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.
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:
Pick 1, Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield — QB, Oklahoma
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.
Pick 2, New York Giants: Saquon Barkley — RB, Penn State
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.
Pick 3, New York Jets: Sam Darnold — QB, USC
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.
Pick 4, Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward — CB, Ohio State
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.
Pick 5, Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb — DE, NC State
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.
Pick 6, Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson — OG, Notre Dame
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.
Pick 7, Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen — QB, Wyoming
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.
Pick 8, Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith — LB, Georgia
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.
Pick 9, San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey — OT, Notre Dame
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.
Pick 10, Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen — QB, UCLA
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.
Pick 11, Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick — S, Alabama
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 second. He was targeted three times on the night but allowed just one reception for 12 yards and allowed a passer rating of just 46.5 – the sixth-best mark among rookies with multiple targets in Week 1.
Pick 12, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea — DI, Washington
Vea was forced to miss his team’s first game due to the calf injury he sustained during training camp. The former Washington star was selected 12th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft after he finished the 2017 college season with a pass-rush productivity of 10.6, the third-best mark among draft eligible interior defensive linemen.
Pick 13, Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne — DI, Alabama
Like Vea, Payne was also absent from his team’s game on Thursday night as he’s currently recovering from the ankle injury that he sustained during training camp. The Redskins run defense, who ranked 29th this week, will be hoping that he can recover and return to action soon.
Pick 14, New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport — DE, Texas-San Antonio
The first-round pass-rusher was one of the 10 Saints players to not suit up for Thursday’s game against the Jaguars. We’ll have to wait a little a longer to get a glimpse of the promising college athlete that ranked fourth among draft-eligible edge defenders in pass-rushing productivity (16.4) in 2017.
Pick 15, Oakland Raiders: Kolton Miller — OT, UCLA
The rookie left tackle only played 12 snaps in his debut, but did seem to struggle at times. He allowed a hurry on one of his seven pass-blocking snaps and was beaten a couple times on his five run-blocking snaps. He ended the game with an offensive grade of 53.8, which ranked 27th of 36 rookie players at the position.
Source: Pro Football Focus
Preseason Week 1 takeaways – first-round rookie performance