First-Rounders in Focus: Preseason Wk 2
Isn’t it fun to have football back? Sure it’s only preseason but it’s great watching a lot of new faces make plays.
We’re going to use the fact that over in the PFF Premium Stats section (which costs just $26.99 for 365 days of access… if you haven’t got it already then seriously ask yourself why) we’re grading and collecting stats for the preseason to bring you a rundown on all the first-round rookies.
As the preseason develops we’ll go a little bit deeper, but for now enjoy a quick recap of how the first 32 off the board have fared.
1. Eric Fisher, T, Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: Is Fisher healthy? There were some warning signs against the Saints, and the display against the 49ers was far from convincing. At times he clutched his hand after plays, with him struggling at the point of attack and giving up a sack and four hurries through two games.
2. Luke Joeckel, T, Jacksonville Jaguars
Analysis: Held out of action against the Jets, we’re left with his Week 1 outing as a display of what he is capable of. A solid start giving up just the one hit to Cameron Wake while flashing some useful work in the run game.
3. Dion Jordan, DE, Miami Dolphins
Analysis: Jordan sat out the Week 3 encounter with the Texans with his shoulder injury still proving troubling. In his first two games he was used exclusively as a pass-rushing specialist, picking up a hit and a hurry on 16 rushes.
4. Lane Johnson, T, Philadelphia Eagles
Analysis: After a fairly non eventful day against the Patriots, Johnson had a tougher test of things versus the Panthers. That included getting beat for a sack and two hurries (one nullified by a penalty) on 22 pass blocks. Still he’s held up relatively well so far.
5. Ezekial Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
Snaps: 45 snaps
Analysis: Starting both games for the Lions, Ansah hasn’t exactly delivered in the pass rushing stakes. On 26 pass rushes (exclusively from the right side) he has notched just the one pressure. His work in the run game has been more impressive, though, and that interception returned for a touchdown was a nice way to introduce himself.
6. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Cleveland Browns
Analysis: The outside linebacker sat out the Browns’ Week 2 encounter with the Lions with a bruised lung. That was a shame after his strong Week 1 performance where he would pick up three quarterback hits and one hurry on just 16 pass rushes.
7. Jonathan Cooper, G, Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: A quiet start for Cooper, giving up a pressure in each of his first two games and failing to make much of an impact in the run game with the team averaging just 3.2 yards off the left B-gap. It does take time.
8. Tavon Austin, WR, St Louis Rams
Analysis: A far from eventful start for Austin even though he was targeted seven times on just 11 routes. The problem was he only averaged 4 yards per reception and even got flagged for a hold in the run game.
9. Dee Milliner, CB, New York Jets
Analysis: Two games, two starts and one rough showing. Things didn’t go to plan for Milliner against the Jaguars who went to work on him, completing 6-of-6 passes into his coverage for 94 yards and three first downs. He’ll need to step up if he’s to fill in ably for a certain former number 24.
10. Chance Warmack, G, Tennessee Titans
Analysis: A much better showing from Warmack after his rough opener against Washington. Against a tough Bengals defense he held up in pass protection, and showed his worth to the Titans run game with some good work pulling to the second level.
11. D.J. Fluker, T, San Diego Chargers
Analysis: So far Fluker is coming as advertised. Powerful in the run game and with moments in pass protection that leave Philip Rivers in line to get hit. The sack he gave up to Corey Wootton will worry Charger fans but they’ll be encouraged by what he does when he can get his hands on defenders.
12. D.J. Hayden, CB, Oakland Raiders
Analysis: Still no snaps but he is set to make his preseason debut against the Bears this week. Raiders fans will be hoping he hits the ground running.
13. Sheldon Richardson, DE, New York Jets
Analysis: After a so-so start, Richardson exploded with one of the best performances of the week against the Jaguars. A force in the run game, he now leads all 3-4 defensive ends with eight tackles, with six of them being defensive stops. The downside is the lack of pressure he’s generating, but you can’t have everything.
14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina Panthers
Analysis: Outside of one quarterback hit, hasn’t done much to grab the attention. Did get the better of Evan Mathis on a couple of occasions to highlight what he can do, and the team will be looking for more of that going forward. Looks set for a big role on early downs.
