Rookie Watch Pre-Season 2016

By | August 31, 2016

JOE CALLAHAN/QB/PACKERS #6 The odds on CALLAHAN making the PACKERS 53-man roster appear pretty slim unless BRETT HUNDLEY is not recovered from his ankle injury by the season opener. But it is very hard to ignore his basic talent, arm strength and aptitude for playing QB at the NFL level. Against the 49’ers he completed 16 of 24 throws, for 167 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. He also fits the team’s current Offensive scheme well because of his escapability and ability to extend plays with his legs ala AARON RODGERS.

COREY CORE/WR/BENGALS #16 CORE has generated lots of interest based on his size and perceived potential to grow beyond his college production since January. And as the Bengals attempted to replace SANU/JONES this summer it has been CORE who has stepped up for them. He’s a long strider, with above average speed. He has shown the ability to get open and stretch the secondary. It’s looking now like he may make the final cut and win a roster spot.

TYLER ERVIN/RB/RS/TEXANS #34 ERVIN has shown the TEXANS the versatility and production that they saw while watching game tape of him back at SJSU. As the team begins life without ARION FOSTER, and retools their RB group ERVIN offers versatility that their other candidates cannot equal. He’s an elusive runner who shows surprising ability to run inside the tackles for his size. He also shows good hands as a receiver, and can help special teams as a returner. In Week 3 ERVIN had 2 rushes for 13 yards; 1 receptions for 20 yards; popped a kick return for 58 yards. You gotta luv a guy who can bring explosive productivity to your team.

TYREEK HILL/WR/RS/CHIEFS #81 Another guy whose biggest added value may come as a return man. His speed takes your breath away at times. In week 3 he piled up 103 total yards with a 58 yard reception being the highlight play. He looks poised to take away the job held by De’Anthony Thomas the past few seasons. He’s a bit bigger and has greater straight line speed to my eyes.

CRE’VON LeBLANC/CB/FLORIDA ATLANTIC #35 This URFA has been the PATS leading tackler, and looked very solid in pass coverage this pre-season. Against the PANTHERS he was credited with 2 PBU and 2 tackles. He has also been effective on Special Teams coverage units and in a pinch also possesses return ability. More than a few folks were surprised that he was not drafted in April, but he looks like he can duplicate much of what CYRUS JONES their top pick this year can do.

ALEX LEWIS/OL/RAVENS. This long, lean athlete was a team leader at Nebraska and showed some of those same qualities at the Shrine Classic. He has played inside at OG, and at OT for the Ravens this pre-season, acquitting himself well at both positions. He may have starting ability in his future, but as a Rookie his versatility to back up 4 positions may allow him to be a very valuable back-up on game day.

JOE THUNEY/OG/PATRIOTS #64 Versatility and high FBI count for a lot in BILL BELICHICK’s world. THUNEY brings a lot of both in his play. He has been starting the entire pre-season at LG and I would be surprised if he doesn’t hold on to that starting spot come September. He also offers the team a back-up option at every OL slot, but OC, in a pinch. He’s athletic enough to play out at OT, but his arms are a bit short for an NFL level OT on a full-time basis.

DeANDRE WASHINGTON/RB/RAIDERS #33 This short guy was a perfect fit for the wide open attack at Texas Tech. But he also has desirable traits for an NFL Offense. At 5’8, it makes his 204 lbs. a bit more powerful than anticipated. He also has excellent hands as a receiver and slips out of the backfield on a regular basis to grab dump-off throws. He is also very quick and can change direction and cause defenders to grab for him out in space. He has good balance and burst to make big plays once out in the open field. He will make a nice compliment to a RAIDERS running corps that is loaded with bigger, power runners.

I have already thumb-nailed DREW KASER/P for the CHARGERS, but this could well be a banner year for drafted Punters overall. Based on their work in the pre-season it looks very likely that RILEY DIXON/BRONCOS and LACHLAN EDWARDS/JETS may also have earned Punting slots with their teams. Both have looked good in the pre-season with their strong legs providing both distance and hang-time. they have also shown the ability to angle punts and place the ball inside the 20-yard line with consistency. I’m not sure I have ever seen 3 drafted Rookies earn jobs their first season.

Week 4 of the pre-season doesn’t reveal a whole lot for prospects usually so this is my last snapshot section on the Rookies of Summer. Time to start looking seriously at the prospects for the 2017 Draft in Philadelphia.