The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a pretty good first preseason game, in my view, even though they lost. I've seen some more negative reviews, but most have confirmed my view. And that includes Pro Football Focus, who named the Bucs' rookies as one of five winners of the first NFL preseason week.
The Bucs made a concerted effort to address their pass defense early on in April's draft, and through one game, you couldn't ask for better results. Second-rounder Noah Spence had his way with Eagles left tackle Andrew Gardner to the tune of three pressures, while first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves III didn't allow a single catch in 23 snaps (and added a pass breakup).
I wasn't particularly impressed with Hargreaves, though that's not unusual for a rookie cornerback, even a first-round pick. The fact that he's at best sharing time with Jude Adjei-Barimah isn't the best sign right now, either, though that has a lot to do with the latter's strong play as well. Hargreaves should end up the winner in that battle, though, even if only by virtue of his higher draft position.
Meanwhile, Spence was a revelation in the first preseason game. I expected him to take a while to adjust to the NFL game, and he'll likely still have his stumbles throughout the first year, but Spence was consistently impressive against the Eagles. That wasn't just because of weak opposition: he looked more explosive than his fellow defensive ends, too, and showed the necessary athleticism to thrive at this level. We already knew he was a big talent, of course, but it's always a relief to see this confirmed in a game. Now for that confirmation to carry over into the regular season.