Cutdown Blog: NFC North
It’s not as flashy as it’s free agency brother, but “cutday” may be the most frantic for all NFL front offices.
There isn’t another time of the year where they have to be so reactive to every move every team is making, ready to pounce on possible talents who might improve their roster or be worth developing on their practice squad.
To help you keep up to date we’re going to be providing details on all the moves in each divisional page. Keep coming back for each and every player released with stats, snaps and grades on all of them.
Of course this might not be enough for you, in which case you’ll need yourself a PFF Premium Membership.
Trent Edwards, QB: Had 34 snaps against the Browns backup to prove his worth and duly provided a -2.3 grade that summed up the career of Edwards. Initial intriguie and ultimate disappointment.
Jordan Palmer, QB: Was always going to struggle to make the roster as a late replacement for the injured Matt Blanchard. Nonetheless was given a chance with 45 snaps but failed to unseat the erratic Josh McCown.
Armando Allen, RB: Was given 13 carries and could really only watch as Michael Ford cemented himself a guy who was destined to get a roster spot. Needed to show some versatility and then went on to fumble a ball which gave him the lowest grade (-2.3) of all the Bears backs.
Harvey Unga, RB: Never really worked out for him as the Bears tried to get something out of the one time supplemental draft pick. It didn’t happen and despite averaging 4.2 yards per carry let himself down with some poor blocking (-1.4) and a fumble.
Josh Lenz, WR: Didn’t help his cause by fumbling on special teams and from there he was never really in with a shot at cracking the roster. Just 62 snaps on offense and Eric Weems was always sleeping safely.
Brittan Golden, WR: Led the receivers with 101 snaps but converted that into a pitiful 28 yards. Wasn’t a favorite of quarterbacks and failed to make any impression.
Terrence Tolliver, WR: Played exactly 100 snaps this preseason and caught most of what was sent his way (7 of 8 targets), but could only manage 63 yards from those receptions and the longest he hauled in was for a gain of just 14. Didn’t do enough to force his name onto the roster.
Fendi Onobun, TE: Former basketball player Onobun just couldn’t seem to catch a break in preseason, dropping four passes to equal the four that he actually caught. The Bears QBs also threw a pair of picks when aiming at their athletic TE. Wasn’t going to feature on the roster immediately, but signed to the practice squad to develop.
J’Marcus Webb, OL: Webb had improved during his time as the team’s starting LT, but the new regime decided it wasn’t enough, so signed Jermon Bushrod to take that spot. Webb’s only chance was back on the right side, where he had been awful in the past, or as a swing tackle. He failed to impress at either spot this preseason and was particularly poor in the most meaningful game against Oakland. His –4.5 overall grade sent him out of the door.
Derek Dennis, OL: Played a sizeable number of snaps (97), but 68 of those came in the final preseason game against the Browns as he was never really in the running to make the final roster. Allowed two hurries and a hit over his time on the field and graded out averagely.
Edwin Williams: OL: A player that has shown some promise in the past on dismal Chicago O-line units but this preseason he couldn’t muster his best and graded out at -2.4 overall, even if he did only allow a single hurry in pass protection.
Cory Brandon, OL: Saw 61 snaps in the final game against the Browns and was awful in that encounter, amassing -6.3 of his -7.1 overall grade for the preseason in that one game. Allowed two sacks and two hits in preseason and run blocked poorly.
Aston Whiteside, DL: Was a stout run defender all preseason but couldn’t generate much pressure despite plenty of opportunity to do so. Generated only four hurries from 75 pass rushing snaps.
Josh Williams, DL: Featured only briefly in the first two preseason games but played well in each making a couple of big plays. When his workload was increased in the third and fourth games however that form deserted him and he finished with an overall grade of -0.6
Corvey Irvin, DL: Played in the second and third preseason games before picking up and injury and was waived with an injury settlement.
