Bold Roster Predictions for Every NFL Team
Throughout every NFL season, there are always roster moves made that you just can't seem to wrap your head around.
Whether it is a key contributor from last year being cut before the regular season or a no-name camp body making the leap to landing a roster spot, the NFL always has plenty of bold and surprising moves for us to enjoy.
Today we'll predict what those bold and surprising moves may be for every NFL team.
Bold Prediction: Ryan Williams Will Start at Running Back Week 1
The battle for starting running back in Arizona will be one of the better training camp battles in all of the NFL. Despite Beanie Wells coming off the most productive season of his career, Williams is simply too talented to not win the starting job.
The Arizona Cardinals drafted Williams with their second-round pick of last year's draft because Wells had been rather unimpressive and injury prone through his first two years. In fact, before Williams went down with a season-ending injury to his patellar tendon, he appeared to have a good shot at winning the starting job as a rookie.
Due to Williams' all-around abilities as a running back, but more importantly his abilities as a receiver, he should surpass Wells on the depth chart and be the Arizona Cardinals week one starter at running back.
Bold Prediction: LaMark Brown Makes Roster as Tight End
Despite playing wide receiver at the University of Minnesota-Mankato, Brown was picked up as an undrafted free agent for the Atlanta Falcons to play tight end.
While the Falcons are rather deep at tight end with Tony Gonzalez, Michael Palmer and Tommy Gallarda, Brown has the potential to bring something unique to the table that no other tight end on the roster can. Due to Browns' athleticism and experience as a wide receiver, he could end up filling a role as an H-back, much like a poorer version of Aaron Hernandez.
If Brown can become more physical as a blocker, he could end up becoming quite the steal for the Falcons.
Bold Prediction: Bryant McKinnie Fails to Make Roster
Despite starting every game of the 2011 season for the Baltimore Ravens, McKinnie won't be on the roster in 2012.
McKinnie has struggled throughout his career with off-field issues, but his combination of pure size and ability has always outweighed the bad. However, it appears that things might finally be catching up to him.
He showed up out of shape to the Ravens' minicamp and arrived three days late to training camp. With Baltimore having such depth and youth at offensive tackle with Michael Oher, Jah Reid and Kelechi Osemele, it appears likely that McKinnie could be without a roster spot.
Of course, should McKinnie get his act together, he'll be a valuable player, but all current signs point to McKinnie being without a team before the regular season.
Bold Prediction: Tank Carder Eventually Starts at Middle Linebacker in 2012
Carder was drafted in the fifth round by the Buffalo Bills this year despite being one of the most productive college linebackers over the past few seasons. However, college production doesn't always translate to the NFL and teams were clearly afraid that Carder wasn't going to be an impact player in the league.
While the rest of the NFL decided to pass on Carder, the Bills saw a player that can overcome size and speed to do what he needs to do: make plays. Carder's instinctive nature is simply too hard to overlook and his competitive drive will eventually earn him the starting middle linebacker job this year.
Bold Prediction: UDFA Tauren Poole Makes Roster
The Carolina Panthers boast one of the best one-two punches at running back in the NFL with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The offseason signing of Mike Tolbert only added more depth.
Carolina didn't draft any rookies, but they did bring in three undrafted free agents to participate in training camp. One of those UDFAs was Poole from the University of Tennessee. Poole had a productive junior season, but a poor senior year dropped him way down draft boards.
His poor senior performance was most likely attributed to the talent surrounding him because Poole has all the tools to be a successful role player in this league. He'll surpass the other running backs on the roster to become one of the final 53 players on the team.
Bold Prediction: Alshon Jeffery Starts Season as No. 2 Receiver
Few players had such a love-and-hate relationship with the media as Jeffery did. Some felt that Jeffery was the best receiver in the draft class, while others felt he should barely be considered a top-10 prospect at his position.
When it was all said and done, the Chicago Bears drafted Jeffery in the second round. With his size and ability to pluck the ball out of the air, Jeffery has the potential to bring much needed production to a lacking receiving corps for the Bears.
Despite Earl Bennett and Devin Hester being more experienced, look for Jeffery to lock up the No. 2 receiver position opposite Brandon Marshall.
Bold Prediction: Vontaze Burfict Makes 53-Man Roster
Heading into the 2011-2012 college season, Burfict was expected to be one of the first defensive players drafted in the 2012 NFL draft. However, after a string of unimpressive performances throughout the season and heading up to the draft put Burfict into a complete landslide.
He went undrafted before being signed by the Cincinnati Bengals. At first glance, it appeared as if this once impressive player's career in the NFL was over before it started.
While Burfict will certainly have an uphill battle from here on out, early signs show that he is ready for the fight. He'll have to play extremely well throughout training camp and preseason to make the Bengals keep a third inside linebacker, but it should happen.
