Preseason Week 4 Preview: Lions at Bills
The final week of the preseason continues with the Detroit Lions at the Buffalo Bills. This is the last chance for many players to make their case to be on the opening season roster, whether it be as a role player, as part of a position rotation, or as a special teams player. Our team of PFF analysts have all the most important position battles and players to watch for each team:
Coverage by: Brett Whitefield
Players to Watch:
- Jake Rudock, QB – Jake Rudock leaves no doubt that he is the teams backup quarterback. In preseason Week 3 against the Patriots he earned the second-highest quarterback grade of the week at 84.4 overall. He was particularly good when kept clean, producing a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and completed all his passes. Through three preseason games Jake Rudock is now the highest-graded quarterback at 81.2 overall.
- Dwayne Washington, RB – Entering the preseason there were doubts about Washington’s place on the Lions 53-man roster. Through the first three preseason games, Washington has staked his claim that he belongs. Against the Patriots this past week he flashed potential with the ball in his hands, breaking four tackles on just nine touches on his way to earning the 10th highest running back grade of the week at 75.1 overall. Washington’s 79.5 cumulative grade is the seventh highest among running backs this preseason. Lastly, Washington has graded well on special teams, giving him more value as a back-end roster player.
- Alex Barrett, ED – Barrett continued his strong preseason play by earning an overall grade of 75.1 in Friday’s preseason game. He notched another quarterback hurry and a stop in the run game on 22 defensive snaps. Barrett is now the fourth-highest graded Lion through three preseason games with a cumulative grade of 81.2. As an undrafted free agent his play has certainly made him a viable candidate for the Lions 53-man roster and will make Saturday’s final cuts difficult.
- DJ Hayden, CB – Hayden has perhaps been the biggest surprise off the preseason for Detroit and has been the highest graded Lion through three preseason games at 84.2 overall. Originally thought to be signed to play slot-corner, he has done almost all his preseason work on the outside. This past week was more of the same with Hayden earning the highest grade on defense at 80.1. He is still yet to allow a catch into his coverage on 39 coverage snaps.
Coverage by: Elliott Rooney
Position Battle: Ryan Davis/Eddie Yarbrough, Edge
- Davis and Yarbrough will battle for playing time behind Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson as the third edge defender. Davis is the Bills highest graded player so far this preseason with an overall PFF grade of 88.2, which is the seventh-highest grade by an edge defender. Davis has a pass-rush productivity (PRP) of 16.7 so far this preseason, which ranks 11th among 4-3 defensive ends with a minimum of 20 pass-rush snaps (PRP measures pressure created on a per snap basis with weighting towards sacks).
- Yarbrough has performed just as well as Davis in preseason earning, an overall PFF grade of 84.4, which ranks 24th. Yarbrough’s PRP of just 7.4 ranks 71st among 102 4-3 defensive ends. He collected only five total pressures on 54 pass-rush snaps. He has impressed in run defense, his run stop percentage of 12.5 ranks eighth among 4-3 defensive ends with at least 13 run snaps.
Players to watch:
- Daikiel Shorts, WR – The former West Virginia receiver has been the Bills second-highest graded receiver so far this preseason with an overall PFF grade of 76.0. Shorts can be a huge weapon in the slot for the Bills, during his final season with West Virginia in 2016 he ranked seventh among 71 draft eligible receivers with 874 receiving yards from the slot.
- Jerel Worthy, DT – Worthy looks set to battle second-year DT Adolphus Washington for time as the number three defensive tackle, but still could be in danger of being cut on Saturday. Worthy has excelled as a pass-rusher so far this preseason, his pass-rush productivity of 6.5 ranks 26th among 83 defensive tackles this preseason. On his 46 passing snaps he has four total pressures. It is in run defense where Worthy has struggled. Through three weeks of the preseason Worthy has only picked up one stop in run defense on 24 run snaps, which ranks 101st among 117 qualifying defensive tackles.
- Mike Tolbert, FB – The veteran fullback could be another player on the roster bubble. The free-agent addition looks likely to be the backup full back after the Bills added another free agent fullback in Patrick DiMarco and will likely not see many snaps at running back with Jonathan Williams the favorite to win the backup running back position. Tolbert does have value on third down as a pass blocker, last season he ranked second with a PBE of 98.0 among running backs with at least 25 pass-blocking snaps.