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Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers: rookies shine in preseason debut

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How did each 2018 draft pick fare for their first live action in the NFL?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills selected eight players in the 2018 NFL Draft. Each player saw the field for their first time in an NFL uniform. For the most part, there is a lot to be excited about for these young guys, but how did each of them fare in their first NFL game?

Quarterback Josh Allen

Allen ran mostly with the third-team offense and the guys around him didn't help him much. He showcased his arm talent, the biggest reason he was a top-10 pick. Allen was under a lot of pressure throughout his time in the game but he made the most of it. Going 9-of-19 for 116 yards and a touchdown isn't a bad day at the office for the rookie. Two dropped passes and a couple of balls just out of Robert Foster’s reach put a damper on his overall day.

Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds

Edmunds was only in the game for a little over a quarter. Nothing jumped out about his play other than a missed open field tackle where he was too aggressive and Christian McCaffery made him miss. There were times where he had to run step-for-step with tight ends and he was able to blanket them in coverage. Overall, it was a decent day for Edmunds. As more football gets played, we will get a better idea as to what we can expect.

Defensive Tackle Harrison Phillips

Phillips played most of the first half and got a lot of reps with the first team defense as the starter for Kyle Williams who is being rested. Phillips had two tackles on the night including a sack while forcing inside pressure. He played well overall and more importantly he looked comfortable with his role. With Williams and Lotulelei being rotated out, Phillips should be the first guy in the rotation along the interior defensive line. It’s clear that the potential is there for Phillips to be a solid starter in the NFL and he gets to watch and play alongside two of the better tackles in the league.

Cornerback Taron Johnson

Johnson is in a battle to win the nickel spot with Philip Gaines. It looked like he gave up one long reception to Curtis Samuel in the second quarter but later in the drive he made a nice open field tackle on Samuel towards the end of the first half. In the third quarter while covering in the slot, Johnson did get beat by Mose Frazier for a 26-yard touchdown. The coverage on the play wasn't bad but Frazier got the step on Johnson with just enough separation for the quarterback to make a nice throw into the window.

Safety Siran Neal

Neal wasn't thrown at in coverage throughout the game. For a good portion of the game, Neal was playing in the box and was even sent on some unsuccessful safety blitzes. He did make a big hit on a Panther receiver over the middle. Neal is fighting to be the backup safety with Rafael Bush.

Guard Wyatt Teller

Teller got off to a rough start but bounced back quickly. He was efficient in pass blocking and was able to handle the defenders across from him in the run game. Teller is a strong man and seems to play with that bully-like attitude.

Wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III

McCloud had a good outing with the third team, catching passes from Josh Allen. He brought in three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown on a laser from Allen. Late in the game he was able to showcase his elusiveness as a returner, although the gain on the return wasn't huge, he made some guys miss in the open field.

Wide receiver Austin Proehl

Throughout camp, Proehl struggled against the Bills secondary to get open and get the ball thrown his way. Yesterday he had a few balls thrown his way and he couldn’t make much happen with it. Proehl dropped a pass on third down that would've moved the chains. After the first few guys on the depth chart, the remaining receiver spots are up for grabs and at this point it doesn't seem like Proehl will even be considered for one of the open spots.

UDFA notes

  • Keith Ford had two false start penalties and is clearly behind in the running back rotation.
  • WR Robert Foster is not doing enough to make an impression.
  • WR Cam Phillips didn’t play and hasn’t been on the field since last Friday.