We’re halfway through the Ravens’ preseason, and one of my favorite things to watch in the preseason is how the rookies perform. Whether it’s the team’s top draft pick, or the random undrafted free agent from a D3 school of 1,500 students, rookies always intrigue me.
In this post, I’ll take a look at how certain rookies have performed, and then rank the first-year players based on their performance. These rankings will combine both preseason game performances and the reports we’ve gotten from training camp and the coaching staff.
Before ranking the rookies, let’s look at how three particular guys have performed.
- Jimmy Smith: The team’s 1st-round draft pick in April, Smith should have an immediate impact on defense this year. He’ll get a significant amount of playing time inthe Ravens’ defensive backfield, with his role probably being one that forces him to play man-to-man coverage on a lot of top receivers. Some fans and media members criticized his performance against Kansas City on Friday night, but in reality, asking a rookie in his NFL debut to shut down Dwayne Bowe is a lot. I thought Smith contained Bowe well enough to deserve some praise, and I like the way the first round pick bumps and grinds near the line of scrimmage.
- Tyrod Taylor: After a poor performance against Philadelphia in Week 1 of the preseason where he threw two interceptions (plus a third one that was overturned), Taylor rebounded in Week 2 against KC. He was making plays with both his arms and legs, creating time for himself by scrambling out of the pocket and picking out good passes. The accuracy and timing still seemed to be a bit off, as Taylor only went 5-for-11 passing, but 88 yards on five completions is not bad, and his 5-yard touchdown
scamper showed he can run the ball well in open space. I still don’t have faith in Taylor as the team’s backup to Joe Flacco, but I think he could be utilized this season with the Suggs Package.
- LaQuan Williams: LaQuan Williams looks like a man who really wants to make this football team. He’s made four catches for 84 yards in the two games, and averaged 30.5 yards per kick return against Kansas City. A University of Maryland product, Williams utilizes his speed, and runs routes well enough to gain good separation from DBs. I could see him making the team and having an impact this season in a Yamon Figurs-type role, returning kicks and lining up in formations with five receivers or some trips slot formations.
- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
- Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
- Jah Reid, OT, UCF
- Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
- Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
- LaQuan Williams, WR, Maryland
- Pernell McPhee, DE, Mississippi State
- Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech
- Justin Boren, OL, Ohio State
- Chykie Brown, CB, Texas
- Patrick Scales, LS, Utah State
- Michael McAdoo, DE, UNC
- Josh Victorian, CB, Louisiana Tech
- Chavis Williams, LB, Alabama
- Mana Silva, S, Hawaii