Odds of Each First Round Pick Earning Starting Job in Training Camp

Ryan Alfieri@Ryan_AlfieriCorrespondent IIIJuly 9, 2012

Odds of Each First Round Pick Earning Starting Job in Training Camp

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    Of course, every team wants to see its first-round draft pick crack the starting lineup as soon as possible, but every player is in their own unique situation in terms of the obstacles they must overcome to become a starter. 

    Guys like Andrew Luck and RGIII became starters as soon as their names were announced on draft night, while most of the later picks will have to beat out the incumbent veteran before they can call themselves starters. 

    Here is a breakdown of the odds each first-round pick has to crack the starting lineup. 

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

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    The Colts did not release Peyton Manning because they were bored of winning with the same quarterback. Andrew Luck is going to be the man in Indy for the next decade. 

    The only chance Luck does not start is if he somehow gets injured in training camp. He will face no competition and will be handed the starting job immediately. 

    Odds: 100 percent

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

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    There is a reason why the Redskins traded away so many draft picks to move into the number two spot and draft Griffin. He is the best quarterback prospect the Redskins have had in well over a decade. 

    While some members of the media have tried to push a story of a competition between Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins, the reality is that there is no competition as Griffin has even stated himself.

    Just like Andrew Luck, only injury will hold back Griffin from starting.

    Odds: 100 percent 

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns

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    If a team is going to trade up into the third pick in the draft to select a running back, not only should he be the immediate starter, but he should immediately be among the best at his position. 

    Often, coaches are hesitant of starting rookie runners because they are usually unfamiliar with NFL protection schemes and are a liability on third downs. However, Richardson is the whole package; he can run, catch, and block like a pro right out of the box.

    There is no question that the Browns want to make Richardson the face of their franchise on a team that plans on starting a 28-year-old rookie quarterback. This team needs to find a new identity, and starting Richardson and using him often is the best way to do that. 

    Odds: 100 percent

Matt Kalil, Minnesota Vikings

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    Recognizing a major weakness on the offensive line, the Vikings picked Matt Kalil fourth overall to start right away and protect the blind side for the next decade. 

    Having Kalil play left tackle allows Charlie Johnson to be kicked inside to left guard, which is a much more natural position for him. 

    So far, Kaill has looked "excellent" in minicamps according to TwinCities.com, which immediately puts him on the fast track to open as the Vikings' starting left tackle. 

    Odds: 95 percent

Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    While Justin Blackmon has certainly had better summers after getting arrested with a DUI, there is little doubt that he is a massive upgrade over most of the other receivers on the Jaguars' roster.

    While there is still the possibility of a suspension, Blackmon should be able to beat out the likes of Mike Thomas and Lee Evans. 

    Plus, it would be best for the Jaguars in the long term if he starts to build a rapport with second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert. 

    Odds: 90 percent

Morris Claiborne, Dallas Cowboys

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    Despite the fact that Claiborne was the best cover corner in the draft, there is a significant possibility that he may not be the opening-day starter. 

    First, he has not been able to participate in any drills as he recovers from wrist surgery. While he is not expected to miss any time in camp, it could make the coaches hesitant to insert him as the starter right off the bat.

    Meanwhile, despite battling injuries throughout his career, Mike Jenkins is a decent corner in his own right and will do everything he can to convince coaches to leave him in as a starter. 

    Still, the Cowboys moved into the number six spot to draft Claiborne for a reason, and his supreme talent will eventually win out. 

    Odds: 85 percent

Mark Barron, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    If you are going to go against conventional draft wisdom and not only take a safety in the first round, but in the first ten picks, he had better be a starter right away. 

    No offense to converted linebacker Cody Grimm, but there is simply no player in the Bucs' secondary that is as talented as Barron. Only injury could prevent him from starting. 

    Odds: 100 percent

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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    Quarterbacks picked in the top 10 are usually at least given a chance at the starting job for their respective teams, but that does not seem to be the case for Tannehill. 

    According to Will Brinson of CBSSports.com, Tannehill is not just an underdog to start—he is out of the running altogether. 

    So far, David Garrard looks like the favorite to win the starting job, while Tannehill is still trying to catch up to the competition. 

    Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post states that Tannehill's "untimely mistakes, particularly when throwing into traffic" have been Ryan's kryptonite, and that "Joe Philbin and his staff have made it clear that turnovers will not be tolerated."

