First Rounders in Focus
We’re going to use the fact that over on the Premium Section (which costs just $26.99 for 365 days access, so if you haven’t got it already then seriously ask yourself why) we’re grading the preseason and collecting all the stats to go with that, 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 rundown on the first 32 off the board.
1.Eric Fisher, T, Kansas City Chiefs
Snaps: 14 with starters
Analysis: The first overall pick featured on the Chiefs’ first drive against the Saints and didn’t wow you. In the run game he got stood up by Cameron Jordan and he gave up a pressure after Akiem Hicks overpowered him. How much is the hand injury affecting him?
2. Luke Joeckel, T, Jacksonville Jaguars
Analysis: Fine work in the run game flashing a range of abilities (power to take a defender to the ground, agility to complete cut blocks, and footwork to get downfield). An uneventful day in pass protection save for one particularly solid beating around the edge for a hit on the QB by Cameron Wake – a good moment to get out of the way during the preseason.
3. Dion Jordan, DE, Miami Dolphins
Snaps: 21 as a situational third-down rusher over two games
Analysis: In limited early-game work as the team goes easy with his injured shoulder, the presumed pass-rush specialist faced run plays on five of his seven snaps against the Jaguars and got in on one tackle for a loss. Had some joy in the Hall of Fame game and now has a hit and a hurry on 12 pass rushes.
4. Lane Johnson, T, Philadelphia Eagles
Snaps: 21 with starters
Analysis: A solid enough debut for Johnson who didn’t give up any pressure on his 13 pass blocks. In the run game he did get beat early on by Rob Ninkovich on his inside shoulder, but it was the exception and not the rule.
5. Ezekial Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
Snaps: 22 as the Detroit starters got a big work out
Analysis: It will be alarming that on 12 pass rushes he didn’t generate a single bit of pressure, but there aren’t too many tougher tasks than D’Brickashaw Ferguson. We wouldn’t count on him making too many interceptions like the one he returned for six, but showed good awareness (and hands) to make it.
6. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Cleveland Browns
Snaps: 32 in starting sub package and with backups
Analysis: A fine debut from Mingo who wasn’t against the starters but still delivered three quarterback hits and one hurry on just 16 pass rushes. Now let’s see how he does against the starters, because that was extremely encouraging.
7. Jonathan Cooper, G, Arizona Cardinals
Snaps: 18 snaps with the starters and second string
Analysis: Didn’t cover himself in glory by giving up a pressure and didn’t really stand out in the run game. Of course considering the line the Cardinals had last year that already represents a big improvement.
8. Tavon Austin, WR, St Louis Rams
Snaps: 9 snaps with the starters
Analysis: All drops might not be created equal, but it wasn’t the sight the Rams wanted to see when Austin put one on the ground. That was the only target he saw as St Louis didn’t give away anything with that they plan on doing with him.
9. Dee Milliner, CB, New York Jets
Snaps: 39 snaps
Analysis: A lengthy debut at the Jets got their top pick plenty of action. He was targeted four times and gave up three of those for 39 yards. He did break up the other ball to show his top-end talent, but they won’t want to see him missing tackles or giving up first downs to the likes of Matt Willis going forward.
10. Chance Warmack, G, Tennessee Titans
Snaps: 28 snaps with both first and second string
Analysis: Not a good start for Warmack who got beat for a tackle on his first snap before surrendering a sack two plays later. He hit the trifecta when he was unable to take over the center’s block on a stretch play, leading to an easy tackle for the nose tackle.
11. D.J. Fluker, T, San Diego Chargers
Snaps: 12 snaps with the first team
Analysis: When advertised as a draft prospect, the criticism of the Chargers right tackle was that he was strong against the run and less so in pass protection. Living up to that from day one he gave up a pressure to O’Brien Schofield and got the better of Red Bryant in the run game.
12. D.J. Hayden, CB, Oakland Raiders
Analysis: The Raiders’ cornerback is closing in on being ready after his health woes, but Week 1 of preseason came too soon.
13. Sheldon Richardson, DE, New York Jets
Snaps: 33 with the starters and backups.
Analysis: A quiet day for Richardson who wasn’t able to pick up any pressure, though impressed against the run with two defensive stops. Granted they didn’t come against first-teamers but it represents something to build on.
14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina Panthers
Snaps: 13 snaps with starting defense
Analysis: Lotulelei only played 13 snaps, 11 of which came against the pass. He did not record a pressure while his -0.5 run grade was the result of getting sealed inside by left tackle on an early second-quarter run.
