With the first preseason games over, who is looking up and who is looking down for IDP FFL?
Notes on this weekly report
We’re in the preseason right now, this information is nice but don’t over commit either way based on preseason games. Every year we see preseason studs fizzle out when the regular season roles around a vice-versa. It can give you an edge to see who teams are rolling out with the starters, who is winning position battles, and who seems to be progressing. But again, don’t sell the farm or go crazy over the information.
The preseason reports will be going a little deeper down on the rosters than what we can expect to see in the regular season. This is mostly due to the fact that the young guys and the guys fighting for jobs and roster spots are getting the most run. Most of the stud players are playing limited series or staying on the sideline preserving their health.
6 tackles (5 solos)
Burks started with the ones following Jake Ryan‘s ACL tear in camp. He showed off his athleticism by blowing up plays on the outside on a screen and a swing route. Burks excels exploding to the ball in space and making the plays in these situations. However, he still gets overwhelmed in the run game and has trouble sorting through traffic to make plays. Burks’ athleticism would bring a new facet to the middle of the Packers’ defense and should give him the edge in the battle for that second ILB position.
7 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 3 QB hits
One of the biggest knocks on Green in the draft process was his lack of hand usage. The encouraging thing in this game – both of his sacks came after beating the offensive lineman with his hands. He managed 3 pressures on just 22 rush attempts and did a decent job holding up against the run. He made some plays in the run game, but maybe a little further downfield than you would like to see. Regardless, this was an outstanding performance and it will be interesting to see if Green can continue this type of performance against other competition.
6 tackles (4 solo)
Lee posted a 91.2 PFF grade while posting 4 run stops against the Lions in 7 snaps! The Raiders are looking to replace Navarro Bowman at MLB, and Lee appears to have an early edge on Derrick Johnson for that role. Obviously this was a small sample, but I can’t wait to see more.
5 tackles (2 solos), 1 TFL
Kiko Alonso started at WLB and played the first series with the starters before Jerome Baker got his snaps. The third round rookie out of Ohio State impressed when he got his chance. Like Burks, Baker has elite speed and athleticism and excels blowing up plays in the open field. Based on this game alone Alonso, McMillan and Baker are the three best LBs on the roster.
The dilemma here is how they fit together because Baker and Alonso both fit best at the Will (weak side) LB position that provides a little more space to work. Interestingly, following Baker’s strong play and Stephone Anthony‘s struggles the Dolphins are running out Baker as a starter alongside McMillan and Alonso in camp. It will be interesting to see how this trio works together going forward and who stays on the field in nickel.
Shaun Dion Hamilton
10 tackles (6 solo), 1 PD
The coaching staff has been talking up Shaun Dion Hamilton and he showed up in a big way. His football smarts are evident diagnosing plays and by the fact that the coaches have the rookie calling the defense with the backup units. He was everywhere shooting gaps and making plays as evidenced by his 10 tackles. If not for a checkered injury history, SDH likely would’ve gone much higher in the draft. Now that he appears to be totally healthy he will be pushing Mason Foster, Vigil, Harvey-Clemons, and Spaight on a pretty deep Washington LB group.
6 tackles (5 solo), 2 TFL, 1 QB hit
Bentley is another smart football player who profiles more as a thumper in the middle of the defense. He’s another rookie who wore the green dot and called the defense when on the field. Bentley is able to make up for some of his athletic deficiencies by processing data quickly and playing smart, clean football. Ja’Whaun also appeared to force a fumble, but it doesn’t show up in the box score because it wasn’t ruled that way on the filed. He’s not known for his coverage but only gave up 2 short completions in this one. Bentley has a chance to earn a role on a thin New England LB group.
4 tackles (1 solo)
Leonard and fellow rookie Skai Moore both showed some flashes while getting the start for the Colts. This is encouraging for Leonard after missing significant time with injuries. There are definitely blemishes in both of their games that need to be worked out, but Leonard has a clear path to starting at WLB. His speed on this defense will put him in position to make a lot of plays and we could see a very big year from Leonard.
6 tackles (3 solos), 1 PD, 1 INT
Brown may very well be relegated to a role as a coverage specialist again this year behind Woodyard, Compton, and Evans. Brown was gifted his interception on a deflected ball, but the guy has a knack for finding the ball in coverage and repeatedly making plays. He also had at least one massive whiff on an open field tackle. He has several interceptions in camp, we may have to wait for injuries or a Woodyard retirement to see a big opportunity for Jayon Brown to emerge, but he’s one to keep an eye on.
6 tackles (6 solos), 2 TFL
Grugier-Hill is in a battle with Nate Gerry, Corey Nelson and others for the third LB position in Philadelphia. Gerry has also shown well this off season, but Grugier-Hill is starting to distance himself from the pack. He showed great athleticism and awareness keeping his edge and tracking down the ball carrier on the goal line and on a quarterback roll out. Grugier-Hill has been a core special teamer and is now earning his shot to get reps at WLB in base defensive sets.
6 tackles (2 solo)
Cory Littleton and Mark Barron are projected to start at ILB for the Rams, but the rookie out of Virginia showed well in his first action. Kiser is more of a throwback at linebacker that excels at sorting through traffic, filling holes, shedding blocks and stuffing the run. This is something the Rams have been missing in the past. It will be an uphill climb to earn significant playing time, but given Mark Barron’s injury history there may be opportunities sooner, rather than later.
3 tackles (1 solo)
There’s athleticism and potential here, but Riley still looks to be struggling with the mental part. Its hard to utilize that athleticism when you diagnose and react slowly. Riley missed tackles, took bad angles (including on a Crowell TD) and wasn’t strong in coverage. It’s one game, but it’s discouraging to not see the second year player taking a bigger step forward.
5 tackles (4 solo)
Matakevich is competing with Jon Bostic for the second ILB position beside Vince Williams. The good news for Matakevich is that Bostic has his own issues as a player, but the bad news is that this was not an inspiring performance from Tyler. He missed an open field tackle on Clement and had a wide open shot at a sack on Nate Sudfeld that he overran as Sudfeld stepped up and fired a touchdown pass.
Leighton Vander Esch
4 tackles (4 solo)
This game was a mixed bag for the rookie. He struggles with play diagnosis at times, but was often able to use his elite athleticism to recover and get it on plays. He’s a young player in his first NFL action and showed flashes of what could make him great. But LVE isn’t running with the starters at this point and has a lot to clean up in his game. I just don’t think he will make an immediate impact like fellow rookies Edmunds, Smith, Leonard, etc.