Although one preseason game is not enough to completely judge any player, a few rookies had impressive showings in their NFL debuts.
The first week of the preseason usually features few established starters, as the big names exit the game before the end of the first quarter. This gives a chance for the younger players to get onto the field and show what they can do in a game atmosphere for the first time.
While some rookies struggled in their first performances with their new teams, these players excelled and gave fans plenty of hope for the future.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Johnny Manziel had a solid day for the Cleveland Browns, and Jimmy Garoppolo showed that he has potential for the New England Patriots. However, the best quarterback of the week was the one picked first in the draft: Blake Bortles.
The Jacksonville Jaguars passer completed seven of his 11 attempts for 117 yards. He also added seven rushing yards to show off his mobility.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com noted how impressive the young player was:
Bortles was excellent in his debut. Everything on time, in rhythm and accurate. Very smooth on boots/throws on the move.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 10, 2014
At the time of the draft, scouts loved Bortles' upside thanks in part to some great arm strength. However, most admitted he was raw and would need some time to succeed.
Bleacher Report's Jason Cole now points out this is not the case:
Right now, Bortles is way ahead of Manziel— Jason Cole (@JasonPhilCole) August 10, 2014
Chad Henne remains the starter in Jacksonville, but it seems like it is just a matter of time until Bortles takes over the job.
Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants
The New York Giants have played two games already, and Andre Williams has looked good in both of them.
Against the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame Game, the fourth-round pick had a game-high 48 rushing yards on seven carries while scoring the first touchdown of the preseason. While he was outshined by Rashad Jennings in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Williams still came through with 35 yards on seven carries.
Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News believes the Giants got a steal in this pick:
Rookie RB Andre Williams is looking like the draft-day steal the Giants thought he was when they took him in the fourth round.— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) August 4, 2014
With a consistent workload, the former Boston College star could be extremely productive this season. ESPN's Field Yates points out that a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon:
Notable ADP risers on http://t.co/dCt6oBXmmL over past 7 days: Michael Vick (+37.6), Andre Williams (+32.2), Kelvin Benjamin (+10.3).— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 10, 2014
Jennings will remain the top option in the backfield for New York, but head coach Tom Coughlin loves using multiple running backs. Considering Williams rushed for 2,177 yards last season in college, he should be able to handle this role well.
C.J. Mosley, LB, Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens know something about developing linebackers, and it seems like they have already found a new star on defense.
C.J. Mosley led the team with five tackles in his game against the San Francisco 49ers and also added a sack on Blaine Gabbert. The Ravens were certainly happy with what they saw:
Ravens force a three-and-out by the 49ers. Rookie C.J. Mosley has been ALL OVER the field. #SFvsBAL— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 8, 2014
Meanwhile, the former Alabama star was just satisfied to be on the field, via Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com:
Once I got that first hit in on that first drive, then I came out there on the second drive and made a play, and I just kind of got back into the mode of playing football. I’m just making my mark. We’ve been practicing for a long time. I finally got the first preseason game out of the way. I kind of got a chance to feel the speed, and how I needed to get downhill or certain things I need to do to make plays.
Mosley was the 17th pick in the draft after an extremely productive college career. He is as developed as anyone in the class and should be able to contribute right away for Baltimore.
If he can continue to play at this level, he can become one of the early favorites for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
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