Team-by-Team NFL Rookie Class Report Card Heading into Preseason Week 3
Everyone involved with the NFL world knows it's a little silly to start throwing around grades the day after the NFL draft, but it's fun, so we do it anyway.
It doesn't make a whole lot more sense to hand out rookie report cards just two weeks into the preseason, but—heck, we're not going to lie—it does make for some fun discussion.
At least by this time, we've had a look at most of the 2015 rookies on the field with their new teams.
Since we're trying to grade each team's rookie class entering Week 3 of the preseason, we're going to focus primarily on players who have appeared in preseason action. This means that players who have been out with injury, such as Jaguars rookie pass-rusher Dante Fowler, won't be a major part of the grading process.
We will use a combination of game film, statistics and third-party analysis to determine overall grades. There will, of course, be some subjectivity here, so be sure to voice your own opinions in the comments below.
- Round 1 (24) D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
- Round 2 (58) Markus Golden, DE, Missouri
- Round 3 (86) David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa
- Round 4 (116) Rodney Gunter, DT, Delaware State
- Round 5 (158) Shaquille Riddick, DE, West Virginia
- Round 5 (159) J.J. Nelson, WR, UAB
- Round 7 (256) Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville
- Undrafted (FA) Phillip Sims, QB, Winston-Salem State
The Arizona Cardinals have gotten mostly positive results from their draft class thus far. However, first-round pick D.J. Humphries has disappointed.
He has had issues with motivation, which has led to one unenviable nickname, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com:
D. J. Humphries has had a rough training camp. If you weren’t watching practices, it was clear nonetheless by the comments from coach Bruce Arians. First there were the chuckles by Arians revealing the tackle’s nickname as “Knee Deep,” because a foot up Humphries’ backside wasn’t providing enough motivation.
Pro Football Focus rates Humphries as the fourth-best offensive tackle on the roster this preseason.
The good news is that other members of the rookie class have found ways to shine. Receiver J.J. Nelson (three receptions for 77 yards) has been a force in camp and in the preseason. Running back David Johnson (13 carries for 66 yards) has steadily improved and looks like he can be a difference-maker in 2015.
According to Peter King of The MMQB, the Cardinals love defensive tackle Rodney Gunter and may make him the starter at nose tackle by opening day.
Undrafted rookie Phillip Sims has also been a pleasant surprise. He has a modest 73.9 passer rating through two preseason games, but he has outperformed quarterbacks Logan Thomas and Drew Stanton to this point.
If Humphries can turn things around and second-round pick Markus Golden can develop as a pass-rusher, the Cardinals are going to end up with an enviable 2015 class.
Current Overall Grade: B
- Round 1 (8) Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
- Round 2 (42) Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
- Round 3 (73) Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
- Round 4 (107) Justin Hardy, WR, East Carolina
- Round 5 (137) Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson
- Round 7 (225) Jake Rodgers, OT, Eastern Washington
- Round 7 (249) Akeem King, DB, San Jose State
The Atlanta Falcons' 2015 class will probably be judged by its effect on the defense, seeing as that side of the football is new head coach Dan Quinn's specialty. Because the Falcons (ranked dead last in total defense last season) are looking for a fast defensive turnaround, they will expect a lot from the team's top two draft picks.
First-round pick Vic Beasley is still looking for his first NFL sack, though Pro Football Focus gave him a positive overall grade for his 29 defensive snaps to date. His fluidity and athleticism are evident when he is on the field, even though he has yet to show up in the sacks column. The production will come.
Cornerback Jalen Collins, on the other hand, has been a disappointment. Through 56 snaps, Pro Football Focus rates him as the team's worst cornerback. The margin is fairly large, too.
According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, Collins has also been a disappointment in camp:
The rookie second-round draft pick from LSU was expected to immediately challenge Robert Alford for a starting role outside at corner. Instead, Collins struggled with his technique and discipline, making him a daily punching bag for Jones and other receivers. In all fairness, Collins' growth was stunted by pre-draft foot surgery.
Rookie running back Tevin Coleman has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, though he is expected to have a role in the Atlanta offense this season. Receiver Justin Hardy (seven receptions for 94 yards) looks like he can be an immediate contributor on offense.
Because Coleman has been out and Collins has struggled, it's hard to get too excited about what we've seen from the Atlanta rookies thus far. Beasley, though, appears to be a future stud.
Current Overall Grade: C
- Round 1 (26) Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
- Round 2 (55) Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
- Round 3 (90) Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
- Round 4 (122) Za'Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky
- Round 4 (125) Javorius Allen, RB, USC
- Round 4 (136) Tray Walker, CB, Texas Southern
- Round 5 (171) Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware
- Round 5 (176) Robert Myers, OG, Tennessee State
- Round 6 (204) Darren Waller, WR, Georgia Tech
The Baltimore Ravens appear to have a mixed bag with their crop of 2015 rookies. The big disappointment, of course, is that first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman has missed virtually all of training camp with a knee injury.
Wide receiver Darren Waller (four receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown) may end up ahead of Perriman on the depth chart when the season opens.
Tight end Maxx Williams (five receptions for 61 yards) has been present, and it appears that he can bring an immediate contribution to the Baltimore passing game. Running back Javorius Allen (just 3.2 yards per carry this preseason) may not have an immediate impact.
Pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith may also struggle to make a difference early. He has one sack but Pro Football Focus rates him as the worst outside linebacker on the roster. Conversely, Carl Davis is rated as the best Baltimore defensive tackle to play this preseason.
Davis has also earned the respect of head coach John Harbaugh.
"He played a bunch of snaps, played them all hard," Harbaugh said of Davis after his debut, via the team's official website. "Basically, we played him until he cramped up at the end, and we finally dragged him off the field and let someone else go in and play."
Cornerback Tray Walker and guard Robert Myers both look like decent depth players at this point in the preseason.
Davis looks like he can emerge as a real weapon in Baltimore's defensive line rotation, but the rest of the Ravens rookies have failed to stand out on the exhibition field. Perhaps Perriman will step in and make this average unit look better in the regular season.
Current Overall Grade: C
- Round 2 (50) Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
- Round 3 (81) John Miller, OG, Louisville
- Round 5 (155) Karlos Williams, RB, Florida State
- Round 6 (188) Tony Steward, OLB, Clemson
- Round 6 (194) Nick O'Leary, TE, Florida State
- Round 7 (234) Dezmin Lewis, WR, Central Arkansas
The Buffalo Bills may get a couple of early contributors out of their 2015 rookie class, but promising guard John Miller isn't a lock to be among them.
Miller drew plenty of praise early in training camp and had some people speculating that he could win a starting job as a rookie. In fact, he is still listed as the team's starting right guard on the depth chart on ESPN.com. However, Miller has struggled in preseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, he has allowed three quarterback hurries and is the lowest-rated guard on the roster. It's important to remember, of course, that we are talking about a rookie third-round pick here. There are going to be ups and downs.
Second-round pick Ronald Darby has experienced his own ups and downs this preseason. According to Pro Football Focus, the rookie cornerback has been targeted 10 times and has allowed six receptions for 100 yards. However, Darby has also come away with two interceptions—both in last week's game against the Cleveland Browns.
Linebacker Tony Steward (five tackles, one quarterback hit) also appears destined to be a defensive contributor.