    It appears as if the Dolphins are going to take the same route as the Titans did with Jake Locker and let their future starter spend a year on the bench behind a proven veteran.

    Odds: 10 percent

Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

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    With Jon Beason in the middle and James Anderson playing the strong side, Kuechly appears to have already cracked the starting lineup as the weak-side linebacker.

    The former BC Eagles star is not a thumper like Beason. Instead, he is better at using his eyes and instincts to fight through garbage and make tackles. When the Panthers picked Kuechly, this is exactly the position they envisioned him playing as a rookie. 

    Kuechly was viewed as one of the more "pro-ready" players in the draft, so to see him on the inside track to a starting gig is no surprise. 

    Odds: 95 percent

Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills

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    After releasing Drayton Florence, the Bills have a lot at stake for Stephon Gilmore to perform at a high level early on. 

    So far, the young DB has looked the part. He did not give up many completions and looked very confident in himself, according to Chan Gailey:

    Confidence is something that’s vital, especially at the cornerback position. It’s vital at some other spots, but it’s really vital at the cornerback position. He played well and did well in this camp.

    There is some depth behind Gilmore in Leodis McKelvin and Aaron Williams, but Gilmore was a top-10 pick for a reason, and should have the upper hand in winning the starting job. 

    Odds: 80 percent

Dontari Poe, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Given his draft status and hoards of natural ability, Dontari Poe seems like a shoe-in to earn the starting nose tackle job. 

    He has leaped in front of Amon Gordon on the depth chart and earned a role on the first team, according to KCChiefs.com.

    Beating out the likes of Amon Gordon and Jerrell Powe is hardly considered to be an incredible feat for a first-round pick, but nonetheless, Poe is a near-lock to start on opening day.

    Odds: 90 percent

Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Despite being the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in this year's draft class, it appears as if Fletcher Cox is going to have to learn to be a rotational player for now. 

    As of now, veteran Mike Patterson is listed as the starter. While not nearly as quick and explosive as Cox, Patterson is the better man to handle run downs, which would in turn make him a starter.

    The Eagles' plan for Cox is to work him in slowly and use him in pass-rushing situations and gradually bring him in as a full-time starter as he develops. However, he still has enough talent to make a run at the starting job in training camp.

    Odds: 35 percent

Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

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    With Larry Fitzgerald locking down one of the starting spots, the Cardinals' plan is for Michael Floyd to assume the number two role with Early Doucet moving into the slot. 

    This move works out best for both Floyd and Doucet. Floyd is the bigger, more physical receiver that is better suited to work on the perimeter, while Doucet is more of a quick-twitch athlete that is perfect for the slot. 

    The Cardinals also want Floyd to learn as much as he can playing with Larry Fitzgerald, which is much easier to do on the field than on the bench. 

    Odds: 95 percent

Michael Brockers, St. Louis Rams

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    With Rams being extremely thin at defensive tackle, Michael Brockers is walking into a perfect situation to start right away.

    Already listed as the starter on OurLads.com, Brockers should have no problem holding off the likes of Darrell Scott and William Hayes. 

    While there are certainly a lot of question marks about Brockers' ability as a pass rusher, there is little doubt surrounding his ability to play the run. After struggling to defend the run for so much of 2011, the Rams will take any upgrade they can get at this point, even if Brockers is far from a finished product. 

    Odds: 98 percent

Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks

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    Clearly, the Seahawks place much more value on third-down pass rushers than most, spending the 15th-overall selection on a rotational player. 

    The Seahawks will likely leave Red Bryant in the game on early downs, bringing in Irvin to give them an injection of speed and explosion on passing downs. 

    While this does mean that Irvin will not technically be labeled as a starter, he will have a starter-like impact on the Seahawks' defense. 

    Odds: 5 percent

Quinton Coples, New York Jets

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    In Rex Ryan's multiple-front defense, the term "starter" has little meaning.

    That has not stopped Ryan from stating that he expects the North Carolina product to start right off the bat. While he is listed as a 3-4 defensive end, one could find him playing at just about any spot on the defensive line in a multitude of formations. 

    The Jets are likely to use more 4-3 looks to allow Coples to get on the field without taking good players like Mike DeVito off the field, but that fact that the Jets are willing to change their defensive philosophy just to get a rookie on the field speaks well for Coples' role on the Jets in 2012. 

