Through three weeks of the preseason, there has been much to talk about throughout the league. The most important function of the preseason is to showcase the rookies or unknown players that each team possesses to see if they’re worth a spot on the final roster. Below is a list of the league’s best offensive rookies so far this year. Whether or not they will string all of these performances together is up to their coaches, as well as themselves.
Quarterback: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
There is no question about this selection. Dak has been electric in his playing time this year, completing 39 of 50 passes (78.0% comp) for 454 yards (9.1 ypa), as well as throwing 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, as well as rushing for 2 touchdowns on the ground. With Tony Romo going down for most of the season, the Cowboys’ offense should be able to stay afloat with the former Mississippi State Bulldog at the helm.
Running Back: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Henry’s performance this preseason has been extremely impressive. He has put up 27 carries for 154 yards (5.7 ypc) and 2 touchdowns. In their Week 3 game against the Raiders, Henry collected 49 yards on 12 carries (4.1 ypc), most of which came against Oakland’s first team defense. He looks to be a strong pairing for supposed starter Demarco Murray, who could be replaced by the 2015 Heisman winner and former member of the Crimson Tide.
Wide Receiver 1: Robby Anderson, New York Jets
After a slow start with just 1 catch for 7 yards in Week 1, the 6’3″ rookie out of Temple has collected 10 catches for 196 (19.6 ypr) yards and 2 touchdowns. The Jets have their two starting receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, but Anderson has made some noise in the past two weeks, outplaying the other rookies on the roster. If he can continue his hot streak into Week 4, he should be considered for a spot on the final roster.
Wide Receiver 2: Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee Titans
Sharpe has been a revelation for the Titans, even affording them the opportunity to trade the reduced-effort version of Dorial Green-Beckham. Through three weeks, the former UMass Minuteman has collected 9 receptions for 163 yards (18.1 ypr). Considering Sharpe was a Day 3 draft pick that supposedly had small enough hands for teams to pass on him, he has been quite the surprise for the Titans, and they have received great value for their pick so far.
Tight End: Tanner McEvoy, Seattle Seahawks
This former Wisconsin Badger has been quite a surprise this preseason. Although he may be behind Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson on the depth chart, McEvoy is making the most of his opportunities in the time he’s getting with backups. So far the tight end has racked up 5 catches for a whopping 128 yards (24.6 ypr) and a touchdown. The undrafted former safety/quarterback/receiver/running back has finally been put in the right position, and it has worked out for both McEvoy and the Seahawks.
Left Tackle: Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens
Stanley was regarded as a bit of a project at the first round level in the 2016 draft, but he was one of the stronger tackles in the class. This has been proven so far this year, having strong games in all three weeks. He even played well against the Lions’ strong defensive line last week. The former Notre Dame lineman has the potential to protect Joe Flacco’s blind side for years to come.
Left Guard: Joe Thuney, New England Patriots
Thuney has been one of the best Patriots’ draft pick along the offensive line in some time. Many members of the media even said he has played like a first round pick throughout practice and the preseason. While he had a bit of a down game against the Carolina Panthers’ strong defense in Week 3, Thuney has, for the most part, been the best lineman on the field, and is one of Pro Football Focus’ best guards so far this year.
Center: Evan Boehm, Arizona Cardinals
Boehm has easily been the best rookie center thus far, and consistently one of the best in the whole league over three games. The former Mizzou Tiger has been strong, possibly unseating AQ Shipley from the starting center spot on the roster. The Cardinals invested two picks in the offensive line in the 2016 draft, and they definitely paid off, as you can see in the next choice.
Right Guard: Cole Toner, Arizona Cardinals
While Joe Thuney has been strong this year, he is playing second fiddle to Harvard’s own Cole Toner in regards to rookie guards. He has been not only the best rookie guard this preseason, but the best guard overall, according to Pro Football Focus. Carson Palmer’s line has been rejuvenated this year thanks to these two rookies, and they will likely still be blocking inside for the heir to his throne.
Right Tackle: Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans
The Titans are the team most likely to have a strong impact from its rookies this year. They were part of quite a few trades within the early first round in the 2016 draft, and it paid off for them with the selection of Conklin. He has been a force on the right side for Tennessee, and with fellow bookend Taylor Lewan, Marcus Mariota should feel safe on the edges this year. Conklin had some of the best games at tackle in the league this preseason, and that will likely continue into the regular season.