How every first-round rookie has played this preseason
Sam Monson explains how every first-round pick has graded through three preseason games.
How every first-round rookie has played this preseason
Rookies are often the talk of preseason, as teams and fans get the chance to see their first-year players take an NFL field for the first time.
Here is a look at how each of this year’s 32 first-round picks have fared so far:
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB (PFF Grade: -2.3)
Tampa Bay’s new face of the franchise has shown some flashes of ability in preseason, hitting some beautiful passes in tough spots, but it’s clear that there will be growing pains for him in Year 1. Already we have seen him trust his arm too much and throw some ill-advised passes, just like he did last season in college for Florida State. Tampa Bay’s porous offensive line isn’t helping him settle in the pocket and feel comfortable, either. There will be fireworks watching Winston in his rookie season, but it will likely be a lot of both good and bad.
- Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB (PFF Grade: -1.8)
Mariota came into the preseason with a fabled streak of not throwing an interception all training camp, before turning the ball over twice in his first few plays of his first game. He has shown a lot of poise at times, working the pocket well and completing 70.4 percent of his passes, but there have been a couple of ugly plays in there, too. The Titans have shown they are happy to work the offense around his strengths, and he could have a more immediate successful impact than Winston.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler, Jr., DE (PFF Grade: N/A)
Jacksonville lost Fowler to a knee injury within the first 20 minutes of his first rookie practice. He is out for the season.
- Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR (PFF Grade: +1.2)
Cooper is the most NFL-ready of this year’s strong rookie receiver class, and looks set to hit the ground running and be the legit No. 1 receiver the Raiders have been looking for. He is used to being the central point of his offense coming from Alabama, and we saw from the way he schooled Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson recently that he has the moves and route running to dominate from the get-go. Raiders fans, get excited about this one.
- Washington Redskins: Brandon Scherff, OT (PFF Grade: -3.5)
Playing right guard with the Washington first string, Scherff has struggled early in his transition, with a poor run-blocking grade and average (at best) pass-protection, allowing one sack and one hit. Scherff did not grade nearly as well last season in college as the hype around him would suggest, and he looks to have been overdrafted at No. 5 overall. It could be a bumpy rookie year before he adjusts.
- New York Jets: Leonard Williams, DE (PFF Grade: +2.8)
Drafted as something of a luxury pick, given the Jets’ deep defensive line, Williams has found himself as a starter with the mess than has embroiled Sheldon Richardson. And after an anonymous debut, he was very good in his second game, albeit more for his run defense than his pass-rush. Despite the sacks, one of which was a safety, he was merely OK in that regard. The safety in particular was a protection breakdown that saw him entirely unblocked at the goal line. Regardless, he looks set for a fine rookie season.
- Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR (PFF Grade: N/A)
White has been sidelined with an injury that has his status indefinitely up in the air.
- Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB (PFF Grade: +0.5)
Plugged in as a starter in Atlanta, Beasley has only seen 47 snaps across three games, but he has flashed despite having not yet recorded a sack. He has three total pressures and a batted pass to his name, as well as a couple of defensive stops. He remains a tantalizing prospect – we liked him a lot coming out of Clemson.
- New York Giants: Ereck Flowers, OT (PFF Grade: -3.7)
The Giants were dealt a body blow with the injury to starting LT William Beatty, which caused them to flip Flowers to the left side, where he has been exposed as a pass-protector so far. Flowers has surrendered a sack, three knockdowns and a hurry, and has been flagged for a facemask penalty while pass blocking. He has at least graded well in the run game.
- St. Louis Rams: Todd Gurley, RB (PFF Grade: N/A)
Gurley has yet to play this preseason as he recovers from ACL surgery.
- Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB (PFF Grade: -4.6)
As we wrote more in-depth previously, Waynes has had a rough start to his NFL career. He has been beaten for eight receptions, 131 yards (16.4 YPC) and has been flagged three times. He has also flashed the ability to cover deep and was much better against Oakland. He might be best off sitting for his rookie year.
- Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (PFF Grade: +2.6)
Shelton has played just 50 snaps as a starter for Cleveland, but already looks ready to make a major impact as a run defender, monstering offensive linemen and disrupting plays in the backfield. He has yet to register a pressure and needs to prove he has pass-rushing ability to be an every-down force.
- New Orleans Saints: Andrus Peat, OT (PFF Grade: -0.1)
Peat has played 148 snaps, more than all but one other rookie tackle, as the Saints try to get him game experience with the backups. He has held up OK, surrendering a sack, two hits and two hurries from his three games, but has yet to show the same powerful run blocking we saw from him at Stanford. It would be a surprise if he started early.
- Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker, WR (PFF Grade: N/A)
He has only just begun to practice after a foot injury.
- San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB (PFF Grade: -2.5)
Gordon has started two preseason games for San Diego, but he has played a total of just 28 snaps. He has 20 carries for just 45 yards (2.3 YPC), with an impressive 35 of them (77.8 percent) coming after contact. He has yet to show his best.
- Houston Texans: Kevin Johnson, CB (PFF Grade: -0.4)
He has been earning rave reviews in Texans camp and on Hard Knocks, and he has shown some impressive coverage skill, allowing just five of 13 targets to be caught (38.5 percent) during the preseason. The next step is playing the ball, as he has notched just one pass defensed over those games.
