Aug 9, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes against Cleveland Browns defensive back Damarious Randall (23) during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
The first week of the NFL preseason has come and gone. Our analysts watched and graded every player on every play of every game this past weekend and Premium Stats 2.0 has shown light on every rookie who played a snap, whether a first-round pick or an undrafted free agent, during their first game action at the professional level.
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Taking a look through the league’s first action of the 2018 season, here are the instant takeaways from every first-round rookie’s play during the first week of the preseason:
It only took 44 snaps of game action for Mayfield to show exactly why the Browns made him the first overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. In a spectacular debut performance, Mayfield excelled from a clean pocket and posted a passer rating of 139.6 when he was kept clean from pressure, which not only ranked first among rookie quarterbacks this week but is the third-best mark ever recorded by a rookie signal-caller with at least 10 attempts in Week 1 of the preseason.
It took Barkley just one play to make an impact in his team’s contest against the Browns, as he turned his first professional touch from what looked like a negative play to into a 39-yard gain with a lightning fast explosion past the line of scrimmage. He ended his debut with 36 yards after first contact from just four carries and a running grade of 73.6 – the fifth-best mark among rookie running backs this week.
The former USC quarterback was exactly as advertised on Friday night and produced a number of impressive drives that can only help his chances of becoming the team’s Week 1 starter. Darnold logged 41 of his team’s 63 offensive snaps against the Falcons and was at his very best when he faced defensive pressure, completing 4-of-4 passes for 37 yards and a passer rating of 105.2 – the second-best mark among rookie quarterbacks this week.
The former Ohio State standout quite literally hit the ground running during his first NFL appearance and made his presence felt early and often throughout his 16 snaps. He ended the game with two defensive stops, one against the run and one in coverage and accumulated an impressive run-defense grade of 70.7, the ninth-best mark among rookie cornerbacks.
The Broncos first-round pick only played 15 snaps in his team’s opening game, but did show some promise in that limited action. While he came up empty as a pass-rusher, he did manage to tally a tackle and a stop on six run-defense snaps.
Nelson started at left guard and played 33 offensive snaps against the Seattle Seahawks, 21 of which came in pass protection where he allowed just two hurries on the night. All told, he graded much better as a run-blocker and ended his first NFL game with a run-blocking grade of 67.1, which was the seventh-best mark among rookie offensive guards.
The rookie quarterback may have taken us through the exact same highs and lows that we wrote about in his scouting report, but that didn’t make it any less entertaining, as Allen produced a couple of breathtaking throws that displayed his trademark arm strength and velocity. The former Wyoming star played 34 snaps on the night and produced well when under pressure, completing 4-of-7 passes for 71 yards and a passer rating of 92.0 – the third-best mark among rookies this week.
Smith and his representatives remain in a standoff with the Bears over a contractual dispute, so we’re going to have to wait a little longer to see Smith don the Bears uniform and remind us of why we think he’s the perfect linebacker for today’s NFL.
The former Notre Dame offensive tackle logged 22 snaps in his first game as a pro. 15 of those snaps came in pass protection and he performed admirably, keeping a completely clean slate. McGlinchey put a number of nice reps on tape, including an impressive stonewall against Cowboys pass-rusher Taco Charlton.
The future face-of-the-franchise didn’t quite manage to set fireworks off, but he certainly showed flashes of potential in his first NFL game. Playing the majority of his 18 snaps with second and third-string offensive linemen, Rosen faced pressure on seven of his 13 dropbacks, but still showed poise under that pressure and posted an adjusted completion percentage of 66.7 percent on his pressured attempts, the fifth-best mark among rookie signal callers this week.
Fitzpatrick showed up in a big way Thursday night and was seemingly all over the field for the Dolphins defense. The highlight of his night came from a ferocious hit on wide receiver Chris Godwin that jarred the ball loose at the last…