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2022 NFL Preseason Week 2 rookie grades: Steelers’ Kenny Pickett impresses

Published: Aug 22, 2022 at 03: 13 PM

As I did so the other day, I’ve graded the performance of 1 rookie from each contest played so far in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL preseason, having an update predicated on Monday night’s Falcons-Jets game ahead on Tuesday. Again, these evaluations aren’t predictions of how players will fare this upcoming season, nor are they long-term career projections. Each mark simply takes stock of the way the rookie played in Week 2.

Chicago Bears

The Bears selected three offensive linemen on the 3rd day of the 2022 draft, including Thomas (Round 6, No. 186 overall). He primarily prearranged at tackle for NORTH PARK State but additionally played some guard, where in fact the Bears lined him up Thursday night contrary to the Seahawks. Chicago successfully ran behind Thomas on the left side, as he came off the ball low and hard, moving tackles out from the hole or pushing them five yards downfield. He also negated linebackers at the next level and showed his nasty side by sticking on blocks through the whistle. Thomas showed good movement skills at the NFL Scouting Combine (7.4-second three-cone drill at 308 pounds), which translated to an capability to hit targets when escaping . before quick throws outside. In pass pro, he was generally sturdy but got caught leaning a little sometimes and didn’t consistently grab twists, quitting a sack. I thought his efficiency was worth noting, though, also it will not be surprising if he’s starting sooner or later in the foreseeable future.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers first-round pick played in the initial quarter contrary to the Patriots. He showed some nice movement skills for his size, but defenders bounced off a lot of Ekwonu’s blocks because he didn’t land his practical their jerseys. He landed on his backside on another toss play to his side, as safety Kyle Dugger delivered popular to the linemans chest. Later, Ekwonu quit sacks on consecutive plays, once failing woefully to stop a tackle-end twist and getting beat by speed externally. He found another twist and flashed powerful blocking in the run game, but his struggles maintaining his balance and using his feet and hands in concert managed to get a rough outing.

New Orleans Saints

The former Ohio State Buckeye worked mostly from the slot in the initial half contrary to the Packers, although Saints used him in motion using one snap and in a good formation contrary to the boundary on another.He’s been a smooth route runner, so seeing him move fluidly was no real surprise. Olave and quarterback Ian Book weren’t on a single page to start out the overall game, with the receiver failing woefully to stop for a back-shoulder throw against tight coverage. His first catch was on an instant third-and-long throw, that was defended well. The Packers didn’t cover Olave’s second reception well, though, as he worked right into a soft spot in the Packers’ zone, adjusting to a ball thrown behind him and staying upright in to the end zone for a score late in the next quarter. He showed the type of agility, flexibility and secure hands that made him a first-round selection. Olave didn’t show much physicality as a blocker in early stages but was squaring up defenders by the finish of the half.

Los Angeles Rams

Durant’s slight frame was some a concern on the Texans’ first offensive play, as big-bodied receiver Nico Collins carried Durant for an initial down, however the young corner kept fighting, ripping the ball out late (though it bounced out of bounds). He blitzed as a nickel back a few plays later, running right into a double team but eventually tripping up the scrambling Davis Mills for a sack. Durant prearranged off the ball of all plays but was physical when man-up on the snap. He nearly intercepted a higher pass late in the initial half and worked hard on coverage units, drawing a penalty contrary to the Texans as a gunner to back them up near their goal line to start out one possession. He’ll be considered a factor on defense and special teams as a rookie.

Indianapolis Colts

For the next straight week, Cross looked similar to a veteran starter when compared to a rookie third-round pick. He played deep as a center fielder (in single- and two-deep looks) contrary to the Lions, dropped right down to cover tight ends and slot receivers along with his plus athleticism and prearranged in the box to play the run. Cross also played a couple of snaps on special-teams units. He was credited with two tackles, including one against scrambling quarterback David Blough, but he was in the mix on other plays, covering plenty of ground. Cross’ highlight play came when he went high to knock away a third-down pass in the corner of the finish zone, forcing a field goal. It appeared he was a little late to identify runs maybe once or twice from deep but it’s difficult to find many faults along with his play in a quarter-plus of game action.