15. Kenny Vaccaro, S, New Orleans Saints
Analysis: Is getting a workout with the second string defense with the Saints likely to stick with Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper as their starters, with Vacarro coming in for their sub package defense. Did miss a tackle against the Raiders but redeemed himself with a couple of third-down stops.
16. E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Things were going well but an injury that caused a minor surgery may have cost him a chance to start Week 1. It’s a shame since he was doing a better job of getting rid of the ball quicker than Kevin Kolb (by 0.6 per throw on average) and had been extremely efficient.
17. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Analysis: Looked better in Week 2 even if he was unable to deliver any pressure on the 10 occasions he rushed the passer. Interestingly spent more time in coverage (as can be the case for outside linebackers in the Steelers’ scheme) and did add two defensive stops for good measure.
18. Eric Reid, S, San Francisco 49ers
Analysis: Hasn’t been able to unseat Craig Dahl, which is a worry, but he’s not let the team down during his high workload. Very quiet game against the Chiefs but when the team brought him close to the line he responded with a tackle for a short gain and a hit on the quarterback.
19. Justin Pugh, OT, New York Giants
Analysis: Got on the field at left tackle for 21 snaps and outside of giving up a sack, didn’t let himself down. A decent day was made better by the struggles of David Diehl that could speed up his route to the first string.
20. Kyle Long, G, Chicago Bears
Analysis: Getting an extended workout against the Chargers, Long put forward the performance of the week. He now sits atop the preseason guard rankings and has the highest grade of any player at any position. Looks like he’s providing an immediate upgrade already.
21. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Benglas
Analysis: Got some balls thrown to him which gave us a chance to see what he is capable of. A drop is never ideal but before that had picked up a first down. Should provide a nice complement to Jermaine Gresham.
22. Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Analysis: A quieter day for Trufant against the Ravens where he played 21 snaps and wasn’t targeted once by the Ravens. He won’t have many days like that during the regular season.
23. Shariff Floyd, DT, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: No injury scares this week, just more plays being made by Floyd who looks set to make mockery of his drop on draft day. Will have sterner tests than Antoine Caldwell, but you can only beat what is in front of you, which he is doing right now.
24. Bjorn Werner, OLB, Indianapolis Colts
Analysis: Got his first run out in preseason against the Giants but didn’t impress. Picked up one nice pressure and another in pursuit, but was largely anonymous rushing the passer and struggled against the run.
25. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Got his first feel of live action in the NFL when he saw 29 snaps against the Bills. Three times he was thrown at, allowing two balls for just 10 yards with one pass defense. Solid start.
26. Datone Jones, DE, Green Bay Packers
Analysis: Held out of action Week 2 but now back in practice. You’d hope for him to build on the one snap he’s managed so far, but it’s given the Packers a good chance to get some roster bubble guys some reps.
27. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Analysis: Through two games Hopkins has caught 6-of-8 targets on his 26 pass routes. A drop blots his copy book but he has picked up some yardage and a touchdown to boot. No doubt the team will be looking forward to getting him on the field alongside Andre Johnson.
28. Sylvester Williams, DT, Denver Broncos
Analysis: Not seen much action and not generated any pressure. That’s a worry for a team looking for some interior pass rush. More noticeable against the run, but spending a lot of time with two men on him.
29. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Averaging a healthy 2.09 yards per route run even if his second outing wasn’t quite as explosive as his first. Looks like he’s going to be eased into things but is set to pick up some of the slack after the departure of Percy Harvin.
30. Alec Ogletree, LB, St Louis Rams
Analysis: Still has a way to go. Another negative grade against the Packers with two bad missed tackles being the lowlight of his display. Has struggled a little with linemen getting hands on him at the second level.
31. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys
Analysis: Certainly getting a chance to play with more snaps than any other first round pick by virtue of his action in the Hall of Fame game. Outside of one play where Darnell Dockett destroyed him, looked better against the Cardinals which bodes well.
32. Matt Elam, S, Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Making a real case for playing time when the season rolls around. Veteran James Ihedigbo may be the starter now, but Elam (who has spent 23.3% of his run defense snaps in the box) has him in his sights. Didn’t put a foot wrong against the Falcons.
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