10 NFL Rookies Who Shined During Preseason Week 1

By Gil Alcaraz IV

10 Rookies Who Shined During the First Week of the Preseason

Blake Bortles Cover
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The first full week of NFL preseason action is in the books, and what a week it was. Even though there was plenty of subpar football, it was still a week full of gridiron greatness that gave us all a taste of what’s to come during the 2014 campaign.

With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 rookies who offered up impressive performances during their first NFL games.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Houston Texans

Houston Texans v Arizona Cardinals
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Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Houston Texans

Houston Texans v Arizona Cardinals
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Who would have seen this one coming, right? While his overall outing wasn’t exactly a spectacular one, Clowney showed some of that outstanding athleticism and explosiveness that we’ve come to expect from the No. 1 overall pick. He manhandled a would-be blocker before slamming the running back to the turf for a five-yard loss. It was just a glimpse of what we might see from Clowney for years to come.

Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams
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Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams
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When the Saints traded up to get Cooks back in May, they knew they were getting a special receiver. This past weekend, the rookie pass-catcher gave New Orleans a glimpse of what he brings to the table. Hauling in five passes for 55 yards, Cooks showed good burst and acceleration, often making opponents look silly. The future looks bright for this first-round pick, especially with Drew Brees throwing to him.

Isame Faciane, DT, Minnesota Vikings

Isame Faciane
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Isame Faciane, DT, Minnesota Vikings

Isame Faciane
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Faciane wasn’t exactly the rookie the Vikings were hoping would stand out in the first preseason game, but they’ll take it. The undrafted rookie out of FIU saw plenty of action in the second half, and didn’t waste one opportunity. Although he didn’t show much against the run, his ability to create pressure as a pass rusher has his stock significantly on the rise.

Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants

Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants
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Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants

Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants
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While his performance wasn’t as impressive in his second outing, Williams definitely turned heads during the Hall of Fame Game. The fourth-round pick displayed outstanding vision and burst, picking up big chunks of yardage and plowing his way into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown. With the Giants’ stable of backs already plagued by injury, Williams is quickly earning a significant role.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars
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Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars
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If Jaguars fans were hoping a quarterback controversy would begin, they got exactly what they wanted this weekend. While Chad Henne struggled to put any of his passes on target, 10 of Bortles’ 11 throws found their mark – three were dropped, though. It may have been a preseason game, but Bortles showed the Jaguars everything they were hoping to see from their quarterback of the future.

Dee Ford, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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Dee Ford, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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As if the Chiefs don’t already have enough talented edge rushers, Ford appears to be just as advertised. While he struggled to defend the run, his ability to consistently pressure the opposing passer was impressive. The rookie first-round pick will struggle to earn significant playing time this season, but should find his way into the rotation if he shines throughout the preseason.

Terrence Fede, DE, Miami Dolphins

Terrence Fede
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Terrence Fede, DE, Miami Dolphins

Terrence Fede
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being a seventh-round draft pick, Fede has done a great job of standing out during Dolphins training camp. During his first preseason game, he continued to prove his worth. Whether he was defending the run or the pass, Fede was routinely in the backfield disrupting the Falcons’ offense. He made two big stops against the run and applied pressure on the passer on four separate occasions.

Branden Oliver, RB, San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys v San Diego Chargers
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Branden Oliver, RB, San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys v San Diego Chargers
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It’s too bad the Chargers already have three above-average running backs, because they found a real steal in Oliver. The undrafted rookie showed impressive instincts during his first taste of NFL action, picking up big chunks of yards on limited carries. He showed outstanding power upon contact, even putting six points on the board as he made a case for one of the final spots on the 53-man roster.

Ethan Westbrooks, DE, St. Louis Rams

Ethan Westbrooks
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Ethan Westbrooks, DE, St. Louis Rams

Ethan Westbrooks
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

While the focus was on fellow rookie defensive end Michael Sam, Westbrooks was busy wreaking havoc on the Saints’ offense. An undrafted rookie out of West Texas A&M, Westbrooks showed impressive burst and quickness off the snap, embarrassing guard Senio Kelemete on one play. If he can continue to be a disruptive force like he was in his debut, Westbrooks will solidify a spot on the 53-man roster.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, New England Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo
Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, New England Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo
Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

It appears the Patriots knew what they were doing when they replaced Ryan Mallett with Garoppolo as their quarterback of the future. Despite plenty of skepticism surrounding New England’s decision to go with Garoppolo, the rookie showed impressive poise in the pocket and the ability to pick up big yards through the air. It’s obviously early, but the future looks bright for the Patriots’ new gunslinger.

Gil Alcaraz IV is the Director of Content for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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