We all fall victim to over-analyzing the preseason. It seems like this football drought has been extra tedious this year round, so we see a good play and think, “Man, we’re going to win the Super Bowl this year!” While it isn’t the best place to judge and predict how certain teams and players will do this season, it is a good way to see back ups and the depth that certain teams have or lack. It’s a time to see if rookies can do what it takes on a smaller, less stressful scale. Here are the players who we need to have a close eye on heading into the regular season after the first week of preseason mashups.
DE/LB Marquis Haynes, Carolina Panthers
After receiving minimal playing time last year, Haynes looks to show off this preseason. He’s already heating up with a two-sack game against the Bears this week. Currently, he sits behind Bruce Irvin on the depth chart. However, should the Panthers were to have injury complications on their defense like last year, the second string defenders must step up, including Haynes. Watch him this preseason to see how he steps up to the plate for his team.
WR James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Oklahoma State alumni is coming into his Sophomore season. He had a pretty nice statline last year, at least for someone who was only targeted 38 times. But now, Antonio Brown has sailed for better seas at Oakland (or into retirement), and he will be shoved into a more important role this upcoming season with Donte Moncrief and Juju Smith-Schuster. This preseason, he has been at a hot start. Four receptions for 84 yards and a TD. All this while connected with his fellow OSU buddy Mason Rudolph. Though Moncrief had a career best season in some aspects last year, most of his season have had less than 400 yards receiving. James Washington has an opportunity to become the next hot receiver, let’s see how he develops over the next few weeks.
Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, and Drew Lock: The Rookie QB Class
Here are a group of rookies who all have at least a 70% chance of starting in the next season. Here’s what we learned by just these guys’ preseasons so far. Kyler Murray is quick to throw, accurate, but hasn’t been challenged to go down field. Daniel Jones has the ability to put the ball in some really tight places. Dwayne Haskins looks like a guy who only started one season in college, and Drew Lock is looking like another young quarterback to take a job from Joe Flacco. Albeit, they’re all facing backups on defense. However, the preseason is where we see rookie stars before they blow up. Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck each had a stellar preseason before going into each of their explosive rookie seasons. Kurt Warner and Michael Vick also shared this similar trait way back in 2001. Though it is too early to say how they’ll end up in the long run, it is best to watch their styles develop in these preseason matchups.
CB/S Tarvarius Moore, San Francisco 49ers
Like James Washington, Tarvarius Moore is another NFL sophomore coming in with a lot to prove. Last season, Moore put up respectable stats for a 5th round, 3rd string corner with 23 tackles and a forced fumble. But this preseason, he’ll be spotted in his college position at safety. With both Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt both not having impressive years last season on a struggling defense, Moore may earn himself a spot on the starting line up sometime this season.
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