Which NFL Rookies Have Disappointed Most so Far This Preseason?
No, Andrew Luck will not be on this list.
After Week 1 of the preseason, most NFL rookies haven't had much of a chance to make an impact—positive or negative.
A few have, however, stood out in a not-so-good way. With any early draft pick comes high expectations, and some of these players aren't living up to the challenge.
Thus far, Luck has met the NFL and Indianapolis' sky-high expectations, but some other rookies have failed to meet their considerably lower goals.
Who are they?
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
The reviews from training camp have, for the most part, been glowing for Josh Gordon. However, the Gordon from camp didn't show in the Browns' first preseason game, as he looked rather lackluster.
Against Detroit, Gordon failed to secure any of the three passes—two of which were quite catchable—thrown his way, and he nearly allowed Bill Bentley to intercept one pass.
Gordon struggled to separate, and he even looked a bit lost, which is to be expected for someone who hadn't played in a game for more than a year. Regardless, Gordon didn't show his physical ability on the field.
The more worrisome part here isn't that Gordon struggled a bit. It's Pat Shurmur's comments that Gordon needs prodding and motivation from coaches. If Gordon doesn't work hard, he will never make it.
This isn't really an indictment of Gordon. He's quite talented. It's merely a statement that Gordon's first game action didn't live up to the practice hype.
Matt Kalil, OT, Minnesota Vikings
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When going up against star pass-rusher Aldon Smith, Matt Kalil failed to make a positive impression. Granted, Kalil was going up against an elite player, but a great offensive tackle should win the majority of his battles in such a situation.
Kalil simply looked overmatched. Smith badly beat Kalil on three separate occasions, as Kalil's footwork and quickness simply weren't there.
Then, in the run game, Kalil was overpowered by Ricky Jean-Francois, and he also failed to make a hole for Toby Gerhart while pulling.
Kalil's technique still needs a bit of work, as he seemed to be bending at the waist too much. As a player who's never been great in the run game, Kalil really needs to nail down his technique and footwork in pass protection.
Kalil is still an impressive prospect, and again, he was facing a phenomenal player. With that said, things could have gone much better in the No. 4 overall pick's debut.
Kevin Zeitler, OG, Cincinnati Bengals
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Kevin Zeitler simply looked lost in his debut. On one play, Zeitler was run-blocking while the rest of the offensive line was rightfully set in pass protection.
When downfield blocking, Zeitler often overran or completely missed defenders. He didn't look bad in space, but the game is clearly still moving quite quickly for the Wisconsin product.
Rookie offensive linemen typically go through an adjustment period as they transition to the NFL's bigger, faster and stronger defenders. Zeitler is experiencing that right now.
However, Zeitler also seems confused about his assignments. This isn't unusual either, but it is a bit concerning. After all, Zeitler has been with the team for nearly four months now.
Dontari Poe, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
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The No. 11 pick, Dontari Poe, was expected to start at nose tackle for the Chiefs. That hasn't turned out to be quite true, however, as Poe is currently the team's third-string nose.
That's right. There are two players ahead of Poe.
Poe didn't do much of anything—good or bad—in Kansas City's first preseason game, but he didn't play a whole lot either. This lack of playing time shows just how behind Poe is right now.
So while Poe's preseason performance hasn't necessarily disappointed, his status and lack of playing time have. And really, Poe not seeing the field because he's buried on the depth chart is worse than him struggling as a starter.
We all knew Poe was raw going into the NFL, but we assumed that Kansas City's lack of nose tackle talent would propel him to the top. That hasn't happened yet, and that's more than a little disappointing.
Bruce Irvin, DE, Seattle Seahawks
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The scouting report on Bruce Irvin hasn't changed since the draft. Irvin has an extremely explosive first step and a ton of upside as a pass-rusher.
What Irvin doesn't have is any pass-rush moves to speak of. He will get a jump start on the offensive tackle, but if the lineman gets his hands on Irvin, the pass-rusher is done.