Christian Tupou, DL: Saved his best game for the final preseason encounter but could only show well in the run game, failing to generate a single pressure in that final game. Ended his preseason with an overall grade of +0.2.
Jerry Franklin, LB: Was on the field for just 54 snaps of action at the bottom of the depth chart as he never really seemed in the team’s future plans.
J.T. Thomas, LB: A 2011 6th round selection, Thomas played in 82 snaps and earned a -2.1 overall grade despite pulling up his grade a little in the final game of preseason.
Brandon Hardin, DB: Rooted to the bottom of our preseason safety rankings with a -5.3 grade Hardin was beaten by his own poor angles to the ball more often than not, seemingly out of position any time the ball came near him. Failed to record a single positive PFF grade from his snaps.
Demontre Hurst, DB: Thrown at 18 times and allowing 11 receptions, Hurst’s problem was that when he was beaten, it tended to be deep down the field. He allowed an average reception of 16.7 yards, significantly more than any other Chicago CB. Only an interception stops his grade and numbers from looking truly ugly.
Tom Nelson, DB: Former Hard Knocks storyline, Nelson has bounced around the league a little since appearing on the show the first time the Bengals were the subject. Was only given 86 snaps to prove himself this preseason but allowed a catch all three times he was targeted, one for a touchdown.
Brandon Hartson, LS: Signed as cover to long-time veteran Patrick Mannelly when he suffered a bruised rib, Hartson was only ever keeping the seat warm.
Steven Miller, RB: The Lions might be hoping he makes it through to their practice squad. Display some real speed in averaging five yards per carry, and while the team couldn’t afford the roster spot to keep him that might not stop another. A very decent +2.5 grade despite getting just 35 snaps.
Shaun Chapas, FB: Played pretty well this preseason but FB is a dying position in the NFL and in the Lions offense more than most places. Lost out in the numbers game within the 53-man roster balancing act. Could draw interest from teams more interested in running the football.
Matt Willis, WR: Was the top ranked Lions receiver in preseason (+2.9), catching nine of the 12 balls thrown his way for 129 yards and a touchdown. With his ability to contribute in different ways on special teams it’s hard to believe he’ll be out of a job for long
Corey Fuller, WR: Had 50 snaps to make a case for a roster spot and could only catch one ball. With a longest gain of 6 yards and the team infatuated with 2012 undrafted free agent Patrick Edwards, he was always going to struggle to make the team.
Darren Keyton, OL: Played in 68 snaps this preseason but the fact that they came almost entirely in the first and last preseason game suggest that he was only ever destined to be a cut day player, making up part of the third team and beyond. Allowed a single hurry in pass protection.
Kevin Haslam, OL: Saw just 28 total snaps, 19 of which came in the final game where he was poor as a run blocker.
Jake Scott, OL: The long-time veteran played well this preseason, especially in the third game against the Patriots – the most important preseason game – so must go down as something of a surprise release. Has shown he can still play at this level and may have to wait for a team to find themselves in need when injury strikes.
Rodney Austin, OL: Used at all three interior spots during the preseason, Austin’s best game came against the Patriots in the third preseason game where he was playing RG. Allowed only two hurries and a sack all preseason, all of which came against the Browns in the second game.
Andre Fluellen, DL: Around since 2008, Fluellen has always been something of a tweener type player on the Lions roster, unable to carve out a real role. Was one of the standout performers of preseason, earning a +5.3 grade and showing well as both a rusher and run defender. Has simply lost out by the influx of talent on the line. Should be one of the first players picked up by another side.
Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, DL: Failed to distinguish himself on a defensive line where competition is fierce. Graded positively just once over four games and was always a likely cut.
Ogemdi Nwagbuo, DL: Another player with a fantastic preseason, though without the previous stature of Fluellen, Nwagbuo can still feel a little hard done by if preseason tape was all that mattered. Recorded three hits and six pressures from his 81 snaps.
