Biggest training camp battle for each NFL team

Arizona Cardinals – Starting Center

The Arizona Cardinals have a really tough decision to make at the center position. Young center Mason Cole was the starter last season and he was OK as the starter. However, Cole might have his job taken from him as veteran center A.Q. Shipley returns from injury. Cole provides more upside because of his age, but he is still a rather raw player at this point in his career. Shipley has much more experience and that likely will allow him to provide some more stability at the center position right away. Cole could win the job if he does well in the preseason, but all indications point to Shipley being the starting center early in the season.

Predicted Winner: A.Q. Shipley

Atlanta Falcons – Left Guard

Rookie Chris Lindstrom seems to have the starting right guard position locked down as he enters his first training camp. However, the Falcons have some major question marks at the left guard position. James Carpenter and Jamon Brown were both signed in free agency this offseason with somewhat big contracts, but now one of them will likely have to be a high priced backup guard entering the 2019 season. Jamon Brown is a good pass protector, but he is not nearly as good as Carpenter is in the running game. Carpenter also has more experience at the left guard position and he has been successful at that position before. Brown has been a right guard for most of his career, so the edge appears to go to Carpenter right now since he is a better all-around player and he has more experience.

Predicted Winner: James Carpenter

Baltimore Ravens – Left Guard

The Ravens offensive line is stable at most positions with several key veteran players returning in 2019. However, the left guard position is an absolutely wide open position right now. James Hurst seems like the favorite to win the job right now as he became the starter late last season and he has shown a good ability to play different positions along the offensive line. Jermaine Eluemunor seems to be the biggest challenger to take over the starting left guard role as he took first-team reps during minicamp. Rookie Ben Powers also has a shot to claim the starting role, but he’ll need to really impress during the preseason in order to do so. The Ravens also have Alex Lewis who started the majority of games last season at left guard, but he has struggled with injuries and consistency issues so he’s somewhat of a long shot to re-claim the role. The Ravens have several players who are challenging for the left guard spot, but Hurst seems to be the favorite as of right now.

Predicted Winner: James Hurst

Buffalo Bills – Right Guard

The Buffalo Bills re-shaped their interior offensive line completely this offseason and that included signing guards Spencer Long and Jon Feliciano in free agency. Spencer Long has much more experience as a starting guard in the NFL as Feliciano was stuck as a backup guard for several years with Oakland. The Bills have started training camp by rotating Long and Feliciano at the right guard position, but there’s no clear favorite right now. Long would be the assumed favorite because of his experience as a starter, but don’t be surprised at all if Feliciano ends up winning the job. The Bills seem to like Feliciano a lot and if he does well in the preseason then he’ll likely get the nod at right guard.

Predicted Winner: Jon Feliciano

Carolina Panthers – Free Safety

The Carolina Panthers will be getting a new starter at the free safety position after Mike Adams departed this offseason. Young safety Rashaan Gaulden is very inexperienced as he saw limited action as a backup last season. However, Gaulden still appears to be the favorite for the job right now because of the lack of true contenders that he has to compete with for the starting role. Colin Jones appears to be the biggest challenger to Gaulden for the free safety job. However, Jones has been a special teams player for most of his career and even though he is the most experienced player in the Panthers secondary then he’ll need to really impress in order to overtake Gaulden as the starter. Either way, the Panthers have a big void to fill at free safety and they’re likely hoping that Gaulden can adequately fill the void.

Predicted Winner: Rashaan Gaulden

Chicago Bears – Kicker

The Bears found out how important it is to have a reliable kicker after Cody Parkey missed what appeared to be an easy field goal for what would have been a game-winner in the playoffs last season. However, the Bears now have a wide-open competition at the kicker position with a couple of inexperienced players vying for the role. Elliott Fry and Eddie Pineiro are the two contenders at kicker, but they are both really young and neither player has an attempted a field goal in an NFL regular season game. Fry and Pineiro are so inexperienced that it’s really difficult to predict a favorite right now until actual preseason games begin. That being said, don’t be surprised if the Bears add another kicker before the season starts to create some more competition at the kicker competition. Elliott Fry probably has a slight edge right now because the Bears didn’t sign him to a 3-year contract this offseason for no reason, but he’ll need to show up in actual game situations if he is going to win the job.

