Every NFL Team's Most Intriguing Training Camp Project
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
There are a handful of players on every NFL roster who, despite being considered a project, bring quite a bit of intrigue to the field.
Whether it's from natural athleticism or a huge amount of upside, project players are some of the most exciting players to watch in camp. All they need to do is show a glimpse of their potential and improvement, and they'll have their respective fanbase excited for the future.
Here's every NFL team's most intriguing training camp project.
Arizona Cardinals: Alex Okafor, OLB
Despite his clear athleticism and physical ability, Alex Okafor should still be considered a project for the Arizona Cardinals.
For starters, he's making the switch from defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker, which we've seen other rookies struggle with (see Nick Perry from 2012). Asking Okafor to play standing up rather than with his hand in the ground will definitely present a learning curve.
However, if he can learn his position quickly, he has the all-around game to eventually become an impact player on the Cardinals defense.
Atlanta Falcons: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE
As a defensive end, Jonathan Massaquoi enters his second season in the league with near-limitless potential. Massaquoi has all the talent in the world to be an elite pass-rusher, but he is still considered raw in many other areas of his game.
As Daniel Cox of AtlantaFalcons.com points out, Massaquoi is beginning to put it together already this offseason. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons brought in free-agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Umenyiora's presence will likely force Massaquoi to more of a situational role, at least to start the season.
If Massaquoi continues to improve throughout training camp, he could end up earning some solid time for the Falcons. Once that happens, it will be hard for the coaching staff to take him off the field.
Baltimore Ravens: Tommy Streeter, WR
By trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens now have a huge opening for the No. 2 receiver on the team. Other than wide receiver Torrey Smith, they don't have many experienced receivers on the roster.
One receiver who could end up making a big impact this year is second-year player Tommy Streeter. Streeter missed his entire rookie season due to a foot injury. However, at 6'5", 215 pounds and with good athleticism, he has the size and skills to be a weekly matchup issue for opposing defenses.
The coaching staff is already quite high on Streeter, Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com reports. His development could make everyone in Baltimore completely forget about Boldin by the end of the season.
Buffalo Bills: Marquise Goodwin, WR
With three rookie wide receivers with the potential to make a big impact this year, it was hard to decide which player was the most intriguing. While both Da'Rick Rogers and Robert Woods have intrigue, the rookie receiver with the most is Marquise Goodwin.
The reason for this is that Goodwin is a world-class athlete with limitless potential. He finished 10th at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the long jump while still in college. His unbelievable athletic ability makes him one of the most intriguing rookies in the league.
Goodwin is still extremely raw as a wide receiver. He needs to polish his skills before he'll see extended playing time, but once he does, he should instantly become a must-watch player when he has the ball in his hands.
Carolina Panthers: Robert Lester, FS
The 2012 college season wasn't too kind to safety Robert Lester. Despite winning a national championship, his draft stock dropped so much that he went undrafted.
He was finally signed by the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent. While most undrafted free agents simply fight for a roster spot, Lester is fighting for a starting spot.
The Panthers are relatively weak at the safety position, which gives him a legitimate shot to start as a rookie. In fact, he even gained first-team reps during the Panthers minicamp last month.
No one can argue with the fact that Lester is a proven winner who knows how to play the game of football. The fact that he has a great chance of starting despite not getting drafted is what makes him so intriguing.
Chicago Bears: Brandon Hardin, FS
After getting drafted in the third round of last year's draft, safety Brandon Hardin landed on injured reserve due to a neck injury suffered in the preseason. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports he is now at full strength and ready to compete for serious playing time this year.
Coming out of Oregon State, Hardin was viewed as a versatile safety with good coverage abilities. It's those coverage abilities that will get him on the field in the pass-happy NFC North.
The Chicago Bears already boast one of the better secondaries in the league. Should Hardin have a strong training camp and prove he's a capable defender, the Bears could once again field one of the league's best defenses.
Cincinnati Bengals: Margus Hunt, DE
It's not every day that you see a 6'8", 277-pound defensive end with great athleticism. However, that is exactly what the Cincinnati Bengals have in rookie Margus Hunt.
While Hunt is still an extremely raw prospect, it's not hard to see a huge amount of potential. This year's training camp will be huge for him, since it'll be his first taste of legitimate NFL training.
There is an extremely small chance that Hunt will start this year, but if he shows great growth throughout training camp, he could carve out a nice little niche for the Bengals in 2013.
Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, OLB
The Cleveland Browns obviously thought very highly of outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo since they selected him with the sixth pick of the 2013 NFL draft. However, that doesn't mean that he isn't the most intriguing project on the roster.
Mingo's mix of athleticism and ability to rush the quarterback is what makes him such an interesting prospect. There is still quite a bit that he needs to learn in order to tap into his potential, but once he does that, he certainly has the physicality and athleticism to excel at his position.
