How did the rookies do in week 1 of the NFL preseason? Stand outs and disappointments
NFL Preseason is under way and with week one now in the bag, we take a look at the good, bad, and indifferent performers in the 2022 rookie class
With the first week of the NFL preseason in the bag, some of the questions about rookies around the league are seeing answers, while others are just beginning to be asked. Here is a look at a few of the standouts on all sides of the equation.
Minnesota Vikings, Guard
One of the great drive blockers in one of the standout college offensive lines at LSU, Ingram showed great promise coming off the bench against the Raiders. A smart lineman, he can work well with the center and doesn’t get bullied by defenders. With quick feet, he can close on linebackers nicely, but will need to work on sustaining those blocks at the NFL level. Pass protection is less impressive though, with his lateral movement somewhat shaky. He will need to improve his ability to stop secondary rushes in pocket protection.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Quarterback
The Steelers missed out on a great Pitt quarterback when they lost Dan Marino to Miami forty years ago, and they didn’t want to make the same mistake twice, grabbing Kenny Pickett in the first round. He showed that he is apt competition for Mitch Trubisky at the top job against Seattle, completing 13 of 15 for 95 yards, including the 24-yard game winner to Tyler Vaughns with three seconds to play. Much maligned by “experts” for having small hands, Pickett is a great fit for this Steelers offense and we should see more of him as the season goes on.
New Orleans Saints, Tackle
In losing Terron Armstead to free agency, the Saints have a serious hole to fill on that prodigious offensive line. Picking up Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa was a gamble and his recklessness in college is showing itself at the NFL level. After starting fights with team mates, he has been tossed out of practice and while a nasty streak in an offensive lineman is not necessarily a bad thing, it can only be tolerated if it brings results on Sunday. Giving up flags and ejections will get him nowhere and while he is formidable in the run game, he has got to gain some control over himself if he wants to make it at this level. Dominated all day long in the preseason game by Texans’ veteran edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Penning still has a long way to go before earning his spot in the O-line.
Carolina Panthers, Quarterback
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral was always going to be the backup for the Panthers, and his pro career got off to a dismal beginning on Sunday against the Washington Commanders. Taking 21 snaps, he completed just 1 for 9 passes and lost the ball on a sack, an error which was mercifully nullified by a defensive penalty. Ball security is definitely one of the key concerns for Carolina staff and with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold in front of him, it may be some time more before Corral gets time under center.
Chicago Bears, Linebacker
Wisconsin’s linebacker was pegged as unfit for the NFL due in part to a lack of eye-popping numbers in his scouting report. With everything from speed to strength to explosiveness graded as simply ok, but nothing more, everyone gave him a pass and he entered the NFL as a free agent. With Chicago losing All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith to a trade request, they took a chance on Sanborn, and he stepped up in a big way against Kansas City. Recording seven tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception, he was a defensive revelation. Chicago are unlikely to start him this season, but if he can keep that pace up coming off the bench, he could be one of the best rookies in the NFL.