Top Preseason Grades: 4-3 Outside Linebackers
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.
4-3 Outside Linebackers
1. Keith Rivers, BUF: +6.3
Breakdown: The former New York and Cincinnati linebacker has looked really impressive in his new home in Buffalo this preseason, grading positively both against the run and in coverage.
Signature Stat: While all four passes thrown into his coverage have been caught, they have gone for a total of just 23 yards.
2. Nigel Bradham, BUF: +6.2
Breakdown: Completing a Buffalo one-two at the top, Bradham has graded even better than his teammate against the run, giving the Bills a formidable duo in that regard.
Signature Play: BUF @ CAR, Q1, 9:30 – Bradham beats Panthers tight end Ed Dickson inside to record a tackle for short gain with relative ease.
3. Jason Trusnik, MIA: +5.6
Breakdown: With the Bills’ duo at the top, it’s Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Trusnik who fills the third spot, excelling both against the run and in coverage, recording five tackles resulting in defensive stops from 49 snaps on the field.
Signature Stat: Trusnik has yet to allow a reception in his coverage this August.
4. Chris McCain, MIA: +5.3
Breakdown: It’s an AFC East bonanza at the top of our grades, with Chris McCain following Miami teammate Trusnik, and doing so with some impressive play against the run and as a pass rusher.
Signature Stat: McCain has recorded three total pressures from 12 pass rushing snaps.
5. Lance Briggs, CHI: +4.0
Breakdown: The lone non-AFC East linebacker in the Top 5, the longtime Bear has been our fifth-highest graded 4-3 outside linebacker against the run.
Signature Stat: Briggs has allowed just a single reception in the preseason, going for a mere four yards.
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