Adding a player with Mingo's upside was a great move by the Browns, who continue to build a strong core of their roster.
Dallas Cowboys: Gavin Escobar, TE
It's always helpful for a young player to be able to sit behind one of the game's best and learn. That's exactly what rookie tight end Gavin Escobar will be able to do with the Dallas Cowboys.
Escobar has the size at 6'6" and athleticism to be a dangerous weapon in the passing game, but he needs to refine his overall game before he'll see the field. With veteran Jason Witten ahead of him in the passing game, he will want to soak up as much information as he can from the Pro Bowl tight end.
As long as Escobar shows the desire to learn his position, he should have a bright future in front of him.
Denver Broncos: Julius Thomas, TE
Despite being drafted two years ago, tight end Julius Thomas has failed to make any impact at all in the NFL. He only has one career reception, which gained a whopping five yards.
However, Thomas oozes potential thanks to his 6'5" frame and soft hands.
The problem is the Denver Broncos already have two talented tight ends in Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen on the roster. Throw in Virgil Green, who's another young tight end, and Thomas could have a hard time seeing playing time again this year.
With that said, there is little doubt that he is an extremely intriguing prospect because of his high ceiling. A strong training camp could push him onto the field, where he'll certainly succeed with quarterback Peyton Manning at the helm.
Detroit Lions: Patrick Edwards, WR
Even though the Detroit Lions have the best receiver in the universe in Calvin Johnson, that doesn't mean they have a deep receiving corps. In fact, after Johnson, the Lions could struggle to find a legitimate No. 2 and No. 3 option.
Second-year receiver Patrick Edwards might not crack the starting lineup this year, but he has the potential to be a dangerous weapon in Detroit's pass-heavy offense. He's already been extremely impressive throughout the offseason, per Justin Rogers of MLive.com, giving him a legitimate chance to make the final 53-man roster.
If Edwards can show off his dynamic playmaking abilities, he could become a much-needed weapon for the Lions' passing game.
Green Bay Packers: Angelo Pease, RB
No one would argue with you if you said that the weakest part of the Green Bay Packers roster last year was at running back. They looked to change that by spending two draft picks on running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin.
Both Franklin and Lacy will see a good amount of action as rookies, but neither is the most intriguing project at this year's camp. No, that honor goes to another running back in Angelo Pease.
Pease has already caught the eye of head coach Mike McCarthy, and he's got a legitimate chance to be on the Packers' final roster once the regular season starts, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The fact that Pease is still so raw at the position (he's a former quarterback) makes it even more intriguing that he has a shot to be a member of the team in Green Bay. While it's unlikely he'll surpass either Lacy or Franklin on the depth chart to start the season, Pease could at least get some playing time as a rookie if he continues to improve throughout training camp.
Houston Texans: Sam Montgomery, OLB
There was a time when outside linebacker/defensive end Sam Montgomery was considered an early-round prospect for the NFL draft. However, he fell all the way to the third round before getting snatched up by the Houston Texans.
Montgomery will be making the switch from the defensive end position that he played in college to outside linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 defense. With his amount of athleticism, it could be a position that Montgomery excels in.
How quickly he can learn the details of his new position will determine how quickly he'll get on the field in Houston.
Indianapolis Colts: Teddy Williams, CB
Teddy Williams was originally drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys before making the switch to cornerback. He's now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, where he has a legitimate chance of making an impact this year.
As a former track star in college, Williams is loaded with speed and athletic ability. There is no doubt that he's still extremely raw in coverage, but his upside simply cannot be ignored.
Even though the Colts improved their secondary a great deal this offseason, they could still use a player like Williams to stick with an offense's speedier receiver. Look for him to show enough improvement in training camp to find himself with at least some playing time this year.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Scott, QB
Quarterback Matt Scott was one of the most intriguing quarterbacks heading into the 2013 NFL draft. After throwing a ridiculous amount of passes at his pro day, many expected him to get drafted in the later rounds.
However, that didn't happen, and the Jacksonville Jaguars scooped him up quickly as an undrafted free agent.
What makes Scott such an intriguing project is the fact that he has an absolute cannon for an arm and a good amount of athleticism. In terms of upside, he could turn into the next Colin Kaepernick.
With the Jaguars having a rather bleak outlook at the quarterback position, Scott could cause quite the stir if he has a strong training camp.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tyler Bray, QB
There is no doubt that Alex Smith will be the Week 1 starter at quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. I mean, the Chiefs didn't pay such a high price for him just to sit him on the bench.
Despite Smith being the starter in Kansas City, rookie quarterback Tyler Bray enters camp as the most intriguing prospect. Had Bray been more consistent in college and not so immature, he likely would have been drafted in the early rounds of the draft. That's simply how much talent and potential he has.
