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Under-the-radar rookies to watch – AFC East

Some rookies are wowing during their first training camp and may be pushing hard for some well-deserved, extra snaps during preseason games.
The opportunity is there for the rookie to be an instant contributor to the defense this season.
This is an added bonus for the Bills who produced a 39.5-percent pressure rate on blitzes last season, fourth-lowest mark in the NFL.
Fourth-round pick Ballage is currently battling for snaps behind Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore on the Dolphins running back depth chart.
The skills and potential are there for Ballage to succeed with the Dolphins, and he’ll be an exciting player to monitor throughout the preseason.
However, a second-round pick Dawson, could find an opportunity to push for snaps in the slot this season.
Throughout his collegiate career, he allowed a 47.5-percent catch rate in coverage, and his 0.77 yards per coverage snap ranked 22nd among draft-eligible cornerbacks in 2017.
Last season at Florida, Dawson allowed a passer rating against of just 37.1, and while in slot coverage he allowed just 13 receptions on 30 targets over 170 snaps for the Gators.
Jonathan Jones led the Patriots with 269 snaps in the slot last season, allowing a passer rating of 92.8, but the team also matches safeties in slot coverage at a high rate as well.
Far from many people’s radars, Nickerson had three good years of PFF grading, and he was exceptional in coverage the past two seasons allowing a NFL passer rating of just 41.0 (2017) and 32.5 (2016) when targeted.

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Jul 27, 2018; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) on the field during training camp at St. John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to our Training Camp Takeaway series that kicked off last week, we at PFF are also hot on the trails of some intriguing rookies to keep your eyes on as we progress through the preseason. Some rookies are wowing during their first training camp and may be pushing hard for some well-deserved, extra snaps during preseason games.

With our wealth of knowledge both at the NFL and FBS level, here are some under-the-radar rookies that have been turning heads and that you may get to see a lot of this preseason, and what they did in college a year ago:

Although Edmunds was a first-round pick, he has flown somewhat under-the-radar as most of the talk of camp has been focused around fellow first-round pick Josh Allen and the quarterback competition. The Bills allowed former linebacker Preston Brown to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency leaving a major hole in the middle of the defense. The opportunity is there for the rookie to be an instant contributor to the defense this season. Edmunds is a physical monster at the linebacker position with an athletic profile unmatched by any other linebacker that came out of the draft, and at just 19 years old he has plenty of room to grow. His production was outstanding at Virginia Tech with 128 defensive stops over the past three seasons. Edmunds was also a significant factor on the blitz in 2017, notching six sacks and 17 pressures. This is an added bonus for the Bills who produced a 39.5-percent pressure rate on blitzes last season, fourth-lowest mark in the NFL.

Fourth-round pick Ballage is currently battling for snaps behind Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore on the Dolphins running back depth chart. Ballage offers intriguing potential and versatility,…

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