• Isaiah Likely continued his strong preseason in Week 2 with eight catches for 100 yards and a touchdown, all in the first half.
• While Philadelphia Eagles center Cam Jurgens made headlines with a viral clip showing Jordan Davis bulldozing him on a practice rep, the rookie lineman has been sensational this preseason.
• Las Vegas Raiders offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood continues to trend in the wrong direction after another less-than-ideal game performance.
After two NFL preseason games, there are some standout performers emerging. Now, all that is left is to see if they can carry that play over into the regular season.
For now, here are some players who have helped and hurt their stock so far.
TE Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens
PFF Week 2 Grade: 96.9 (1st)
Preseason is rarely about completely changing outlooks for players, but that’s what is happening in Baltimore with Likely’s performances. The Coastal Carolina product, a fourth-round draft pick, caught eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in only 15 snaps of action. He may be limited as a blocker, but he’s showing an incredibly well-rounded skill set as a receiving option. Given the talents Baltimore already has at tight end, it’s hard to see Likely not forcing his way into the equation on offense.
QB Skylar Thompson, Miami Dolphins
PFF Week 2 Passing Grade: 93.9 (1st)
Although calls for Thompson to be the backup in Miami may be a little over the top, the seventh-round rookie has put himself in a position to make the roster — which is no easy task as a quarterback from that kind of draft spot. Against Las Vegas, Thompson completed nine of 10 attempts for 129 yards and a touchdown, including two big-time throws. His lone incompletion was a dropped pass, which cost him a perfect passer rating for the game.
WR Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills
PFF Week 2 Grade: 89.6 (6th)
Davis has a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season. Expectations are high for him in an increased role within the Bills’ offense, which played its starters to open the game against Denver this past week. Davis took advantage, catching two passes for 47 yards, including a touchdown, from Josh Allen. Davis had one of the best playoff performances of all time last season and looks like he’s ready to take the next step in his career in the regular season.
OT Zach Thome, Green Bay Packers
PFF Week 2 Grade: 84.2 (18th)
What Pittsburgh is drafting receivers, Green Bay is drafting offensive linemen, and the Packers may have found another gem in rookie Zach Tom. A fourth-round draft pick, Tom has impressive movement skills and has now had back-to-back preseason games with good grades in every facet. He has managed to allow pressure across 40 pass-blocking snaps at right tackle and has been impressive as a run blocker, too. The Packers haven’t been shy about rewarding lower draft picks with playing time if they earn it, and Tom should have that in his sights now.
C Cam Jurgens, Philadelphia Eagles
PFF Week 2 Grade: 85.5 (2nd)
Jurgens was on the receiving end of a dominant Jordan Davis rep in practice that went viral, but he showed in the preseason that he’s an excellent prospect in his own right. Against Cleveland, Jurgens had his second strong showing, earning PFF grades of at least 77.8 in each facet of play. He didn’t allow any pressure across his 12 pass-blocking snaps and was excellent as a run blocker, serving up pancakes at the second level like he works at a breakfast diner.
EDGE Arden Key, Jacksonville Jaguars
PFF Week 2 Grade: 88.4 (7th)
The Jaguars have spent a lot of high draft picks in recent years on edge rushers, but Key — picked up for very little cost — has really been emerging as an impact player. This preseason has just continued the upward trend of his NFL career. Key notched three pressures against the Steelers this week on 15 pass-rushing snaps. He now has six pressures, including three sacks, so far this preseason, earning the best PFF preseason grade of his career.
OT Alex Leatherwood, Las Vegas Raiders
PFF Week 2 Grade: 61.7
The Raiders have to be concerned about the lack of development from second-year tackle Alex Leatherwood. Against Miami, he gave up five pressures and recorded a PFF pass-blocking grade in the 40s. He surrendered the most pressure in the league last season despite being moved inside to limit the damage early in the year. At a minimum, it seems like his NFL future might have to be at guard, but he is rapidly playing his way out of a starting job at right tackle.
OT Ikem Ekwonu, Carolina Panthers
PFF Week 2 Grade: 55.8
First-round pick Ikem Ekwonu looks like the real deal as a run blocker, but his pass protection is further behind, and that’s a potential concern for an offense that needs to solidify a weak line from a season ago. This week, Ekwonu gave up a pair of sacks against New England on 22 pass-blocking snaps. He has impressive physical tools, but it could take an adjustment period before the Panthers don’t need to worry about pressure coming from the left edge.
RB Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers
PFF Week 2 Grade: 42.1
Sermon has now handled 11 rushes this preseason for 1.7 yards per carry, with 1.55 of those coming after contact. There has been little in the way of space to work with, but he has also managed to break a tackle and has a dropped pass to his name from five targets. Sermon is running out of time to prove he should have a significant role within the 49ers’ offense.
TE Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
PFF Week 2 Grade: 49.5
Gesicki has been a tight end in name only in recent seasons. He lined up in-line on just 7.4% of his passing snaps in 2021, but that’s set to change under new head coach Mike McDaniel. He is going to have to actually do tight end things in addition to playing receiver. Against the Raiders, he was lined up in-line on 28% of his snaps and gave up a pressure on the one occasion he was asked to stay in and pass block. His PFF run-blocking grade has been in the 50s in every preseason game so far, and he managed to drop a pass and fail to bring in a contested target this past week.
EDGE Boye Mafe, Seattle Seahawks
PFF Week 2 Grade: 39.1
Mafe had a good preseason debut but came back down to earth against Chicago in Week 2. On 15 pass-rushing snaps, Mafe didn’t record any pressure. And while he made four tackles, he also missed two. The Seahawks would very much like their second-round rookie to be an impact player right away, but this week was a step in the wrong direction for that to be a reality.
QB Matt Corral, Carolina Panthers
PFF Week 2 Grade: 26.3
Corral finished Week 2 with a Lisfranc injury that will shut him down for his rookie season, but judging from his preseason performances so far, that might be the best thing for his long-term future. Corral earned the lowest PFF grade of any quarterback this week, and that was after completing one of nine attempts the week before. Overall, he recorded a 52.4% adjusted completion rate this preseason and made four turnover-worthy plays. Corral has a long way to go to adjust to the NFL level, and now he can do that without the Panthers needing to carry him on the active roster all season.