NFL rookie recap: Josh Allen struggles in loss to Bengals

Allen-Josh-Getty-FTR
Josh Allen (Getty Images)

Drafting quarterbacks in the first round is always a gamble for NFL teams, and the Bills certainly rolled the dice when they selected Josh Allen this year.

Coming out of Wyoming, Allen was peppered with questions about his poor accuracy. Few quarterbacks have found success in the NFL after poor accuracy numbers in college. But the Bills liked Allen’s upside and decided to make him the new face of their franchise.

Was it the right choice? 

Here are some of preseason Week 3’s rookie performers:

Josh Allen, QB, Bills

Stat line: 6-of-12 passing for 34 yards (2.8 average) and zero touchdowns

Allen looked like a deer in headlights much of the game, struggling to read defenses and find receiving options. He was sacked five times, and even left the game with a head injury. 

It often takes time for young quarterbacks to adjust NFL speed, but Allen looks like he has a long way to go with very little support around him.

Derwin James, S, Chargers

Stat line: 3 tackles, 1 interception

James’ interception was without a doubt the highlight of his day, despite the team’s 36-7 loss to New Orleans. 

However, he was also very good in coverage and came up well into the box to make some tackles as well. The Chargers got a steal in this year’s draft. 

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns

Stat line: 8-of-12 passing, 76 yards, 1 interception

It’s undeniable that Baker Mayfield can make the throws to succeed in the NFL. However, there were still some questions as to whether he could do it against an NFL team’s No. 1 defense. Those questions weren’t because people thought he couldn’t do it, but because he simply hadn’t yet.

Mayfield got his first shot to show his stuff against the Eagles on Thursday when starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was forced to leave in the first quarter after suffering a hand injury. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner promptly showed he can make throws against the highest level of competition.

The 2018 No. 1 overall pick dropped a perfect pass into receiver Rashard Higgins and showed the makings of an NFL QB. He looked off the safety to the left, then he made a beautiful deep out throw on a line over a linebacker’s head — the definition of an NFL throw.

He did have a bad moment later in the game, though, as he forced a throw to a spot when his receiver had been knocked off his route and was picked off by fellow rookie Avonte Maddox. You’ll take the good with the bad in this league, and Mayfield had a lot of good, finishing 8-of-12 passing for 76 yards with no touchdowns and that lone interception.

Nick Chubb, RB, Browns

Stat line: 14 carries, 46 yards

Nick Chubb may not be getting any attention on Hard Knocks or from anyone else in the media, but Cleveland’s rookie second-string running back is NFL ready and showed it with a first quarter run Thursday.

Chubb may not be the biggest, fastest, quickest or strongest running back in the league, but he will be a solid pro. He finished with 46 yards on 14 carries.

Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos

Stat line: 5 rushes, 26 yards, 1 touchdown

Royce Freeman is likely to get a good number of first-team reps with the Broncos this year and touchdowns like this one from Friday’s 29-17 victory are why.

Ronald Jones, RB, Buccaneers

Stat line: 6 carries, 7 yards; 1 catch, 37 yards

Jones had trouble on the ground, but he showed his versatility by hauling in a beautiful pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick on a wheel route for a 37-yard gain Friday.

Sam Darnold, QB, Jets

Stat line: 8 of 16 for 86 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 rushes, 13 yards

Sam Darnold has some maturing to do as he showed by completing just 50 percent of his passes Friday, but his ability to extend plays and even pick up first downs on third and long with his legs show just how high his ceiling is.

Mo Hurst, DT, Raiders

The Raiders may have gotten the steal of the draft as they grabbed Mo Hurst out of Michigan with the 140th-overall pick in the fifth round. He would have been a first rounder had a heart condition not been a red flag to teams. Hurst showed his skills when helping out on a sack in the first half of Friday’s game.

Avonte Maddox, CB, Eagles

Stat line: 1 tackle, 1 interception

Remember when we mentioned Maddox’s interception? Well, here it is. 

Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens

Stat line: 7-of-10 passing, 98 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 rushes, 39 yards, 1 touchdown

Jackson posted the best appearance of his preseason with not only an efficient day, but one where he also showed off his speed.

His 19-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter of Saturday’s game was a thing of beauty, which also allowed him to show off his balance as he seemingly stumbled the final nine yards of his run and still scored. 

John Kelly, RB, Rams

Stat line: 15 carries, 64 yards, 2 touchdowns; two catches, no yards

John Kelly is this year’s candidate to be Alvin Kamara if he gets the chance to get some touches. He fell down in the draft due to some issues not related to football, but this bowling ball of a running back is hard to tackle and has great one-cut ability which allows him to slice through defenses as he showed Saturday.

He will be a good compliment to Todd Gurley if he is given the chance.