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NFL preseason Week 1 grades for first-round rookies: Who stood out, disillusioned and stunned in NFL debut


What sort of analyst would I be if I did not grade first-round rookies after their first preseason recreation? A disappointing one. And I am not right here to disappoint however to offer you, the reader, what you need. Now, after all, do not learn into these scores an excessive amount of. We’re just one exhibition outing into these gamers’ skilled careers — or within the case of the Jaguars and Raiders, two contests in. 

However now that there is authentic NFL movie to observe, grades are to be handed out, meaningless recreation or not. 

These are preseason grades for first-round rookies. Earlier than I start, if a rookie is not listed, it is both as a result of he didn’t play in his respective workforce’s opening recreation or, as a result of quite a lot of causes, wasn’t in a position to make a lot of an affect in any respect, dangerous or good.

1. Travon Walker, EDGE/DL, Jaguars

Grade: A-

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Most of Walker’s rushes have been stymied instantly, however he is been a sturdy edge-setter towards the run, pressured a fumble towards the Browns when he crashed down from the bottom, and drew a holding name on Cleveland’s beginning left deal with Jedrick Wills. His sack within the Corridor of Fame recreation was extra as a result of Jarrett Stidham trying to scramble proper previous him than a person win from Walker. He had one other hit on Stidham on an out of doors velocity rush that was extra spectacular. Altogether, for a uncooked however freaky athletic specimen, the Jaguars needs to be decently proud of the early returns on Walker thus far this preseason. 

2. Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Lions 

Grade: B

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Hutchinson had two tackles on 10 snaps in his preseason debut for the Lions, one being a deal with for loss. No pressures although. Hopefully we get to see slightly extra of the No. 2 total decide earlier than the common season kicks off. 

5. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Giants 

Grade: B

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Thibodeaux wasn’t credited with an official stress within the preseason opener towards the Patriots however was rattling shut on a number of events. His first snap was a push-pull on New England’s proper deal with that introduced the blocker to the turf. Thibodeaux did not erupt out of the gates however hardly regarded misplaced towards skilled expertise. 

6. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, Panthers

Grade: A-

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Primarily squaring off towards Montez Sweat and Efe Obada — two super-long, athletic rushers — Ekwonu was stout on the level of assault, profitable all however considered one of his reps in move safety. He bought up and below these defenders within the run recreation on most events, too. Strong begin for the primary offensive deal with off the board. 

7. Evan Neal, OT, Giants

Grade: C+

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Neal’s debut may’ve gone higher. Depth rusher Anfernee Jennings bought one of the best of him with quite a lot of strikes in a number of one-on-one matchups. The previous Alabama star was caught off steadiness on these reps. For the run and display recreation, Neal was spry and below management, executing what seemed to be his project.

9. Charles Cross, OT, Seahawks

Grade: A-

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The silky-smooth move units that made Cross a top-10 choice had been on full show towards the Steelers over the weekend. Certain, he did not see T.J. Watt screaming across the nook, however he was sudden and highly effective in his snaps principally towards Derrek Tuszka, not permitting a stress, though a number of had been shut. 

10. Garrett Wilson, WR, Jets

Grade: B+

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Wilson was pressing in beating press and producing separation comparatively early in his routes within the preseason opener towards the Eagles. He caught two passes for 25 yards. Nothing regarding about his debut. 

13. Jordan Davis, DT, Eagles

Grade: C

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Davis performed how I anticipated him to — flashed a bit towards the run, pushing again the Jets heart on one play and swimming previous him on one other, however was a non-factor as a move rusher. I’ll say, although, his dimension alone does draw loads of consideration on the within of the opposition’s offensive line. 

14. Kyle Hamilton, S, Ravens

Grade: C+

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I will begin with the dangerous — Hamilton missed three diving deal with makes an attempt towards the Titans. In any other case, he showcased dynamic deep protection capability, usually erasing throwing lanes as they had been materializing as a result of his fluid footwork at his intimidating dimension. If the diving makes an attempt morph into clear, under-control closeouts, Hamilton will probably be high quality.

