is in fine form after missing most of 2012. Hasn’t been bad by any stretch, but isn’t turning many heads right now.
57. D.J. Swearinger, FS, Houston Texans
Analysis: Already infamous for his hit on Dustin Keller, there’s been a lot more to his game than just that. An in-the-box safety who looks set to be lined up on tight ends in the team’s dime package (getting him close to the line of scrimmage for sufficient blitzing opportunities) he has given up a long touchdown, but with seven tackles shown a nose for the ball carrier.
58. Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos
Analysis: With slight negative grades in every area, Ball hasn’t really won the starting running back job as much as Ronnie Hillman (-4.6) has lost it. The team has some quality blockers and a potent passing game so come regular season Ball won’t have any excuses for not getting the job done.
59. Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots
Analysis: Much like Robert Woods, leads his team in preseason snaps at his position. Much like Woods has yet to deliver in a way that indicates a big regular season could be on the cards. Outplayed by undrafted free agent Kenbrell Thompkins, he has 115 yards on the 19 balls thrown his way. Just eight of them have been catches, though.
60. Robert Alford, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Analysis: Won’t forget his game against the Titans in a hurry. To call it eventful would be an understatement as he went from not allowing a single pass into his coverage all season, to allowing seven receptions with three of those touchdowns. Of course, he did show his play-making with two pass break ups and a further interception. Like I said, eventful.
61. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
Analysis: He’s looked impressive at times, but he needs a lot more help from his line if he’s going to do any serious damage. Right now he has 35 yards during preseason with 44 coming after contact. The math speaks volumes about his support up front because, on average, he’s being met in the backfield.
62. Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: He’s exciting, isn’t he? So he looks like a liability in pass protection but he is a real home-run threat who makes every carry one where you need to be aware of a sharp cutback. His 186 yards leads all backs at the moment and his 6.9 yards per carry average isn’t to be sniffed at either. How loaded are the Seahawks at running back?
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