Non-first round rookie review: Preseason Week 4
It’s not all about the first rounders here at PFF. Each week we’ll bring you a few rookies whose names weren’t called among the first 32 picks of the NFL draft, yet they still impressed with their preseason performances.
Here are those notable rookies, not selected in the first round, from the final week of the preseason:
Second round notables
G Taylor Moton, Carolina Panthers – 91.4 overall – 65 snaps
Moton topped off a pretty solid preseason with what was easily his best performance thus far as a pro on Thursday night. While playing in every snap but two, the second-round guard out of Western Michigan surrendered just one pressure (a hit) on 34 pass blocking snaps and he put up an elite 90.4 run blocking grade to go with the great protection.
Third round notables
ED Tim Williams, Baltimore Ravens – 87.2 overall – 62 snaps
Williams posted a great 88.2 pass rushing grade on Thursday night, making it his second consecutive week north of 80.0 as a pass rusher after struggling in Baltimore’s first two games. Williams played on 62 defensive snaps and tallied five total pressures (two hits and three hurries) on 45 pass rush snaps.
Fourth round notables:
WR Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars – 84.0 overall – 43 snaps
Starting and playing until mid-way through the third quarter, Westbrook was Brandon Allen’s go-to target of the night on Thursday. Westbrook’s average of 5.00 yards per route run in the final week of the preseason ranked second among 30 qualified rookie receivers and his average of 6.40 YPRR led all rookies this preseason.
Sixth round notables:
LB Jordan Evans, Cincinnati Bengals – 94.9 overall – 18 snaps
Evans started the game for the Bengals and was out by midway through the second quarter, but did he ever make his time on the field count. Evans put up an elite 90.2 coverage grade after he allowed just two of four targets into his coverage to be caught for a total of one yard to go with two pass breakups. To go with that, he also put up an elite 90.3 run defense grade after he totaled four run stops on just six snaps in run defense.
DI Elijah Qualls, Philadelphia Eagles – 84.0 overall – 46 snaps
Qualls makes another appearance on this list as he once again flashed ability in both run defense and as a pass rusher on 46 snaps throughout the game. Qualls ranked ninth out of 33 qualified rookie defensive interior players with a 13.0 run stop percentage while ranking sixth in the group with a 7.6 pass rush productivity rating (PRP measures pressure created on a per snap basis with weighting towards sacks).
QB Kyle Sloter, Denver Broncos – 89.7 overall – 57 snaps
Making the start Thursday night, Sloter made some heads turn among Broncos fans as he dissected the Arizona Cardinals. One key area where he impressed was dealing with pressure: Sloter ranked second among all quarterbacks who saw more than five dropbacks under pressure Thursday night with an 88.3 adjusted completion percentage.
CB Torry McTyer, Miami Dolphins – 89.5 overall – 54 snaps
McTyer got the start and – including special teams (he played at least one snap on five different special teams units) – played 71 total snaps on Thursday night. He finished the evening with an 89.3 coverage grade after he allowed just one catch on four targets (for a whopping three yards) to go with two pass breakups. McTyer allowed just 0.29 yards per coverage snap this preseason, which was the fifth-lowest rate among 64 qualified rookie cornerbacks.
OT Chad Wheeler, New York Giants – 86.3 overall – 66 snaps
Whether it be run blocking or pass protection, Wheeler struggled to put it all together throughout the first three weeks of the preseason; in Week 4 though he was the complete package while playing 66 out of a possible 75 snaps. Wheeler was the only tackle on Thursday night to have at least 28 pass blocking snaps and not surrender a pressure and on top of that he put up good run blocking grade of 84.6, besting his previous high of 82.5 from the Giants’ preseason opener against Pittsburgh (he failed to grade above 40.0 as a run blocker in each of the other two games).
HB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers – 86.3 overall – 21 snaps
Ekeler made his offensive debut on Thursday night to start the second quarter and he started off with a bang, taking his first play from scrimmage for 18 yards while forcing a missed tackle. Ekeler had an absurd 309.1 elusive rating (measurement that boils down a runner’s success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers), the third highest ER put up by a rookie running back this preseason, after he forced eight missed tackles on 11 total touches while averaging 4.25 yards after contact per attempt.
ED Chris Odom, Atlanta Falcons – 85.7 overall – 69 snaps
Playing in 69 out of a possible 78 snaps on Thursday, Odom had an absolutely absurd night in run defense. The undrafted rookie out of Arkansas State put up a truly elite 95.2 run defense grade after he led all defensive players who saw at least 20 snaps in run defense with a run stop percentage of 21.6 (a stop constitutes a “loss” for the offense given the down and distance). Odom had eight run stops this week, no other rookie edge defender had more than two.