The final week of the preseason continues with the Miami Dolphins at the Minnesota Vikings. This is the last chance for many players to make their case to be on the opening season roster, whether it be as a role player, as part of a position rotation, or as a special teams player. Our team of PFF analysts have all the most important position battles and players to watch for each team:
Coverage by: Cyrus Geller
Position Battle: Damien Williams/Kenyan Drake, RB
- Revisiting this position battle, Drake has outperformed Williams so far in the preseason. Drake ranks 48th out of 109 qualified running backs in elusive rating (uses missed tackle rate and yards gained after contact to measure a runner’s success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers) at 40.9, while Williams ranks 104th at 10.0.
- Drake also ranks higher in breakaway percentage (percentage of yards that come on runs of 15 or more yads), as he is 28th out of 58 qualified running backs at 38.1, while Williams’ breakaway percentage is 0.0, tying him for last at 58.
Players to Watch:
- Xavien Howard, CB – Howard is coming off a rough game against the Eagles, as his overall grade was a very mediocre 48.6. However this preseason Howard ranks T-29th out of 223 qualified cornerbacks in opposing passer rating at 42.4.
- Rey Maualuga, LB – We don’t even know if Maualuga will play this Thursday, though he has expressed that he wants to. The recently-signed inside linebacker struggled in 2016, ranking 83rd out of 86 qualified inside linebackers with an overall grade of 36.5.
- Jakeem Grant, WR – Grant has had an interesting preseason, as he has slowly seen his playing time decrease, as his snaps went from 25 in the opener against the Atlanta, down to 16 against Baltimore, and he only played 12 in Philadelphia last week. Grant ranks 115th out of 192 qualified receivers in wide receiver rating this preseason at 77.8, but he is 29th out of 193 receivers in yards per route run at 2.97. Which Grant will show up this week against the Vikings?
Coverage by: Elliott Rooney
Position Battle: Michael Floyd/Laquon Treadwell, WR3
- Floyd was signed in the offseason to a one-year contract but the receiver will be suspended for the first four games of the season. While he is capable of good performances, ranking as the 28th best receiver in 2015, his best performances seem to be behind him. So far this preseason he has a WR rating (the passer rating a quarterback has when targeting this receiver) 89.0, which is the sixth highest by a Viking receiver.
- The Vikings first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Treadwell only played 79 total snaps last season, the second-year receiver will hope to feature a lot more in 2017. Treadwell has earned an overall PFF grade of 57.1 so far through three preseasons games, he has the second highest WR rating among Vikings receivers (116.7) as he has caught all three of his targets for 36 yards.
Players to watch:
- Datone Jones, DT – Jones is another player who could find himself on the roster bubble come Saturday. The free-agent acquisition from the Green Bay Packers has looked up and down this preseason and will have a lot of completion for playing time with likes of Shamar Stephen, Tom Johnson, Will Sutton and Jaleel Johnson on the roster. Jones did okay in the last preseason game against the 49ers earning an overall PFF grade of 77.3, through three weeks of preseason action Jones has a run stop percentage of 3.8, collecting one stop on 26 run snaps and has a pass-rush productivity (PRP) of 4.4 collecting two total pressures on 34 passing snaps.
- Jarius Wright, WR – Wright’s overall PFF grade of 58.4 in 2016 was the worst of his career as the veteran receiver only played 118 total snaps. It seems inevitable that he won’t make the 53-man roster as his playing time dropped with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen taking the majority of the routes run from the slot last season. So far this preseason Wright has the third lowest grade of any Vikings receiver with an overall PFF grade of 53.0 and his wide receiver rating of 87.5 is also third lowest.
- Willie Beavers, OT – The offensive tackle really struggled against the 49ers, his overall PFF grade of 34.3 was the fifth lowest by an offensive tackle last week. During the game he surrendered five total pressures on 25 pass block snaps, his pass-blocking efficiency (PBE) of 85.0 was the ninth lowest of any offensive tackle in the third week of preseason. Beavers is a player who could be on the roster bubble, as he was cut by the Vikings last season and then placed on the practice squad.