Top Preseason Grade: 3-4 Defensive Ends
We don’t know about you, but we’ve had some with preseason. It’s not the best way of seeing who will succeed when win-loss records start to matter, but it has given us a first look at some players and really gives second- and third-stringers a chance to prove their worth.
So with three weeks of action in the bag we’re going to be looking across all the positions to let you know who have earned the grades in the Top 5 at each position.
Now of course there’s a lot more than five players at each position we’ve graded. We’ve run every player to play a single snap on offense or defense through the grading process so if you want to see how they’ve fared this preseason, and get access to seven seasons worth of historical grades and access for 365 days which will include the entire 2014 season (and postseason) then you’ll need a PFF Premium Package. At only $26.99 you won’t get better value.
3-4 Defensive Ends
1. Corey Liuget, SD: +5.0
Breakdown: After not playing in the first preseason game and only playing 13 snaps against the Seahawks, Liuget was a man on a mission against San Francisco. He had a sack, hit and hurry all in 15 pass rushes and had two run stops in eight run snaps.
Signature Play: SD @ SF, Q1, 9:46. Liuget pushes himself right past Mike Iupati within fractions of a second allowing him a free run at Kaepernick where he was able to strip sack the quarterback.
2. Julius Warmsley, HST: +4.9
Breakdown: As an undrafted rookie Warmsley has only received 53 snaps in his three games, but has stood out enough to earn him a chance at a roster spot. He has shined as both a pass rusher with the second-highest pass rush grade for 3-4 defensive ends, and has also stood out against the run with three stops.
Signature Stat: He is one of just two 3-4 defensive ends with a sack or hit in all three of their games.
3. Vance Walker, KC: +4.5
Breakdown: Despite being a decently paid veteran, the Chiefs have kept Walker in for 54% of their snaps in the preseason and he has impressed in that time. As a pass rusher he has gotten pressure in every game and in the run game has been disruptive for opposing running backs.
Signature Play: KC @ CAR, Q4, 4:56. Walker overpowered the left guard, pushing him out of his path before spinning around the quarterback and sacking him for a 9 yard loss.
4. John Hughes, CLV: +4.1
Breakdown: The Browns’ third-year defensive end makes this list solely for his play against the run. Outside of making a number of tackles for short gains, he has frequently been able to squeeze the point of attack making the life of the running back more difficult.
Signature Stat: He leads all 3-4 defensive ends in Run Stop Percentage at 26.9%. He has seven run stops on 26 snaps.
5. Vinny Curry, PHI: +3.9
Breakdown: After getting drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft, Curry was able to make a reputation for himself as a pass rusher in 2013. He has continued that in the preseason as he fights for more playing time while also playing well against the run with two run stops on just 20 run snaps.
Signature Stat: He is second in Pass Rushing Productivity for 3-4 defensive ends with at least 20 pass rushes at 14.3
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