We're now two weeks into the 2019 NFL preseason. Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyler Murray underwhelmed, Daniel Jones had some costly fumbles and Chase Winovich was a one-man wrecking crew in the second full week of the preseason. Let's keep the overreactions coming.
To preview the third full week of preseason games, we at PFF have highlighted players to watch for all 32 teams in all 16 games. Enjoy!
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Thursday, August 22
Two fumbles have driven Daniel Jones‘ preseason overall grade down significantly, but he's still performed at a high level from a clean pocket through two weeks. The former Duke signal-caller has completed 15-of-18 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns when kept clean thus far, earning an 87.7 clean-pocket passing grade in the process. Second-year edge defender Lorenzo Carter, on the other hand, has struggled across the board this preseason. He's earned just a 42.5 overall grade across 27 defensive snaps, recording just two pressures and two defensive stops along the way.
With the injury to first-round offensive tackle Jonah Williams, Cincinnati needs strong contributions from veterans John Jerry and Cordy Glenn in the trenches this season. And fortunately for the Bengals, Jerry and Glenn are off to strong starts in the preseason. Jerry has allowed just one pressure and earned an impressive 85.0 pass-blocking grade through two weeks, and Glenn has earned an even better 86.3 pass-blocking grade. Third-year edge defender Jordan Ellis is also off to a great start this preseason, as he's earned an impressive 85.1 overall grade and an 80.0 pass-rushing grade across 78 defensive snaps.
Chris Moore has caught all of six of his targets for 102 yards and a touchdown through two preseason games. The Cincinnati alumnus is entering a contract year with the Ravens and should look to carry momentum into the regular season. Third-year edge defender Tim Williams, a PFF favorite coming out of Alabama in 2017, is off to a similarly outstanding start. He's earned a 90.0 overall grade across 41 defensive snaps through two games, recording four defensive stops and five pressures in the process.
First-round offensive tackle Andre Dillard really couldn't have had a better start to his NFL career. The Washington State product has earned an 83.8 overall grade and an even more impressive 89.0 pass-blocking grade across his 70 defensive snaps so far this preseason. And Daeshon Hall is on the same track. The 2017 third-rounder has recorded a 95.4 pass-rush grade across 30 pass-rush snaps, recording a whopping eight total pressures in the process.
Rookie signal-caller Will Grier turned in a forgettable performance against Buffalo this past week, earning a dismal 25.0 overall grade across 23 dropbacks. He is currently Carolina's lowest-graded player in the preseason and in desperate need of a bounce-back week. First-round rookie edge defender Brian Burns has earned an 82.5 overall grade across his 25 defensive snaps this preseason but has still only rushed the passer 14 times. We want to see more from the former Florida State standout.
The rich get richer, as New England's latest crop of rookies is seemingly loaded with talent. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers has lit the preseason on fire with his route-running ability and sure-handedness, interior offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt has starred in pass protection and in the run game and edge defender Chase Winovich has been a terror to backup offensive tackles rushing off the edge. Just grab your popcorn and watch the Pats' future stars in the making.
Rookie first-rounder Dwayne Haskins has had an up-and-down preseason so far, but his ups have been mightily impressive. Just a one-year starter at Ohio State, Haskins isn't expected to hit the ground running in the NFL. His progression will be interesting to follow through the preseason and into the regular season. Shaun Dion Hamilton needs a bounce-back week or two after earning just a 36.2 overall grade through the first two weeks of the preseason. The former ‘Bama standout is expected to play a key role in Washington's defense now that Reuben Foster is out with a torn ACL.
Chris Odom, an undrafted free agent from the 2017 class, has had a great preseason thus far. He's earned a 90.0 overall grade across 56 defensive snaps, recording four pressures and two defensive stops in the process. Similarly, another former undrafted free agent in Justin Zimmer has earned an 85.0 pass-rush grade and recorded five pressures across 48 pass-rush snaps through three preseason games.
Jags' 2018 first-rounder Taven Bryan needs a bounce-back week against Miami after earning just a 44.7 overall grade across his 55 defensive snaps so far this preseason. He has just two pressures and zero defensive stops, as well. Josh Allen, the Jag's 2019 first-rounder, also needs to show us more. He's flashed his profound ability on a handful of plays, but he still has earned just 72.2 overall grade across his 39 defensive snaps.
Rookie interior defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter is doing what he did best at Georgia in years prior — he's playing the run at a high level. Ledbetter has earned an 82.3 run-defense grade and recorded two defensive stops so far this preseason. Of course, all eyes will be on Josh Rosen against Jacksonville, as they have been in his first two preseason games with the Dolphins. The former first-rounder has earned a 71.5 overall grade across his first 47 dropbacks with the team. Other rookies in Preston Williams and Michael Deiter are also players to watch, as both players have earned high grades through the first two weeks of the preseason.
