NFL rookies not to be missed in preseason: 49ers' Drake Jackson, Steelers' George Pickens deserve closer examination

NFL rookies not to be missed in preseason: 49ers’ Drake Jackson, Steelers’ George Pickens deserve closer examination

The NFL preseason officially kicks off Thursday as the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars meet in the Hall of Fame game. The game is a good reason to reflect on pre-draft biases and single out some rookies I’m most looking forward to seeing in pre-season.

The Trojan ranked No. 25 overall on my personal big board going into the 2022 NFL Draft. Jackson has all the athletic traits teams are looking for in a top NFL rusher, but I thought that it was not used properly in college. It didn’t hurt that he only had 21 weeks until the draft. In an article by The Athletic, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek voiced the team’s plan to drop him around the corner rather than drop him into coverage, which should be music to fans. ears of San Francisco fans. Reviews were positive for the second-round selection at the start of camp, via The Athletic:

“He’s the whole package. We had a combined interview with Drake early in the process. Bendy man, he’s got a bit of a slip for him. Change of direction, a knack for winning one-on-ones in the rush of assists A player who should be uphill.

Jackson couldn’t have landed in a better position. In addition to a wealth of talent along the 49ers defensive line, Kocurek uses a wide 9 roster that will allow the rookie to use his athletic gifts to challenge opposing offensive tackles at the height of his run.

Wide receiver Danny Gray is another intriguing rookie. The offense’s inclination to challenge defenses laterally meshes well with Gray’s ability to increase distance after capture.

Athletic, but raw is the short and sweet version of the former tight end’s scouting report. Jurgens is playing the game with an average streak and now has the opportunity to learn from one of the game’s best in Jason Kelce. The changes to Philadelphia’s offense in the second half of the 2021 regular season suit Jurgens’ skill set well. Kelce is unlikely to get much rep in the preseason, which opens the door for the Nebraska rookie.

“Obviously a lot of my job or a lot of what I want to do is help these young guys. And Cam being a center, a guy that I see a lot of similarities with in my game, I’m going to trying to help him in any way we can to give him some tricks of the trade or things that I’ve learned or whatever. I think we’re going to continue to improve throughout camp. We’re going to continue to work, compete and try to improve as much as possible,” Kelce said, via NBC Sports.

The 111 receptions for 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 lost by Tyreek Hill’s departure will be hard to replace. It’s unrealistic to expect Moore to match those numbers, but he can lower them significantly. Speed ​​and passing ability are the characteristics that stand out when talking about the Central Michigan wide receiver. Being in the right place at the right time should endear rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes. With so many new faces in this Kansas City reception hall, Moore can part ways during training camp.

Hall has a unique setting that should allow it to be used both indoors and outdoors depending on the situation. Tampa Bay is loaded in the top seven, so there won’t be any pressure for the rookie to contribute early. At the same time, it’s easy to imagine Vita Vea eating blockers down the line and allowing Hall to loop and build pressure. Center Ryan Jensen has publicly stated that Hall is “the real deal”.

Tampa Bay is well equipped to handle Rob Gronkowski’s decision to retire. Cameron Brate is returning and Kyle Rudolph has been signed, but former Washington tight end Cade Otton has been cleared for his first training camp. His well-rounded skill set could allow him to see the ground quickly.

The words “limited athletics” never graced the pages of a Pickens scouting report. The national champion has a high ceiling and showed that potential early in training camp. Will he be able to bring the regularity necessary to see the field? DK Metcalf is the perfect example of teams overthinking a talent and it looks like Pickens could soon align with that narrative. Few teams have had success picking wide receivers like the AFC North franchise.

Dionte Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pickens give Pittsburgh a talented line at wide receiver. However, wide receivers can’t do much and a lot of pressure is on quarterbacks to give them the ball.

Defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal is another who landed in a good position. Leal is a kind of tween that can play on the edge or slip inside depending on the situation. Luckily, the Steelers are a team that has shown a great awareness of using defensive linemen in a way that maximizes their potential.

Houston added some very talented defensive backs in Derek Stingley Jr. and Pitre. Pitre flies around the football field making plays. The Baylor product was ranked #23 overall on my personal big chart, so there’s confidence in its abilities. The only concern is whether or not the Texans’ front seven will be able to create enough pressure for the guard to take advantage of the ball in the air. His flexibility should allow him to play closer to the line of scrimmage more often.

The entire New York draft class is expected. The narrow ends room, in particular, is brand new with CJ Uzomah, Tyler Conklin and Ruckert. The Ohio State rookie was primarily used as a tackle in college due to the team’s ability to play as a wide receiver. He had a job to do for Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and others to thrive. The longtime Jets fan should have more opportunities to show what he can do in the passing game. Ruckert suffered from a foot injury that put him on the non-football injured list, but he was cleared on Wednesday. Pre-season is the best time to start piling on positive days.

Similar to Pittsburgh’s wide receivers, Green Bay has consistently done well securing offensive line contributors on Days 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft. They had two strong contenders this year with Sean Rhyan of UCLA and Zach Tom of Wake Forest, who was No. 79 overall on my last big board. At the start of camp, the latter got reps at right tackle with the first team. It might be a byproduct of Elgton Jenkins’ exit, but it’s a feather in the rookie’s cap nonetheless. He has the ability to play in multiple positions and now has a platform to show he deserves a place in the starting lineup.

Cleveland didn’t have a first- or second-round pick, so it’s imperative he find the value of the Days 2 and 3 picks. Wright is 6-foot-5 and 271 pounds at the NFL combine. Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin — Lane’s brother — hails from San Francisco, which has a recent history of developing defensive line talent. Wright has the advantage of learning from former No. 1 overall picks Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry had the following to say after Wright was drafted in the third round:

“Along with Alex, he was definitely a favorite throughout the organization – scouts, coaches and our research and strategy group. We like him because he’s a player who profiles himself as what we call a big end or a strong side, but with Alex he really has the versatility to rush outside and inside. We like his frame. We like his ability to rush the passer. He’s a guy who when we get him ‘ve brought for a visit of 30, everyone just talked enthusiastically. He’s very driven, he’s very smart and a very humble individual, and we think he’s a player who can really become the perfect big end. for us and rush inside and out. We’re delighted to have him. He’s a perfect scheme for our defence.”

Defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey also faces an early play opportunity in northeast Ohio. His energy was infectious, but the team is eager to hear if his sensational Senior Bowl performance from Reese was more or less a flash in the pan. Cleveland is expected to give the two young defensive linemen underhand reps during training camp.

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