NFL News & Analysis

Top 10 rookie performances in NFL preseason Week 3

Arlington, Texas, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws in the pocket for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The next time we see the guys below on a football field, the games will actually matter, as we are once again taking a look at the top rookie performances from the past weekend of preseason games.

A lot of new faces on this list, including the guy everyone was waiting to show what he could truly do at the top. 

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1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Now that was the guy we saw at Clemson. All 12 throws he made against the Dallas Cowboys hit their mark, although one was broken up at the catch point.

The most impressive thing was that he wasn't always operating from clean pockets. Lawrence went 2 of 2 for 18 yards when faced with pressure. The player we saw uncharacteristically freeze under pressure at times in the first two preseason outings was not there on Sunday, as he finished with a 93.0 overall grade. 

2. EDGE Kwity Paye, Indianapolis Colts

Paye wasn’t supposed to be this good this quickly. While his preseason dominance came against backup tackles, it's important to dominate those before getting matched up with the big dogs in the NFL. He beat up Tyrell Crosby and Dan Skipper to the tune of two pressures, a run stop, and a forced fumble on only 17 snaps. His elite physical prowess was on display from start to finish. Paye finished the preseason with a 94.2 overall grade.

3. TE Kenny Yeboah, New York Jets 

Yeboah’s 93.8 overall grade is obviously boosted by the very flukey 49-yard Hail Mary that tied the game at the end, but he was productive before that as well.

Yeboah finished with four catches on five targets for 100 yards. The natural athleticism we saw shine last year at Ole Miss was on full display. It was most evident when he was tasked with avoiding linebackers on his way to the second level of the defense on his routes. The most encouraging thing for Yeboah’s potential playing time was that he earned an 81.7 run-blocking grade.

4. G Royce Newman, Green Bay Packers

If Newman doesn’t win the starting guard job in Green Bay, he doesn’t have himself to blame. He was quite easily the most impressive rookie interior offensive lineman this preseason, which continued against the Bills. He earned a 91.2 grade on 21 snaps and finished with a 91.8 overall grade this preseason. While he struggled with his hand placement at times on the edge as a tackle in college, Newman has been excellent with diminished space on the interior. He didn’t allow a single pressure all preseason.

5. RB Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

Stevenson was the most impressive running back this preseason. Against the Giants, he racked up 23 yards on five carries, including a score, with 17 more yards on two catches through the air. He finished with a ridiculous 13 broken tackles on 30 carries this preseason. Stevenson was so impressive that he made former first-rounder Sony Michel expendable.

6. LB Jon Rhattigan, Seattle Seahawks 

The West Point graduate did all he could to stave off enlistment this past weekend, as he racked up four stops, two pressures and broke up a pass on only 20 snaps. The end result was a scintillating 94.5 overall grade. Rhattigan isn’t going to be a three-down athlete at linebacker, but he’s an instinctive and steady player.

7. WR Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers 

Marshall looks firmly entrenched in the big slot role he played at LSU last season. He flashed the catch radius and some yards after the catch (YAC) ability while the Panthers' No. 1 offense got an extended run against the Pittsburgh Steelers, finishing with three catches on four targets for 43 yards and a score. Marshall racked up 181 yards for a rookie leading 3.93 yards per route on only 46 receiving snaps in three preseason games.

8. EDGE Tarron Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

Jackson may have been quiet in the first couple of preseason games, but he broke out in a big way against the Jets. He registered five pressures as well as a forced fumble on 25 pass-rushing snaps for a 90.5 pass-rushing grade. The Coastal Carolina product thrives as a power player and was taking the Jets' backups to task. He has an uphill climb to playing time on a loaded front, but he did his best to secure a roster spot with his performance Friday.

9. OT Jaylon Moore, San Francisco 49ers

As a prospect, Moore was one of the more physically gifted tackles in the class. With massive 11-inch hands and great explosive numbers in his jumps, Moore was a perfect late-round flier for a scheme that requires athletes. He played 37 snaps against the Las Vegas Raiders, finishing with an 86.0 overall grade. While he’s still inconsistent, the way he took defenders off the ball on outside zone plays is much better than most rookies.

10. EDGE Joshua Kaindoh, Kansas City Chiefs

Kaindoh is one of the most physically gifted edges in the draft class; however, the former five-star recruit simply lacked anything in the way of meaningful skill development over the course of his college career at Florida State. Against the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend, his tools were on full display, as he consistently reset the line of scrimmage and set a firm edge. While his three pressures on 36 pass-rushing snaps weren’t all that impressive, he looked more under control in that regard than the player we saw last year.

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