NFL rookies to watch in preseason: 49ers’ Drake Jackson, Steelers’ George Pickens to watch closely

The NFL preseason officially kicks off Thursday when the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars meet in the Hall of Fame Game. The game is a good reason to delve into pre-draft biases and gather some rookies I’m excited to see during the preseason.

The Trojan is at no. 25 overall on my personal big board entering the 2022 NFL Draft. Jackson has all the athletic traits that teams look for in an NFL edge rusher but it was my belief that he was underutilized in college. It didn’t hurt that he turned 21 just weeks before draft night. I A subject of athletics, defensive line coach Chris Kukorek expressed the team’s plan to drop him loose around the corner instead of putting him in coverage, which should be music to the ears of San Francisco fans. Reviews have been positive for the second-round pick early in camp via The Athletic:

“He’s the whole package. We had a joint interview with Drake early in the process. Bendy man, he’s got some sliding going for him. Change of direction, ability to win one-on-one in the pass rush. A A player who needs to keep climbing

Jackson could not have landed in a better position. In addition to the wealth of talent along the 49ers’ defensive line, Kocurek uses a wide 9 alignment that will allow the rookie to use his athletic gifts to challenge opposing offensive tackles at the high end of his rush.

Wide receiver Danny Gray is another rookie who intrigues. The offense’s penchant for challenging defenses later meshes well with Gray’s ability to churn out yardage after the catch.

This is the short and sweet version of the athletic, but raw former tight end’s scouting report. Jurgens plays the game with a modest style and now has the opportunity to learn from one of the best players in the game in Jason Kelce. Changes to Philadelphia’s offense during the second half of the 2021 regular season fit Jurgens’ skills. Kelce isn’t likely to get a lot of reps during the preseason, so that opens the door for the rookie from Nebraska.

“Obviously, a big part of my job or a big part of what I want to do is help these young guys. And Cam being a center, a guy that I have a lot of similarities to in my game. Look, I’m going. I’m going to give him tricks of the trade, things I’ve learned or whatever I can to try to help in any way I can. I feel like we’ve been helping each other throughout camp. “We’re going to continue to improve. We’re going to continue to work. Compete and try and improve as much as we can,” Kelis said. via NBC Sports.

The 111 receptions for 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 that were lost with the departure of Tyreke Hill will be hard to replace. It’s unrealistic to expect Moore to match those numbers, but he could significantly eat into them. Speed ​​and route-running ability are traits that come up when discussing Central Michigan’s wide receiver. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes should love the rookie for being in the right place at the right time. With so many new faces in the Kansas City receiver room, Moore could distinguish himself during training camp.

The hall has a unique frame that allows it to be used indoors and outdoors depending on the situation. Tampa Bay has a loaded front seven so there will be no pressure on the rookie to contribute early. At the same time, it’s easy to imagine Vita Vea eating up blockers down the line and allowing Hall to loop around and create pressure. Center Ryan Jensen is on record as saying Hall is “the real deal.”

Tampa Bay is well-equipped to handle Rob Gronkowski’s decision to retire. Cameron Brett returns and Kyle Rudolph is signed, but former Washington captain Cade Otten has been cleared to participate in his first training camp. His well-rounded skill set could allow him to see the field quickly.

The words “limited athleticism” never graced the pages of a Pickens scouting report. The national champion has a high ceiling and has flashed that potential early in training camp. Will he be able to bring the consistency needed to see the field? DK Metcalf is the perfect example of teams overthinking talent and it feels like Pickens will soon fit that narrative. Few teams have thrived on recruiting wide receivers like an AFC North franchise.

Dionte Johnson, Chase Claypool and Pickens give Pittsburgh a talented trio at wide receiver. However, wide receivers can only do so much, and quarterbacks are under a lot of pressure to get the ball.

Defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal is another who landed well. Leal is the type of tweener who can play on the edge or slide inside depending on the situation. As luck would have it, the Steelers are a team that has shown a keen awareness to use defensive linemen in a way that maximizes their potential.

Houston added some very talented defensive backs in Derek Stingley Jr. and Pitre. Kites fly around the football field making plays. The Baylor product was ranked no. 23 overall on my personal big board, so trust his abilities. The only concern is whether the Texans’ front seven will be able to generate enough pressure on the back end to get the ball in the air. His flexibility should allow him to play closer to the line of scrimmage more often.

New York’s entire draft class is expected. The tight end room, in particular, is brand new with CJ Uzomah, Tyler Conklin and Ruckert. The rookie from Ohio State was primarily used as a blocker in college because of the team’s playmaking ability at wide receiver. He had Chris Olive, Garrett Wilson and others to work with to thrive. The lifelong Jets fan should have more of an opportunity to show what he can do in the pass game. Rickert had been dealing with a foot injury that put him on the non-football injury list but was cleared Wednesday. The preseason is as good a time as any to start stacking up the positive days.

Like the wide receivers in Pittsburgh, Green Bay has always been good at securing offensive line contributors on Days 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft. This year they had two strong candidates with UCLA’s Sean Ryan and Wake Forest’s Zach Tom, the No. 1 pick. 79 overall on my last big board. Early in camp, the latter has been getting reps at right tackle with the first team. That may be a byproduct of Elton Jenkins being out, but it’s a feather in the rookie’s cap nonetheless. He has the flexibility to play multiple positions and now has a platform to demonstrate that he deserves a spot in the starting lineup.

Cleveland didn’t have a first- or second-round pick, so it’s important to find value with Day 2 and Day 3 picks. Wright measured in at 6-foot-5, 271 pounds at the NFL Combine. Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin — Lane’s brother — comes from San Francisco, which has a recent history when it comes to developing defensive line talent. Wright has the advantage of learning from ex-No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clooney. Executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry said after Wright was drafted in the third round:

“With Alex, he’s really been a favorite throughout the organization — scouts, coaches and our scouting and tactical groups. We like him because he’s a player who profiles what we would call a big end or strong side end. are, but with Alex. He’s really got the ability to run outside and inside. We like his frame. We like his ability to rush the passer. “Everyone was just glowing. He’s very motivated, he’s very intelligent and a very humble person, and we think he’s a player that can really be the ideal big end for us and inside.” And can rush outside. We’re excited to get him. Defense.”

Defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey also faces early playing time at Northeast Ohio. His energy has been contagious, but the team is eager to find out if his sensational Rays Senior Bowl performance was more or less a flash in the pan. Cleveland should repeat spoon-feeding two young defensive linemen through training camp.