Xavier Proctor, DL: A lightweight interior presence who failed to generate any kind of pressure from the interior over four games. In 68 snaps and 37 pass rushes Proctor couldn’t record a single pressure.
Brandon Hepburn, LB: Didn’t play badly, but his 56 snaps came buried deep on the depth chart in each game and would have taken some special performances to persuade the Lions he was anything other than bound for release.
Jon Morgan, LB: Allowed only two catches for a total of six yards from his play in coverage, demonstrating the ability to close quickly and stop receivers short of the markers. Wasn’t given enough opportunity to show anything more with just 54 snaps of playing time.
Chris White, LB: Already cut by the Bills White saw 16 snaps in the final game before being cut.
Amari Spievey, DB: Former starter had fallen out of favor by the regime, playing in 92 snaps and doing little of note either way this preseason. Ultimately lost out as the team decided to go in a different direction at the back.
Ron Bartell, DB: Once an impressive corner before a succession of injuries (some significant) have coupled with advancing years to leave him a shadow of his former self. Was only targeted four times this preseason but allowed two catches, one of 34 yards, and didn’t show enough to convince the Lions not to get younger and cheaper at the position.
Tyrell Johnson, DB: Former Viking and president of the ‘Looks like Tarzan plays like Jane’ club, Johnson continues to get looks because of his athleticism and ability to flash plays on occasion. Broke up one pass this preseason but was otherwise typically slow to his assignment.
Martavius Neloms, DB: Saw a total of only 28 snaps all preseason and was obviously never a serious candidate to make the roster.
Chris Greenwood, DB: Playing 39 snaps was never a good sign about his position on the roster but being beaten for a 79-yard touchdown sealed his fate.
Blake Clingan, P: Less publicised than the kicking battle, the Lions also had a battle between punters and Clingan came off second best.Actually graded marginally better (+2.8 to +2.6) in our system with two more punts over the preseason, his averages were significantly lower and he may have been a victim of being let down by his coverage unit on a couple of occasions.
Green Bay Packers
Vince Young, QB: After his preseason “breakout” game a week ago we warned you that if you ignore the runs he made, his arm was as inaccurate as ever. By the end of things he’d earned a woeful -6.9 grade on his 60 snaps which was good for fifth lowest of 102 preseason quarterbacks. He was unfortunate that he had no training camp and was thrust into things, but you’d expect more.
Alex Green, RB: Didn’t help his case for a roster spot for getting flagged for taunting, but this was chiefly on his lackluster rushing. Pikced up 3.4 yards per carry but broke just two tackles on his 21 carries. His -2.3 grade was only better than that of Jonathan Franklin and he was never getting cut.
Jonathan Amosa, FB:
Myles White, WR:
Charles Johnson, WR: The seventh round pick dropped one pass and didn’t catch any of his four targets. He looked a little out of sync with what was happening on the field and that was worth a -3.5 grade.
Tyrone Walker, WR: Upstaged in ineptitude by Johnson, Walker still let himself down with a -3.0 grade. Dropped a pass but his most disappointing play was his fumble with what could be his last in game touch of a football for a while.
Matthew Mulligan, TE: Played sparingly this preseason Mulligan is a blocking specialist who couldn’t demonstrate he was a clear upgrade in that area over anybody else on the roster. Earned a run-blocking grade of -0.3 in 33 run blocking snaps.
D.J. Williams, TE: While Mulligan simply didn’t separate himself from the pack, Williams’ problem was that he did, just in the wrong direction. His preseason grade stands at an ugly -4.2 after some ugly run blocking and a pair of dropped passes.
Jake Stoneburner, TE: The last of the casualties of the TE culling, Stoneburner wasn’t really afforded the opportunities to win himself a job despite scoring a touchdown from his four targets this preseason. Played just 41 snaps in total, has been added to the practice squad.
Andrew Datko, OL: Allowing a pair of sacks to lead the team may have been Datko’s undoing. The only one of the Green Bay O-linemen to grade in the red for pass protection, a cardinal sin in an offense as pass-happy as the one in Green Bay.