Bill Williamson of ESPN reports Bray has already been impressive throughout the offseason and has a good chance at being the No. 3 quarterback in Kansas City once the season starts.
With his elite arm strength and ability to make all the throws, he could be seen as the quarterback of the future for the Chiefs if he continues his strong play through training camp.
Miami Dolphins: Dion Jordan, DE
If we're making a list of rookies with the most upside, defensive end Dion Jordan would need to be at the top of that list.
He's a ridiculous athlete who has near-unlimited potential. His ability to rush the passer, but also drop back into coverage, shows just how athletic he is.
Unfortunately, Jordan is also an extremely raw player who has struggled with injuries throughout his collegiate career.
Once he reaches his potential, he'll be an absolute headache for opposing offenses. How quickly he'll be able to do that for the Miami Dolphins is what makes him an intriguing project heading into training camp.
Minnesota Vikings: Joe Webb, WR
After struggling in the playoffs when forced to start at quarterback, the Minnesota Vikings decided to move Joe Webb to wide receiver for the upcoming season.
Webb has always had potential, but he never really clicked as an NFL quarterback. However, as a receiver, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that he's been catching everything thrown his way during OTAs.
The biggest issue for Webb will be polishing his route-running ability and thinking like a receiver instead of a quarterback.
Head coach Leslie Frazier has already talked about getting Webb on the field as much as possible, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. How quickly he can learn his new position will determine just how huge of an impact Webb can make this year.
New England Patriots: Jamie Collins, OLB
After spending a first-round pick on outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower last year, the New England Patriots used their first pick of this year's draft (it was a second-round pick) on outside linebacker Jamie Collins.
Collins had a number of impressive workouts leading up to the NFL draft, where he displayed a great amount of athleticism.
What makes him an intriguing prospect is that he played defensive end for Southern Miss in college. While defensive ends are often asked to switch to 3-4 outside linebackers, few are asked to switch to a 4-3 outside linebacker. However, that's exactly what Collins will be asked to do.
It'll be interesting to see just how well Collins adapts to his new position during training camp. He's certainly got upside, but this could be a difficult transition for him.
New Orleans Saints: Terron Armstead, OT
What helps Drew Brees be so successful is the fact that he's always played behind a great offensive line. However, the New Orleans Saints lost guard Carl Nicks last year, and they'll be without tackle Jermon Bushrod this year.
Being thin along the offensive line is probably why the Saints decided to use their third-round pick on offensive tackle Terron Armstead. Despite being a project player from a smaller school (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Armstead is already making a name for himself in New Orleans.
He spent time playing with the first team during minicamps, per Mike Triplett of The Times-Picayune, and he has a legitimate chance at winning the starting left tackle job when Week 1 rolls around.
Armstead's huge amount of upside is what ultimately makes him such an intriguing project.
New York Giants: Damontre Moore, DE
Throughout the 2012 college season, defensive end Damontre Moore saw his draft stock take a hit. However, no one could have predicted that he'd fall all the way to the New York Giants in the third round.
Moore was an effective pass-rusher in college, but he lacked a repertoire of moves to get after the quarterback. The problem wasn't his upside, it was how a team could figure out how to effectively use him.
Per Dave Hutchinson of The Star Ledger, the Giants plan on using Moore in a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role. It's an interesting move for a player once seen as a one-trick pony, but it might be exactly what Moore needs.
Watching Moore in this hybrid role during training camp should give us all a good idea of whether or not he'll make an impact during his rookie season.
New York Jets: Mike Edwards, CB
Even though the New York Jets no longer have cornerback Darrelle Revis, that position remains one of the strongest on the team. With Antonio Cromartie, Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson, the Jets have three extremely talented cornerbacks to put on the field.
The most intriguing cornerback, however, is rookie Mike Edwards, a speedy cornerback with great playmaking skills. Edwards had three kickoff returns for touchdowns last year for the University of Hawaii, which shows just how dynamic he is with the ball in his hands.
He has little to no chance of seeing significant minutes at cornerback this year, but his ability as a playmaker can't be overlooked by the Jets. Just how New York figures out how to get Edwards involved will be interesting to see.
Oakland Raiders: Taiwan Jones, CB
After failing to make an impact as a running back, Taiwan Jones is making the move to cornerback this year. Cornerback was Jones' natural position when he entered college before switching to running back.
Unfortunately, it is easily the strongest position on a rather untalented roster for the Oakland Raiders.
If Jones can prove that he still remembers his old position and makes some plays during training camp, the Raiders could decide to keep him on the roster heading into the regular season.
Philadelphia Eagles: Ifeanyi Momah, WR
If we're handing out awards for the best name on our list, wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah would win hands down.
Momah is a long shot to make the 53-man roster for the Philadelphia Eagles, but that isn't what makes him such an intriguing project; it's his size. At 6'7", Momah looks like he'd be better served playing basketball than football.