Running back Karlos Williams (14 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown, two receptions for 23 yards) could make an early impact as a role player. Of course, there are a number of talented backs above him on the depth chart.
Dezmin Lewis will likely have a difficult time making the final roster. He has been targeted three times this preseason but has yet to grab a reception.
Overall, this looks like a solid, if unspectacular, rookie group—especially considering it doesn't include a first-round pick.
Current Overall Grade: B
- Round 1 (25) Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
- Round 2 (41) Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
- Round 4 (102) Daryl Williams, OG, Oklahoma
- Round 5 (169) David Mayo, LB, Texas State
- Round 5 (174) Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn
The Carolina Panthers didn't get much quantity out of their 2015 draft, but multiple rookies have managed to flash quality this preseason.
Rookie lineman Daryl Williams, who has been playing at tackle, has been the biggest surprise so far. Pro Football Focus currently rates him as the league's top offensive tackle.
According to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, Williams has performed well enough in camp to earn a shot at the starting left tackle job.
Though he missed part of training camp while attending classes, first-round pick Shaq Thompson has also been developing nicely. He logged one tackle and one pass defended in his preseason debut against the Miami Dolphins and has earned praise from teammates.
"Shaq is explosive," cornerback Josh Norman said, per David Newton of ESPN.com. "He’s fitting into the defense. His finding himself into our scheme and the identity of him is showing on the field. He’s doing some really good stuff for us."
Rookie running back Cameron Artis-Payne (4.8 yards-per-carry average) has also flashed ability in the preseason.
The question mark here is rookie receiver Devin Funchess, who has been out with a hamstring injury. The Panthers are going to need him to produce as a rookie because star receiver Kelvin Benjamin is out for the year with a torn ACL.
If Funchess can live up to expectations and help fill the void left by Benjamin, the Panthers rookie class has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL.
Current Overall Grade: B+
- Round 1 (7) Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
- Round 2 (39) Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
- Round 3 (71) Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon
- Round 4 (106) Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State
- Round 5 (142) Adrian Amos, FS, Penn State
- Round 6 (183) Tayo Fabuluje, OT, TCU
- Undrafted (FA) Cameron Meredith, WR, Illinois State
Unfortunately for the Chicago Bears, rookie first-round pick Kevin White has spent the offseason hampered by a shin injury. He recently underwent surgery and very well might not make his debut until 2016, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
This is obviously a disappointment.
Second-round pick Eddie Goldman hasn't exactly been a disappointment, but he hasn't brought much of a wow factor, either. According to Pro Football Focus, the former Florida State star has been a liability in run defense, though he does have one quarterback hurry.
The Bears need Goldman to make a speedy improvement because the NFL recently suspended starting nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff for three games for violating the substance-abuse policy.
Rookie center Hroniss Grasu has also underwhelmed thus far. Pro Football Focus currently rates him as the worst center on the roster by a significant margin.
Fifth-round pick Adrian Amos, on the other hand, has been a wonderful surprise for the woeful Chicago secondary (ranked 30th in pass defense in 2014). According to Pro Football Focus, he is the best safety on the roster and is likely headed for a starting job.
Running back Jeremy Langford (currently averaging 6.2 yards per carry) and tackle Tayo Fabuluje both look like solid depth players heading into the 2015 season. Undrafted receiver Cameron Meredith (five receptions for 60 yards) could easily end up taking White's roster spot this season.
If Goldman and Amos can emerge as defensive starters and Langford and Meredith can contribute on offense, this will end up as a successful rookie class. Without White, however, it doesn't appear overly spectacular.
Current Overall Grade: C+
- Round 1 (21) Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
- Round 2 (53) Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
- Round 3 (85) Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers
- Round 3 (99) Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU
- Round 4 (120) Josh Shaw, CB, USC
- Round 4 (135) Marcus Hardison, DE, Arizona State
- Round 5 (157) C.J. Uzomah, TE, Auburn
- Round 6 (197) Derron Smith, FS, Fresno State
- Round 7 (238) Mario Alford, WR, West Virginia
- Undrafted (FA) DeShawn Williams, DT, Clemson
- Undrafted (FA) Terrell Watson, RB, Azusa Pacific
What's interesting about the rookie class of the Cincinnati Bengals is that the team is likely to get more early contributions from undrafted players than from its high draft picks.
This is because Cedric Ogbuehi (coming off a torn ACL) and Jake Fisher aren't expected to see significant work as rookies.
Linebacker Paul Dawson, however, may see a ton of work as a rookie, and if his preseason performance is any indication, he will perform well. He has made seven tackles and Pro Football Focus currently rates him as the team's best outside linebacker.
Tight end Tyler Kroft (two receptions for 20 yards) and cornerback Josh Shaw (seven tackles) also look like they will find roles this season.
Undrafted rookies, however, have stolen the show this preseason in Cincinnati. Running back Terrell Watson has averaged a whopping 7.4 yards per carry. However, he still may not crack the Bengals' talented backfield.
Undrafted defensive tackle DeShawn Williams probably will have an easier time making the final roster. He currently has one sack and two quarterback hits, and Pro Football Focus rates him as the second-best defensive tackle on the roster.
"He's built like Geno [Atkins]," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said of Williams, per ESPN.com's Coley Harvey. "He's got the great quickness. He's a bit of a shorter, stronger guy, but he's got good explosion coming off the line."
It's a testament to the depth of Cincinnati's rookie class that the team's first two picks could sit in 2015 and this group can still produce a handful of standouts.
Current Overall Grade: A-
- Round 1 (12) Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
- Round 1 (19) Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
- Round 2 (51) Nate Orchard, DE, Utah
- Round 3 (77) Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
- Round 3 (96) Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State
- Round 4 (115) Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwestern
- Round 4 (123) Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State
- Round 6 (189) Charles Gaines, CB, Louisville
- Round 6 (195) Malcolm Johnson, TE, Mississippi State
- Round 6 (198) Randall Telfer, TE, USC
- Round 7 (219) Hayes Pullard, ILB, USC
- Round 7 (241) Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
- Undrafted (FA) E.J. Bibbs, TE, Iowa State
It appears that the Cleveland Browns landed both starting talent and depth in the 2015 draft.
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton, selected 12th overall, has been a monster on the playing field and moves with a fluidity that doesn't seem to match his 6'2", 339-pound frame.
"Reviewing all of his 16 snaps against the Redskins, I see a player who regularly pushes blockers backward, using his wide base to hold his ground," Marc Sessler of NFL.com recently wrote. "He's powerful enough to neutralize linemen and quick enough to pivot and dive at ball-carriers."
Though he has been seeing a lot of work at tackle, fellow first-round pick Cameron Erving projects as a versatile backup in year one.
The big surprises in the group have been Nate Orchard, who is currently ranked second among Browns outside linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus, and Xavier Cooper. The latter is tied for the NFL lead with 3.0 sacks.
The Browns have also seen significant contributions from safety Ibraheim Campbell (seven tackles), receiver Vince Mayle (three receptions for 35 yards) and undrafted tight end E.J. Bibbs (five receptions, 43 yards).
Rookie corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is expected to miss his rookie season as he continues recovering from a torn ACL.
This could be one of the league's better rookie groups if running back Duke Johnson can return from injury (hamstring) and perform at a high level. As it stands without Johnson, the Browns have a class they can be proud of.