Patrick Lewis, OL: Tied for a team-high 207 snaps on offense for the Packers this preseason and graded out averagely (+0.6). His run blocking was less than ideal but his pass blocking was above average. Despite the numbers however every one of the four pressures he did allow became a hit on the quarterback, something that may have stood out to coaches watching the tape.
Garth Gerhart, OL: Played only sparingly at the tail end of each preseason game, Gerhart was likely never in the plans in Green Bay. From his he allowed one sack, no additional pressure, but was below average as a run blocker.
Kevin Hughes, OL: Despite 117 snaps, Hughes managed the unusual feat of grading out exactly average (0.0), though he did allow a sack, two hits and three hurries over the course of preseason. In fact the only thing keeping him in the realm of average is failing to have attracted a single penalty.
Jordan Miller, DL: Played 118 snaps in multiple positions for the Packers this preseason and graded well during his time. Notched a sack, a hit and three pressures while also positively impacting the team in run defense. Can count himself unlucky to miss the roster from this evidence.
Dezman Moses, LB: One of the long line of players the Packers have tried opposite Clay Matthews who has never been able to develop into the player they were looking for. Flashes at times, but always reverts back to the mean, Mosses had a pair of pressures this preseason but couldn’t distinguish himself enough to be kept around.
Donte Savage, LB: Unlike Moses, Savage couldn’t even flash during preseason and earned a -2.3 grade from his 94 snaps as he could only generate a single hurry from 44 pass rushing chances. The undrafted rookie simply couldn’t show enough.
Terrell Manning, LB: A 2012 5th round pick, Manning struggled in coverage this preseason, allowing a catch on all six of the passes to be thrown into his coverage. Only escaped a significant negative grade by virtue of the pressure he generated on the blitz, but the negatives far outweighed the positives.
Brandon Smith, DB: Smith was given one of the heavier workloads in the Green Bay secondary this preseason, playing 134 snaps over the four games. The –2.2 grade he earned was a low mark for his position on the team thanks to being beaten for a league-leading four touchdowns on only ten targets. That’s the kind of burn rate that will get you tossed from most teams.
Chaz Powell, DB: Like Smith, Powell recorded a low mark in grade for his position on the team with a –2.1 grade overall. A dropped interception didn’t help his cause, but the DB seemed a step slow to everything and just not ready for this level of football.
David Fulton, DB: While Powell recorded the lowest grade among the Green Bay safeties, Fulton was hot on his heels, matching the poor coverage grade but redeeming himself slightly with some positive plays in the run game. Unfortunately for the pair, this is a passing league, and teams need safeties to be first and foremost reliable in coverage.
James Nixon, DB: Maybe the team’s fastest player, but also one of it’s most raw, attempting a conversion from the offensive side of the ball in college. Nixon played in just 53 snaps across two games this preseason. Has been signed to the practice squad as the team tries to see if his speed can convert into a legitimate defensive player.
Loyce Means, DB: Played in 147 snaps this preseason, second among GB corners only to Micah Hyde, Means was thrown at 13 times, allowing 7 receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown, while failing to get his hands to more than one pass in a breakup.
Joe Banyard, RB: Was our top ranked Vikings running back during preseason (+2.3) as he led the team with 123 yards rushing and looked decent catching the ball out of the backfield. Unfortunately his competition (guys like Matt Asiasta) offered more versatility and a greater ability to contribute on special teams.
Adam Thielen, WR: Local product signed after a rookie tryout, Thielen was only thrown at five times and came up with just a pair of preseason receptions while dropping one of those passes.
Rodney Smith, WR: At 6’6 and 219lbs, Smith is an intriguing physical specimen, and did flash during preseason in limited opportunities. He was thrown at four times, catching three passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Seems like an obvious candidate for the practice squad.