Rookie center Elgton Jenkins has starred in pass protection through two preseason games, earning an impressive 89.7 pass-blocking grade across his 45 pass-blocking snaps. Where he needs to improve is in the run game, as he's earned just a 43.1 run-blocking grade thus far. Rashan Gary has just one pressure in 31 pass-rush snaps; he needs to get better. Undrafted free agent linebacker Curtis Bolton, on the other hand, has earned a 78.2 overall grade and 90.2 coverage grade across 58 defensive snaps.
A PFF favorite coming out of Michigan in 2018, Maurice Hurst turned in an outstanding performance against Arizona this past week, bringing his preseason overall grade up to 86.5 across 59 defensive snaps. We want to see more of that over the next two weeks and even more of it in the regular season. Veteran guard Jonathan Cooper is the team's lowest-graded offensive player through two preseason games, a reason for concern considering he'll likely start in place of the suspended Richie Incognito to start the regular season.
Friday, August 23
Rashard Higgins, a PFF favorite coming out of Colorado State a few years ago, is off to a great start in the preseason. He's earned a 74.8 overall grade across 60 offensive snaps, catching 9-of-10 targets for 132 yards and a touchdown in the process. Rookie off-ball linebacker Mack Wilson has exploded onto the NFL scene, as he's earned an impressive 90.5 overall grade across 91 defensive snaps in two preseason games. He's also recorded four total pressures, four defensive stops and two interceptions.
Cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Vernon Hargreaves III are the Bucs' two highest-graded defensive players through two preseason games. Together, they've allowed just four receptions for 82 yards from nine targets. On the other hand, rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting has earned just a 47.3 overall grade across his 78 defensive snaps. He needs to bounce back against Cleveland this week.
Rookie edge defender Darryl Johnson has been on fire of late, earning an impressive 91.1 overall grade and 90.5 pass-rush grade through two preseason games. The North Carolina A&T product has recorded four total pressures and three defensive stops, as well. Second-year linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is also off to a fantastic start, as he's earned an 88.5 overall grade and a 90.1 run-defense grade in limited action thus far.
Tight ends Jesse James and TJ Hockenson are the Lions' two highest-graded offensive players through two preseason games. James caught both of his targets for 20 yards and a first down in the team's first two preseason games, and Hockenson has caught his lone target for 22 yards and a first down. Veteran standout Darius Slay turned in a strong performance in limited action against Houston last week, improving his preseason overall grade to 84.5 across 32 defensive snaps.
Saturday, August 24
After earning an 82.9 overall grade in his first NFL preseason game, Kyler Murray flopped against Oakland in his second preseason game. He earned just 42.8 overall grade in the contest. He simply looked uncomfortable and overwhelmed against a bad Raiders defense. Fellow rookie Andy Isabella caught a deep touchdown from the slot against Oakland, leaving us desperate for more from the speedy wideout. Isabella was PFF's highest-graded receiver at the college level in 2018.
Veteran center Brett Jones is Minnesota's highest-graded offensive player through the first two weeks of the preseason, as he's earned a 91.5 overall grade and 90.5 run-bocking grade across 78 offensive snaps. Rookie Garrett Bradbury is expected to start ahead of Jones during the regular season, but Jones has done everything right to solidify his spot as the team's primary backup at the position. Bradbury has earned just a 57.1 overall grade across his 28 offensive snaps. Rookie guard Dru Samia has similarly struggled, earning just a 48.8 overall grade in his 72 offensive snaps.
Rookie offensive linemen Tytus Howard and Max Scharping have earned 49.7 and 65.3 overall grades, respectively, through the first two weeks of the 2019 NFL preseason. Both Howard and Scharping will need to put forth improved play if they're going to carve out significant roles with this team. Rookie undrafted free agent Albert Huggins leads the team in pass-rush grade (87.7) through two preseason games. The former Clemson product has recorded four total pressures in 34 pass-rush snaps.
Rookie safety Donovan Wilson has been outstanding thus far, earning an impressive 92.7 overall grade across 56 defensive snaps. He's also recorded two defensive stops and an interception. Fellow defensive backs Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie have also played above expectation. Lewis and Awuzie have earned 80.2 and 76.9 overall grades, respectively, through two preseason games.
Rookie running back David Montgomery was a forced missed tackle machine at Iowa State, and he's impressed in limited action with Chicago so far this preseason. We're looking forward to an increased sample size for the young back. Veteran safety Deon Bush is the Bears' highest-graded defender through two weeks, as he's earned a 90.4 overall grade across 53 defensive snaps. He's also logged one defensive stop, one interception and one pass breakup.