    Odds: 90 percent

Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals

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    This may be the most compelling camp battle of all the first-round picks. 

    While Kirkpatrick's raw talent is enticing, the incumbent Nate Clements does not plan on giving up his starting job any time soon. 

    So far, Kirkpatrick has had a bit of a rough go, as he is just learning how to backpedal for the first time.

    It remains to be seen whether Kirkpatrick's raw talent is enough to allow him to adjust to the pro game, but it appears as if the Bengals will have to start the season with Nate Clements lining up opposite Leon Hall.

    Odds: 40 percent 

Melvin Ingram, San Diego Chargers

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    Not only did Melvin take a slide on draft day, he also went to a team that just signed a veteran outside linebacker in free agency to solidify the position in Jarrett Johnson. 

    Ingram will likely be used all over the defensive front as a rotational pass rusher, but with Johnson and Shaun Phillips entrenched as the starters, Ingram will have to be more than special in training camp to take either of those starting spots. 

    Odds: 1 percent

Shea McClellin, Chicago Bears

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    While Israel Idonije is a solid player in his own right, the Bears wanted to add an element of speed and athleticism to their front with the selection of Shea McClellin.

    So far, the Bears are pleased with the Boise State product, according to Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times:

    We'll find out more about first-round pick Shea McClellin when training camp starts, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli likes what he's seen so far. 'He's got really good speed. He's got nice range. His size is fine. He's a real hungry guy and he's very smart.'

    The Bears will see what they really have in Shea once the pads come on in training camp, but he appears to be the favorite to start opposite Julius Peppers in 2012. 

    Odds: 65 percent

Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans

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    So far, Kendall Wright has given the Titans everything they have hoped for, and then some.

    Coming into this season, Wright was supposed to be the "X" receiver. However, he has been so quick to pick up the offense that he is being worked into other positions as well. It is very rare for a rookie receiver to be able to pick up an NFL playbook so quickly to the point that they are taking on extra work.

    Also working in Wright's favor is that Kenny Britt is still recovering from an injury and may not be back in time for the start of the season. 

    Odds: 98 percent

Chandler Jones, New England Patriots

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    After losing both Mark Anderson and Andre Carter to free agency, both starting defensive ends spots appear to be wide open. 

    However, according to OurLads.com, Jones has yet to crack either of the starting defensive end spots. This could just be Bill Belichick's way of keeping a rookie humble, but it certainly is not an encouraging sign for Patriots fans. 

    In the end, I expect Chandler Jones to earn a job by the end of camp, but Belichick obviously wants Jones to earn it before he gives it to him.

    Odds: 60 percent

Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

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    While the Browns continue to say that there will be an open competition for the starting quarterback job, it would be a huge upset if Brandon Weeden is not under center on opening day. 

    Not only do the Browns need a face lift at the position, but they probably do not want to waste any of Weeden's truncated career learning on the bench. Unless Colt McCoy makes massive improvements and is undoubtedly the better player than Weeden in training camp, this is Weeden's job to lose. 

    Odds: 80 percent

Riley Reiff, Detroit Lions

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    While the Lions have battle-tested vets on both edges of their offensive line in Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherlius, Riley Reiff should push both players for a starting job in camp. 

    No matter where he has played, Reiff has shined in minicamps and OTAs. 

    It will be up to the coaches to decide whether or not they are willing to put Matthew Stafford's health in the hands of a rookie, but if Reiff continues to impress, it may be turn out to be the wise thing to do.

    Odds: 50 percent 

David DeCastro, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Not only is DeCastro the best interior offensive lineman to come out of the draft, but he fills a huge area of need on the interior of the Steelers' offensive line. 

    The only thing working against DeCastro is how Stanford's exam scheduling caused him (and former teammate Andrew Luck) to miss the vast majority of the minicamp and OTA sessions.

    Still, DeCastro returned to minicamp and immediately started to work with the first team, indicating that he will have no problem holding off the likes of Trai Essex for the starting right guard job.

    Odds: 90 percent

Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots

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    Assuming the Patriots use a 4-3 base defense this season, contrary to popular belief, Hightower will be in competition with veteran Rob Ninkovich for the starting SAM linebacker duties. 

