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NFL Preseason Week 1’s Top Standout Rookies

  • Ryan Fowler
  • August 15, 2022
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With Week 1 of the 2022 NFL preseason in the books, it’s time to look back at the who’s who of the weekend slate. A monumental moment for many in the 2022 rookie class, here is a list of players—and a few extra—that caught my eye.

Travis Jones, DT, Baltimore Ravens

A massive man with bad intentions, Jones was outstanding in his limited work for the Ravens. A third-rounder in April, Jones was selected lower than the industry expected, and if his performance on Thursday night was any indication, he will outplay his draft slot before we reach the halfway point of the campaign. 

Baltimore’s secondary draws attention, but if Jones is able to continuously push the pocket and wrangle down ball carriers near the line of scrimmage, he could become a black hole within the interior for a team with massive expectations in 2022.

Romeo Doubs, WR, Green Bay Packers

The most productive Packers wideout in camp, Doubs carried his outstanding work in practice into his first snaps on NFL turf. No, he won’t blow you away with elite speed or win above the rim at a consistent clip, but Doubs understands the nuances of the wide receiver position that allows him to create separation all over the field. He will quickly become a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers.

Jordan Davis, IDL, Philadelphia Eagles

The NFL got tricky when it came to Davis and the Eagles will reap the reward of his presence for a long, long time if all comes to fruition. A man the size of a small townhome, Davis is an exception to the rule when it comes to size and movement skills. Humans shouldn’t move the way Davis does at 335 pounds, yet he was ranging sideline to sideline, sliding in between gaps, pushing the pocket vertically with relentless power—he did it all. 

Yes, it’s only the first week of the preseason, but the Jets needed three linemen to block him at times and not much will change as we move into the regular season. After recording the most impressive NFL Scouting Combine performance in history regardless of size and position, Davis should have gone much higher than No. 13 overall.

Zion Johnson, IOL, Los Angeles Chargers

Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, Johnson touted one of the highest performance floors of any prospect. A fundamentally sound interior presence, the former Boston College standout more than looked the part in his pro debut and should have no issues in blossoming along a front five that showcases Corey Linsley and Rashawn Slater.

Martin Emerson, CB, Cleveland Browns

A big, aggressive perimeter defender, Emerson was excellent all night long. Even aside from his 74-yard interception return for a touchdown, Emerson looked fluid in both man and zone and will provide another talented body within a stacked Cleveland secondary.

Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Washington Commanders

Robinson moved up the depth chart without even playing a snap during Washington’s loss to Carolina. Following Antonio Gibson’s fumble within the shadow of his own goal line, head coach Ron Rivera wasted little time in inserting the rookie from Alabama. A power back whose ability inside the tackles was initially looked upon as his immediate pathway to snaps, if Gibson’s fumbling issues continue, Robinson could be RB1 in the nation’s capital sooner than you think.

Malik Willis, QB, Tennessee Titans

Willis still has a long way to go between the ears, but his debut showcased the athlete scouts gushed over during the pre-draft process. A big arm, the ability to create off-script… all the intangibles Willis showcased at Liberty, he put on display against an athletic Baltimore defense. He’ll only improve as time goes on.

Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders

Howell may not see a snap during the regular season, but he looked outstanding in his Commanders debut. A dual-threat talent who rushed for a pair of scores on Sunday, Howell was decisive, accurate, and looked in full control of the burgundy and gold offense. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner opened up the playbook in the second half and Howell handled it like a seasoned pro.

Jaylen Warren, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

A UDFA out of Oklahoma State, Warren has been a standout in all facets for Pittsburgh. In a deep running backs room headlined by Najee Harris, Benny Snell, and Anthony McFarland, Warren has run with the opportunity he’s been granted. Whether or not he makes the roster remains to be seen, but Warren—if anything—has earned himself an opportunity elsewhere if Mike Tomlin opts to move on from the impressive young ball-carrier.

Other NFL rookie standouts:

  • George Karlaftis, EDGE, Kansas City Chiefs
  • WR George Pickens & QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Skylar Thompson, QB, Miami Dolphins
  • Josh Ross, LB, Baltimore Ravens
  • LB Jack Sanborn & S Jaquan Brisker, Chicago Bears
  • RB Dameon Pierce & S Jalen Pitre, Houston Texans
  • Jerreth Sterns, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Desmond Ridder, QB, Atlanta Falcons
  • IOL Spencer Burford & WR Danny Gray, San Francisco 49ers
  • Cam Jurgens, IOL, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Lance McCutcheon, WR, Los Angeles Rams