Current Overall Grade: B+
- Round 1 (27) Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
- Round 2 (60) Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
- Round 3 (91) Chaz Green, OT, Florida
- Round 4 (127) Damien Wilson, ILB, Minnesota
- Round 5 (163) Ryan Russell, DE, Purdue
- Round 7 (236) Mark Nzeocha, OLB, Wyoming
- Round 7 (243) Laurence Gibson, OT, Virginia Tech
- Round 7 (246) Geoff Swim, TE, Texas
- Undrafted (FA) La'el Collins, OG, LSU
It appears that the Dallas Cowboys landed a couple of potential steals this year, which really elevates the team's 2015 rookie class.
Undrafted free agent La'el Collins isn't a surprise, of course. He was considered a first-round talent before his name being linked to a murder case destroyed his draft stock. It's still worth mentioning that Pro Football Focus rates Collins as the Cowboys' best overall guard.
Defensive end Randy Gregory (2.0 sacks, two hurries) has also shown immense potential in the preseason.
NFL Media's Gil Brandt recently made his case for Gregory as a potential candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year:
His only negative is that he currently struggles to play the run, but you can see him getting bigger already. I think he'll be the athletic pass-rushing force people hoped Dion Jordan and Barkevious Mingo would become. I could see him finishing the season with around 10 sacks. He loves to play football; when he gets a chance to play, he lights up.
Unfortunately, first-round pick Byron Jones hasn't been quite as impressive. He missed the team's preseason opener with a shoulder injury and allowed three receptions for 28 yards on three targets in his debut, per Pro Football Focus.
Defensive lineman Ryan Russell (five tackles, one sack) looks like he can earn a role in Dallas' defensive line rotation.
Rookie offensive tackle Chaz Green is still recovering from hip surgery.
The other Dallas rookies all appear to be role players at best to this point in the preseason. Still, this is an impressive group. The Cowboys likely have two future stars in Gregory and Collins and could have a third in Jones if he can get fully healthy and rebound from his one poor performance.
Current Overall Grade: A
- Round 1 (23) Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
- Round 2 (59) Ty Sambrailo, OT, Colorado State
- Round 3 (92) Jeff Heuerman, TE, Ohio State
- Round 4 (133) Max Garcia, C, Florida
- Round 5 (164) Lorenzo Doss, CB, Tulane
- Round 6 (203) Darius Kilgo, DT, Maryland
- Round 7 (250) Trevor Siemian, QB, Northwestern
- Round 7 (251) Taurean Nixon, DB, Tulane
- Round 7 (252) Josh Furman, DB, Oklahoma State
It already appears that the Denver Broncos made the right call by trading up to add pass-rusher Shane Ray in the 2015 draft. According to Pro Football Focus, he has produced one sack, four quarterback hurries and a batted pass in just 54 preseason snaps.
In other words, he can get after the quarterback like a goat chasing a potato chip. However, Ray can be more than just a sack artist.
Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com recently documented how Ray is quickly developing into an all-around linebacker:
Ray will eventually appear in some formations along with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips likes what he has seen from Ray as he makes the transition from being primarily a college pass-rusher to an outside linebacker who joins the rush, sets the edge in the run game and drops into coverage.
Though he hasn't been nearly as impressive as Ray, rookie offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo has shown progress this preseason. Pro Football Focus currently has him rated third overall among Denver tackles.
Fifth-round cornerback Lorenzo Doss is another player who has managed to shine during the preseason. He has shown the athleticism and fluidity on the exhibition field that NFL teams want to see out of pass defenders. He has also shown the ability to provide tight coverage.
According to Pro Football Focus, Doss has been on the field for 71 plays but has only been targeted three times. He has allowed two receptions for a paltry seven total yards.
Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo (six tackles, 2.0 sacks) also looks like he can make a difference in 2015.
Unfortunately, tight end Jeff Heuerman, another player who could have made an impact as a rookie, was lost for the season with a torn ACL shortly after being drafted.
All told, this is looking like a strong rookie class, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Current Overall Grade: A
- Round 1 (28) Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke
- Round 2 (54) Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
- Round 3 (80) Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
- Round 4 (113) Gabe Wright, DT, Auburn
- Round 5 (168) Michael Burton, FB, Rutgers
- Round 6 (200) Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas
- Round 7 (240) Corey Robinson, OT, South Carolina
- Undrafted (FA) Zach Zenner, RB, South Dakota State
Detroit Lions rookie running back Ameer Abdullah looked like the jewel of the 2015 draft class in his NFL debut, rushing for 67 yards on just seven carries against the New York Jets. Though he only got two carries for seven yards in his second preseason outing, Abdullah looks like a future star.
Rookie guard Laken Tomlinson has been equally impressive, even though the lineman isn't likely to draw as much attention. Pro Football Focus currently rates him as the second-best guard on the roster. He has looked strong and steady on the exhibition field.
According to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, however, Tomlinson may not crack the starting lineup before the regular-season opener.
Unfortunately for Detroit, the two defensive backs the team drafted haven't quite lived up to expectations. Alex Carter is still recovering from ankle surgery, while Pro Football Focus currently rates Quandre Diggs last among Detroit cornerbacks.
Offensive tackle Corey Robinson and defensive tackle Gabe Wright both look like they will be depth players at this point. Fullback Michael Burton (one reception for 14 yards) has flashed some talent as both a blocker and as a receiver.
Undrafted rookie Zach Zenner has been the clear surprise of this rookie class, and if he doesn't make Detroit's final roster, he will get an opportunity elsewhere. The South Dakota State product has carried the ball 17 times for 77 yards and has caught six passes for 60 yards and a score.
The addition of Abdullah and Zenner has the potential to jump-start the Lions' rushing attack in 2015, and Tomlinson will be a great depth player and eventual starter. This is a nice group, even if several of the mid-to late-round picks are struggling.
Current Overall Grade: B
Green Bay Packers
- Round 1 (30) Damarious Randall, DB, Arizona State
- Round 2 (62) Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (OH)
- Round 3 (94) Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
- Round 4 (129) Jake Ryan, OLB, Michigan
- Round 5 (147) Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
- Round 6 (206) Aaron Ripkowski, FB, Oklahoma
- Round 6 (210) Christian Ringo, DE, Louisiana-Lafayette
- Round 6 (213) Kennard Backman, TE, UAB
The Green Bay Packers may well wind up with two major secondary contributors from this rookie draft class. First-round pick Damarious Randall and second-round pick Quinten Rollins have both been impressive in the preseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, Randall has been the team's fourth-best cornerback this preseason, while Rollins has been its second-best corner. Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reported Rollins has done enough to earn first-team reps.
Rookie linebacker Jake Ryan has also been impressive during the preseason. He appears comfortable with the speed of the NFL game and has shown glimpses of talent as a pass-rusher. He has two sacks so far this preseason.
Furthermore, Pro Football Focus currently ranks Christian Ringo as the Packers' second-best defensive end.
Quarterback Brett Hundley is obviously entrenched as a backup, but he has shown a lot of poise and promise on the field. He has completed 63.6 percent of his passes and owns a passer rating of 115.3 through two weeks of play.
Fullback Aaron Ripkowski has four special teams tackles and should easily make the team with that unit.
If we have to point out a disappointment from the group, it would be receiver Ty Montgomery. The former Stanford standout hasn't displayed the cleanest route running and has averaged just 8.0 yards per punt return on special teams.