15. Kenny Vaccaro, S, New Orleans Saints
Snaps: 31 snaps as part of second string defense.
Analysis: Quiet debut. Didn’t do an awful lot wrong, but didn’t stand out despite extra playing time. That can be the way of things as a safety sometimes, though he did get beat for a first down by Travis Kelce.
16. E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Snaps: 36 as he played the entire first half
Analysis: Hold your horses before getting too carried away with the stat line. Manuel was composed in getting rid of the ball extremely quickly (average time to throw of 2.3 seconds), but didn’t do much other than dink and dunk against the Colts’ backups. Intrigued to see more.
17. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Analysis: Though he played a healthy dose of snaps, Jones failed to stand out for the Steelers. His 16 snaps rushing the passer translated to just a single hit, and he lost contain against the run more than the Steelers will have been happy with seeing.
18. Eric Reid, S, San Francisco 49ers
Snaps: 45 snaps with second string defense
Analysis: Reid threw his body around and made some big hits, but he was a little out of control on his missed tackle in the middle of the third quarter. He did a really nice job of filling his gap and finishing the play on his one run stop.
19. Justin Pugh, OL, New York Giants
Analysis: Sat out the opener with a concussion picked up in camp.
20. Kyle Long, G, Chicago Bears
Snaps: 53 snaps with second string
Analysis: A near-perfect day in pass protection was the big reason for Long’s grade, with a lone bull rush being his only surrendered pressure. He did a nice job of attacking defenders in space, both in the running and screen games.
21. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Snaps: 22 snaps with the starters and second string
Analysis: Showed himself to be a willing blocker, if not a little overmatched by some of the bigger defensive ends he came across. Wasn’t given a sniff of a target in the passing game despite running 11 routes.
22. Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Snaps: 24 with the starters and second string.
Analysis: Tough debut for Trufant who got run over on the Falcons’ opening defensive play and would give up a first down on their second drive. Looked a little lost at times in what can at best be described a tentative debut.
23. Shariff Floyd, DT, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Floyd looked dominant for the Vikings before a knock to the knee sent him to the sidelines for the rest of the game. In the 15 snaps he was on the field for, he looked quick, powerful and destructive against both the run and the pass.
24. Bjoern Werner, OLB, Indianapolis Colts
Analysis: The Colts kept him on the sidelines as a precaution after he went through pregame warm-ups.
25. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: The Vikings opted against further damaging his hamstring and had him sit out the preseason opener.
26. Datone Jones, DE, Green Bay Packers
Analysis: Came off after one pass rushing snap where he didn’t register any pressure. It can only get better from here.
27. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Analysis: We all got to see a glimpse of what the Texans have been raving about since drafting Hopkins when he went up over a Vikings cornerback and high-pointed the football for a 34-yard score. Beyond that, Hopkins was relatively anonymous as his three additional catches totaled 18 yards, and he had a drop as well.
28. Sylvester Williams, DT, Denver Broncos
Snaps: 22 snaps with first and second string
Analysis: Williams did little of note in his first action. He was quiet on his seven snaps against the run and got shut out as pass rusher on his 15 attempts.
29. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: His first touch came on the opening kickoff that Patterson returned 50 yards, instantly proving he can step into the void left by Percy Harvin and make some noise himself. He played 28 snaps on offense in addition to his work as a return man and looked a dangerous receiver with the ball in his hands.
30. Alec Ogletree, LB, St Louis Rams
Snaps: 23 with the starters
Analysis: While a nice tackle for a loss is what Rams will want to see more of, they’ll be less inclined to see him give up a touchdown and first down as he did in game one. The NFL can be a steep learning curve, especially if you’re to be an every-down player from Day 1.
31. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys
Snaps: 93 in two games
Analysis: Including the Hall of Fame game Frederick has certainly seen plenty of action as the Cowboys try to get him up to speed quickly. It’s been a little underwhelming so far as he’s split time between guard (40 snaps) and center (53) as he’s mixed struggling at the point of the attack against bigger linemen, with some joy when against linebackers when he gets to the second level.
32. Matt Elam, S, Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Elam spent the majority of his time backed away from the line of scrimmage as a deep safety (24-of-40 snaps). He logged a pair of run stops on three tackles when coming forward and wasn’t challenged through the air.
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