    As of now, Hightower is listed as Ninkovich's backup. Just like Chandler Jones, Belichick probably just wants to see Hightower earn the job, but Hightower was picked in the first round for a reason. He was also very impressive in minicamp, particularly in coverage.

    Sooner than later, I expect Hightower to be the starting SAM 'backer by opening day.

    Odds: 75 percent

Whitney Mercilus, Houston Texans

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    The Texans certainly raised a few eyebrows when they picked Whitney Mercilus in the first round when Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed were a formidable tandem at outside linebacker last season. 

    As a rookie, Mercilus will likely be used as more of a pass-rushing specialist to keep the Texans' rotation fresh throughout the game.

    As he learns a new position at outside linebacker, it would be an upset if the Texans started him over second-year player Brooks Reed, who filled in admirably for Mario Williams last season

    Odds: 25 percent

Kevin Zeitler, Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Bengals have found their immediate replacement for longtime starter Bobbie Williams with the selection of Kevin Zeitler in the first round. 

    An extremely physical guard that excels in the run game, Zeitler is an ideal fit for the Bengals offensive line. All he has to do is hold off the likes of Otis Hudson and Clint Boling, and the starting job is all his. 

    Besides, if a team is going to spend a first round pick on a guard, he had better be good enough to start right out of the box. 

    Odds: 95 percent

Nick Perry, Green Bay Packers

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    To no surprise, Nick Perry was getting first-team reps in OTAs. He will not face tough competition for the starting spot, as just about every player outside of Clay Matthews seemed to be replaceable after the Packers' defense slipped to the bottom of the NFL.

    It is also encouraging that Perry, who had his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end at USC, is already picking up the nuances that come along with making the adjustment to outside linebacker.

    Odds: 75 percent

Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

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    A first-round safety going to the worst secondary in football, it is hardly a surprise to see Smith working with the first team.

    While he will certainly experience some growing pains being forced into the starting lineup so quickly, he is a massive upgrade over anything else the Vikings have at the position.

    Odds: 90 percent

A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers

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    Not only have the 49ers brought in enough veteran receiver talent to bury Jenkins on the roster, but he has been very underwhelming in minicamps and OTAs. 

    According to Grant Cohn of The Press Democrat, Jenkins has a ton of work to do before training camp opens in less than a month:

    The Niners' first-round pick looked like one of the worst wide receivers on the field most of minicamp. He didn't play with the first- or second-team offense on Tuesday, and he didn't catch a pass in scrimmages on Wednesday. He had trouble staying on his feet all three days, which was odd considering it was a non-contact minicamp.

    The good news is that this seems to be more of a conditioning issue, which is correctable. Plus, the 49ers signed enough wide receivers to survive a season without much contribution from Jenkins anyway. 

    Still, it is always worrisome when bottom dwellers on the roster are out-playing your first-round pick. Even if Randy Moss was not on the roster, it looks like he would have a tough time beating out the likes of Kyle Williams. 

    Odds: 3 percent

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Bucs picked Doug Martin in the first round to be their "do-it-all" back. Because of his ability to do everything from pass protection to receiving (which is just about everything LeGarrette Blount cannot do), Doug Martin is going to be the key to the Bucs' offense.

    So far, according to TampaBay.com,the Bucs are pleased with what they have seen from Martin:

    He’s only done it two days (Monday and Tuesday), but he’s done some nice things. You can see he has good vision. That’s one of the things you can’t teach. You can teach a lot of things, but for me to see daylight over here when I’m looking over there, that’s a gift.

    Because of his versatility and running ability, Martin should have no problem taking the reigns as the starting runner for the Bucs. 

    Odds: 85 percent

David Wilson, New York Giants

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    With Ahmad Bradshaw entrenched as the Giants' feature back, Wilson was never expected to start as a rookie anyway. 

    However, Wilson is having a tough time holding back D.J. Ware for backup duties, which stem from his struggles in protection.

    While Wilson is almost as talented as any back in the 2011 draft, but there were definite concerns about his ability as a pass protector coming out of Virginia Tech. On a Tom Coughlin-coached team, lacking in the details of the game is an easy way to stay on the bench. 

    Giants fans should not overreact to Wilson's demotion, as rookies often struggle in this area. However, if Wilson does not see a promotion at some point during the season, there may be legitimate concerns as to whether or not Wilson can handle the mental aspects of the NFL game. 

    Odds: 2 percent