Montgomery will have an opportunity to make an impact, however, now that Jordy Nelson is out for the year. According to Demovsky, the rookie has recently been getting work as the team's No. 3 receiver
If Montgomery can emerge as a difference-maker in Green Bay's offense, this could easily shape up to be one of the league's top rookie classes.
Current Overall Grade: A-
- Round 1 (16) Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
- Round 2 (43) Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
- Round 3 (70) Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
- Round 5 (175) Keith Mumphery, WR, Michigan State
- Round 6 (211) Reshard Cliett, OLB, South Florida
- Round 6 (216) Christian Covington, DT, Rice
- Round 7 (235) Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU
It appears that the Houston Texans made a smart decision by selecting cornerback Kevin Johnson in the first round of this year's draft.
The rookie has allowed just 28.6 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed, and Pro Football Focus has him rated first overall among Houston cornerbacks.
"The guy, for a rookie, has done really well," head coach Bill O'Brien recently said of Johnson, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "His attitude, skill set, he battles. There’s no question we made the right choice there."
Unfortunately, linebacker Benardrick McKinney and receiver Jaelen Strong haven't looked like surefire studs so far in the preseason. McKinney is the lowest-rated inside linebacker on the team, according to Pro Football Focus. Strong has just two receptions for 15 yards, though one of the receptions went for a score.
Receiver Keith Mumphery (three receptions for 29 yards) and defensive tackle Christian Covington (two tackles) have also underwhelmed in the preseason. Running back Kenny Hilliard (a meager 2.1 yards per carry) hasn't looked much better on the exhibition field.
Linebacker Reshard Cliett is out for the season with a knee injury.
The good news is Johnson looks like a future starter at cornerback and the Texans don't need a ton of other help on the defensive side of the ball. The bad news is that this rookie group looks below average beyond Johnson.
Current Overall Grade: C-
- Round 1 (29) Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
- Round 3 (65) D'Joun Smith, CB, Florida Atlantic
- Round 3 (93) Henry Anderson, DE, Stanford
- Round 4 (109) Clayton Geathers, SS, Central Florida
- Round 5 (151) David Parry, DT, Stanford
- Round 6 (205) Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State
- Round 6 (207) Amarlo Herrera, ILB, Georgia
- Round 7 (255) Denzelle Good, OT, Mars Hill
- Undrafted (FA) Duron Carter, WR, CFL
The Indianapolis Colts may have landed an immediate starter in the slot with first-round draft pick Phillip Dorsett. The former Miami speedster currently leads the team with seven receptions for 72 yards.
"He flat-out burns down the field," Colts cornerback Greg Toler said of Dorsett, per Mike Wells of ESPN.com. "You sit on his routes too much or miss on a jam and it’s a foot race.”
Second-round pick D'Joun Smith hasn't been quite as impressive as Dorsett, though he has shown glimpses of brilliance on the field. Pro Football Focus currently has him rated tied for fourth overall among Colts cornerbacks.
Defensive end Henry Anderson has been even better as a defender. He only has one tackle and one quarterback hurry this preseason, but he has shown the type of lane discipline the Colts need out of a 3-4 end. He is currently rated second overall among ends on the team, according to Pro Football Focus.
Strong safety Clayton Geathers (11 combined tackles) has shown promise as an inside-the-box safety. It will likely take him time to develop as a pass defender, but he should have value on running downs.
Rookie running back Josh Robinson currently leads the team with 105 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He should have a realistic chance of finding a role behind veteran Frank Gore.
Former CFL standout Duron Carter is long on potential, but he has just one reception for 16 yards this preseason.
Dorsett and Smith are likely to be the gems of this rookie class because they both have the potential to make meaningful game-changing plays when the football is in the air. Overall, though, this looks like a talented group that fits the Colts' needs from top to bottom.
Current Overall Grade: A-
- Round 1 (3) Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida
- Round 2 (36) T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
- Round 3 (67) A.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina
- Round 4 (104) James Sample, SS, Louisville
- Round 5 (139) Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
- Round 6 (180) Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
- Round 7 (220) Neal Sterling, WR, Monmouth
- Round 7 (229) Ben Koyack, TE, Notre Dame
- Undrafted (FA) Corey Grant, RB, Auburn
Because of injuries, it's really difficult to put a grade on the Jacksonville Jaguars' rookie draft class.
Third-overall draft pick Dante Fowler has been out with a torn ACL since his first rookie practice, and second-round pick T.J. Yeldon has missed time with a sprained finger. According to the Associated Press (via Fox Sports), Yeldon should make his NFL debut this week.
Safety James Sample has also missed time with a broken arm, and receiver Neal Sterling has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the rookies who have appeared in the first two preseason games have been about as impressive as a Honda Civic with a four-foot spoiler (they're trying at least).
Guard A.J. Cann has struggled in exhibition action and currently holds a negative grade from Pro Football Focus. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett also has earned a negative overall rating, though he has shown a knack for defending the run.
Receiver Rashad Greene has yet to see a preseason target.
In fact, the most impressive rookie so far has probably been undrafted rookie Corey Grant, who has averaged 3.0 yards per carry to go with three preseason receptions.
If we had to put a grade on what we've seen from Jacksonville's healthy rookies right now, it wouldn't be a passing one. However, this is one team that rightfully deserves a bit of injury leeway.
Current Overall Grade: Incomplete
Kansas City Chiefs
- Round 1 (18) Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
- Round 2 (49) Mitch Morse, OG, Missouri
- Round 3 (76) Chris Conley, WR, Georgia
- Round 3 (98) Steven Nelson, CB, Oregon State
- Round 4 (118) Ramik Wilson, ILB, Georgia
- Round 5 (172) D.J. Alexander, OLB, Oregon State
- Round 5 (173) James O'Shaughnessy, TE, Illinois State
- Round 6 (217) Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT, Southern Miss
- Round 7 (233) Da'Ron Brown, WR, Northern Illinois
The rookie class of the Kansas City Chiefs has yielded mostly positive results so far this preseason.
Third-round pick Chris Conley has shown some promise as a return man and a run-blocker, while fellow receiver Da'Ron Brown has caught four passes and found the end zone. In addition, Pro Football Focus currently lists second-round pick Mitch Morse as the highest-rated center on the team.
Fourth-round linebacker Ramik Wilson (10 total tackles between defense and special teams) even looks like he can be an early contributor.
However, the star of this group has been first-round pick Marcus Peters. According to Pro Football Focus, he has allowed just one reception for nine yards this preseason and has held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 39.6 when targeting him.
NFL Media's Gil Brandt currently has Peters as his top candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The downside of the rookie group is that the Chiefs need receiver help, but Conley has yet to show he can make an offensive impact. The team hasn't gotten much out of tight end James O'Shaughnessy (two receptions for 15 yards), either.
Still, the Chiefs get a positive grade for grabbing a potential starter in Morse and a potential future star in Peters, along with some solid depth at other positions.
Current Overall Grade: B
- Round 1 (14) DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
- Round 2 (52) Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
- Round 4 (114) Jamil Douglas, OG, Arizona State
- Round 5 (145) Bobby McCain, CB, Memphis
- Round 5 (149) Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State
- Round 5 (150) Cedric Thompson, FS, Minnesota
- Round 5 (156) Tony Lippett, WR, Michigan State
- Undrafted (FA) Zach Vigil, ILB, Utah State
The Miami Dolphins haven't seen first-round draft pick DeVante Parker on the playing field yet, as the rookie receiver is still recovering from offseason foot surgery. Unfortunately, the two guys drafted after Parker have been a bit disappointing.
