Opinions start to formulate two weeks into a preseason. Do those opinions always correctly predict how well a player will perform when the games actually count? Of course not. But in most cases, two games in we get a glimpse of whether or not a rookie will be able to hit the ground running in the NFL.
These are preseason grades for first-round rookies in preseason Week 2, listed in the order the players were drafted. Before I begin, if a rookie isn't listed, it's either because he did not play in his respective team's opening game or, due to a variety of reasons, wasn't able to make much of an impact at all, bad or good.
1. Travon Walker, EDGE/DL, Jaguars
Walker didn't register a pressure on 13 pass-rushing snaps against the Steelers. That doesn't mean it was an abysmal performance. Not at all. Walker's length and strength again popped, often pushing back Pittsburgh blockers and moving them in the run game.
3. Derek Stingley, CB, Texans
Stingley looked the part in his first preseason action. After allowing a reception somewhat in the vicinity of his zone on an in-breaker at the intermediate level, Stingley closed on a deep over route outstandingly and his second-to-last snap of the game was a textbook plant-and-drive on a comeback route that resulted in an easy pass deflection. Stingley was super smooth moving in every direction too.
4. Sauce Gardner, CB, Jets
The Jets were precautious with Gardner, as he only played 12 snaps and had eight in coverage against the Falcons. He covered -- mostly Bryan Edwards -- well but the ball was never thrown in his direction.
5. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Giants
Thibodeaux's knee injury was the main storyline from the Giants' preseason contest against the Bengals. Before the injury -- that apparently isn't too serious -- Thibodeaux was close to a handful of pressures but was only credited with one. He looked explosive and was effective at the point of attack when turning the corner.
6. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, Panthers
Wake-up call game for Ekwonu against the Patriots. New England gave him fits with their twists, and Josh Uche beat him around the corner for a sack. Ekwonu wasn't brutal but looked much more awkward and uncomfortable in both the pass and run game than he did to start the preseason.
7. Evan Neal, OT, Giants
Gradual steps for the impossibly-nimble-for-his-size Neal. For the second-straight week, there were plenty of off-balance reps and a few pressures allowed. Overall, Neal was better, and he moved people when the Giants ran the football. He did a nice job utilizing his length in pass protection.
9. Charles Cross, OT, Seahawks
Cross got 30 pass-blocking reps in and started against Robert Quinn, and he passed that test with flying colors. Strangely, Al-Quadin Muhammad and rookie edge rusher Dominique Robinson gave him problems. I don't know how Cross was credited with a pressure allowed because there were plenty instances in which he was driven back into the quarterback or was holding on for dear life. However, the fact he technically "blanked" the Bears rushers in the stat sheet speaks to his incredible recovery ability.
10. Garrett Wilson, WR, Jets
Three catches on three targets for 15 yards for the rookie wideout. One was a very nice adjustment to the football on a comeback that featured some traffic. Another, Wilson would probably like to have back. He caught a shallow cross on third down with plenty of grass around him but was tripped up by a shoestring tackle.
11. Chris Olave, WR, Saints
Not many looks for Olave against the Packers, but he did catch his first touchdown in a preseason game on what looked to be somewhat of a broken coverage. On it, Olave made a nifty grab away from his body.
13. Jordan Davis, DT, Eagles
Davis played a little under 20 snaps against the Browns and made minimal impact. A few times, he pushed back the guard or center. That was it. No pressures or tackles for the former Georgia star.
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16. Jahan Dotson, WR, Commanders
Dotson turned two targets into a pair of grabs for 23 yards against the Chiefs in Week 2 of the preseason. The first grab was on a tunnel screen -- Dotson flashed his vision and YAC talent on the 12 yard gain. He later caught a shallow cross and demonstrated his acceleration to beat defenders to the corner to pick up the first down.
17. Zion Johnson, OG, Chargers
The Chargers should be thrilled with Johnson's start. He, again, was outstanding in pass protection, getting up and under his assignment on just about every occasion, and he was efficient in the run game.
19. Trevor Penning, OT, Saints
Slightly better from Week 1 for Penning, yet he looks so uncomfortable vertical setting in pass protection. It's just not something he did very often at Northern Iowa, and now doing it, against NFL pass rushers, has led to his ugly start.
20. Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers
Pickett operated the two-minute drill with surgical precision, and the drive culminated in a touchdown. His release looks even quicker than it did in college, and the accuracy to all levels was on point. Loved the touch throw down the seam -- with pressure in his face -- to Pat Freiermuth and the laser beam to Diontae Johnson over the middle.
22. Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
Walker had a tackle and an assisted tackle against the Saints, which marked his first action of the preseason. He looked springy in his movements and did a fine job defeating a few blocks to get near the football in the run game.
23. Kaiir Elam, CB, Bills
No tackles. No pass breakups. No penalties. From the stat sheet alone, it was a dull game against the Broncos for Elam. But of course a cornerback can positively impact the game for his defensive teammates without any major splash plays. He covered outstandingly when he got opportunities in man and looked more comfortable sinking in zone than in the first preseason outing.
24. Tyler Smith, OG, Cowboys
Smith still looked a little awkward at times... but it was another clean sheet of pass protection in his second preseason contest. He was solid albeit unspectacular in the run game.
26. Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Jets
One pressure on 12 pass-rushing snaps for Johnson in his second preseason outing. He wasn't significantly overwhelmed but wasn't able to win at the point of attack despite quality burst off the ball and plenty of hustle.
27. Devonte Wyatt, DT, Packers
Wyatt helped on a tackle on his first snap in the preseason, and looked noticeably spry firing off the ball. He did, however, fail to record a pressure -- or really even come close -- on his 14 pass-rushing snaps.
29. Cole Strange, OG, Patriots
Strange got 37 snaps in against the Panthers and was solid in all phases. On his 27 pass-protection snaps, only one quarterback hit allowed. While he wasn't able to lock in on defenders for the entire play in some instances, Strange moved his feet well and displayed quality point-of-attack strength.
30. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Chiefs
Karlaftis didn't generate pressure with the same amount of volume as in the preseason opener, but he was damn good once again, recording a sack of Carson Wentz on an awesome speed-to-power bull rush that ended with a spin out of a double team. Karlaftis has gotten out to a hot start this preseason.
31. Daxton Hill, S/CB, Bengals
Hill looks ready to go. He didn't miss a tackle against the Giants, flew around everywhere, and had a highlight-reel interception on a tipped pass in which he dove to secure the football before it hit the turf.
32. Lewis Cine, S, Vikings
Cine ranged toward the sideline on a throw to a corner route from Trey Lance and nearly had a pass breakup. It ultimately was a spectacular catch by the receiver, but Cine closed on the pass in a flash. He also flew downhill, took on a block and lit up Trey Sermon on a run play and had another tackle on a completion down the field. Another strong outing.