He's even worse in the run game.
Against Tennessee, Irvin got a beat on Michael Roos but wasn't able to finish the play. He was noticeably unimpressive for the rest of the game.
If Irvin can develop pass-rush moves, he could be a dynamic threat off the edge. Unfortunately, that didn't happen at West Virginia, and so far, it hasn't happened in Seattle.
A.J. Jenkins, WR, San Francisco 49ers
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A.J. Jenkins first drew ire from fans and media when Jim Harbaugh criticized him for being out of shape. Since then, Jenkins has drawn some praise from Harbaugh, but he hasn't moved up the depth chart.
Jenkins is still working almost exclusively with the second- and third-team offenses. And against the Vikings, Jenkins added to his already-bad record by dropping two passes.
So far, Jenkins has looked lost. He has dropped too many passes, he's struggled to separate, and he hasn't made many big plays.
Jenkins was considered a reach when the 49ers drafted him in the first round, but he could still rebound. The signs aren't good for the Illinois product contributing early, though.
This doesn't mean he will bust by any means, but teams generally hope for their first-round picks to produce as rookies.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns
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On the bright side, Brandon Weeden made a couple impressive throws against the Lions, including a 34-yard bomb to rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
Unfortunately, there were plenty of negatives as well. Weeden made a few bad decisions, fumbled once and threw an inaccurate pass on Greg Little's hook route that led to an interception.
Weeden completed just three of his nine passes and couldn't seem to develop much of a rhythm with his receivers. Miscommunications seemed to be happening on nearly every play.
Though the numbers certainly weren't pretty, this probably doesn't all fall on Weeden. The 28-year-old rookie is playing with some inexperienced—and pretty bad—wide receivers.
Time will tell how telling Weeden's first game actually was, but it certainly could have gone much better than it did.
Mike Adams, OT, Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Steelers started two rookie offensive linemen in their first preseason game, and second-round pick Mike Adams disappointed. Adams was a risky pick out of Ohio State, but he had impressed in training camp and earned the start at left tackle.
However, in just nine plays, Adams allowed two sacks on Ben Roethlisberger. Adams then left the game with a knee injury, which could cause him to miss two weeks.
Adams' play was disappointing. He is supposed to be a franchise left tackle, but he allowed frequent pressure on Roethlisberger.
The knee injury was also disappointing, though that probably isn't Adams' fault. The injury does, however, mean that Adams will have less time to improve before the regular season.
As excited as the team and fans were about Adams, he let them down in his first live action.
Cordy Glenn, OT, Buffalo Bills
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As many expected, Cordy Glenn looked slow at left tackle. The 345-pounder is simply too big to handle speed rushers in pass protection.
On his first play, Glenn allowed a sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Later on, Glenn sent the Bills back five yards by committing a false start.
None of this is really unexpected, but Glenn is supposed to be Buffalo's starting left tackle. If that is to be anything other than disastrous, Glenn will need to make drastic improvements.
So far, Glenn has shown why most felt he should play right tackle or even guard. He will struggle in pass protection on the blind side.
It's still possible Glenn could improve his technique and survive at left tackle, but the early signs aren't indicative of that happening.
Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams
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With 33 yards on 10 carries, Isaiah Pead didn't exactly light the world on fire in the Rams' preseason debut against the Colts. Add in a fumble, and Pead was downright bad.
Head coach Jeff Fisher blamed this on Pead spending too much time running east and west instead of north and south. This sounds correctable, but it has ended careers in the past, and it will do so again.
I'm not saying that Pead is a bust or that running side to side will ruin his career. However, the second-round pick still has a lot to work on before he can effectively spell Steven Jackson.
Pead's lackluster production came against the Colts, who, in all honesty, may have the NFL's worst defense. It would be another thing entirely if Pead averaged 3.3 yards per carry against the Steelers or Ravens.
The Cincinnati product could still contribute as a rookie, but the early going isn't all smooth for Pead.