Rookie defensive tackle Jordan Phillips currently holds a negative overall grade from Pro Football Focus, as does rookie guard Jamil Douglas. The latter, at least, has performed well enough that he could push for playing time.
Like Parker, rookie running back Jay Ajayi has been out with an injury, a hamstring strain.
Rookies Bobby McCain and Cedric Thompson have also struggled in the preseason. Pro Football Focus has McCain currently rated last overall among Miami cornerbacks, and Thompson is in the same position with the safeties.
According to Chris Perkins of the Sun-Sentinel, McCain has at least shown some playmaking ability in practice.
The only real bright spot in this draft class so far has been receiver-turned-cornerback Tony Lippett. He has allowed just one reception with a pass breakup through 83 defensive snaps.
Undrafted linebacker Zach Vigil (10 tackles, 1.0 sacks) has actually outperformed Miami's draft picks. He also brings special teams value, so expect him to make the team.
We don't want to be too harsh on the Dolphins because we haven't seen what Parker and Ajayi can do on the field. However, the guys brought in by general manager Dennis Hickey who have made it into game action have left a lot to be desired.
Current Overall Grade: D-
- Round 1 (11) Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
- Round 2 (45) Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
- Round 3 (88) Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU
- Round 4 (110) T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
- Round 5 (143) MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois
- Round 5 (146) Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
- Round 6 (185) Tyrus Thompson, OT, Oklahoma
- Round 6 (193) B.J. Dubose, DE, Louisville
- Round 7 (228) Austin Shepherd, OT, Alabama
- Round 7 (232) Edmond Robinson, OLB, Newberry
There is a lot to like and a few reasons for concern when it comes to the Minnesota Vikings' rookie class.
Let's start with the positives. Rookie inside linebacker Eric Kendricks looks like a future star. Pro Football Focus rates him as the team's top inside linebacker, and he seems to have impressed his head coach.
"He’s active and productive," head coach Mike Zimmer said of Kendricks, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I like a lot of things about him. I like his enthusiasm, his effort. He’s got great speed. He made a heck of a play covering the back man-to-man out of the backfield one time he made a tackle. I like him, and I like the way he’s going."
Receiver Stefon Diggs (four receptions for 40 yards) and tight end MyCole Pruitt (four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown) have also flashed some major promise on the exhibition field.
Unfortunately, some of the other rookies in Minnesota's draft class have been far less impressive.
The biggest disappointment, however, has been first-round pick Trae Waynes. Though he certainly looks the part at 6'0" and 190 pounds, he has yet to really figure out how to play the pro game.
"There's no denying the fact Waynes has had some rough moments in his introduction to the NFL," Ben Goessling of ESPN.com recently wrote.
According to Pro Football Focus, Waynes has been the worst overall corner on the team through three preseason games. He has been targeted 15 times and has allowed six completions for 121 yards with two missed tackles.
When watching Waynes on film, he appears to have a difficult time getting in the right position to make a play on the football.
This currently looks like an average group that will get better if Waynes can figure out a way to contribute as a rookie.
Current Overall Grade: B-
New England Patriots
- Round 1 (32) Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
- Round 2 (64) Jordan Richards, SS, Stanford
- Round 3 (97) Geneo Grissom, DE, Oklahoma
- Round 4 (101) Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas
- Round 4 (111) Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida State
- Round 4 (131) Shaq Mason, C, Georgia Tech
- Round 5 (166) Joe Cardona, LS, Navy
- Round 6 (178) Matthew Wells, LB, Mississippi State
- Round 6 (202) A.J. Derby, TE, Arkansas
- Round 7 (247) Darryl Roberts, CB, Marshall
- Round 7 (253) Xzavier Dickson, OLB, Alabama
- Undrafted (FA) Chris Harper, WR, Cal
It's probably a good thing that the defending Super Bowl champions don't need a ton of immediate help, because the New England Patriots' top two picks each appear to be a work in progress.
"Maybe the best way to describe my first impressions of Brown is that it's a developing picture," Mike Reiss of ESPN.com wrote of New England's initial pick after the team's second preseason game.
Defensive end Trey Flowers, however, has probably played better than many initially expected. According to Pro Football Focus, he has produced a sack and a quarterback hit on just 14 defensive snaps this preseason.
Rookie guard/center Shaq Mason looks like a typical Patriots depth player, while guard Tre' Jackson looks like he could be a future starter.
The big surprise of the Patriots preseason, however, has been undrafted rookie Chris Harper. The former Cal standout has produced 12 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown and has averaged 10.7 yards per punt return.
Harper just seems like the type of player that Bill Belichick wants to put on his squad.
Overall, it appears the Patriots managed to add a good amount of talent and depth this year, even if much of it has yet to shine through.
Current Overall Grade: C+
New Orleans Saints
- Round 1 (13) Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
- Round 1 (31) Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson
- Round 2 (44) Hau'oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington
- Round 3 (75) Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State
- Round 3 (78) P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
- Round 5 (148) Davis Tull, OLB, Tennessee-Chattanooga
- Round 5 (154) Tyeler Davison, DT, Fresno State
- Round 5 (167) Damian Swann, CB, Georgia
- Round 7 (230) Marcus Murphy, RB, Missouri
The New Orleans Saints may have found their quarterback of the future in third-round pick Garrett Grayson (79.9 passer rating this preseason), but first-round draft pick Andrus Peat doesn't look like their offensive tackle of the present.
Pro Football Focus currently has Peat rated last overall among Saints offensive tackles. He has looked uncomfortable on the playing field and hasn't shown the type of technique a starting offensive lineman needs to have. The team has tried moving him around the line in camp with little success.
"To me, that signals the Saints are preparing for the 6'7", 316-pounder to be a versatile backup this season instead of a starter," ESPN.com's Mike Triplett wrote of the Saints moving Peat. "Since he hasn’t done enough to push starting tackles Zach Strief or Terron Armstead."
Fellow first-round pick Stephone Anthony (eight tackles) has been more productive, though Pro Football Focus also rates him last at his position on the roster.
Outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha (three quarterback hurries, seven tackles) has probably looked like the best rookie on the exhibition field, though cornerback Damian Swann has produced an interception. Fellow cornerback P.J. Williams has been out with an injury.
Marcus Murphy has carried the ball just four times for six yards this preseason, though he has averaged a respectable 27.3 yards per kickoff return.
Based on what we've seen this preseason, the Saints have an average rookie group at best.
Current Overall Grade: C-
New York Giants
- Round 1 (9) Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami
- Round 2 (33) Landon Collins, SS, Alabama
- Round 3 (74) Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
- Round 5 (144) Mykkele Thompson, S, Texas
- Round 6 (186) Geremy Davis, WR, Connecticut
- Round 7 (226) Bobby Hart, OG, Florida State
Injuries have made it difficult to get a good read on the New York Giants' rookie class this preseason. Second-round pick Landon Collins suffered an MCL sprain in the preseason opener against Cincinnati, and fifth-round pick Mykkele Thompson suffered a season-ending Achilles tear.
