Ell’s NFL Preseason Rankings Part 2 #28-#25
Strength: Defensive Line. The D-line continues to be strength of this team led by DT Ndamukong Suh and pass rushing DE Cameron Wake, while DT Jordan Phillips continues to take up space and DE Andre Branch has turned out to be a solid pass rushing complement.
*Honorable Mention* Wide Receiver also has the potential to be a strength with DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Stills all returning.
Weakness: Quarterback. The team already needed to see Ryan Tannehill take the next step, but after his injury the position is a bigger concern, as the team had to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement and he still has to win the job against Matt Moore who has been mostly a good backup.
Impact Rookie: Raekwon McMillan was supposed to be the impact rookie manning the middle to help sure up a struggling run defense, but he is now injured and out for the season. Now, the Dolphins must hope 1st round DE Charles Harris develops quickly as a pass rusher or DT Davon Godchaux pushes Phillips for snaps.
Strength: Defensive Line. Although the team is switching to a 3-4 front, the key to this team is the defensive line in Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, and Michael Brockers; they let go Chris Long and Willie Young. Donald is considered one of the best defenders in the league, Quinn is one of the best pass rusher in the league (when healthy), and Brockers can stop the run and draw double teams.
Weakness: Quarterback. The Rams moved up for Jared Goff, but he didn’t give fans anything to look forward to, despite going #1 overall. The Rams have made improvements around him and have bragged about his offseason growth, so this team will only go as far as he can take them.
Impact Rookie: Cooper Kupp will be given every opportunity to make plays at WR, as the Rams are always looking for someone who can move the chains. Kupp has good size, speed, and hands, but if he can prove to be a special player it would really take this offense to another level.
Strength: Quarterback. Andrew Luck has been the main reason for hope from the Colts, as he has thrown his way into many games, while taking a beating along the way which has led to multiple injuries the last two seasons. However, when Luck is on the field the Colts always feel like they have a fighting chance, but they must keep the QB upright.
Weakness: Front 7. While the additions of veterans Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, Margus Hunt and Jonathan Hankins added a lot of physicality to the group, they will have to take on big roles to improve the team, as there is not much playmaking talent around them.
Impact Rookie: Malik Hooker. Hooker has been compared to future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed and has been known for his solid ball skills, athleticism, and coverage; however he must continue to improve his tackling. Hooker will be an immediate starter at FS and luckily fell to the team due to pre-draft injuries.
*Honorable Mention* RB Marlon Mack has impressed and he should be a good fit behind Frank Gore, as a homerun threat and playmaker out of the backfield; he should make a solid 3rd down back.
Strength: Wide Receiver. The Jaguars bring back their top WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns a good mix of speed (Hurns) and possession (Robinson), as well as receiver Marqise Lee who has shown flashes of being a good slot WR. Rashad Greene has also proved that he can make plays when called upon and rookie WR Dede Westbrook is a playmaker who should make his way on the field.
Weakness: Quarterback. Blake Bortles. Bortles has not turned out to be the QB the Jags hoped for when they drafted him, as he was supposed to be the next coming of Big Ben. He has struggled mightily with turnovers of all kinds and seems to only play best in garbage time. A lot has been blamed on the O-line and inconsistent running game, but it’s a make or break year for Bortles.
Impact Rookie: Leonard Fournette. Fournette was one of the best backs in college football history and really showed an ability to run with a quick, physical style despite his large frame, however he has slimmed down for the NFL and the Jaguars are counting on him to be the workhorse back they badly need.