Predicted Winner: Elliott Fry

Cincinnati Bengals – Left Guard

The Cincinnati Bengals have had some turmoil along the offensive line recently with rookie 1st round pick Jonah Williams lost for the season due to injury and guard Clint Boling surprisingly announcing his retirement in July. That means Cordy Glenn will now move back to left tackle while there is a huge void at the left guard position. Guard John Jerry has the most experience as a starting guard at the NFL level and most people would assume that he would be the favorite to win the job. However, most of the hype seems to surround young guard Christian Westerman who hasn’t yet received an opportunity to show what he can do as a starter at the NFL level. Westerman still has a lot to prove during the preseason, but the coaches seem to like him the most out of anybody competing for the left guard spot. Trey Hopkins could also compete for the left guard role, but his versatility makes him more useful as a backup. Overall, Jerry and Westerman seem to be the most serious competitors for the left guard spot, but Westerman seems like the favorite right now.

Predicted Winner: Christian Westerman

Cleveland Browns – Kicker

The Cleveland Browns have a very talented roster overall, but the kicker position appears to be a weakness heading into training camp. Greg Joseph is the incumbent starter for the Browns and he did relatively well last season as he went 17/20 on field goals. However, the Browns made an investment on rookie kicker Austin Seibert in the 5th round of the draft this offseason and Seibert has a real shot of winning the kicker job. Joseph seems to be the favorite right now because of his relative success as the kicker last season. That being said, the Browns clearly aren’t sold on Joseph which is why they brought in Seibert to compete for the job. However, if Joseph can play well during the preseason then he should be able to remain the Browns kicker.

Predicted Winner: Greg Joseph

Dallas Cowboys – Strong Safety

Jeff Heath has been somewhat of an unreliable starter at safety for the Cowboys in recent years, yet he still has somehow managed to maintain his role without being challenged much. Young safety Kavon Frazier played mostly special teams last season and he was a backup to Heath, but Frazier could still win the job if he has a really good preseason. The Cowboys also brought in veteran George Iloka this offseason and he has plenty of starting experience at safety from his time with the Cincinnati Bengals. Iloka could really challenge Heath for the starting strong safety job, but Heath still remains the favorite to stay in his role at this point.

Predicted Winner: Jeff Heath

Denver Broncos – Running Back

Phillip Lindsay shocked everyone last season by being a pro bowl caliber player despite being an undrafted rookie. However, Lindsay’s wrist injury and the new coaching staff puts his job somewhat up for grabs. Royce Freeman will certainly have plenty of carries this season, but the question is whether he’ll be the feature back ahead of Lindsay. We know that Lindsay and Freeman will both see plenty of action in 2019, but the question is whether Lindsay will be able to hold onto his role as the feature back.

Predicted Winner: Phillip Lindsay

Detroit Lions – Free Safety

The Detroit Lions have a major void to fill at the free safety position after longtime starter Glover Quin retired this offseason. However, the question is who will fill the void as the starter at the position. Tavon Wilson has the most experience of the challengers for the role as he saw a lot of snaps last season as a backup safety for the Lions. Newly signed safety Andrew Adams played last well and he could compete for some snaps as well. However, the player that is most hyped at the safety position for the Lions is 2nd-year player Tracy Walker. He obviously is the least experienced player vying for the safety role, but he also has the most potential as proven by his selection in the 3rd round by Detroit in 2018. If Walker plays well in the preseason then he should be the clear favorite to win the job over Wilson and Adams.

