I've always found it interesting that for all of the pre-draft hype, there is very little reporting done on a national scale as to how rookies are actually performing during the preseason.
For this reason, I'll be watching as many preseason games as possible over the next few weeks and providing my impressions of the rookies' play in the blog.
Of course, the majority of my reports will be on the early round picks. However, I've already been impressed by several late rounders in the early preseason games and will be reporting on them here as this occurs.
That said, as the first overall pick of the 2009 Draft, it is only appropriate that my first Rookie Impression was Matthew Stafford's performance against the Atlanta Falcons today.
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions, QB - #9 : Entered halfway through 2nd quarter against mostly second-team defenders for the Falcons. Accurate, rifle arm apparent early. Zipped passes over the middle and down the sideline, impressing early despite two ugly drops by veteran Keary Colbert. Tried to do too much with some interior pressure in his face and rushed a quick-out to the tight end Dan Gronkowski, which linebacker Tony Gilbert (ironically, a former UGA Bulldog) stepped in front of and returned for an easy 42 yard touchdown. Stafford shouldn't have thrown the pass, but in his defense, he took immediate pressure and there has been a troubling lack of separation shown by Detroit receivers throughout this game. Came back in his next series to lead Detroit to the Lion's first offensive touchdown of the preseason. Drive started at own 20. Showed good toughness and a recognition of the first down marker in recognizing tight coverage and releasing to scramble for the first down early in the drive. Ran hard and drug two Falcon defenders to get the yardage. Threw a beautiful flag route for a 25 yard touchdown to fellow rookie Derrick Williams over tight coverage. Veteran-like throw. Looked off the defense, good release and follow-through despite taking a hit from a blitzing safety to complete the pass. Put the ball over Williams inside shoulder and into his out-stretched arms where only he could touch it. Stafford, who came in roughly halfway through the second quarter, was replaced by veteran Drew Stanton after his touchdown throw, approximately midway through the 3rd. He finished 7 of 14 for 114 yards and 1 TD, 1 INT. He was considerably better than his numbers would indicate, losing at least 35 yards in drops.