- San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, DE (PFF Grade: -0.7)
He has been running with the backups in San Francisco and been getting an inordinate amount of game time, playing 27 snaps more than any other rookie at his position over three games. He was excellent against Dallas, but struggled against the Broncos and hasn’t yet been consistent in his play.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Marcus Peters, CB (PFF Grade: -1.0)
His coverage numbers are excellent, allowing just two catches from nine targets (22.2 percent) to be caught for only 22 yards, but he has also missed a tackle in coverage and been bailed out by a quarterback missing a throw when he was beaten on an out pattern. He still looks like a promising player at this stage.
- Cleveland Browns: Cameron Erving, C (PFF Grade: -4.2)
Cleveland’s second first-round pick has been struggling far more than its first. Erving has been largely running with the backups at right guard, but has also seen time at left tackle. Thankfully, the Browns offensive line looks pretty entrenched, and the team can afford to take its time with him, working out first of all what his best position is and then waiting for him to develop.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor, WR (PFF Grade: -0.6)
He had a highlight touchdown against the Colts, but that play had far more to do with some abysmal coverage than it did Agholor’s ability. He started the third preseason game against Green Bay, but both of his catches came with the second team. He projects to open the season starting, but we have yet to see his best.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT (PFF Grade: N/A)
Ogbuehi has been placed on the reserve/NFI list, meaning he will miss at least the first six games of the season. He will not play any preseason games.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Bud Dupree, OLB (PFF Grade: -2.6)
Dupree was a player drafted for measurable, not production, and that lack of production has carried over to the preseason. He has notched just three total pressures on 132 snaps of action in his four games. Maybe the measurables will pay dividends in the long term, but in the short term this could be bumpy.
- Denver Broncos: Shane Ray, DE (PFF Grade: +6.2)
Ray has been a force throughout preseason, and is a little unlucky that second-year teammate Shaquil Barrett is stealing his thunder and doing even better. Ray has a sack in each of his last two games and has graded positively against both the run and pass in each preseason outing. He will have to fight for playing time during the season, but could have a real impact as a situational option.
- Arizona Cardinals: D.J. Humphries, OT (PFF Grade: -3.8)
The Arizona line has been struggling across the board in the preseason, and Humphries doesn’t look likely to provide significant reinforcements to that given his play so far. He has graded negatively as a pass-protector in each of his three games, and he has gotten worse game by game. Against the Raiders he surrendered a sack, hit and hurry in 36 snaps working with the backups.
- Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, OLB (PFF Grade: -0.2)
Something of a head-scratching first-round pick at the time, Thompson tweaked his hamstring in camp and has only played 38 snaps over the last two games, but has been starting and running with the first team to complete a linebacker corps alongside Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Has been excellent in coverage in both games, but has struggled against the run. That’s not surprising for the former college defensive back.
- Baltimore Ravens: Breshad Perriman, WR (PFF Grade: N/A)
He has been battling a sprained PCL and his recovery has been slower than expected. He has missed all preseason games so far and could be questionable for Week 1 of the regular season.
- Dallas Cowboys: Byron Jones, CB (PFF Grade: +0.7)
Jones has played both cornerback and free safety in camp and across his two preseason games. He was not in line to start, but the loss of CB Orlando Scandrick to a season-ending injury has thrown things up in the air within the Dallas secondary. He was impressive across 46 snaps against Minnesota, largely at free safety. He will likely have a significant role this season.
- Detroit Lions: Laken Tomlinson, G (PFF Grade: +0.1)
He has been running with the second team at left guard, but an ankle injury to RG Larry Warford forced the Lions to shuffle the line and start him against the Jaguars in the third preseason game. It was not his best outing — particularly in the run game, where he earned a -1.3 grade — and so will likely start the season as a backup.
- Indianapolis Colts: Phillip Dorsett, WR (PFF Grade: -0.7)
Battling for the third receiver job in Indianapolis, Dorsett has caught seven of the 11 targets sent his way for 72 yards, with one drop. He picked up a knee injury, which caused him to miss the team’s third preseason game, but none of his competitors for that slot role took advantage of the opportunity.
- Green Bay Packers: Damarious Randall, S (PFF Grade: +1.1)
Randall has played well at cornerback after his switch from safety, but in an odd quirk of drafting is being outplayed by a pair of fellow rookies in Green Bay in the shape of second-rounder Quinten Rollins and undrafted Ladarius Gunter. Randall will begin the season as a backup outside to Casey Hayward, but there will be an interesting battle brewing for the nickel spot before long.
- New Orleans Saints: Stephone Anthony, LB (PFF Grade: -5.3)
It has been a bumpy transition for Anthony, a player who graded extremely well in college last season. He has been starting at middle linebacker for the Saints and has struggled mightily in his 97 snaps, grading negatively across the board in each of his last two games.
- New England Patriots: Malcom Brown, DT (PFF Grade: -5.2)
Brown is part of a push by the Patriots to get younger and more disruptive up front, and while 2014 first-rounder Dominique Easley has responded with excellent play, Brown has been getting handled in his 77 snaps as a starter so far. Brown earned the fifth-highest grade of any defensive interior player in the FBS last year, but he has been unable to stop the run or generate any pressure (just a solitary hurry to date) so far in New England.