Predicted Winner: Tracy Walker

Green Bay Packers –  Number 2 Wide Receiver

It is no question that Davante Adams is the clear number one wide receiver for the Packers. However, the Packers don’t have a clear starter on the opposite side of Adams especially after the departure of Randall Cobb this offseason. Geronimo Allison has the most experience out of the players competing for the 2nd receiver role, but he still is unproven at the NFL level. Allison struggled to make an impact last season because he missed a lot of games due to injury. However, if he can stay healthy then he’ll probably get the opportunity to prove himself as a starting receiver for the Packers. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown will certainly see plenty of action in 2019, but they are still really young receivers with a lot to prove. Valdes-Scantling seems like the biggest challenger to Allison in the passing game and it will be interesting to see if Valdes-Scantling can have an impressive preseason to solidify the starting role. That being said, Allison has been in Green Bay for several years and it seems like he’ll get the most opportunity to be the 2nd receiver for the Packers.

Predicted Winner: Geronimo Allison

Houston Texans – Left Tackle

The Houston Texans offensive line was an absolute disaster last season and there are still several positions up for grabs including at the left tackle position. Houston drafted offensive tackle Tytus Howard in the 1st round and they are hoping that he can become a consistent starter at left tackle at some point. However, Howard might not be ready for a starting role considering that he hasn’t faced much NFL competition since he played college football at Alabama State. The Texans also signed veteran left tackle Matt Kalil this offseason and he has the most experience of anyone competing for the left tackle role, but he still seems like a longshot to win the job. Julie’n Davenport was the starter for Houston at left tackle last season and he is likely to stay in that role at least to begin the season. If Howard can prove during the preseason that he is NFL-ready then he could be the week one starter, but Davenport is probably the best option at least in the short-term.

Predicted Winner: Julie’n Davenport

Indianapolis Colts – Number 2 Wide Receiver

T.Y. Hilton is locked in as the number one receiver for the Colts, but the Colts have a lot of uncertainty behind him. Chester Rogers is the only returning receiver that saw plenty of action last season for the Colts, but he likely won’t have nearly as big of a role this season. The Colts signed Devin Funchess to a big deal in free agency, but he has struggled with consistency during his time with Carolina. Meanwhile, rookie 2nd round pick Parris Campbell has terrific potential and he could win the 2nd receiver role if he has an impressive preseason. Rogers and Campbell could have a big role this season, but considering the big contract that Funchess received he’s likely to win the 2nd receiver role unless he doesn’t have a good preseason.

Predicted Winner: Devin Funchess

Jacksonville Jaguars – Wide Receiver

The Jaguars have several young players with some good potential at the wide receiver position, but they don’t really have a true number one receiver. Jacksonville is hoping that Marqise Lee can be the top target when he returns from injury. However, the Jaguars can’t rely on him because of his issues with consistency and injuries. The real competition for the number one receiver role will be between newly signed Chris Conley who is the most experienced receiver for the Jaguars. Also, they have Dede Westbrook who was the team’s best receiver last season and last year’s 2nd round pick DJ Chark who they hope can have a bigger role this season. Chark and Westbrook clearly have the most potential and the Jaguars are hoping that they can seize the opportunity to take over the top receiver role in the offense. That being said, Conley is a more reliable pass-catcher at this point in his career and his prior experience with quarterback Nick Foles will only further help his cause. The Jaguars are extremely weak at wide receiver, but Conley will likely be the top receiver for Jacksonville in week one.

Predicted Winner: Chris Conley

Kansas City Chiefs – Running Back

The Kansas City Chiefs probably won’t be able to fill the void that occurred when Kareem Hunt was released last season. However, Damien Williams showed during his limited time as the starting running back that he can do an adequate job in that role. Williams is the presumed starter heading into 2019, but he doesn’t have too much experience as a starting running back in the NFL. Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde didn’t have a good 2018 season, but he still has proven that he can be a good starting running back going back to his days with the 49ers. Hyde has starting potential and if Williams falters then don’t be surprised if Hyde could become the feature back. That being said, Williams did a good job last season and he is considered the clear favorite to be the starting back for the Chiefs.

