NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders

The first week of the NFL preseason is in the books as teams got their feet wet in live game situations, finally facing an opponent not wearing the same team colors. Many of the games weren't great for viewing, yet plenty of questions arose around the league.

How did the rookie quarterbacks fare? What about some of the roster competitions -- particularly at quarterback? Some player performances were also put on notice.

Another year of overreactions and reality checks commences as we address the weekend's biggest takes and answer the question: Which developments from Week 1 of the preseason are overreactions and which ones are reality? 

Trey Lance played his way out of mix to be 49ers starting QB

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

For a quarterback who gets opportunity after opportunity to win the starting quarterback job in San Francisco, Lance does very little to capitalize on those chances, whether due to injury or other reasons. The 49ers didn't score a point until Lance's fourth possession Sunday against the Raiders, as he looked indecisive about whether to throw to receivers or take off running.

Lance wasn't helped by the 49ers offensive line, which was the second team unit. Leading the 49ers to just one scoring drive on six possessions isn't inspiring, although Jake Moody missing a 40-yard field goal before the half also didn't help. 

While the box score looks good for Lance (10 of 15, 112 yards, TD, 111.0 rating), there's no reason why he should unseat Brock Purdy for the starting job. 

D.J. Moore is a top-10 receiver in the NFL 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Even before he joined the Bears, there was reason to believe Moore already is a top-10 wide receiver. Moore is eighth in the NFL in receiving yards (4,413) and 14th in receptions (309) since 2019 -- trailing only Justin Jefferson in yards per catch (14.3) among players that have over 300 receptions. 

While those are numbers good enough for the top 10, he's not there yet. There are some very good wide receivers playing in 2023. This isn't a knock against Moore, but rather, a product of just how good the position is these days.

How does Moore plant himself firmly in the top-10 conversation? Continue to make plays like the 62-yard touchdown catch he had in Week 1 of the preseason. Justin Fields becoming one of the game's best quarterbacks is highly dependent on Moore's performance. 

Kenny Pickett will emerge as a top-10 QB in Year 2

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

The Steelers had plenty of reason to be excited about Pickett's performance in Week 1 of the preseason, as he finished 6 of 7 for 70 yards and a touchdown in his lone series -- capped with a 33-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens.

The game has certainly slowed down for Pickett, who is processing information faster and trusting his receivers on intermediate and deep passes. But it's not easy to make the top 10, and that will be a stretch for Pickett -- unless the Steelers make a deep playoff run.

A top-15 quarterback in Year 2? That's certainly possible with the skill  players Pickett has on offense. 

Bryce Young won't start 17 games behind this Panthers O-line

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

Young certainly is mature beyond his rookie status. That was on display as he was being pressured throughout Saturday's loss to the Jets. The Panthers rookie made the right decisions and kept his poise despite pressure being in his face throughout the afternoon.

Carolina's offensive line just didn't go a good job protecting Young, or any other quarterback. The Panthers allowed 15 pressures and four sacks in the loss, a performance that isn't good enough with a rookie quarterback -- especially the No. 1 overall pick. 

Young can take a hit, but hits like what Jermaine Johnson put on him will cause him to miss time if they pile up. 

Jacoby Brissett closed the gap with Sam Howell in QB1 battle

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Howell didn't get off to a fast start in his preseason debut as the Commanders starting quarterback, finishing 9 of 12 for 77 yards and a touchdown. He did lead Washington on a touchdown drive, culminating with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson before he left the game. 

Howell went 5 of 7 for 57 yards before he exited, giving way to Brissett. The veteran played well, going 6 of 10 for 75 yards with an interception -- which was right before the half as the veteran forced a throw trying to get points. Brissett did also run for a 12-yard touchdown. 

Howell didn't pull away from Brissett, but he's the starting quarterback in Washington. Brissett isn't going away, so there still is a "competition." 

Justice Hill is the Ravens' RB1 until J.K. Dobbins returns

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Interesting choice for the Ravens to start Hill over veteran Gus Edwards on the preseason opener, though Edwards entered the game when Tyler Huntley played to start the second half. 

Hill was impressive starting the game for Baltimore, having three carries for 48 yards -- including a 37-yard run that sparked the Ravens' first touchdown drive of the game. 

A good pass catcher, Hill may have emerged as the featured back in Baltimore until J.K. Dobbins returns. But it may not have meant much at all. Let's see how John Harbaugh sets up his running back rotation next week. 

C.J. Stroud should not start for the Texans in Week 1

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Stroud is the franchise quarterback for the Texans, but he looked out of his element while making his preseason debut against the Patriots and arguably the best defensive coach in NFL history in Bill Belichick. In just two series, Stroud went 2 of 4 for 13 yards with an interception -- a forced pass on third-and-long into the arms of Jalen Mills

Having difficulty in decision making and getting rid of the football, Stroud didn't look ready for what an opposing pass rush has to offer. Doesn't help him that the Texans have a poor offensive line. 

The Texans are rolling with Stroud, hoping he improves throughout the preseason. The sample size was too small to make such a quick judgment. 

Sean Clifford is clearly the Packers' QB2

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

Clifford was a controversial selection in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft -- he's older than Jordan Love and wasn't expected to go that high in a draft that saw a record 14 quarterbacks get taken. The Packers now look pretty wise selecting him based off his preseason debut, as he threw for 192 yards in the first half -- finishing 20 of 26 for 208 yards with a touchdown.

The gunslinger mentality worked well for Clifford at times, but he did throw two interceptions (one was returned for a touchdown). He completed three passes of 25-plus yards, but two of his six incompletions were interceptions. 

Clifford clearly has the mentality of a No. 2 quarterback, and the skill set to kept Green Bay afloat should Jordan Love ever have to miss a game. If he cuts down on the reckless mistakes, Clifford could be one of the best backups in the NFL. 

Justyn Ross should make the Chiefs roster

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

For a player that has battled back from injury after injury, the 15-yard touchdown catch Ross had in his first preseason game for the Chiefs was a sign he can still play football at a high level. Ross has had an impressive training camp, backed up with his two catches for 29 yards in his debut. 

Two foot injuries and congenital fusion in his spine nearly ended Ross's career, yet he's still making highlight plays for the Chiefs nearly every day. Does he have a shot at making the roster?

Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are the top four wideouts on the Chiefs roster. Justin Watson and Richie James are the two wideouts Ross will have to beat out to make the team. 

If the Chiefs keep six, it'll be hard to pass on Ross's talent. A healthy Ross makes an impact on any team (regardless of injury), a player the Chiefs can't afford to let go through waivers.