Ahh, the first week of August, where football junkies like us are leeched to our television screens trying replete all that we have missed in the seven months prior. Seeing our beloved rookies don their team colors for the first time or this years hot new head coach grace the sideline for the first time, can be too much for our punitive ape brains. Naturally this saturated process calls for overreactions of every kind, with that as precursor, I give you “WEEK ONE PRE-SEASON (OVER)REACTIONS.”
ROOKIE QB REPORT
With all first round Quarterbacks getting a nice chunk of action this weekend what can we take away? The first pick of them all, Baker Mayfield, started week 1 off with an impressive performance against the Giants. He went 11-20 with 212 yards and two touchdowns. Mayfield showed great pocket awareness and footwork, staying in the pocket displaying accuracy in the face of a pass rush. He also was good on his feet converting two fourth downs scrambling. If it wasn’t for an equally impressive performance with the first team by Tyrod Taylor, going 5/5 for 99 yards and a touchdown, it would be hard to justify Baker not being the guy going forward.
Sam Darnold, the Backjudge’s unanimous top QB going into April’s draft, had Week One’s most impressive performance. After watching Teddy Bridgewater show some of the poise and IQ that made him a franchise QB in Minnesota, going 7-8 for 85 yards and one touchdown, Darnold answered the call working behind an average offensive line and run game. Darnold finished the game 13-18 for 96 yards and one touchdown. He looked much more aware of his footwork and overall pocket presence than he did at USC, while still extending plays with his legs. While he missed a couple deep balls, Darnold overall still looks the best of the bunch.
Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson the three other first round quarterbacks, all had their share of impressive moments in their first taste of NFL action. Allen showed off his cannon of an arm in his debut against Carolina, making some jaw dropping throws and in one instance using his frame and athleticism to escape a sack, however he still seemed to lack some awareness and accuracy. Overall though this first taste of action was a net positive.
Josh Rosen, the most prototypical of our first round QB’s, got off to a relatively shaky start. Most of this can be attributed to an awful job of pass protection and poor snaps exhibited by his offensive line. All of that considered Rosen was still able to show why he’s been a highly touted prospect since he was 15. His footwork is impressive and his practice of throwing accurate balls in the face of a rush was on display. He’s dealt with a porous offensive line at UCLA and still produced, it looks he’ll have to do the same in Arizona.
Last but not least, Lamar Jackson, the most dynamic athlete we’ve seen at the quarterback position since his current teammate Robert Griffin III. Lamar has now had two preseason games under his belt, and while he most definitely needs some time to learn the true intricacies of the position, his potential is sky high and he’s made plays this preseason that reflect that. Playing behind the third and fourth team offensive lines, Jackson naturally has been leaning more on making plays with his legs both by scrambling and making some nice throws on the run. While he’s thrown both touchdowns and interceptions, Jackson has most of all shown the ability to be a starting NFL quarterback. The touchdown he ran for against the Rams is a great example of the kind of dynamic playmaker you’re getting at the position. Mechanics and footwork can be taught, and Jackson needs to get better in that regard, that being said pure athleticism cannot and Jackson could be the purest of athletes we’ve ever seen at the position. Although this will probably be a redshirt year for Jackson, the Ravens have to be loving the potential future of their offense, and more importantly team, for years to come.
OTHER ROOKIE STANDOUTS
Speaking of dynamic athletes, Antonio Callaway, had himself a day in his preseason debut against the Giants. The potential first round pick dropped to the fourth round after a litany of legal issues and red flags, and is now for the time being, making 31 other General Managers look stupid. Callaway finished the day off with 3 rec for 87 yards including a 54 yard touchdown. If Callaway can keep his act together the Browns will be forgetting Corey Coleman in no time.
Royce Freeman, the Broncos third round pick from Oregon, looks all the part of the future of Denver’s backfield. The bruising, yet agile back, had 4 rushes for 38 yards, none more impressive than this 23 yard scamper. With the underwhelming Devontae Booker being the only thing between him and a starting role, I expect Freeman to take over fairly quickly.
Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey, and Kolton Miller, the first three lineman selected in last years draft were all steady in their NFL debuts. Nelson is as advirtised and expectations have him as a pro bowler (no pressure). The latter two are both integral parts on the right side of their offensive lines, hopefully taking over for their former pro bowl counterparts on the left side one day. This is good news as I personally was not a fan of either picks at #9 and #15, thinking both the 49rs and Raiders left defensive talent on the board.
(McGlinchey is #69 working on 2017 1st round pick Taco Charlton.)
THE GRIM REAPER THAT IS THE ACL TEAR
I wish I could say this won’t end up being a rolling list but sadly that’s not the world we live in. Both rookies Derrius Guice and Deon Cain were looking to be integral pieces of their respective offenses before both of their inaugural seasons were cut short by ACL tears. After watching two of last year rookie phenom’s Dalvin Cook and Deshaun Watson go down with the same injury, I hope this doesn’t become another motif of this years season.
Onto Week 2…