Throughout the season following each game I will be taking a look at the rookies and how they fared each week. This will consist of thoughts such as the positive and negatives from that game, areas to watch or work on and clips to support what I’m sharing. Hopefully, this will shed some insight on some things you may or may not have seen.
Week 1 – Cincinnati Bengals
#8 Kenny Pickett (Round 1)
Did not see any action but was the number two quarterback on his initial game day.
#14 George Pickens (Round 2) – 45 offensive snaps, 3 targets, 1 reception, 3 yards
He was the starter at the Z position in his initial game and was used on a variety of pass routes. However the reason for his limited targets may be due to the majority of those routes being deep. By my count he ran sixteen Go routes. That was about half of his total routes. Add in some corner, deep out and drive routes on an offense that has poor offensive line play that will limit his targets.
Of his four targets there were some good things. On the first, a red zone fade he drew a penalty. His second was on a comeback route and if Mitch Trubisky gets the ball out quicker it should have been a completion. The third target was a go route with heavy pressure on the quarterback that was thrown out of bounds. His final target was his lone reception on curl route showing his soft hands on the play.
He showed good effort as a blocker and I wanted to highlight this play. At the top of the screen, he will block inside on the fly sweep and is able to get enough contact to slow down the pursuit of three Bengal defenders.
I did see an area to improve as well. From the bunch formation at the bottom of the screen he will run a curl route. A poor snap by J.C. Hassenauer puts Trubisky on the move immediately. Pickens becomes a spectator when he should be busting into the wide open middle the field to get in the quarterbacks view on the scramble drill.
#98 DeMarvin Leal (Round 3) – 17 defensive snaps, 2 special team snaps, 1 assisted tackle
Leal got a chance to be a part of the defensive line rotation seeing all but four of his snaps in the second half. He was used everywhere from the 0 technique (over the center) out to the 5 technique on the outside shoulder of the tackle. The thing that I noticed on every play is he always plays with his eyes up not losing sight of the ball. As a pass rusher he mixed up his pass rushes using bull, rip and club moves with modest results. He was also used on some stunts as the penetrator to attempt to open lanes for teammates.
As a run defender he displayed good balance and hand placement with good lateral quickness to beat blockers to the outside. On the play he was banged up it was on a quarterback sneak while facing a double team. His right foot seemed to slip out from under him and he grabbed his right knee.
This is his assist on the tackle. He is lined up inside the right guard and shows good balance to stay on his feet and keeps his eyes on the ball circling back to get in on the tackle.
#83 Connor Heyward (Round 6) – 1 offensive snap, 22 special teams snaps, 1 assisted tackle
Heyward saw most of his work on special teams. His lone snap on offense he was lined up on the left wing and at the snap pulled to his right to be a lead blocker. He ran into a scrum of people and looked for someone to block on a play that went nowhere.
On special teams he saw work on punt cover, kick cover and kick return. He did a solid job as a blocker on punt cover and that is where he got his lone tackle. The majority of kickoffs were touchbacks so there were limited opportunities to be a blocker or cover the kick.
Here he is as the right tackle on punt cover. He handles the twisting defenders well before heading downfield to clean up the tackle.
#30 Jaylen Warren (UDFA) – 23 offensive snaps, 11 special team snaps, 3 carries, 7 yards
Warren saw extended action after Najee Harris had to lead the game. His stats were not impressive but what he did without the ball opened some eyes.
As a runner in his limited chances what I saw was good vision and decision making to find the best gap to hit. He also showed good second effort to add two yards by twisting forward on one of his runs and I also like his ball security wrapping up with both arms. As a receiver, h saw one target on a swing pass that was underthrown and the rest of his routes were limited to releasing after checking as a blocker. He put a nice shake on a linebacker sneaking through the line on a pass play in overtime. If he Trubisky saw him it could have been a good gain.
As a blocker Warren really impressed with two really good blocks for Chase Claypool out in space. He also did a nice job in blitz pick up finding the right assignment and de-cleating a couple defenders. His effort all around was good to hustling to try to get other blocks. On special teams he was on kickoff coverage and kickoff return as blocker but again most of those kicks were touchbacks.
Here is another nice blitz pickup by Warren working back across the formation. He adds in the addition hustle downfield in case the receiver breaks away. He showed this hustle multiple times.
Inactive for Week 1 – #93 Mark Robinson (Round 7)
Practice Squad – #68 William Dunkle, #87 Justin Rigg, #6 Jaquarii Roberson
Reserve/Injured – #19 Calvin Austin (Round 4), #30 Carlins Platel (UDFA)