First-round lineman Ereck Flowers hasn't exactly dampened the injury blow with stellar play either.
He has been forced to step into a potential starting role because of the chest injury suffered by starting left tackle Will Beatty. The results have been pretty mixed.
Flowers has looked poised and powerful at times when on the field. At other times, it seems that the speed of the game has taken him by surprise. As a run-blocker, he has been solid.
"As expected, Flowers looks like a giant mauler who can eat up defenders in the run game," Dan Graziano of ESPN.com recently wrote. "The Giants believed he would show that right away, and he has. The questions are about footwork and technique in pass protection."
Pro Football Focus currently rates Flowers as New York's worst pass-blocking tackle. He has been credited with allowing two quarterback hits and one hurry. Ironically, seventh-round pick Bobby Hart is actually rated as the team's best pass-blocking tackle.
Third-round pick Owamagbe Odighizuwa is a work in progress as a pass-rusher. He has shown some preseason potential with five quarterback hurries and one batted pass, though he has played mostly against backups.
Receiver Geremy Davis (five receptions for 48 yards) may show enough to make the team.
If Collins can get healthy quickly and Flowers can emerge as a functional rookie starter, then this class will look better. As it stands, however, New York's rookies look merely average.
Current Overall Grade: C-
New York Jets
- Round 1 (6) Leonard Williams, DE, USC
- Round 2 (37) Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
- Round 3 (82) Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville
- Round 4 (103) Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
- Round 5 (152) Jarvis Harrison, OG, Texas A&M
- Round 7 (223) Deon Simon, DT, Northwestern State
The New York Jets haven't gotten a ton of production out of their rookie class so far, but sixth overall pick Leonard Williams looks like a surefire star.
According to Pro Football Focus, in his 29 preseason snaps to date, he's produced two sacks, a quarterback hit, two tackles, one assist and four stops. This means that Williams had a hand in ending 22.4 percent of the plays he encountered while on the field.
Aside from Williams, though, the Jets haven't had much to be excited about. Rookie receiver Devin Smith has been out with broken ribs, and Pro Football Focus currently rates linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin as the team's worst outside linebacker.
Mauldin recently suffered a knee sprain that will cause him to miss some time.
Quarterback Bryce Petty (59.5 completion percentage, 85.2 passer rating) has shown some flashes, but it seems unlikely that he will be a serious candidate to start early in the 2015 season.
The only other rookie besides Williams to shine thus far in the preseason is defensive tackle Deon Simon. He currently has three tackles and one sack on his resume.
The Jets deserve credit for pouncing on Williams when they had the opportunity in the draft. However, it's difficult to see the team getting much other immediate help from its rookie group.
Current Overall Grade: C+
- Round 1 (4) Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
- Round 2 (35) Mario Edwards Jr., DT, Florida State
- Round 3 (68) Clive Walford, TE, Miami
- Round 4 (128) Jon Feliciano, OG, Miami
- Round 5 (140) Ben Heeney, ILB, Kansas
- Round 5 (161) Neiron Ball, OLB, Florida
- Round 6 (179) Max Valles, OLB, Virginia
- Round 7 (218) Anthony Morris, OL, Tennessee State
- Round 7 (221) Andre Debose, WR, Florida
- Round 7 (242) Dexter McDonald, CB, Kansas
The Oakland Raiders' rookie class has a lot of promise, which this long-beleaguered franchise certainly needs.
Fourth overall draft pick Amari Cooper headlines the group and has stood out early. Though he has just four receptions for 62 yards this preseason, he has already earned the trust of his quarterback.
"He’s really good in and out his breaks. He has good command of his route tree," Derek Carr said of Cooper, per Bill Williamson of ESPN.com. "He’s going to be a productive player for us."
Rookie tight end Clive Walford (two receptions for 28 yards in one preseason appearance) has also shown potential as a pass-catcher. Guard Jon Feliciano appears ready to bring help to the offense as well. Pro Football Focus currently ranks him as the team's second-best guard.
On the defensive side of the ball, Pro Football Focus rates Ben Heeney as the team's top inside linebacker. He has shown both quickness and awareness on the playing field and currently leads the team with 15 tackles to go with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Placing him alongside 2014 first-round pick Khalil Mack should pay immediate dividends.
Though he hasn't been as productive as Heeney, second-round pick Mario Edwards Jr. (two tackles, 0.5 sacks) has shown some promise as a down lineman.
Receiver Andre Debose suffered an Achilles injury, leading Oakland to waive him with an injury designation.
If guys like Cooper, Walford, Feliciano and Heeney keep progressing at this pace, we could be looking back at the Raiders' rookie class as the best of 2015.
Current Overall Grade: A
- Round 1 (20) Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
- Round 2 (47) Eric Rowe, CB, Utah
- Round 3 (84) Jordan Hicks, OLB, Texas
- Round 6 (191) JaCorey Shepherd, CB, Kansas
- Round 6 (196) Randall Evans. CB, Kansas State
- Round 7 (237) Brian Mihalik, DE, Boston College
It's a good thing that Philadelphia Eagles rookie receiver Nelson Agholor and cornerback Eric Rowe are already looking like future starters. The other members of Philadelphia's draft class have failed to wow to this point.
Second-round pick Rowe has been solid as a slot corner. Though he has allowed 40 percent of passes thrown his way to become completions, according to Pro Football Focus, he has been tight enough in coverage that he hasn't been tested much. He also forced a fumble in his preseason debut against the Colts.
Agholor, the team's first-round selection, has been a star on offense. Though he has only seen limited action in the Eagles' first two games, he already has seven receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. Of those yards, 48 have come after the catch.
"The first thing you notice about wide receiver Nelson Agholor, the Philadelphia Eagles' first-round pick from USC, is how quickly he starts moving upfield after catching the ball," Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com recently wrote. "He seems to have an innate ability to create big plays from average throws."
After Agholor and Rowe, however, there hasn't been a lot to get fired up about when it comes to Philadelphia's rookies.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks and cornerback Randall Evans have been average at best. Pro Football Focus currently rates seventh-round pick Brian Mihalik as the team's worst defensive end, though he does have a sack this preseason.
Cornerback JaCorey Shepherd is out for the year with a torn ACL.
Boy, does Agholor look impressive, though. He and Rowe make this an above-average rookie class, even if the Eagles get no other significant rookie contributions in 2015.
Current Overall Grade: B-
- Round 1 (22) Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
- Round 2 (56) Senquez Golson, CB, Mississippi
- Round 3 (87) Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
- Round 4 (121) Doran Grant, CB, Ohio State
- Round 5 (160) Jesse James, TE, Penn State
- Round 6 (199) Leterrius Walton, DT, Central Michigan
- Round 6 (212) Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami
- Round 7 (239) Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville
- Undrafted (FA) Tyler Murphy, WR, Boston College
The Pittsburgh Steelers have taken a linebacker in the first round of the draft for three consecutive years. Like the two first-round picks before him, Bud Dupree appears headed for a slow start.
According to NFL Media's Marc Sessler, he has had an up-and-down training camp and hasn't looked entirely comfortable on the field in the preseason. He has often appeared out of position and currently holds the second-lowest rating among Steelers outside linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus. He did finally notch a sack in the Steelers' third preseason game, though.
Unfortunately, the rookie group in Pittsburgh beyond Dupree hasn't created a ton of excitement, either.
