The Chicago Bears spent an early 4th-round pick on Temple’s Evan Rodriguez, a tight end who they intended to convert to fullback. It would have been an early selection for any fullback, but especially for one with limited experience at the position.
But so far it’s worked out brilliantly. Pro Football Focus, which grades players at each position, currently has Rodriguez as the highest-rated fullback through two games.
It’s probably unrealistic to expect Rodriguez to keep up that pace, but it’s definitely encouraging to see him excel in this role early in the season.
Houston Texans 1st-round pick Whitney Mercilus was expected to be used as a pass-rush specialist this season, but he’s failed to carve out a niche for himself in the Texans defensive scheme so far.
Through two games Mercilus as been on the field for just 24 plays, 18 of them as a pass rusher. In those 18 plays, he’s recorded just one quarterback hurry and zero sacks according to Pro Football Focus.
It’s far too early to be concerned about Mercilus, but the Texans defense would definitely benefit from him emerging as a serious pass-rush threat at some point this season.
The Indianapolis Colts drafted Coby Fleener, at least in part, due to his connection to Andrew Luck. And so far, the strategy has worked. Fleener has developed into Luck’s safety net – when all else fails, Luck checks down to Fleener.
According to Pro Football Focus, Luck has attempted 33 passes between 0 and 9 yards down the field. Of those 33, eight have been targeted at Fleener and seven were caught.
This is exactly what the Colts had in mind when drafting Fleener. He hasn’t been a serious threat in the passing game, but he’s done just enough to make sure Luck’s comfortable. Even if Fleener doesn’t develop into an elite tight end, he has already serving his purpose in Indy.
The Tennessee Titans presumably drafted Kendall Wright in the 1st round with the hope that he would add a new dimension to their offense.
However Wright is slightly undersized and didn’t play in a complex offense at Baylor. His route running skills definitely need some work, but one area where he could help immediately would be to stretch the field. Wright is likely the fastest receiver on the Titans roster, and was a serious deep threat during his days in college.
But through two games, Wright has been targeted beyond 10 yards just twice (both incompletions).
Instead the Titans have used Wright on quick routes, hoping to allow him to make plays after the catch. All seven of Wright’s catches have been less than 10 yards down the field and two have come behind the line of scrimmage.
Wright is definitely dangerous with the ball in his hands but it’s hard not to wonder if the Titans are limiting him by preventing him from stretching the field.
Tennessee Titans 3rd-round pick Mike Martin came off the bench on opening weekend and was fairly impressive in 35 snaps, recording one hit and two hurries according to Pro Football Focus. The Titans coaching staff must have been impressed, as Martin was inserted into a starting role for Week 2.
Martin replaced Karl Klug, who saw his playing time decrease considerably on Sunday against the Chargers. Martin responded by recording his first career sack.
Pro Football Focus tracks a statistic called Pressure Percentage, which is actually a weighted percentage based on number of sacks, hits and hurries. Among qualifying defensive tackles, Martin currently ranks second. In 35 pass rush snaps Martin has recorded seven pressures (1 sack, 2 hits, 4 hurries).