Predicted Winner: Damien Williams

Los Angeles Chargers – Cornerback

The Chargers already have a couple of good starting cornerbacks with Casey Hayward and Desmond King. However, the starting spot opposite of Hayward is still very much up for grabs. Trevor Williams was the starter to begin last season, but a knee injury ended his season early. However, Michael Davis replaced Williams at the cornerback position and he played relatively well. Davis will have a chance to take over the starting cornerback role completely if he can have a strong preseason. Williams is the more proven option and he’s the favorite right now, but Davis will certainly make the competition close if he plays well like he did last season.

Los Angeles Rams – Defensive Tackle

The Rams have a big void to fill at the defensive tackle position after they lost Ndamukong Suh in free agency. The Rams didn’t do much to try to address the position, but they’ll have a couple of young options to choose from. Tanzel Smart and Greg Gaines are both competing for the starting defensive tackle role, yet both are very inexperienced at the NFL level. Tanzel Smart has the most experience of the two, but even he has very limited experience in the NFL especially since he didn’t record a stat last season for the Rams. The Rams drafted Greg Gaines in the 4th round this offseason to try and address the position going forward. Gaines is a rookie which means he still has a lot to prove before the coaching staff names him the starter. However, the lack of competition for the vacant defensive tackle role gives Gaines a great opportunity to be the week 1 starter.

Predicted Winner: Greg Gaines

Miami Dolphins – Quarterback

The Dolphins have what is likely the best position battle in the NFL as they are trying to decide who their starting quarterback will be in week 1. Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed in free agency, but he’s viewed as nothing more than a temporary solution at the quarterback position. Meanwhile, the Dolphins added young quarterback Josh Rosen via trade this offseason, but the question remains whether he gives the Dolphins the best chance to win right now. It’ll be a very interesting quarterback competition in Miami and there is a good chance that both quarterbacks see a decent amount of playing time this season. Rosen clearly has more potential at this point in his career, but he is viewed as the better long-term option than Fitzpatrick. It appears that Fitzpatrick is the favorite to be the Dolphins quarterback in week 1 because of his experience in the NFL, but Rosen could easily win the job if he can impress during the preseason.

Predicted Winner: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Minnesota Vikings – 3rd Wide Receiver

The Vikings have Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as their clear top two wide receivers. However, the Vikings have a huge dropoff in depth at the wide receiver position and there is a major question as to who will be the Vikings 3rd receiver. Laquon Treadwell has been in that role in recent years and he could be in that role again this season. However, Treadwell hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunity and there’s a strong chance that he might not even make the 53-man roster when the season begins. The Vikings have a variety of receivers that could fill the 3rd receiver role, but Treadwell, Jordan Taylor, and Chad Beebe seem to be the main competitors. Jordan Taylor is the veteran of the group and he was rather productive in Denver when he was given an opportunity for playing time. If Taylor plays well then he could take Treadwell’s spot on the roster. However, Chad Beebe appears to be the favorite because he is the prototypical slot receiver because of his size and shiftiness. Beebe didn’t have much of a role last season and he certainly doesn’t have much NFL experience. However, he already appears to have a good connection with Kirk Cousins and if Beebe can play well in the preseason then he’ll likely win the 3rd receiver job.

Predicted Winner: Chad Beebe

New England Patriots – Tight End

It’s not easy to replace an elite tight end like Rob Gronkowski who decided to retire from the NFL this offseason. However, the Patriots are left with a very weak and uninspiring group of tight ends heading into the season. Benjamin Watson clearly has the most experience as he is 38 years old, but clearly age has caught up to him and he isn’t the good starting tight end that he once was. Also, Watson is suspended for the first 4 games of the season which means somebody else will have to start at the position to begin 2019. Meanwhile, Matt LaCosse is probably the most intriguing tight end that the Patriots have on their roster. LaCosse saw plenty of playing time last season with Denver and the Patriots are hoping that he can at least be an average starter this season. Both Watson and LaCosse should get plenty of playing time this season, but LaCosse should be the starter because he has the most upside.