Second-round pick Senquez Golson recently underwent shoulder surgery and is out indefinitely. Tight end Jesse James has dropped passes, fumbled the football and generally disappointed in preseason action. Receiver Sammy Coates has caught eight passes for 124 yards, but he has also been targeted a team-high 18 times.
Coates is the lowest-rated receiver on the roster, according to Pro Football Focus.
On the bright side, cornerback Doran Grant and pass-rusher Anthony Chickillo both look like they can be rookie contributors. Grant has allowed just one reception for nine yards this preseason, and Chickillo has two tackles and two quarterback hurries in limited action.
Perhaps the most exciting rookie has been undrafted quarterback-turned-receiver Tyler Murphy, who has six receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Murphy looks like a player who can provide depth at quarterback and receiver as well as special teams.
The good news is that the Steelers don't regularly expect rookies to be early contributors, especially on defense. This is good news because the Pittsburgh rookie group has appeared less than stellar up to this point.
Current Overall Grade: C-
San Diego Chargers
- Round 1 (15) Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
- Round 2 (48) Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
- Round 3 (83) Craig Mager, CB, Texas State
- Round 5 (153) Kyle Emanuel, OLB, North Dakota State
- Round 6 (192) Darius Philon, DT, Arkansas
- Undrafted (FA) Josh Lambo, K, Texas A&M
San Diego Chargers rookie running back Melvin Gordon (1.8 yards per carry) has been a disappointment to this point in the preseason, but that shouldn't put a major damper on things. He is in a crowded backfield and may not play a major role as a rookie anyway.
Linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Craig Mager, however, can jump into significant roles as rookies. Pro Football Focus currently rates Mager second overall among San Diego cornerbacks. Perryman has just one tackle and one quarterback hurry in one preseason appearance, but he did receive a positive grade from Pro Football Focus for his overall performance.
Fellow rookie linebacker Kyle Emanuel has been even more active on the exhibition field, especially as a pass-rusher. He's been credited with one sack, four quarterback hits and two additional hurries during his 54 preseason snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
The big surprise in San Diego, however, is undrafted kicker Josh Lambo. The Texas A&M product has averaged 72.4 yards per kickoff this preseason and is a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals beyond the 40-yard mark. He has a realistic shot of displacing incumbent Nick Novak, who missed an extra point against the Cardinals.
"They brought me in for a reason," Lambo said after his most recent game, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I think nights like tonight certainly help out my cause and help my stock a little bit. But I'm not here to be a camp leg."
If Lambo doesn't make San Diego's final roster, he should have a chance to stick with another team this season.
Overall, the Chargers' rookie group looks promising, but Gordon's early struggles really hurt the unit's preseason grade heading into Week 3.
Current Overall Grade: C
San Francisco 49ers
- Round 1 (17) Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
- Round 2 (46) Jaquiski Tartt, SS, Samford
- Round 3 (79) Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
- Round 4 (117) Blake Bell, TE, Oklahoma
- Round 4 (126) Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
- Round 4 (132) DeAndre Smelter, WR, Georgia Tech
- Round 5 (165) Bradley Pinion, P, Clemson
- Round 6 (190) Ian Silberman, OG, Boston College
- Round 7 (244) Trenton Brown, OG, Florida
- Round 7 (254) Rory Anderson, TE, South Carolina
- Undrafted (FA) Jarryd Hayne, RB, Australian Rugby League
The San Francisco 49ers appear to have made solid decisions with their first three picks in the 2015 draft. Pro Football Focus has defensive lineman Arik Armstead rated as the team's best defensive end, and safety Jaquiski Tartt is rated as the team's top safety.
Linebacker Eli Harold has also been solid in the preseason and has been credited with three quarterback hits and one additional hurry, per PFF.
The biggest surprise of the preseason, however, has been former Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne, who has shined running the football and returning punts.
"The Jarryd Hayne Show continued," Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com wrote after the 49ers' second preseason game. "A week after the Australian rugby star accounted for 120 total yards in Houston, Hayne returned three punts for 84 yards, with each return eliciting more oohs and ahhs."
Hayne has overshadowed rookie third-round back Mike Davis, even though Davis has averaged a promising 4.7 yards per carry. Both should remain with the team in the regular season.
Receiver DeAndre Smelter is still recovering from last year's ACL tear, and rookie tight ends Blake Bell and Rory Anderson both look like depth players at best. Former Florida lineman Trenton Brown has been a nice preseason surprise.
Overall, it appears the 49ers are set to come away with a few backups, a couple of starters and one unexpected star from their rookie class.
Current Overall Grade: A
- Round 2 (63) Frank Clark, DE, Michigan
- Round 3 (69) Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
- Round 4 (130) Terry Poole, OG, San Diego State
- Round 4 (134) Mark Glowinski, OG, West Virginia
- Round 5 (170) Tye Smith, CB, Towson
- Round 6 (209) Obum Gwacham, DE, Oregon State
- Round 6 (214) Kristjan Sokoli, OL, Buffalo
- Round 7 (248) Ryan Murphy, DB, Oregon State
The Seattle Seahawks didn't make a first-round pick this year because of their trade for tight end Jimmy Graham. However, they may end up with two future stars in defensive end Frank Clark and receiver Tyler Lockett.
Clark has seven tackles and two quarterback hurries in 64 snaps this preseason. Pro Football Focus has him rated first overall among Seattle defensive ends.
Lockett, meanwhile, has been exceptional as a return specialist. He has returned five kickoffs for 205 yards and a touchdown and three punts for 38 yards so far. NFL Media's Elliot Harrison recently predicted that Lockett will make the 2015 All-Pro team:
It's always fun to place a rookie somewhere on the All-Pro squad. Last year, Zack Martin made the official team. How about this Seahawks true freshman at returner? Lockett could be key for an earthbound Seattle offense, which will benefit from the brand of explosion this guy has displayed in the preseason.
Rookie lineman Terry Poole has also looked promising. He is one of only two Seattle tackles to receive a positive grade from Pro Football Focus this preseason. Tye Smith may also make the team as a depth corner, but most of these guys are going to have a difficult time cracking Seattle's Super Bowl-caliber roster.
Still, Clark and Lockett can improve the Seahawks, which would make this a successful rookie class for one of the league's true contenders.
Current Overall Grade: B
St. Louis Rams
- Round 1 (10) Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
- Round 2 (57) Rob Havenstein, OT, Wisconsin
- Round 3 (72) Jamon Brown, OT, Louisville
- Round 3 (89) Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
- Round 4 (119) Andrew Donnal, OT, Iowa
- Round 6 (201) Bud Sasser, WR, Missouri
- Round 6 (215) Cody Wichmann, OG, Fresno State
- Round 7 (224) Bryce Hager, ILB, Baylor
- Round 7 (227) Martin Ifedi, DE, Memphis
- Undrafted (FA) Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas
First-round draft pick Todd Gurley is coming off an ACL injury and has yet to make his NFL debut, so we can't include the running back when grading the St. Louis Rams' rookie class.
What we can do is look at rookie offensive tackle Rob Havenstein, who has been promising in the preseason. He currently has a negative grade from Pro Football Focus but is also rated as the second-best tackle on the roster.
Jamon Brown and Andrew Donnal have been even better. Brown is rated as the top guard on the team, and Donnal is rated one spot above Havenstein at tackle, per PFF.
