NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 2: Every team's highest-graded player, including Will Anderson Jr. and Ihmir Smith-Marsette

2RJ4MB3 Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. The Chiefs won 38-10. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

• Packers' Kingsley Enagbare leads the way: No player graded out better than the second-year edge defender (96.4).

• First-round EDGEs Will McDonald IV, Will Anderson Jr. impress: Anderson entered elite territory with a 93.9 overall grade, while McDonald came up just short (89.5).

• Ihmir Smith-Marsette making his case with Chiefs: He forced two missed tackles on four receptions and ended his day with 92 receiving yards and a score. Twenty-six of those yards came after the catch.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Preseason grades are always to be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, here was each NFL team's highest-graded player in Week 2 of the 2023 preseason, with the requirement that they played at least 10 snaps.


ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

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Arizona Cardinals: G Will Hernandez (91.2, 15 snaps)

Hernandez suffered one losing rep on his nine pass-blocking snaps in preseason Week 2 but dominated in the run game. He was the only interior offensive lineman to earn a 90.0-plus run-blocking grade.

Atlanta Falcons: S DeMarcco Hellams (92.1, 45 snaps)

The seventh-round rookie faced three targets in coverage and let up only 15 yards on two catches. He ended his elite day with a forced incompletion and an impressive interception.

Baltimore Ravens: QB Josh Johnson (90.3, 23 snaps)

Although the Ravens’ preseason win streak is no more, Josh Johnson and company were efficient. He was one of 10 quarterbacks to make at least two big-time throws in preseason Week 2, and his 90.4 passing grade ranked third at the position.

Buffalo Bills: EDGE Kingsley Jonathan (89.5, 17 snaps)

Jonathan, a 2022 undrafted free agent out of Syracuse, finished with two run stops on 12 run-defense snaps. His best play came when he shed contact from two Steelers blockers to bring down the running back for a minimal gain.

Carolina Panthers: S Vonn Bell (86.8, 13 snaps)

A forced incompletion on the lone target into his coverage helped Bell earn an 80.6 coverage grade on a minimal workload. The new Panthers safety is set to be a key piece in a secondary that has much to prove in 2023.

Chicago Bears: EDGE Terrell Lewis (91.5, 19 snaps)

Lewis’ impressive strip-sack just before halftime against the Colts earned him an elite overall grade, just one week after he was responsible for two other sacks. He now has four pressures this preseason on 40 pass-rush snaps.

Cincinnati Bengals: EDGE Raymond Johnson III (89.5, 30 snaps)

Johnson racked up three quarterback pressures on 17 pass-rushing snaps and made two run stops on 10 run-defense snaps. It was a well-rounded effort for the 2021 undrafted free agent.

Cleveland Browns: WR Austin Watkins (84.0, 63 snaps)

No receiver this preseason has seen more targets in a game than Watkins’ 14 against the Eagles. His 139 receiving yards also topped the charts, as did his three contested catches.

Dallas Cowboys: DI Chauncey Golston (88.4, 18 snaps)

Recording two hurries on nine pass-rushing snaps and three positive plays on nine run-defense snaps in preseason Week 2 has Golston in a good spot to secure one of the final defensive line spots on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.

Denver Broncos: G Quinn Meinerz (84.0, 23 snaps)

Meinerz was perfect across 13 pass-blocking snaps and earned positive marks on two of his 10 run-blocking reps.

Detroit Lions: LB Malcolm Rodriguez (90.7, 24 snaps)

A 2022 preseason standout, Rodriguez is making plays once again. He is the sixth-highest-graded linebacker overall this preseason (88.9) and made one run stop on just six such snaps in Week 2.

Green Bay Packers: EDGE Kingsley Enagbare (96.4, 14 snaps)

Enagbare beat out everyone in Week 2, standing alone as the highest-graded player — regardless of position. His best play was when he got around the left tackle to force a fumble on Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. And he recovered it, too.

Houston Texans: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (93.9, 12 snaps)

The No. 3 overall pick is already making waves this preseason despite his limited snaps. Anderson notched an impressive sack this past week in which he bulldozed the running back tasked with blocking him. His subsequent 94.1 pass-rushing grade for the game trailed only the Packers’ Kingsley Enagbare.