Predicted Winner: Matt LaCosse

New Orleans Saints – Center

The Saints suffered a major loss to their offensive line when starting center Max Unger retired this offseason. However, the Saints addressed the position by signing veteran center Nick Easton in free agency and drafting Erik McCoy in the 2nd round. Both players will get an opportunity to win the starting job during the preseason. However, Easton seems to be the favorite to win the job as he has 17 career starts in the NFL and he likely provides better short-term stability at center for the Saints. The Saints are hoping that McCoy can be the long-term starter at center, but it is Easton who is more ready to make an impact right away. Maybe if McCoy really does well in the preseason then the Saints could decide to start him right away, but Easton is getting paid plenty of money to be able to make an impact as the starter to begin the season.

Predicted Winner: Nick Easton

New York Giants – Cornerback

The Giants are set with Janoris Jenkins as their top starting cornerback, but the rest of the cornerbacks are really inexperienced. The really interesting competition will be for the starting cornerback spot opposite of Jenkins. Sam Beal is a talented young cornerback, but he’s never played an NFL snap as he missed all of his rookie season due to injury. Meanwhile, the Giants drafted DeAndre Baker in the 1st round this offseason, so it’s only a question of when he’ll get an opportunity to be a starting cornerback. Baker and Beal have both been impressive so far in practice, so it’ll be a tough call as to who starts week 1. That being said, Baker was more of a highly touted prospect and he probably has the edge to start right now since both players have yet to appear in an NFL game.

Predicted Winner: DeAndre Baker

New York Jets – Backup tight end

The New York Jets know that Chris Herndon is their top option at the tight end position, but the problem is that the Jets will be without him for the first 4 games of the season due to a suspension. The Jets need to decide who will be the backup tight end this season while also trying to find out which player will take his spot to begin the season. The Jets have several players that could become the backup tight end as Eric Tomlinson, Trevon Wesco, Daniel Brown, and newly signed free agent Ryan Griffin are all competing for the role. Griffin has the most experience of the tight ends on the Jets roster as he has seen plenty of playing time at tight end for Houston in recent seasons. Wesco probably has the most potential of the group, but he probably won’t make much of an impact during his rookie season. Meanwhile, the competition will probably come down to the trio of Brown, Griffin, and Tomlinson. Brown has impressed during practices this offseason and he even saw some first-team reps, so the coaching staff clearly likes him a lot. Tomlinson is an experienced tight end and he saw some playing time for the Jets over the past couple of seasons. However, Ryan Griffin is the player that really stands out among the players that the Jets have at tight end. It might take Griffin awhile to get acclimated to the offense since he just signed with the Jets this month. That being said, Griffin has plenty of experience as a starting tight end in the NFL during his time with the Texans. The Jets will have plenty of competition at the tight end position, but Griffin stands out because of his experience at the NFL level.

Predicted Winner: Ryan Griffin

Oakland Raiders – Tight End

The Oakland Raiders lost star tight end Jared Cook this offseason, but the problem is they didn’t find a starting caliber tight end to replace him. The Raiders signed Luke Willson in free agency and he figures to have a role as mainly a blocking tight end. Willson is also the most experienced tight end competing for the starting role. Also, the Raiders drafted LSU tight end Foster Moreau in the 4th round this offseason. Moreau has good potential, but he likely won’t make much of an impact this season unless he really impresses during the preseason. Finally, Darren Waller seems to have the edge on the starting tight end job. Waller is undoubtedly the best pass-catcher that the Raiders have at tight end as he is really fast and he was once a wide receiver. He hasn’t made much of an impact in his career as he only has 18 receptions in the NFL. However, Waller has tons of upside and he should win the job as long as he has a decent showing in the preseason.

Philadelphia Eagles – Cornerback

The Philadelphia Eagles have a conundrum at the cornerback position especially with starters Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills injured right now. The team did sign veteran Orlando Scandrick, but he’s likely nothing more as a temporary option for depth purposes. Meanwhile, the real competition will be between Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, and Cre’Von LeBlanc for the slot cornerback role. Sidney Jones came into the league with high expectations, but he hasn’t made much of an impact due to injuries. Maddox and LeBlanc will provide some stiff competition, but the Eagles likely want to find out if Jones is a long-term solution at cornerback.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Number 2 Wide Receiver

