Gabriel: Preseason progress report on 10 first-round non-QBs

August 29, 2018

There has been plenty of talk about the five first-round quarterbacks and how they’re performing so far this preseason, but what about the other rookie first-rounders? Have they played well or disappointed in the preseason?

Here’s a quick look at 10 of them as we prepare for this year’s final set of preseason games.

RB Saquon Barkley – Giants (4 carries for 43 yards)

Barkley looked like the second overall pick is supposed to look in the Giants’ opening preseason game — an explosive game breaker — then pulled a hammy and has done nothing since. He won’t play this week but is expected to be full go in Week 1 vs. Jacksonville a week from Sunday. Off of his strong play in the opener, where he took his first NFL carry 39 yards, Barkley should be the difference maker the Giants’ offense needs to take pressure off Eli Manning.

OLB Bradley Chubb – Broncos (9 tackles (1 TFL), ½ sack, 3 QB hits)

The Broncos’ recent first-rounders have not exactly played up to expectations, and that includes last year’s top pick, LT Garett Bolles, who started but didn’t play very well. That shouldn’t be the case with Chubb. In the first three preseason games, he has had 9 tackles, a ½ sack, and two QB hits. Lining up across from Von Miller — is one of the best pass rushers in the game — will only help Chubb, as Miller getting double teamed means Chubb will face single blockers. Chubb looks to be everything draft analysts thought he would be.

OG Quenton Nelson - Colts (3 starts)

The Colts gave the starting OLG spot to Nelson the day he was drafted — and he hasn’t disappointed. He already is a fierce run blocker and a good pass blocker. Nelson was well-coached at Notre Dame, and that has helped him make the adjustment to the NFL. This past game he had a little trouble with some counter moves, but he might already be the best offensive lineman from this class.

LB Roquan Smith – Bears (N/A)

Smith had a long holdout mostly the result of his reps and the Bears battling over whether he’d keep his guaranteed money if he was suspended more than one game because of the new NFL helmet rules. Eventually the sides reached a compromise and Smith reported shortly before the second preseason game. Though Smith has been in camp for about two weeks and has practiced, he has not yet played in a game because of hamstring tightness. It remains to be seen if he will play this week or even start the opening game in Green Bay.

OT Mike McGlinchey – San Francisco (3 starts)

McGlinchey was given the starting ORT spot right away, and he has played as expected. Moving to the right side was not a difficult transition for McGlinchey, who played right tackle at Notre Dame in 2015. Right now, McGlinchey is a better run blocker than pass blocker, but that is to be expected. He has shown improvement with every game.

LB Tremaine Edmunds – Buffalo (12 tackles (2 TFL) and 1 PD)

The Bills moved up to draft Edmunds at No. 16 overall after moving up to get Josh Allen in the No. 7 slot. Edmunds, the starting ‘Mike’ all preseason, has played well. After viewing all his games, I still feel that he reacts more than anticipates, but that will change as he gains experience. He does a very good job in coverage.

OT Kolton Miller – Raiders (2 starts)

Miller was a bit of a surprise selection by the Raiders. Though he played well at UCLA, there were questions about his lean frame and overall strength. Since the draft, Miller has added a solid 12-15 pounds and, to date, has played well at left tackle. Miller can have some trouble with anchoring, but with his feet and change of direction, his ability to mirror has been a little better than expected.

TE Hayden Hurst – Ravens (2 catches for 27 yards)

Hurst was having a strong camp and looked as if he was going to be an important part of the Ravens offense until a foot injury slowed him down. Hurst had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot and will miss about a month. How far that sets him back remains to be seen.

OG Frank Ragnow – Lions (3 starts)

Ragnow has lined up at both OG positions and center in camp. Because of an injury to starter T.J. Lang, he started at right guard in Detroit’s third preseason game, playing well. Frank will be the starter at left guard on opening day, and that is the position where he has practiced the most. The Lions are happy with his development and like what he brings to the table.

C Billy Price – Bengals (3 starts)

Pro Football Focus has Price rated No. 14 of 16 rookie centers this preseason. The Cincinnati Bengals and I would beg to differ. Price is the Bengals’ starter, and Sunday against Buffalo, he played very well. He looked strong as a pass and run blocker and should have a bright future.

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