Aug 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson (21) after returning an interception for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The third full week of the NFL’s preseason schedule is in the books and it’s time to reflect on the weekend’s top-graded players based upon hours and hours of our team of analysts watching every player on every play of every game.
With preseason being such a unique proposition, making this team isn’t quite as simple as earning the highest grade at your position in a given week. Weighting has been given towards playing time, as well as doing your good work against the first- and second-string opposition units in an attempt to strike a balance between the best production over the longest stretch of playing time, and against the best standard of players.
Dalton has been known for the up-and-down nature of his performances throughout his career, but this last performance was definitely an up. He went 11-for-16 passing, but of his five incompletions, two were the result of dropped passes and another came from a batted pass. He excelled throwing the ball downfield as both of his 20-plus yard attempts were caught and went for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Kelly had his best game of the preseason so far against the Texans on Saturday afternoon, and not just because he found the end zone twice. Kelly averaged 3.5 yards after contact per carry and forced four missed tackles on 15 carries, taking his preseason total to six avoided tackles.
Wims made an impact in the Hall of Fame game but was quiet each of the past two weeks before rebounding with a big game against the Chiefs. Catching all four passes thrown his way for 114 yards and a touchdown, Wims saw a perfect 158.3 passer rating on plays where he was the targeted receiver.
Smith has looked like a perfect fit for the Saints offense since arriving as a third-round draft pick out of UCF this year. Against the Chargers, he caught all four passes thrown his way for 39 yards and a touchdown and has yet to drop a pass this preseason.
Seeing 20 snaps for the 49ers against the Colts, Juszczyk impressed both as a blocker and in the receiving game. He produced an 89.6 run-blocking grade and caught both of the passes thrown his way for 21 yards, with one of those receptions going for a first down.
After making a limited impact during the Titans’ first two preseason games, Firkser had a breakout game against the Steelers this week. He averaged 4.25 yards per route run, the highest YPRR average among tight ends to see at least four targets in Week 3.
Solder was solid as a run blocker, producing a 70.3 run-blocking grade, but it was in pass protection that he really impressed this week. From 24 pass-blocking snaps at left tackle, he didn’t allow a single sack, hit or hurry, giving him a perfect 100.0 pass-blocking efficiency rating.
Lewis started at left guard for the Ravens and didn’t allow a single sack, hit or hurry from 23 pass-blocking snaps, giving him a perfect 100.0 pass blocking efficiency rating also. Lewis has looked comfortable in pass protection so far this preseason, with just one…