The second week of the preseason continues with one game on Friday featuring the Minnesota Vikings at the Seattle Seahawks. Teams will be looking to see which players improve on their Week 1 performances and which players really grab hold of important roles. The PFF analysis team has all of the important battles and players to watch in this game:
Coverage by: Elliott Rooney
Position Battle: Nick Easton/Pat Elflein, C
- Easton got the start at center in the preseason opener against the Bills Thursday night playing 18 total snaps. During the game Easton earned a respectable overall PFF game grade of 76.1 which was higher than Elflein’s grade of 70.2. Easton was especially better than the second-round draft choice when run blocking, Easton earned a run block grade of 74.9 against the Bills compared to a run block grade of 58.6 for Elflein.
- The second-round pick out of Ohio State is the much better pass blocker of the two, both Easton and Elflein had a 100.0 pass-blocking efficiency (PBE) during the game Thursday (PBE measures pressure allowed on a per snap basis with weighting towards sacks). The two didn’t allow a single pressure on a combined 40 pass blocking snaps, but it was the rookie who earned the higher pass-blocking grade 80.2 compared to 73.1 for Easton. In 2016, Easton struggled in pass protection, his PBE of 96.5 ranked 31st of 37 centers, he allowed 12 total pressures on just 257 pass blocking snaps.
Players to Watch:
- Tashawn Bower, Edge – The undrafted rookie from LSU was the best player on the field against the Bills, earning an overall PFF game grade of 90.0 and being named to the PFF Team of the Week for preseason Week 1. Bower finished his day with a sack, a hit, three hurries and a batted pass in a productive pass-rushing effort at Buffalo in which he played 47-of-74 possible snaps. Bower also had two run stops on 10 run snaps for a 20.0 run stop percentage.
- Jayron Kearse, S – The second-year safety was the standout player for the Vikings in the secondary Thursday night. He was impressive in the run game, earning a run stop percentage of 7.7 (the percentage of a players run defense snaps in which he was responsible for a stop). He made two stops in the run game, including one on a crucial third, and short and his run defense grade of 88.3 was the highest of any Vikings player Thursday.
- Jaleel Johnson, DI – The third-round pick made his debut Thursday night and put on an impressive display. He played 34 snaps during the game and collected two pressures, including one sack on 25 pass-rush snaps and also picked up a run stop in nine run snaps. The Iowa product was one of the best pass-rushing interior defenders in the Big 10 in 2016, his 43 total pressures were the second most by a defensive tackle in the Big 10 last season.
Coverage by: Mike Cahill
Position Battle: Germain Ifedi/Ethan Pocic, RT
- Rookie Ethan Pocic played at right tackle in the Seahawks’ first preseason game and finished with an overall PFF grade of 75.1 (18th) and a run blocking grade of 70.9 as compared to Ifedi, who finished with an overall PFF grade of 40.6 (90th) and a run blocking grade of 83.9.
- Both Pocic and Ifedi saw 18 pass blocking snaps against the Chargers, but the results were different. Ifedi surrendered 5 quarterback pressures and had a pass blocking efficiency of 79.2 (110th out of 111), whereas Pocic allowed zero and finished with a pass blocking efficiency of 100.0. Of the 26 tackles who allowed zero pressures, only four saw more pass blocking snaps than Pocic.
Players to Watch:
- Shaquill Griffin CB – Griffin’s debut in the preseason resulted in one pass completion allowed on four targets for five yards and a touchdown, against future Hall of Fame TE Antonio Gates, one pass defended, and a passer rating of 79.2 into his coverage. His overall PFF grade of 74.4 ranked 39th among cornerbacks in the second week of preseason football.
- Pierre Desir, CB Desir is in his fourth season since being drafted in 2014, finished the second week of the preseason with an overall grade of 82.3, which ranked ninth among all cornerbacks. His one pass defended and one catch allowed for eight yards on three targets resulted in a passer rating of 42.4 when throwing into Desir’s coverage.
- Kasen Williams, WR – Williams finished Seattle’s first preseason game as the highest graded player on the team with an overall grade of 88.8 and second among all wide receivers in week two. Williams’ four receptions on four targets were all passes of 20 or more yards which resulted in the most yards gained on deep passes.