NFL | Aug 18, 2022

Best Rookie Performances of NFL Preseason Week 1

By Harry Bazley

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Week 1 of the 2022 NFL preseason has come to a close and already we're seeing new faces make plays in both the endzone and backfield alike.

Throughout the constant cuts and trades of the offseason, so many new signings fail to make the roster, but for those left it's still all to play for. So, the rookies remaining are taking to the stage in preseason match-ups to prove just how valuable they are.

Newbies across the league are showing up and showing out in preparation for the regular season, but only a few have made a notable impact so far. The rookies on this list are already proving to head coaches why they deserve to be lined up when that ball is snapped. So, without further ado, lets take look at some of the new names in the league and how they've been stealing the spotlight.

Samuel Womack - San Francisco 49ers, CB

With major competition for the starting slot position in San Francisco, Womack's preseason debut couldn't have been more crucial.

The 172nd pick in the 2022 draft is up against Darqueze Dennard and Deommodore Lenoir for the nickelback spot, both of which have already served their time as a rookie. Dennard has 8 years in the league to his advantage, while Lenoir put in a respectable debut performance in the 2021 NFL season.

Despite the competition, Womack showed no nerves in his first appearance, bagging two impressive interceptions and leaving the field as the sure-fire star in an already dominant 49ers defence. Fingers crossed he maintains such high standards against the Chicago Bears in week 1. But with two more weeks of preseason to come, who knows what number we'll see in that starting spot...

George Pickens - Pittsburgh Steelers, WR

Pickens joined the Pittsburgh roster as the 52nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft and although he would have hoped to hear his name called sooner, the former Georgia WR hasn't stopped working since. He's looked great in training camp and took those talents to the field on Sunday to show us what we can expect from his debut year.

His first big play of the year came with this flawless toe-tap touchdown, demonstrating exactly what he hopes to bring to Pittsburgh in the 2022 season.

Pickens is looking to be one of the best rookies this year, perhaps even a top WR in the league. Could he reach the top 100 players of 2022? I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Kenny Pickett - Pittsburgh Steelers, QB

The man who delivered the end-zone throw, Kenny Pickett, also put on quite a performance in his first preseason game. The 20th overall pick led the Steelers to a 32-25 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He completed 13/15 attempts, racking up 95 yards and two touchdowns in the process.

To say he'll be kicking out Trubisky and Rudolph from the top spot may be a stretch, but the rookie showed promise for his years to come. One reporter believes his time will come sooner rather than later, suggesting his current form could indeed earn him that starting spot.

Despite a heavy test of the run game and a lack of deep threat targets, Pickett got the job done and put up good numbers on his first NFL appearance. Along with these 6 points to put his team ahead with just 3 seconds left on the clock.

Sam Howell - Washington Commanders, QB

Another rookie QB putting up a fight against the vets is former North Carolina quarterback, Sam Howell.

Carson Wentz likely expected his move to Indianapolis to come with some security as the starter, but he's likely feeling a little unsure of himself with Howell's recent performance.

Wentz also put up some good numbers in the Commanders first game, but it wasn't enough to escape the shadow cast by Howell's impressive debut. The rookie displayed great field vision, throwing accuracy and pocket awareness - clocking 145 yards passing, along with 2 TDs and 0 INT along the way. He topped it all off with some talented athleticism in this 17-yard rushing touchdown.

Howell is looking poised for a great entrance into the league, but he may have to wait for Wentz' retirement before he gets a real shot.

Travis Jones - Baltimore Ravens, DT

The third-round big-man was an absolute menace on the line in his first appearance. Although he was selected far lower than experts predicted, Travis Jones has done nothing but outplay his draft slot since then.

Baltimore's secondary already draws attention, but Jones found no difficulty in standing out last Friday. If he continues to make more pass rush plays like this, he could become an interior stud on the Ravens' D-line in no time at all.

Zion Johnson - Los Angeles Chargers, OL

Expected to be one of the highest performing first-year players in the 2022 rookie class, Zion Johnson made's Preseason All-Rookie Team for a reason.

The former Boston College lineman fit in comfortably during his pro debut against the Rams - a team with more than enough D-line talent to fend off. He looked right at home in the front five and should feature heavily in upcoming games if he continues to perform the same way.

Jordan Davis - Philadelphia Eagles, DL

Adding to the elite lineman list is Eagles inside DL Jordan Davis.

The 13th overall pick had perhaps the greatest NFL Scouting Combine performance in history, regardless of size or position.

When you put on a show like that so early, expectations are undoubtedly high. But fortunately, Davis has been living up to those standards all the way through preseason training and has carried the same talent into first pro appearance too.

At 335 pounds you'd expect him to be a boring inside run stuffer right? No. Jones was covering the field from sideline to sideline, hitting gaps, pushing pockets and dominating all game. The Jets even resorted to throwing three of their offensive lineman his way, just to keep him at bay.

We certainly look forward to seeing more of this from the big man in the coming weeks.

If you think we missed any rookie NFL players on our preseason list, why not head over to Twitter to give us your top 10 rookies of the preseason?