Indianapolis Colts: WR James Washington (90.0, 20 snaps)

Washington saw just one target in preseason Week 2 — a 42-yard, one-handed catch. That was enough to boost his grade to an elite 90.0 as he tries to latch on with his fourth team in two seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars: DI Jeremiah Ledbetter (95.2, 19 snaps)

The 29-year-old Ledbetter has bounced around the NFL since being drafted in the sixth round in 2017, and he is showing out this preseason in his third year with Jacksonville. Ledbetter’s cumulative 93.4 grade through two weeks leads all interior defenders.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette (95.6, 17 snaps)

The highest-graded offensive player of preseason Week 2, Smith-Marsette forced two missed tackles on four receptions and ended his day with 92 receiving yards and a score. Twenty-six of those yards came after the catch.

Las Vegas Raiders: LB Curtis Bolton (90.6, 16 snaps)

This marks the second straight 80.0 game grade for Bolton, who has a great opportunity to carve out a significant role in a relatively weak linebacker room.

Los Angeles Chargers: CB Deane Leonard (81.7, 35 snaps)

Small sample sizes loom large in the preseason, leading Leonard to an 80.0-plus coverage grade despite his facing just one target. However, he also made an excellent pass breakup in zone coverage.

Los Angeles Rams: LB DeAndre Square (90.5, 39 snaps)

The Rams will be encouraged by any outstanding performances at linebacker — a position lacking experience on their depth chart. Square broke up the only pass into his coverage and assisted on a tackle in run defense in preseason Week 2.

Miami Dolphins: CB Parry Nickerson (88.9, 21 snaps)

Eighty-one players faced at least four targets in coverage in preseason Week 2, Nickerson among them. Only one allowed no catches, Nickerson among them. Granted, two of those passes were uncatchable, but he forced incompletions on the other pair.

Minnesota Vikings: DI Sheldon Day (90.5, 39 snaps)

Day flat-out dominated on his 18 pass-rushing snaps. The eighth-year veteran racked up four quarterback pressures — and five if including plays negated by penalties.

New England Patriots: RB Rhamondre Stevenson (83.1, 11 snaps)

It’s hard to glean much from small sample sizes, but Stevenson did manage to force two missed tackles and rack up 22 yards after contact on four carries this past week.

New Orleans Saints: EDGE Payton Turner (93.4, 24 snaps)

What a showing it was by the 2021 first-rounder, who has been teetering on the edge of being called a bust. He tallied three quarterback pressures, including one nifty sack on which he also forced a fumble.

New York Giants: QB Daniel Jones (93.1, 10 snaps)

We don’t need to see much from Jones or make any conclusions about him this preseason, but a solid drive on just 10 snaps doesn’t hurt. He earned a 93.4 passing grade, although all of his completions came on throws targeted nine or fewer yards downfield.

New York Jets: EDGE Will McDonald IV (89.5, 21 snaps)

McDonald boasts the second-best pass-rushing grade among the six first-round rookie edge defenders who have played this preseason. He had two quarterback pressures wiped out by penalties in Week 2.

Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Nolan Smith (85.9, 23 snaps)

Smith made what can only be described as an awesome run stop against the Browns in preseason Week 2. That was the foundation of his 85.9 overall grade, although he also recorded two quarterback pressures.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Tanner Muse (90.4, 31 snaps)

Muse finished preseason Week 2 as one of seven qualifying linebackers to earn a 90.0-plus grade. His best work was in coverage, as he allowed just one catch for seven yards on 18 snaps.

San Francisco 49ers: LB Dee Winters (93.4, 14 snaps)

The second-highest coverage grade of the week (93.3) belongs to Winters. His best play was an impressive tackle on a Ben DiNucci scramble on fourth-and-3, forcing a fumble in the process.

Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Levi Bell (89.5, 29 snaps)

Bell posted two run stops and three quarterback pressures in preseason Week 2 en route to a second straight 80.0-plus game grade. He now sports an elite 90.9 grade this preseason.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB J.J. Russell (94.2, 35 snaps)

Through two weeks of preseason action, Russell is the highest-graded defender in the NFL. He has made two stops and forced a fumble in run defense, his best facet thus far.

Tennessee Titans: DI Michael Dwumfour (91.0, 17 snaps)

Dwumfour amassed three quarterback pressures on just 10 pass-rushing snaps in preseason Week 2. He also made a stop behind the line of scrimmage in run defense.

Washington Commanders: EDGE Will Bradley-King (88.7, 15 snaps)

A 2021 seventh-round pick, Bradley-King put up two quarterback hurries and was the team’s highest-graded run defender in preseason Week 2 after making two stops.


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