JuJu Smith-Schuster is obviously the new number one option in the Steelers passing game after the offseason trade of star receiver Antonio Brown. However, the 2nd wide receiver job is up for grabs as free agent signing Donte Moncrief and young receiver James Washington are both competing for that role. Moncrief obviously has more experience, but he’s more of a possession receiver than Washington is. Also, Washington barely has any experience as he didn’t see much action during his rookie season for the Steelers. Washington is a speedy receiver, but he also might not be ready to take over a full-time role as a starting receiver. Moncrief is a veteran receiver that provides more stability at this point and he fits better as an outside receiver at this point, so it’s likely that he has the edge for the number 2 receiver role.

Predicted Winner: Donte Moncrief

San Francisco 49ers – Running Back

If anybody can make sense of who will be the feature running back for the 49ers this season then please let me know. The 49ers arguably have the deepest running back group in the NFL as Matt Breida, Jerick McKinnon, and offseason free agent signing Tevin Coleman are all competing for carries. Breida took advantage of injuries last season and he played very well, but it still seems like that wasn’t enough to make him a starter in 2019. McKinnon was supposed to be the starter last season, but an injury sidelined him for the entire year. He will likely see his fair share of carries, but the 49ers might not want to make him a starter right away. Finally, Tevin Coleman was signed to a big contract this offseason and he’ll surely have a big role in 2019, but it remains to be seen whether he becomes the featured running back. The 49ers will likely use a committee approach with their running backs, but Coleman is likely the favorite since he was just signed to a big deal in March.

Seattle Seahawks – Running Back

Chris Carson had a terrific 2018 season and he held onto the starting running back job despite having 1st round pick Rashaad Penny competing for his job. Penny seems poised to have a bigger role this season, but the question remains whether he’ll be able to overtake Carson as the starter. Carson is still the favorite to win the job at this point, but if his play falters during the preseason then don’t be surprised if Penny takes over the lead back role.

Predicted Winner: Chris Carson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Running Back

The Buccaneers have arguably the worst running game in the NFL as Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones are once again competing for the starting role. Barber was the starter last season and he showed signs of great potential, but he just wasn’t very consistent. Meanwhile, Jones had an awful rookie season, yet the Buccaneers have publicly praised how much he has improved this offseason and he seems poised to have a bigger role this season. Jones certainly has the higher potential and if he looks as good as the coaching staff says then he is likely going to be the featured running back this season.

Predicted Winner: Ronald Jones

Tennessee Titans – Number 3 Wide Receiver

Corey Davis is still the presumed top wide receiver for the Titans heading into 2019 and offseason free agent signing Adam Humphries will be the slot receiver. The Titans have plenty of depth overall at the position, but nobody has really established themselves as the number 3 option at wide receiver. The Titans have three really good options for the third receiver job as A.J. Brown, Taywan Taylor, and Tajae Sharpe are all competing for the role. Sharpe and Taylor are still young receivers, but they have plenty of experience in the Titans offense. Meanwhile, Brown obviously has the least experience as he was a 2nd round pick this offseason. Brown will likely get a shot to be a starter on the outside opposite of Corey Davis. However, it remains to be seen whether Brown is ready to make an immediate impact this season. That being said, Tajae Sharpe is probably the favorite right now because he has experience as a starter for the Titans and he has experienced some success in that role. Brown could start right away if he has an impressive preseason, but Sharpe is probably most ready to be the week 1 starter.

Predicted Winner: Tajae Sharpe

Washington Redskins – Running Back

The Washington Redskins are really deep at running back heading into 2019 especially with Derrius Guice returning from injury. Washington also has future hall-of-famer Adrian Peterson who was the starter for the Redskins last season. Peterson isn’t the dynamic player that he once was, although he is still capable of competing with Guice for the starting running back job. Meanwhile, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine could also compete for some carries as well. Guice figures to be the starter if he can stay healthy, but Peterson is the more proven option. If Guice can prove that he is fully recovered from his knee injury then there’s no reason to believe that he isn’t the favorite to be the main running back for the Redskins.

Predicted Winner: Derrius Guice

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