Rookie TCU product Ben Banogu is the Colts' highest-graded defensive player so far this preseason. He's earned 81.8 overall grade and a 74.4 pass-rush grade across his 25 defensive snaps. On the opposite end of Indy's defense has been veterans Malik Hooker and Jihad Ward. While Hooker's 29.5 overall grade so far this preseason won't keep him from a starting role come Week 1, Ward may need an uptick in production to keep his name in the mix along the defensive line.
Taysom Hill won't play a ton of quarterback during the regular season for as long as Drew Brees is healthy, so let's enjoy the moment and watch the former BYU signal-caller sling it. Hill has earned an 86.6 overall grade, a 90.1 rushing grade and a 73.6 passing grade through two preseason games. Rookie defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has struggled so far, earning just a 44.1 overall grade across 60 defensive snaps. The game still looks fast for the former Florida product, but experience this preseason and into the regular season should lead to an uptick in performance.
Rookie edge defender Jachai Polite still hasn't bounced back from his woeful Combine performance in February. The former Florida standout has earned just a 49.8 overall grade and recorded zero pressures across his 65 defensive snaps thus far. On a lighter note, three of the Jets' four highest-graded offensive players this preseason are wide receivers. Deontay Burnett, Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson have all had strong starts to the preseason.
Jimmy Garoppolo didn't play well against Denver. He earned a 17.1 overall grade across six dropbacks, completing just one pass for zero yards and throwing an interception in the process. It goes without saying that he needs a better game against Kansas City. On the bright side, defensive backs Jaquiski Tartt and Antone Exum Jr. have both earned 83.0-plus overall grades so far this preseason. The duo has combined for four defensive stops and two pass breakups.
New Chiefs linebacker Darron Lee is the team's lowest-graded defender so far this preseason, having earned a lowly 48.8 overall grade across 82 defensive snaps. Meanwhile, rookie defensive back Juan Thornhill has done the opposite. He's earned a 77.7 overall grade across his 70 defensive snaps, good for the third-best overall grade among Chiefs defenders.
Five of the Broncos' six highest-graded defensive players so far this preseason are defensive linemen, and 2018 first-rounder Bradley Chubb leads them all with his 92.2 overall grade across 26 defensive snaps. If Chubb can take the next step and improve his pass-rush grade in Year 2, he and Von Miller will have a case for top edge tandem in the NFL at the end of the 2019 season. Rookie guard Dalton Risner looks like a seasoned veteran through two preseason games, as he's earned a 76.0 overall grade across 62 offensive snaps and allowed zero pressures in 35 pass-blocking snaps.
Kevin Peterson, an undrafted free agent from the 2016 class, has had an incredible start to the preseason. The former Oklahoma State product has earned a 90.5 coverage grade and allowed just one reception for 19 yards from three targets. Rookie defensive interior Greg Gaines has also shined thus far, earning an 88.9 overall grade and an 83.3 run-defense grade across his 34 defensive snaps.
Off-ball linebacker Austin Calitro is Seattle's highest-graded defender through two preseason games, and he's also played more defensive snaps than any other Seahawks defender. He's giving Seattle's brass every reason to find a spot on the roster for him this upcoming season. The big hits are eye-catching, but rookie safety Marquise Blair needs to play better inside of the rules. He's earned just a 38.4 overall grade in his 51 defensive snaps and is currently the team's lowest-graded defender.
Sam Tevi struggled last year and is projected to start again at right tackle in 2019. His preseason performance thus far is a sign that things won't look much better for Tevi this upcoming season. He's earned just a 36.5 overall grade in 71 offensive snaps, allowing three total pressures in the process. Second-year off-ball linebacker Kyzir White is the team's highest-graded defender through two preseason games. He's earned an 82.9 overall grade and a 74.5 coverage grade across 31 defensive snaps thus far.
Saturday, August 24
James Washington has been the star of the preseason in Pittsburgh. The 2018 first-rounder has bounced back in a big way through two exhibition games, earning himself an 88.2 overall grade in 57 offensive snaps. He's also hauled in 8-of-10 targets for 162 yards and one touchdown thus far. Interior defensive linemen Henry Mondeaux and Isaiah Buggs lead the defense in overall grade at 90.6 and 85.7, respectively, so far this preseason.
While Jack Conklin earned a spot on PFF's Week 2 Team of the Week with his performance against New England, all eyes will be on Titans quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill. Though Mariota is the favorite to start under center in 2019, Tannehill has emerged as a potential usurper with his 85.2 overall grade this preseason. Mariota has earned just 60.4 overall grade across his 28 offensive snaps through two preseason games.