THERE are still a few months until training camp is upon us, but OTA’s will still provide a glimpse into the make up of NFL teams for next season. With plenty of new faces in new places, the battle to be atop the depth chart at a respective position is alive and well. Here are nine starting spots up for grabs that interest the NFL community the most, dominated by a lot of quarterback starting gigs.
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New York Jets QB
Christian Hackenburg vs. Bryce Petty vs. Josh McCowan
THE Jets quarterback carousel has been a laughing stock for the past few seasons and 2017 is no different. Josh McCowan probably finds himself in the drivers seat, based on his previous experience. Either way, if one of Petty or Hackenburg can show they are half competent on an NFL field, the starting gig will likely be theirs.
Image from sportspyder.com
Baltimore Ravens CB
Marlon Humphrey vs. Brandon Carr
AN ageing vet versus the new kid on the block, this race for the starting role will be a classic for the Ravens. Baltimore made Humphrey the 16th overall pick in last years draft and signed Carr in the offseason. They won’t hesitate to start the rook should he show he deserves the spot in training camp, with Carr’s deal not guaranteeing him the job moving forward.
Cincinnati Bengals RB
Giovani Bernard vs. Joe Mixon vs. Jeremy Hill
THIS one might be the most interesting of the bunch. Joe Mixon’s off field concerns didn’t stop the Bengals from taking him in last years draft and the 1st year player should cement the starting job as his own. Bernard is coming off an ACL injury and has displayed his ability in the pass catching game, while Hill has been a solid contributor to date without wowing the Bengals front office.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR
JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Eli Rodgers vs. Martavis Bryant vs. Sammie Coates
PITTSBURGH’S receiving group is going to be a nightmare for AFC defences this season. They are incredibly deep behind Antonio Brown with the team drafting Smith-Schuster and Bryant now back in the fold after a year’s suspension. Those two are likely to duke it out for the No. 2 & 3 spots on the depth chart, but the real battle is between Coates and Rodgers. Both will struggle for snaps and could very well find themselves without a roster spot when training camp cuts come.
Image from steelerswire.usatoday.com
Cleveland Browns QB
DeShone Kizer vs. Brock Osweiler vs. Cody Kessler
IT’S highly likely that DeShone Kizer takes some snaps in 2017, but will they be as a starter? Undoubtably the option for their future success, Kizer may not start right away, or even at any point this season. Brock Osweiler is the most qualified to open the season for the Browns, while Kessler held down the role for half of last season. My monies on Osweiler salvaging his reputation somewhat, stringing some good games together before Kizer is handed the reigns full time.
Green Bay Packers RB
Ty Montgomery vs. The Rooks
WITH Christine Michael gone the starting job should be Ty Montgomery’s barring anything stunning. However, the three rooks taken by the Packers will all be hungry to earn some minutes/carries in the backfield. Jamaal Williams (4th round), Aaron Jones (5th round) and Devante Mays (7th round) are all fighting for relevance with Williams likely to be the next one up in the pecking order. If they plan on easing Montgomery’s workload throughout the regular season, expect Williams’ number to be called.
Carolina Panthers RB
Jonathon Stewart vs. Christian McCaffrey
THIS ‘battle’ isn’t as much of a battle, rather it will be interesting to see if they deploy McCaffrey the right way. The Panthers 1st round pick does a little bit of everything and he does it well, giving him plenty of value in multiple sets for Carolina. That doesn’t mean it’s over for Stewart though, who will still be valuable in goal-line situations and when the Panthers want to pound the ball on the ground. McCaffrey will probably be the starter, but Stewart will still put up solid numbers if given the opportunity.
Image from catcrave.com
Houston Texans QB
DeShaun Watson vs. Tom Savage
PROBABLY the most talked about position battle this offseason is taking place under center in Houston. After the failed Brock Osweiler experiment last season, Tommy Savage and DeShaun Watson are fighting to be his successor. The rookie Watson seems like the long term option for the franchise, but Bill O’Brien isn’t just going to hand him the keys to the offense.
Denver Broncos QB
Paxton Lynch vs. Trevor Siemian
SPOILER alert, quarterback isn’t a position of strength for the Broncos. That being said, they still need someone capable enough to hit their talented receivers, while the defense tears up the game. Neither Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian stood out in their 2016 appearances, leaving the job wide open for someone to stamp their authority on the position.
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