Denver Broncos

Washington’s quickness and toughness have made him probably the most popular rookies among Broncos fans come early july. Employed in the slot on the opening series, the fifth-round pick went on the middle and secured a reception, absorbing the hit he previously to learn was coming. Washington also prearranged outside in the initial half, getting past his man deep using one play, however the quarterback had already made a throw. Not only is it a physical receiver for his size, Washington showed fight as a run blocker. The special-teams star in college (five return scores) hesitated on the opening kickoff, stumbling into defenders following a 20-yard return. He ran through contact on his second return, though, maintaining his balance to obtain over the 35-yard line. Washington will probably win the teams return job, but coaches also needs to look for a spot for him on offense this year.

Washington Commanders

The first-round pick prearranged inside and outside through the Commanders’ loss to the Chiefs. His quickness off the line was evident. On deeper routes, Dotson effectively used his hands to knock away those of his opponent, an underappreciated approach to gaining separation. Washington’s quarterbacks didn’t find him downfield but did get him the ball: once on an instant throw as soon as on a shallow cross, and he ran for first downs both times. Given Dotsons slight build, big-bodied veterans just like the Chiefs’ L’Jarius Sneed can make it tough for him off the line and downfield making use of their physical coverage. The rookie brought contact to defenders on several run plays, though. If he continues to get strength and win hand-fights near the top of his route, he’ll become an all-around playmaker.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hall started for the Bucs against Tennessee on Saturday, moving away from the ball low for a 6-foot-6 lineman. He held the type of scrimmage well against backup right guards in the initial quarter, staying square and landing strong hands. Hall was violent with those hands, aswell, swiping aside his opponent to generate space. It had been tougher for him to create forward progress while facing left tackle Taylor Lewan at the five-technique spot through the game’s second series, though he battled the veteran on every snap. Hall’s only tackle came 24 yards downfield, showcasing his athleticism by searching for Malik Willis on the sideline and pushing him out of bounds. Understandably tired, he finished up on the floor trying to operate against a double-team on another play. As the former Houston Cougar didn’t light the stat sheet in the initial half contrary to the Titans, he showed he is able to collapse the pocket, effectively control his gap in the run game and make plays beyond your box when needed.

San Francisco 49ers

Jackson, the 49ers’ top pick in the 2022 draft, prearranged on the proper side of the line in the initial half and the left side in the next half. He fell attempting to cut inside on a tackle-end stunt on the initial series but got up quickly, pushing a running back to quarterback Kellen Mond, who threw an interception on the play. He won as a pass rusher on several occasions against Vikings tackles, utilizing a long-arm move or wiping away the blocker’s hands to have the inside lane. He found it harder to obtain an advantage because the game wore on, though, getting engulfed by blockers on several run and pass plays and finding yourself on the floor maybe once or twice. Jackson got movement versus the run game if tight ends or receivers tried taking him on and knocked down a screen pass despite losing his balance on the Vikings first group of the next half. There have been enough good plays to qualify his outing as solid, but Jackson must continue steadily to get stronger and stay upright when attempting to turn the corner as a pass rusher if he really wants to be considered a regular contributor this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The initial quarterback off the board in the 2022 draft has performed well in his first two preseason games. He entered the make an impression on the Jaguars in the next quarter and made a few strong throws right from the start, one moving to his left and another right into a zone-coverage hole. He threw a robust, on-time slant for a large gain on his second series and showed excellent timing and touch on a seam throw to tight end Pat Freiermuth, standing in the pocket with a guy in his face. He previously a touchdown pass called back because of penalty, but running back Benny Snell made a catch in the flat on another play and scored. The 2021 ACC Player of the entire year looked like a specialist quarterback.

Miami Dolphins

Tindall is well known for his speed, which showed when he hustled over the field in search of scrambling quarterback Chase Garbers on Saturday. Tindall’s athleticism also arrived in coverage, as he ran with tight ends on the middle and in the long run zone, and also pitched against a running back who had moved outside prior to the snap. The former Georgia Bulldog showed he’s not really a speed guy, however, stopping a back his tracks and limiting him to a brief gain between your tackles on his first series. He looked to be ready to undertake blockers inside, too. Tindall didn’t always discover the ball and must focus on his knowing of routes when in zone, but he ought to be effective working against tight ends and playing the run as a rookie.