17. Zion Johnson, OG, Chargers

Grade: A- 

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Out of the gate, Johnson regarded like a seasoned vet, principally as a result of the Chargers had been operating often, and Johnson’s awesomely low heart of gravity and pure energy are sometimes placed on full show to pave lanes for the bottom recreation. His anchor was sturdy in move professional aside from one overzealous whiff late within the first quarter and a bull rush that began to overwhelm him late within the play. Total, a constructive begin for the rookie proper guard. 

19. Trevor Penning, OT, Saints

Grade: D+

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Within the preseason opener towards the Texans, Penning bought hit with the cruel actuality that he isn’t blocking towards FCS exterior rushers anymore. He surrendered 5 pressures on simply 27 pass-blocking snaps and principally regarded out of kinds towards any sort of defender using any sort of rush. Comfort: he moved folks within the run recreation. 

20. Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers

Grade: B

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I noticed a tweet that the Steelers turned their offense into the 2021 Dolphins offense as soon as Pickett entered the competition, and upon watching the movie, that is primarily true. From half-rolls with first reads within the flat, to fast examine downs, to vast receiver screens, the Steelers did not ask their first-round decide to do a lot in his preseason debut. That does not imply it was a flop of a efficiency from the rookie. He was decisive and correct with the ball and did join on one spectacular intermediate throw close to the sideline early within the fourth quarter. 

23. Kaiir Elam, CB, Payments

Grade: B-

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It was a clear debut in Orchard Park for the rookie nook, past a move interference when he bought caught peeking into the backfield on a move play. Apart from that, Elam’s protection was sticky, and he had a move breakup. For a principally man nook taking part in in a zone-heavy scheme, Elam was {smooth} however unspectacular.

24. Tyler Smith, OG, Cowboys 

Grade: A-

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After extensively watching Tulsa movie to zero in on Smith through the pre-draft course of, the Cowboys first-round decide’s debut as knowledgeable went virtually precisely as anticipated. He was seemingly a bit misplaced now and again, even bumping into the middle or deal with. However he battled like hell and demonstrated brute, veteran-like energy in straight-up, man-to-man situations, in move professional and for the run recreation. There was seemingly one blown project throughout a spot from him that led to a stress. Apart from that, I like how Smith performed towards the Broncos. 

26. Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Jets 

Grade: C

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Johnson saved his greatest rush for… first. Sure, his opening pass-rush snap, from the “vast 9” alignment towards Lane Johnson, was his most spectacular of the afternoon towards the Eagles, rocking again the established proper deal with. Apart from that, Johnson regarded the a part of a spry, prolonged first-round decide however was held in examine. 

29. Cole Unusual, OG, Patriots 

Grade: B

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First off, Unusual will get additional factors for going no-gloves in his Patriots debut within the preseason. Very New England inside blocker of him. In all seriousness, whereas barely sloppy, Unusual did not look misplaced at left guard on his 13 snaps, and the tenacious ending he showcased at [Les Snead voice] UT-Chattanooga was obvious towards Giants defensive linemen. 

30. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Chiefs 

Grade: A-

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Karlaftis busted out the total pass-rush transfer arsenal towards the Bears and was extremely efficient, registering three pressures on snaps through which he was tasked to get after the quarterback. He regarded explosive and weaponized his arms properly on the level of assault. Karlaftis gained with a one-arm bull rush, an out of doors velocity rush and a swim later within the recreation. He was washed out in a number of situations towards the run however altogether had a dandy debut. 

31. Daxton Hill, S/CB, Bengals

Grade: B+

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Hill was ubiquitous in his first preseason recreation, logging 40 snaps and hardly wanting misplaced or misplaced in any way. Halfway by the second quarter, he quickly reacted to a throw down the center and virtually had an interception. He did miss a deal with. 

32. Lewis Cine, S, Vikings 

Grade: B

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Identical to he displayed at Georgia, Cine was lightning quick roaming in protection towards the Raiders to start his voyage by the preseason. He had a solo deal with on an beneath route and in any other case did not see the ball thrown in his course a lot. 





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