With each snap they take in preseason we’re getting an idea of what the 32 first round picks are able to do. For some that means an opportunity to show they’re ready to take the league by storm. For others? Well let’s just say they’re showing why the team is invested in them for the future and not now.
So it’s time to update, after three weeks of preseason action, our first impressions from the guys selecting in the top round of the draft. And remember, with a PFF Premium subscription you can get all the grades of all the players dating back to 2007 for just $26.99, giving you 365 days of access.
1. Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans, OLB
Analysis: It’s only been 29 snaps so far but Clowney hasn’t needed much of an invitation to lay some signature big hits. The one sack doesn’t do justice to what he has already shown he can do as a pass rusher and he doesn’t appear the type to take run downs off either. Consider us disappointed we didn’t get to see him against the Broncos.
2. Greg Robinson, St. Louis Rams, OG
Analysis: Was benched/ demoted/ given a breather (delete as applicable) as he struggled with the transition to and from guard to tackle. Didn’t respond by setting the world alight, and for all his fantastic measurements has failed to make much of a mark in the run game with a -6.3 score there. Will likely benefit from focusing at one spot.
3. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars, QB
Analysis: Clearly Bortles hasn’t been reading the script. You know the one devised by the front office and coaches. You see, he was meant to be this rookie in need of some serious seasoning, and instead his calmness and poise have forced the team into an awkward, if pleasant, dilemma. Start the rookie or not? For a team desperate not to make the mistakes of yesteryear (see Blaine Gabbert) the stakes are high.
4. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills, WR
Analysis: Missed the Week 3 matchup against the Bucs, which is quite the shame given the limited role he’d played in the two games prior. The team, for all their lauding of him, haven’t got him involved yet, but you have to feel that they’ll be taking the training wheels off once the regular season rolls around.
5. Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders, OLB
Analysis: Quiet start to life for Mack who has struggled to turn pass rushes into pressure. Right now he has just the one (a clean up sack) in something of an underwhelming advertisement for him bringing an immediate impact. Still was more active against Green Bay (including a couple of tackles for a loss) that shows he’s finding his feet.
6. Jake Matthews, Atlanta Falcons, OT
Analysis: Had his best pass blocking game after switching to left tackle against the Titans which is indicative of a preseason that can best be described as a learning process. Has really struggled in the run game so far but does promise to do a better job of keeping Matt Ryan upright than any tackle that was on the roster last year.
7. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR
Analysis: Something of a non factor in Week 1 but has been more visible since. Caught all five of his targets since then for a healthy 96 yards and a touchdown. Has run 32.6% of his routes from the slot, something well worth keeping an eye on heading into the regular season.
8. Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns, CB
Analysis: After a debut where he kept his end down, came the outing where he got worked over. Sure he broke up a pass but he won’t be happy with a stat line that saw him beaten five times for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Will need to get better quickly.
9. Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings, OLB
Analysis: Up and down so far for Barr who got taken to the woodshed a little in coverage this week. That’s, in some respects, to be expected with him better going forward than on his heels. Still with a ratio of 50 drops in coverage to 10 pass rushes it’s safe to say he hasn’t really had the opportunity to showcase his full skill set at length.
10. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions, TE
Analysis: Of all the picks in the first round you figured Ebron would struggle to make an impression in preseason. His skillset is better suited, as a rookie, to the big play and with just 61 snaps he really hasn’t had much chance. Still he’s handled himself well, hauling in 5-of-7 targets for 65 yards.
Turn the page for the rest of the draft class