Going undrafted seems to have been the best thing for Burfict, as he looks as focused and motivated as ever.
Bold Prediction: Colt McCoy Cut
When the Cleveland Browns drafted Brandon Weeden with their second first-round pick of the 2012 NFL draft, it wasn't a good sign for McCoy.
Considering that Weeden is already 28 years old, the Browns can't wait for a few years for Weeden to sit on the bench and develop. Also, it's not like he can really learn to much from McCoy by sitting on the bench.
With Weeden the likely starter in Cleveland, that leaves McCoy, Seneca Wallace and Thaddeus Lewis as potential backups. With Wallace and Lewis both better long-term options, look for McCoy to fail to make the final roster for the Browns.
Bold Prediction: UDFA Tim Benford Makes Roster
As a small school prospect out of Tennessee Tech, not many Dallas Cowboys fans are probably familiar with wide receiver Benford. Well, it is time for them to become acquainted because Benford is climbing up the depth charts.
While he won't replace Dez Bryant, Miles Austin or even Danny Coale, but if he continues to perform well, he could see some playing time once the season starts. Benford is a little undersized, but what he lacks in size he easily makes up for with speed.
Look for Benford to continue to prove his worth as a developmental player and enjoy a roster spot in the upcoming season for Dallas.
Bold Prediction: Knowshon Moreno Gets Traded
It was only three years ago that the Denver Broncos drafted Moreno early in the first round, expecting him to be a every-down back for the team. After a relatively productive rookie season, Moreno's production dropped the following season and then came the injuries.
Now Moreno sits as the third-string running back on a team featuring Peyton Manning. In case you didn't know, this isn't good news.
However, the upside for both Moreno and the Broncos is that there is still plenty of trade value in the third-year back. He's young with potential and there are plenty of teams needing depth at running back.
As long as Ronnie Hillman proves his worth, Denver should be looking for a trade and will likely take whatever they can get for the young player.
Bold Prediction: Jahvid Best Gets Released
NFC North lead blogger Andrew Garda touched on Best earlier in the week and came to the same conclusion that I'm coming to; its time for the Detroit Lions to part ways with Best.
As hard as this may be, the fact that Best still hasn't been cleared by doctors after a concussion suffered nine months ago is extremely troubling. There is more to life about football and if Best can't be better in nine months, the Lions need to move on.
Green Bay Packers
Bold Prediction: Packers Keep Seven Wide Receivers
It's pretty rare to see a team keep seven wide receivers on their active roster, but the Green Bay Packers have so much talent at their position, they might be forced to keep that many.
There are the obvious candidates to make the team such as Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Donald Driver. However, after them the Packers still have receivers who have loads of potential.
Diondre Borel, Tori Gurley and Dale Moss all have enough talent to make the majority of other rosters in the league, so it will be difficult for Green Bay to let them go. One of those three receivers will either be released or sent to the practice squad, but the other two should make the team and bring the Packers depth at wide receiver to seven.
Bold Prediction: Case Keenum Makes Final Roster
Most teams will only keep three quarterbacks on their final roster and the Houston Texans currently have four in training camp. The least experienced of the four is Keenum, who was an undrafted free agent this year.
While Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates are guaranteed to make the final roster, the Texans will likely decide to keep another quarterback, due to Schaub's injury history. That means either Keenum or John Beck will make the final roster.
While Beck is more experienced, the Texans should decide to go young and give one of the most productive college quarterbacks in history a chance at the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.
Bold Prediction: Jerry Hughes Fails to Make Team
Hughes is entering his third year with the Indianapolis Colts after being a first-round draft pick back in 2010. Unfortunately, Hughes hasn't even come close to living up to his first-round status.
While the switch to a 3-4 defense could help Hughes play in a more natural position, he is simply too far gone in Indianapolis to make the roster. Of course, this could change if Hughes has an extremely impressive training camp and preseason, but nothing points to that happening.
Instead, don't be surprised if Hughes fails to make the team in Indianapolis. His youth and potential will likely land him with another team where a change of scenery could do him good.
Bold Prediction: Mike Brewster Makes Roster
Coming out of college, Brewster was one of the most decorated centers to ever play. There wasn't much upside to his game, but there was little doubt that he'd be able to come in and produce from day one.
However, as the final picks of the draft went by, Brewster found himself without a team until the Jacksonville Jaguars came calling. Even though the Jaguars already have two experienced centers on their roster, Brewster should still find himself with a final roster spot at the start of the regular season.
Starting center Brad Meester is entering his 12th season in the league and backup John Estes hasn't proved to be a capable replacement. Jacksonville will give Brewster a chance to win the job from Estes, which I believe he'll do and eventually become the starting center for the Jaguars.