Dallas Cowboys

Smith’s size and athleticism helped make him a first-round pick this spring, however the left guards two holding calls and uneven play in his preseason debut contrary to the Broncos showed he’s got some work to accomplish before learning to be a reliable starter. He did well in a few areas contrary to the Chargers on Saturday, anchoring lacking any issue in pass protection and moving opponents off the ball in the run game. He placed on a power-blocking clinic in the next quarter, using his hands and moving his feet to produce a lane for a nine-yard red-zone run. Smith’s athleticism helps him reach linebackers and safeties at the next level and move laterally with pass rushers. He leans into his man so much, however, that better tackles can shed him and cause him to reduce his balance. Smith stood up following the snap on several occasions in short-yardage situations, losing just a little ground rather than pushing forward. As the former Tulsa left tackle had not been needed holding in this contest, he previously an expensive false start a third-and-7 close to the end of the initial half. Smith must improve in several areas but flashes the opportunity to successfully transition inside to protect in the NFL.

Cleveland Browns

Bell, a third-round pick this season, is primarily found in the slot despite his tall frame (6-1, 212) and insufficient elite speed. He is able to beat nickel defenders with strength and precise routes. Bell sat down in a zone for an initial down on his initial catch contrary to the Eagles, cradling the ball and likely to the bottom but showing his football IQ by reaching for extra yards before being touched. A ball experienced the former Purdue stars hands in the next quarter, forcing a 50-yard field goal attempt by fellow rookie Cade York (which he made!). Bell caught two other passes in the initial half, someone to the sideline for an initial down and another on the middle, where he spun off a tackle try to gain nine yards. He allowed those passes into his chest rather than trusting his hands to secure the ball, however, that could be a concern down the road when battling veteran corners downfield. Bell provides some physicality as a blocker in the run game and on screens but must sustain more consistently.

New York Giants

Thibodeaux was eliminated of Sundays game after suffering the right knee injury early in the next quarter. An MRI on Monday revealed he suffered a sprained MCL and contains a recovery timeline around three weeks, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The grade from his performance against Cincinnati reflects how he performed prior to the play where he sustained the injury, on a cut-block by tight end Thaddeus Moss.

Thibodeaux didn’t win many pass-rush reps in his quarter-plus of game action versus the Bengals, getting after quarterback Brandon Allen from two- and three-point stances. He flashed potential, turning the corner by dipping beneath the blockers shoulder, but Allen sidestepped those advances. His bull-rush attempts were generally stymied by left tackles. In the run game, he had not been in a position to shake linemen or tight ends, though most plays were try to escape from him. Thibodeaux did a good job against tight leads to coverage and showed good movement skills for his size when dropping into his zone (in the same way he did at Oregon). He used his length to summary a receiver in space but hesitated a little before attacking. He’ll reach the ball quicker as he gains experience.

Baltimore Ravens

Hamilton played 85 percent of the Ravens defensive snaps within their make an impression on the Cardinals. He was in the box regularly, blitzing maybe once or twice and knocking away a red-zone throw using his 6-4 frame, 38-inch vertical leap and excellent hand-eye coordination. Hamilton shed a good result in the run game in early stages and ran via a receiver block on an instant screen when close to the line. He was especially impressive locking down tight leads to man coverage, including Cardinals second-round pick Trey McBride, with smooth movement and physicality. When aligned deep, Hamilton displayed the number he showed at Notre Dame, since the width of the field to avoid explosive plays and using long strides to angle back to the deep middle. Hamilton did the dirty focus on special teams, too, blocking for punts and playing on kickoff returns and coverage. The rookie got turned around on view field once in the initial half and may not stop a third-down conversion on view field in the fourth quarter. He also left a receiver open on a third-and-goal late in the initial half, although throw fell incomplete. Nevertheless, Hamilton showed the entire expertise that led the Ravens to choose him in the initial round.

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