Stephen Burton, WR: Involved in a camp battle with QB-turned-WR Joe Webb, Burton was noticeably improved this preseason ending with a grade of +2.8 and can think himself a little unlucky to miss out on the final 53. He blocks well, can return the ball and looks a more explosive athlete than he had in the past.
Chase Ford, TE: Benefitted from the ball bouncing off a safety’s chest right into his hands against San Francisco, but couldn’t make enough plays to avoid a -3.1 grade overall. Graded negatively both as a receiver and run blocker, which for a tight end is pretty much everything.
Colin Anderson, TE: Had the fewest snaps and pass-catching opportunities of any of the Minnesota tight ends and gained just 14 yards on his two catches this preseason. Was never really given the opportunity to win a roster spot in games.
Brandon Keith, OL: At one point pegged as the Vikings swing tackle Keith found himself on the waiver wire despite playing for 105 snaps and earning a respectable +3.3 grade in those snaps. Allowed just three hurries in 69 pass blocking snaps despite those around him faring much worse. Can count himself unlucky to have been released.
Kevin Murphy, OL: Another swing tackle candidate, Murphy played one more snap than Keith, but allowed a sack and five hurries from the same 69 snaps pass blocking and ended preseason with a grade of -1.2.
Travis Bond, OL: His -4.6 grade was a low water mark for the Vikings O-linemen this preseason thanks to an awful -5.8 pass blocking grade. On 79 pass blocking snaps he gave up a sack, two knockdowns and seven additional hurries on the interior.
Spencer Nealy, DL: Played only 34 snaps in total this preseason but 31 of those came in the final game against Tennessee when the Vikings were exhausting the depth chart. Was clearly never in the team’s plans.
Everett Dawkins, DL: Was given a sizeable workload all preseason in each game but consistently graded poorly to tally a -4.8 grade by the end of it all. Was disappointing in both pass-rush and run defense and likely played himself out of any chance at a roster spot.
D’Aundre Reed, DL: One of only four Viking D-linemen to notch a sack this preseason, but unfortunately it was one of only three total pressures he could muster from 88 snaps and 48 pass rushes. Didn’t show enough pass-rush to earn a grade above -4.3.
Collins Ukwu, DL: In 108 snaps this preseason with the Vikings backups, Ukwu failed to bring the heat off the edge, notching just a pair of hurries from 49 pass rushing attempts. His fate was probably sealed when he was given 74 snaps against Tennessee and earned a -2.8 grade overall.
Anthony McCloud, DL: Flashed throughout preseason ending up with a +2.1 grade for his performance. Looked to have solid strength at the point of attack and would make an interesting practice squad candidate if he makes it that far.
Tyrone McKenzie, LB: One of Minnesota’s core special teams players MeKenzie was deemed surplus to requirements after the Vikings drafted multiple players that figure to be significant special teams contributors. May never become the player he was supposed to be after his ACL injury in 2009.
Brandon Bishop, DB: The undrafted rookie couldn’t make enough positive plays to stick. He was active in preseason, tying for 2nd on the team with 12 solo tackles but his -0.1 grade speaks to his anonymity for much of the time.
Brandon Burton, DB: A 5th round pick in 2011, Burton had failed to distinguish himself in his time in Minnesota. Only Felder among the DBs played more than Burton’s 119 snaps this preseason but he still couldn’t do better than a -1.6 coverage grade.
Darius Eubanks DB: Made some plays in the final preseason game against the Titans, but that game almost matched his snap total from the three previous encounters and was likely too little too late to alter the Vikings plans for him. Will be hoping he flashed enough in that game to earn a practice squad place.
Bobby Felder, DB: Given the biggest workload of any of the Minnesota defensive backs Felder was something of a receiver chaperone, being thrown at 18 times and allowing 14 receptions. Of those four incompletions, he got his hands to three of them, but the bottom line is aiming at Felder this preseason yielded a QB rating of 155.3