Kansas City Chiefs
Bold Prediction: Jerrell Powe Falls to Third String
After the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Dontari Poe with their first round pick in the 2012 draft, things were looking good for Powe. Poe was expected to need time to develop which would mean that Powe could start the season atop the depth chart.
However, Poe proved to be much more NFL ready that anyone expected and should start the season as the starting nose tackle. Instead of being the primary backup to Poe, don't be surprised if Powe falls all the way to third on the depth chart and once again sees limited playing time in his second year.
Bold Prediction: Ryan Tannehill Becomes No. 1 Quarterback
The Miami Dolphins have two veteran quarterbacks in David Garrard and Matt Moore currently ahead of Tannehill on the depth chart. Tannehill was expected to be a major project coming out of college, but has been rather impressive so far through training camp.
As long as Tannehill continues to show improvement and potential there is no reason that the Dolphins shouldn't start him ahead of both Garrard and Moore. Neither of the two veteran quarterbacks are game-changing players, but rather just position holders for the time being.
Tannehill, on the other hand, has the potential to be a game-changing quarterback and the Dolphins need to dive in and see what he can do as the No. 1 quarterback on the roster.
Bold Prediction: Greg Childs Starts Opposite Percy Harvin
Not many teams were as weak at wide receiver as the Minnesota Vikings were last year. Harvin led the team in receptions with 87, but the next most productive receiver only notched 38 receptions.
This is why the Vikings needed to address wide receiver in the draft and they potentially got the steal of the weekend when they got Childs in the fourth round. He is a sure-handed receiver who has more potential than any other receiver currently on the roster not named Percy Harvin.
Childs is a big target for second-year quarterback Christian Ponder and should instantly become one of Ponder's favorite targets in the red zone. Look for him to lock down a starting job opposite Harvin midway through the preseason.
New England Patriots
Bold Prediction: Both First-Round Selections Start
The New England Patriots selected Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. Considering their defense was the weakest part of their team, this didn't come as much of a surprise.
However, the Patriots rarely start rookies on the defensive side of the ball, especially not two. However, both Jones and Hightower have exceeded expectations so far and are poised to start at their respective positions in 2012.
Hightower is a safer pick to start because of his all-around ability, but Jones has so much potential and talent that he'll also find his way into the starting lineup before the regular season starts.
New Orleans Saints
Bold Prediction: Mark Ingram Starts at Running Back
After a rough rookie season, reports out of the New Orleans Saints training camp are all extremely positive for Ingram.
With Ingram, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, the Saints have one of the deepest running back groups in the entire NFL. However, Ingram has more potential than both Thomas and Ivory, and Sproles is best used more as a third-down back than a starter.
As long as Ingram can continue to stay healthy and can put together some strong preseason performances, he should enter the regular season as the No. 1 running back on the roster.
New York Giants
Bold Prediction: David Wilson Becomes More Valuable Than Ahmad Bradshaw
While Bradshaw has been a solid starter for the New York Giants for the past three years, there are still questions about whether he can be an every-down, workhorse back in the NFL. That is why the Giants spent their first-round pick on Wilson this year.
Wilson is a complete and polished back with incredible speed. He brings "home run" capabilities to a team that has lacked running backs capable of making big plays.
Even though Bradshaw will start the season as the premier back in New York, look for Wilson to quickly become the more valuable player.
New York Jets
Bold Prediction: Tim Tebow Plays More Snaps Than Mark Sanchez
I know this whole Tebow-Sanchez thing has been beaten to death by every media outlet, but hang with me here for a moment. There is little doubt that Sanchez will begin the season as starting quarterback for the New York Jets, but Tebow will still get a set number of starts, regardless of being the backup.
With that said, if Sanchez struggles to start the season, it won't take long before the Jets will give Tebow the chance at starting quarterback. Once Tebow becomes the starter, it is extremely unlikely that Sanchez would ever need to come back in the game.
That is why Tebow will play more snaps that Sanchez this year. Even if Tebow doesn't replace Sanchez until late in the season, his accumulated snaps through specialty plays will still give him the advantage in total snaps this year.
Bold Prediction: Terrelle Pryor Leaps Matt Leinart
After being selected in the third round of the supplemental draft last year, Pryor struggled through his first preseason. He showed brief flashes of his potential, but was definitely more down than up.
However, there is simply too much potential talent for the Oakland Raiders to give up on Pryor. Despite them bringing in Matt Leinart in the offseason to be Carson Palmer's backup, look for Pryor to make major improvements during his first full offseason and leap Leinart on the depth chart.
Bold Prediction: Marvin McNutt Becomes No. 3 Receiver
The Philadelphia Eagles are pretty set with their top receivers in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. However, behind them on the depth chart is a number of talented receivers.
While Jason Avant and Riley Cooper may be more experienced, the most talented may be McNutt, a sixth-round rookie from the University of Iowa. He's already shown in training camp his ability to make plays and the consistency of his hands.
