Posted on August 10, 2018, by Travis Pulver

Many NFL fans would say the preseason isn’t good for anything. The stars sit out, no one tries to win, and the games aren’t competitive. Those fans are not necessarily wrong. But they are missing out on the good that can come from preseason action—like seeing rookies in action.

Thursday night saw the top two picks in the 2018 draft take the field for the first time, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. During the regular season, the game wouldn’t have been must-see-tv. But during the preseason? Absolutely!

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So—how did they do? Mayfield ended going 11-20 for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also added 13 yards on three carries. Barkley busted out a 39-yard run on his first carry of the game that was a thing of beauty. He ended his night with four carries for 43 yards.

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But while the stats look nice, what can we take away from their limited performance? The Browns may not have been as crazy to draft Mayfield as some people thought. He looked good. If the Browns had to trot him out in Week One, he probably wouldn’t stink.

Barkley showed the kind of patience and vision that fans would love to see in most veteran running backs. If he can do it over the course of an entire game (and season), the Giants appear to have a playmaker on their hands.

While all eyes were on those two, they were not the only guys worth mentioning that played in the game:

  • Tyrod Taylor: If you wondered why Hue Jackson was so adamant that Taylor was going to be the starter this season, you shouldn’t now. While he didn’t play much, he looked as good as anyone could have hoped (5-5, 99 yards, one touchdown).
  • The Browns still can’t seem to generate much of a run game. Nick Chubb got the most carries (15) and gained just 11 yards. Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson only got a single carry each.
  • If Antonio Callaway can stay out of trouble he may become the steal of the draft. He only caught three of the seven balls thrown his way. But he gained 87 yards off of them and scored once (including a long of 54-yards).
  • David Noku shot up the draft boards of a lot of fantasy football players with his performance (two catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns).
  • The Giants will not regret taking Barkley, but they may regret not taking a quarterback with an early pick. Davis Webb was unimpressive (9-22, 70 yards). Rookie Kyle Lauletta was 6-9, but they were very safe throws against lesser competition and gained only 48 yards.
  • The Giants defense did not look good, but it is hard to say if it is because of a lack of talent or the Browns offense. It feels strange to even think it, but the Browns offense may not be half bad this year.
  • With the attention the Giants gave their offensive line during the offseason, it would have been nice to see them play better. In fairness, the main guys were probably not in for long. But new offensive lines need time to gel.
  • For those that keep score in the preseason, the Browns won, 20-10.

Overall, there were some entertaining moments in the game. There may even be a reason to believe the Browns may not be terrible this season. But before fans get too excited about Mayfield it is worth pointing out one thing. Another rookie quarterback played well in his preseason opener last season. DeShone Kizer was 11-18 for 184 yards and a touchdown last year against the Saints.

The Giants will continue their preseason journey next week in Detroit. They’ll face the Lions Friday night. Cleveland will face off with the Buffalo Bills at home (also Friday night).

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