With such great height, he could carve out quite the niche as a red-zone target for the Eagles. He'd be an instant mismatch for any defensive back in the league and would likely win jump-ball situations with ease.
A player with Momah's natural size will bring plenty of intrigue to training camp for Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Shamarko Thomas, FS
Rookie safety Shamarko Thomas will make his mark in the NFL with his ability to completely lay out an opponent in the open field.
Thomas is a vicious hitter with good speed and the ability to track down players in space. He still needs to work on his ball skills and ability in coverage, but once he does that, he'll be an intimidating player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Of course, it'll help for him to learn from one of the best safeties to ever play the game in Troy Polamalu.
Seeing just how polished of a player Thomas becomes throughout training camp will be a topic of great conversation for the Steelers.
San Diego Chargers: Ladarius Green, TE
The San Diego Chargers have had the luxury of having one of the best tight ends in the game on their roster for the past decade. That won't stop this year, as Antonio Gates is still kicking. But his production has certainly dropped over the past few seasons.
That's why the Chargers spent a fourth-round pick on a project tight end like Ladarius Green in last year's draft.
At 6'5", Green has similar size and athleticism to Gates. We saw flashes of his potential in the passing game last year, but not nearly enough for him to shed his project label.
Green still has a lot of work to do to become a viable option for quarterback Philip Rivers. However, his upside cannot be ignored, and a strong showing in training camp will likely force the Chargers to figure out how to get Green on the field more in year two.
San Francisco 49ers: Lawrence Okoye, DT
It's not every day that you see a former track and field discus thrower make an NFL roster, but that is exactly what defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye is attempting to do.
The problem for Okoye isn't his strength or athleticism, it's the fact that he has absolutely zero experience playing football. He's literally as raw as a player can be heading into a season.
That said, per John Clayton of ESPN, Okoye turned heads throughout OTAs by showing off his pure talent. If he can quickly figure out how to use his obvious natural abilities in football, he has a shot at making the final roster for the San Francisco 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks: J.R. Sweezy, OG
When looking over the Seattle Seahawks roster, it's hard to find a project player. That's how good of a job the front office has done at building this team in recent seasons.
However, one player who sticks out is offensive guard J.R. Sweezy. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2012 draft as a player with upside, but one lacking refinement to his game.
It now appears as if Sweezy is in line to be starting at right guard once Week 1 rolls around, Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com reports. Watching how he handles the pressure of starting in training camp will be rather interesting.
St. Louis Rams: Brandon McGee, CB
With Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, the St. Louis Rams have a rather talented trio of cornerbacks on their roster. However, that doesn't mean more isn't better, as the Rams drafted Brandon McGee in the fifth round of this year's draft.
What McGee brings to the table is experience, quickness and playmaking abilities. He's got great speed to keep up with quicker receivers too.
The one thing that really makes McGee an intriguing project player is his versatility. He has the ability to line up all over the field and cover a number of positions. It's this versatility that could ultimately get him on the field early in his career.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Glennon, QB
While there might not be a quarterback competition in Tampa Bay quite yet, there is definitely the possibility of one happening. With Josh Freeman struggling last year and the Buccaneers drafting Mike Glennon in the third round, Tampa Bay has to be taking a long, hard look at its quarterbacks.
Glennon's size at 6'7" and the strength of his arm combine to make him one of the more intriguing rookies. His decision-making is still very questionable, as is his accuracy at times, but his physical and natural abilities are too good to be overlooked.
If Glennon shows great improvement during training camp, we could definitely see Freeman's job security waiver a little.
Tennessee Titans: Jack Doyle, TE
The Tennessee Titans spent recent seasons working with a project at tight end in Jared Cook. While no one ever doubted Cook's potential, he was never able to reach that while in Tennessee.
So the Titans didn't re-sign him, but they chose to bring in a talented veteran in tight end Delanie Walker. Another tight end who could end up making an impact this year is undrafted free agent Jack Doyle out of Western Kentucky.
Doyle isn't the most athletic tight end out there, but he's got fantastic hands. With such great hands, he should be able to catch everything thrown his way during training camp and impress the coaching staff.
After seeing Cook struggle so much over the past few seasons, having a sure-handed tight end like Doyle could be exactly what the Titans need.
Washington Redskins: Bacarri Rambo, FS
The Washington Redskins drafted two safeties in this year's draft: Philip Thomas was taken in the fourth round, while Bacarri Rambo was taken in the sixth round.
Rambo's off-field issues (he failed drug tests while at Georgia) are what ultimately caused him to be drafted so low. In terms of overall ability, he should have been drafted much higher.
Rambo will need to prove to the Redskins in training camp that he's working on his maturity if he wants to get on the field. Considering that defensive coordinator Jim Haslett believes that either Rambo or Thomas will be starting this year, per Rich Tandler of CSN Washington, he needs to start proving he's no longer immature right now.