Don't be surprised if McNutt becomes the No. 3 receiver behind Maclin and Jackson and has a solid rookie season for the Eagles.
Bold Prediction: UDFA Marquis Maze Lands Final Receiver Spot
Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery are all guaranteed to make the final roster for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the Steelers only likely to keep two more receivers on their final roster, there will be major competition between nine players to get one of those spots. One of the surprise players making a legitimate run at that final spot is Maze, an undrafted free agent from the University of Alabama.
His size kept him undrafted in the most recent draft, but so far he's shown the ability to catch nearly everything thrown his way. That type of consistency along with his speed and quickness will make him too valuable to not keep on the final roster.
San Diego Chargers
Bold Prediction: Larry English Finally Gets Released
English was the 16th pick of the 2009 NFL draft, but has yet to be even close to living up to that high of a draft pick. He's missed a combined 19 games over the past two seasons, which certainly hasn't helped his chances of making the team in 2012.
He currently sits behind Shaun Phillips, Jarret Johnson, Melvin Ingram and Antwan Barnes on the depth chart at outside linebacker. The chances of him jumping any of those players seems rather small.
The best option for the San Diego Chargers is to simply move on from English and release him before the regular season starts.
San Francisco 49ers
Bold Prediction: Nathan Palmer is the Most Productive Rookie
The San Francisco 49ers have four rookie wide receivers currently on their roster, with three of the four being undrafted free agents. The likely candidate to be the most productive rookie receiver would be A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers first-round pick. However, Palmer looks like a true dark-horse to be the teams most productive rookie.
He has been extremely impressive so far this offseason and looks poised to become one of the biggest steals of the draft. If the 49ers weren't so deep at receiver, Palmer might even be capable of being a huge contributor from day one.
Even if Palmer barely sees the field his rookie season, he should at least have a better chance than Jenkins or the other rookie receivers to get on the field.
Bold Prediction: Deon Butler Gets Cut
Despite being an early draft pick three years ago, Butler has struggled transitioning to the NFL game. While he did improve from his first year to second, it wasn't nearly enough to secure a roster this year.
While Butler might have been safe earlier in the week, once the Seattle Seahawks signed Braylon Edwards there was one less roster spot for a receiver. With a number of other talented and young receivers on the roster who haven't been disappointments, the Seahawks simply can't afford to keep Butler.
He'll get cut at some point during the preseason, but a team looking for a talented slot receiver should take a chance on him.
St. Louis Rams
Bold Prediction: Austin Pettis Doesn't Make the Team
Like many of the other receivers on the St. Louis Rams last year, Pettis struggled to produce much due to poor quarterback play. While other young receivers such as Greg Salas and Brandon Gibson have improved during the offseason, Pettis has yet to make that leap.
His struggles on the field heading into his second year in the league has dropped him way down the depth chart. Since St. Louis drafted two receivers in the first four rounds of the 2012 NFL draft, Pettis will unfortunately be the odd man out fighting for a roster spot.
As long as Pettis can get the mental aspects of the game to equal his on-field abilities, he should find another home in the NFL soon.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bold Prediction: LeGarrette Blount Gets Traded
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their first-round pick on running back Doug Martin and made an instant running back competition heading into training camp. Unfortunately for Blount, Martin has proved to be even better than anyone thought and has a firm grip on the starting job for the Buccaneers.
Due to the fact that Martin looks to be an every-down back already, the Buccaneers will look to trade Blount before the season starts. With injuries all but guaranteed to happen once preseason games begin, there should be plenty of teams that would be willing to give up at least something for Blount's services.
While he took a step back last year, he could still provide solid backup play for a team needing depth at running back.
Bold Prediction: Jake Locker is Week 1 Starter
One of the best quarterback competitions is currently taking place in the Tennessee Titans training camp between Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck is the crafty veteran and Locker is the young gun.
Despite early struggles in training camp from Locker, he should end up winning this intense competition by Week 1. He's been steadily improving as camp has continued and as long as he can continue to show consistent improvement in his accuracy, he has much more upside than Hasselbeck.
With the Titans going young on the offensive side of the ball, they need a young quarterback to lead the team. Locker certainly has the mentality to be a starting quarterback in the NFL and with his physical talents coming along he'll give the Titans the best chance to win this season.
Bold Prediction: Rex Grossman Continues to Be an NFL Quarterback
What makes this a bold prediction is the fact that Grossman is an absolutely horrible NFL quarterback. The fact that he was a starting quarterback last year was simply ludicrous.
With the Redskins drafting both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins this year, it seemed a certainty that Grossman would be cut quickly after the draft. However, he still remains on the roster and actually appears to be the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.
It appears that Grossman will be Griffin's backup heading into the regular season, making him the worst quarterback on an NFL roster for the second straight season.