NFL rookies that stood out during Week 2 of the preseason

NFL rookies, Lance McCutcheon, Los Angeles Rams - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
NFL rookies, Lance McCutcheon, Los Angeles Rams - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

NFL rookies are making waves all across the NFL. From first-round picks to undrafted free agents, the 2022 NFL season is shaping up to be a truly outstanding year for rookies on all 32 teams. With such a talented rookie class and so many guys showing out across the league, which players are managing to stand out among their peers?

In Week 2 of the NFL preseason, there were plenty of outstanding performances to choose from. Which rookies deserve some recognition for the way they played this past weekend? Let’s take a look at four players, in particular, who had nice performances.

4 NFL rookies that had big performances in Week 2 of the NFL preseason

Standout NFL rookies, no. 1: Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers

At this point, how could the Pittsburgh Steelers open the 2022 season with anyone else but Kenny Pickett at the quarterback position? Pickett should absolutely be the starter for this team after what we saw not only in the second week of the preseason but over the first two weeks combined.

Pickett was the QB1 of the 2022 NFL Draft class and he has played like it so far. Yes, it’s just the preseason, but you’re evaluating what you can with Pickett and he’s done very well. The Steelers are still a potential playoff contender in the AFC North if Pickett can give them consistently solid play throughout the year.

Pickett threw a game-winning touchdown in the Steelers preseason opener and followed that up with a touchdown drive against the Jaguars’ top defense in the second week. The writing is on the wall at this point. The Steelers’ best chance at success in 2022 is with Pickett under center starting in Week 1.

Standout NFL rookies, no. 2: Zach Tom, RT, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers have taken a ton of heat for not using one of their first-round picks on a wide receiver, but general manager Brian Gutekunst definitely knows how to draft well. He found himself a starter at right guard on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft in Royce Newman, and he appears to have potentially found another starting offensive lineman on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft in Zach Tom.

It should come as no surprise that Zach Tom is proving to be a very good pickup for Green Bay. The Packers have done a tremendous job of developing offensive linemen, in general, but Tom was one of the best athletes at his position group in this year’s class. What Tom has shown in the preseason with his pass protection abilities is starter-caliber and his versatility to play both tackle position as well as the center position (which he did at Wake Forest) gives the Packers a major steal from this year’s class.

Standout NFL rookies, no. 3: Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens

A lot of people in the NFL Draft community absolutely loved Isaiah Likely coming out of Coastal Carolina. That is until he worked out for NFL teams and had a pretty horrible Relative Athletic Score. His poor RAS perhaps pushed him down the draft board but Isaiah Likely’s ability to play the game of football certainly isn’t in question. Through two weeks of preseason play, he’s been one of the stars of this rookie class.

Isaiah Likely posted those numbers — 8 receptions, 100 yards, and a touchdown — on just 15 snaps played in the game. This guy has been outstanding for the Ravens, who already have one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the game in Mark Andrews. The Ravens and general manager Eric DeCosta always seem to find great values in the NFL Draft. Having a tight end like Isaiah Likely joining the fray, someone who can find soft spots in the zone, make plays after the catch, and bring in tough catches with his strong hands, is going to make Lamar Jackson very happy.

Standout NFL rookies, no. 4: Lance McCutcheon, WR, Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams certainly have no shortage of talent at the offensive skill positions, but undrafted rookie star Lance McCutcheon is making his case for a 53-man roster spot. If not in Los Angeles, then certainly somewhere.

There’s no doubt that McCutcheon has put too much on tape not to get picked up by some other team if the Rams do, indeed subject him to waivers. He’s been making plays for them since OTAs and has looked great in preseason play. The question is, where does he fit with this current group the Rams have at receiver?

Allen Robinson was added this offseason to go along with Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and Tutu Atwell. Is there room to take the spot of someone like Brandon Powell or Ben Skowronek? The Rams could have some tough decisions coming up but McCutcheon might actually be making those decisions a bit easier.