2019 Dynasty-Fantasy Preseason Wk1 Steelers 30, Buccaneers 28
These two teams got after at in this game – good effort on both sides for a preseason game. Sloppy, but good effort…only 24 penalties combine for both teams, and that was just the accepted penalties. There were probably 10 more called that weren’t. I think the Steelers had offensive holding called every other play.
We had the battle of the 1st-round pick inside linebackers (Devin White v. Devin Bush)…with a definitive winner crowned. We saw each team take a step closer to cutting two higher profile recent draft pick RBs as well…
-- Jaylen Samuels (2-21-0, 1-9-0/1) sprinkled in for a few touches in this game, and he did what he does…looks like Le’Veon Bell 2.0. I don’t know how long before the Steelers are awakened to this, but it likely won’t happen by Week 1. We also didn’t see Samuels lining up all over or doing anything creative, but probably by design/hiding it…I hope.
The real story at RB for the Steelers, for me, was how weak Bennie Snell (13-26-0, 2-25-0/3) looked. I thought he was too slow for the pro level scouting him at Kentucky, and I’m not changing my opinion after watching his pro debut. Moderately OK running up the middle but ask him to go east-west and forget it. Snell has no business making the team over Trey Edmunds…but we can’t embarrass the GM, so they’ll likely stick with their rookie pick from 2019 (Snell).
Remember, ‘best man wins the job’ is what they say…unless the GM would be embarrassed by any individual incident. There’s no shame in realizing a mistake and moving on quickly, but that’s not the norm in the NFL at all.
-- If it was ‘the norm’, failing fast and moving on in the NFL, then Ronald Jones (4-18-0, 1-5-0/1) would be hitting the waiver wire before the 53-man roster is announced this year…or traded to a sucker team (like Oakland or Minnesota).
Coming off a weak performance last preseason, Jones added 10+ pounds to play at a bigger size but that appears to have taken his slower foot speed and made it even worse. He might be getting cut in a few weeks.
The reason RoJo may be gone is the rise of the current #3 and #4 RBs…
Andre Ellington (4-9-0, 1-6-0/1) is a former Bruce Arians love child, so he’s definitely making the team – and he looks NFL ready again. He’ll be the starting 3rd-down back.
The deep sleeper to take Jones’s job and to take some carries away from Peyton Barber is 3rd-year RB Dare Ogunbowale (10-34-2), who ran for 2 TDs and just ran with a toughness/desire (and with a little ‘pop’ that Jones doesn’t have.
If ‘best man wins’, then Ogunbowale will make the squad. If ‘save GM from embarrassment’ wins then Jones will get another shot and Ogunbowale will be snapped up when he’s released.
-- The Steelers QB situation, behind Big Ben…
You may know that I’m a Mason Rudolph (5-8 for 91 yards, 2 TD/0 INT) fan, but I am not seeing a big progression in his game here in year 2; in this small sample here.
Rudolph looks physically smaller than my memories and weaker-armed (not stepping in and driving his throws). I don’t see any of the ‘it’ factor I saw scouting him at Oklahoma State. We had him sitting atop our QB rankings for that class for a while before Baker took the top spot.
Rudolph got a bit better as they game went on, but I thought he looked like Sam Darnold here – an NFL backup. Capable. Smart. Unconfident throws/no swagger in his throws. No ‘wow’.
Josh Dobbs (8-14 for 79 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 2-44-0) is very erratic as a passer, but shows a stronger arm and took off for a run out of the pocket in this game and looked bigger, faster, quicker than any of the RBs in the game. He’s a sorry passer, but his mobility is a weapon.
I mocked Dobbs and supported Rudolph in 2018, and now, after watching where they are today…I’m moving on, for fantasy, until further notice. I would not be shocked if Dobbs makes the roster and Rudolph is let go, if they keep 2 QBs. I won’t lock that thought in until I see Rudolph is 2-3 more preseason games, but I was letdown/unimpressed (where I was hoping for NFL starter talent) for sure on Rudolph watching this game.
Mike Tomlin secretly likes rookie UDFA Devlin Hodges (8-14 for 79 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) better than Rudolph, I suspect. I can tell it in his training camp talks. Hodges is scrappy and has heart, but it is a pretty limited QB. Maybe an NFL backup in a few years. He’ll be on the Pitt practice squad soon.
-- Diontae Johnson (DNP) did not play due to minor injury, so James Washington (4-84-1/5) took advantage and starred in this game – a couple of very nice catches in this game, including a near miss TD catch where his toe came down out of bounds on a terrific sideline grab. Had he gone 100+ yards and 3 TDs, the story would really be hot.
I like Washington just fine; I just think he’ll be crowded out of touches for fantasy 2019 and be FF-irrelevant. He’s a good, capable, solid NFL starter talent but Donte Moncrief will open as the #2 starter (and eventually not be) and Washington will battle Diontae for the #3 spot (until Moncrief falls away). Washington is in no way the ‘next AB’, but he’s good.
WR Tevin Jones (3-24-1/6) will probably not make the team, but he made me pay attention again for the 2nd preseason in a row. 6’2”/217, 4.48 40-time, 6.88 three-cone. He might catch on somewhere this year. He’s not bad at all.
-- The best-looking WR in this game, to me, was Bucs’ 2nd-year WR Justin Watson (4-37-0/7). If he’s not starting for the Bucs Week 1, I don’t know what’s going on.
We scouted Watson as one of the better WR prospects in 2018 draft class but got stiffed in the draft because ‘he’s an Ivy Leaguer’ and there is a bias against them in the scouting community. Evans-Godwin-Watson would be one of the most talented trios in the league…too bad they have to work with Jameis Winston.
I also thought rookie UDFA WR from Illinois State, Spencer Schnell (7-119-0/9) proved he might belong in the NFL…but likely not a star talent, just useful/scrappy (and probably forgotten soon). A Welker/Edelman type receiver.
-- The worst player in this game…a guy that just stood out for being bad so much that I was talking to myself out loud about it…and he was bad in this game in the exact way I described him in my CFM scouting report on him – Steelers’ rookie CB Justin Layne (8 tackles) was truly awful in this game.
He plays so far off receivers that he gives up easy throws all day. He also is a terrible tackler and missed several key tackles in this game allowing bigger plays here. He had 8 tackles here, but that was generous…and he was an easy mark to go after, so there was a lot of action his side of the field.
-- The winner of the battle of the star rookie ILB prospects? The stat line probably answers that succinctly…
Devin Bush (10 tackles), Devin White (1 tackle).
The stats didn’t lie. My CFM scouting showed here as well – Bush moving high-end, with purpose, and making nice hits. White, terrific athlete, but always finds ways NOT to be in on plays. Just go look at his college game log.
Bush is smart in pass coverage and aggressive in the run game, but a tad overrated…but really good with upside.
White is wonderfully athletic, has people blowing hot air up his skirt all the time and he believes his own greatness…but drifts around the field aimlessly too much for me, when trying to evaluate him as ‘elite’. I know Arians loves him, but he also thought Robert Nkemdiche was going to be great and thought Haason Reddick was a no-brained ILB star of the future – he used #1 picks on booth his last head coaching stint.
White will play for sure, and that will lead to some numbers, but I really question if he’ll be a long-term star or even all that good. The story has been prewritten on him, he’s a star without question for the media, so you won’t hear any negatives ever about him.
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