Quarterback Sean Mannion (107.5 passer rating) has also looked good in exhibition work and will likely make the team as a developmental quarterback. It doesn't appear the Rams will have a chance of stashing him on the practice squad.
The big surprise of the preseason, however, has been undrafted running back Malcolm Brown. The Texas product has rushed for 41 yards on six carries and has caught five passes for 85 yards and a touchdown.
If Gurley can't make an immediate impact as a rookie rusher, perhaps Brown can.
Receiver Bud Sasser was unable to pass his physical because of a previously undiscovered heart condition. However, the Rams have hired Sasser as an external football affairs coordinator.
"We are really excited to have him on board," head coach Jeff Fisher said of Sasser, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. "He's going to be working in alumni relations and youth football and it's just a great opportunity for him."
Overall, it looks like the Rams managed to add some real talent and depth to the offensive line, a promising young quarterback and perhaps a regular contributor in the backfield. This makes the St. Louis draft class look pretty good, even without Gurley.
Current Overall Grade: B
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Round 1 (1) Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
- Round 2 (34) Donovan Smith, OT, Penn State
- Round 2 (61) Ali Marpet, C, Hobart & William Smith
- Round 4 (124) Kwon Alexander, OLB, LSU
- Round 5 (162) Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska
- Round 6 (184) Kaelin Clay, WR, Utah
- Round 7 (231) Joey Iosefa, FB, Hawaii
- Undrafted (FA) Adam Humphries, WR, Clemson
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie quarterback Jameis Winston showed a lot of improvement between the first and second weeks of the preseason, which helps this rookie class look better than it otherwise might.
The rookie signal-caller appeared rattled in his preseason debut against the Vikings. He threw some wild passes, tossed an interception and finished with a dismal passer rating of 48.4. Against the Bengals this past week, he appeared much more comfortable and finished with a much-improved rating of 82.2.
"Not only did the 2015 No. 1 overall pick outplay Andy Dalton, but he also embarrassed the Bengals defense at times," John Breech of CBSSports.com wrote of Winston's performance. "For the first seven minutes of the game, Cincinnati's defense had no answer for Winston."
Unfortunately, Tampa's other rookies haven't shown the same kind of progress. Receivers Kenny Bell and Kaelin Clay both remain without a preseason reception, and linebacker Kwon Alexander has been a liability in pass defense.
According to Pro Football Focus, Alexander has been targeted by opposing quarterbacks six times and has given up six receptions for 42 yards. Yet, he could be looking at a starting role.
The good news is that undrafted receiver Adam Humphries has impressed where his drafted counterparts have failed.
"Of the undrafted rookies, Humphries played well Monday, with only three passes thrown to him and all three caught for third-down conversions," Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times wrote after the Cincinnati game.
The presence of Humphries and the progress from Winston prevent the Buccaneers from receiving a failing grade.
Current Overall Grade: D+
- Round 1 (2) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
- Round 2 (40) Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
- Round 3 (66) Jeremiah Poutasi, OG, Utah
- Round 4 (100) Angelo Blackson, DT, Auburn
- Round 4 (108) Jalston Fowler, FB, Alabama
- Round 5 (138) David Cobb, RB, Minnesota
- Round 6 (177) Deiontrez Mount, OLB, Louisville
- Round 6 (208) Andy Gallik, C, Boston College
- Round 7 (245) Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary
- Undrafted (FA) Cody Riggs, CB, Notre Dame
The rookie class of the Tennessee Titans looks a lot more promising than it did a week ago because quarterback Marcus Mariota took a major step forward in his second preseason appearance.
Mariota finished his first game 7-of-8 for 94 yards, but he also had two turnovers and appeared rattled by pressure from the Falcons. This past week he appeared more calm and poised, finishing 5-of-8 for 59 yards. His passer rating jumped from 76.0 to 84.9 between Week 1 and Week 2.
If Mariota can continue to develop, the Titans should feel comfortable starting him as a rookie.
Second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham (five receptions, 72 yards) also looks ready to be a difference-maker in his inaugural NFL season. Running back David Cobb (4.2 yards per carry) looks to have a regular role on the offensive side of the football as well.
After Cobb's NFL debut, NFL Media's Marc Sessler wrote that the rookie runner "has a legitimate shot to nab the team's No. 1 role before September."
Fullback Jalston Fowler looks the part of an NFL running back, and receiver Tre McBride (one kickoff return for 29 yards) has shown some special teams potential. Unfortunately, rookie lineman Jeremiah Poutasi and defensive tackle Angelo Blackson haven't been as impressive.
Poutasi has been working at tackle and is rated as the worst player at the position on the team by Pro Football Focus.
Undrafted cornerback Cody Riggs has a legitimate chance to make the final roster and has drawn praise from head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
"He’s had a good camp. He’s battled the whole time,” Whisenhunt said of Riggs, per Fox Sports. "He’s done a nice job in the preseason."
Because Mariota, Green-Beckham and Cobb have the potential to transform the offense in 2015, the Titans have reason to be excited about the coming season.
Current Overall Grade: A
- Round 1 (5) Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
- Round 2 (38) Preston Smith, DE Mississippi State
- Round 3 (95) Matt Jones, RB, Florida
- Round 4 (105) Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke
- Round 4 (112) Arie Kouandjio, OG, Alabama
- Round 5 (141) Martrell Spaight, OLB, Arkansas
- Round 6 (181) Kyshoen Jarrett, SS, Virginia Tech
- Round 6 (182) Tevin Mitchel, CB, Arkansas
- Round 6 (187) Evan Spencer, WR, Ohio State
- Round 7 (222) Austin Reiter, C, South Florida
- Undrafted (FA) Houston Bates, OLB, Louisiana Tech
The Washington Redskins raised a few eyebrows when they used the fifth overall pick on Iowa guard Brandon Scherff. So far in the preseason, it appears the initial criticism was justified.
Scherff has been on the field for 34 preseason snaps and has played below expectations. He has allowed one sack and is rated as the second-worst guard on Washington's roster by Pro Football Focus. Fourth-round pick Arie Kouandjio is the worst.
According to John Keim of ESPN.com, Scherff has a long way to go before justifying his status as a top-five pick:
Scherff displays qualities that will make him a solid player at some point. He’s strong, takes coaching well, works hard and just goes about his job. Eventually those qualities will, or at least could, produce what the Redskins want: a top-level offensive lineman. The problem is he’s not there yet, and the growing pains will linger.
However, linebacker Preston Smith (five tackles, one sack) and running back Matt Jones (6.3 yards per carry) have been impressive so far in the preseason. Safety Kyshoen Jarrett has also flashed some real potential, moving well in space and being where he needs to be in coverage.
Receiver Jamison Crowder has been out with a hamstring injury, so we haven't gotten a good look at the rookie yet. However, he drew praise early in camp before the injury.
"He's got great quickness in-and-out of breaks and he's got a lot more straight-line speed than people gave him credit for coming out of the combine," head coach Jay Gruden said of Crowder, per the team's official website.
Undrafted linebacker Houston Bates (three sacks) has also stood out in the preseason and appears to be headed toward a regular-season roster spot.
It appears Washington will get a number of early rookie contributors, even if the team's top selection isn't one of them.
Current Overall Grade: C+