2011 NFL Season Preview: Cam Newton, Tim Tebow and Top Training Camp Battles
The 2011 NFL Draft class exhibited some of the most explosive, as well as versatile playmakers that fans of the league haven't experienced in quite some time.
There were plenty of surprises in the draft as Auburn superstar, Cam Newton, was selected first overall, while one of the highest-rated prospects after the collegiate season came to an end, Da'Quan Bowers fell to the second round.
Featured is a list of position battles that could change the lives of rookies or veterans.
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Will Carolina's Cam Newton Start from Day One?
Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton, stole the headlines throughought the 2010 season from his off the field issues that included receiving improper benefits, to winning the Heisman trophy, to being selected by the Carolina Panthers with the No. 1 overall pick.
The Panthers still have Matt Moore, who they slated to take over Jake Delhomme's job when he left town, as well as Jimmy Clausen, who they selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
While Newton is obviously the most physically gifted quarterback on the roster, the current lockout and uncertainty of full team workouts may force the No. 1 pick to sit on the bench for a few weeks to learn the new system.
What Will the Cowboys Wide Receiving Corps Look Like?
Jerry Jones paid a bit too much when he traded first and third picks for Roy Williams, who produced very little in the 2010 season. Miles Austin emerged as a premier wide out in 2009, having a breakout season in which he amassed over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Austin went on to continue his success with a stellar 2010 campaign, in which he caught another 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns.
Now, with Dez Bryant, Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd still on the roster, the Cowboys will have have one of the most intriguing position battles to keep an eye on this offseason.
What Will the Dallas Cowboys Backfield Look Like?
The Dallas Cowboys three-headed tandem of Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and Marion Barber has now become a bit crowded with the addition of rookie running back, Demarco Murray, out of Oklahoma.
Marion Barber seems to be the odd man out in this situation, as he hasn't lived up to his seven-year, $45 million deal that he signed in 2008.
Demarco Murray was one of the top backs in the NCAA, rushing for 1,214 yards on 282 carries, while adding another 71 receptions for 594 yards out of the backfield. He has a combination of game changing speed and power that will likely send Barber on his way out of Big D.
Can Jason Pierre-Paul Earn a Starting Role?
Back flipping phenom, Jason Pierre-Paul is once again in an interesting predicament this offseason.
The New York Giants selected the former South Florida standout with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, but had to compete for reps with perennial Pro Bowlers, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora. Mathias Kiwanuka also added competition at the position, but as of now Tuck is solidified as a starter.
Pierre-Paul has the athleticism and ability to play at a high level in the National Football League, but with players of the high caliber ahead of him on the depth chart, it may be difficult for him to get many opportunities.
Who Will Be the Starting Denver Broncos Quarterback?
With Kyle Orton coming off of the two best statistical seasons of his career, John Elway and John Fox have an extremely difficult decision to make this offseason. Do they stay with Orton, who passed for 3,693 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions, or do they hand over the reigns to former first-round draft pick Tim Tebow?
Tebow played in nine games last season passing for just under 600 yards, tossing five touchdowns, while adding another 227 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
Tebow has been leading the Broncos' offseason workout program, and seems to have gained the respect and confidence of his teammates.
Either way, this quarterback battle will be one of the most intriguing to keep an eye on throughout the offseason.
Will Prince Amukamara Beat out Terrell Thomas for a Starting Job?
The New York Giants were in desperate need of help in their secondary, and miraculously Prince Amukamara out of Nebraska unexpectedly fell into their lap during the 2011 NFL Draft.
Rated the No. 2 cornerback available behind Patrick Peterson, Amukamara has a legitimate shot of beating out Terrell Thomas or Corey Webster for the starting cornerback role for the Giants.
At Nebraska, Amukamara racked up 155 tackles and five interceptions while breaking up 27 passes. He was often left alone, man to man, with no help from a safety, and proved he could match up with the best receivers in the Big 12 conference.
Who Will Emerge as Philly's No. 3 Wideout?
While DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are clearly Michael Vick's No. 1 and No. 2 receiving threats on the Philadelphia Eagles, there is a battle looming on who will see reps as the third man.
Jason Avant caught 51 passes for 573 yards and scored a touchdown last year, while Cooper caught just seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
However, the Eagles reportedly love Cooper's versatility, and while he didn't make a huge impression as a rookie, there are high expectations for him in the 2011 NFL Season.
How Many Running Backs Will Be on the Patriots' Roster?
As of now, the New England Patriots currently have eight running backs on their roster. That's right. Eight. Most teams don't even carry that many wideouts on a roster.
Benjarvus Green-Ellis lead the charge last year, rushing for 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns, while fan favorite, Danny Woodhead added another 547 yards and five touchdowns.
Also on the roster are veterans Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor, in addition to the two backs they added in the draft in Stephen Ridley and Shane Vereen.
It's clear that the Patriots wont have eight running backs on their roster to open the season, but it will be interesting to see who makes the cut.
Who Will Be the 49er's Starting Quarterback?
The San Francisco 49ers revamped their team this offseason, adding former Stanford head coach, Jim Harbaugh to lead the team after letting Mike Singletary walk.
Now, Harbaugh is left with the task of deciding who will be the leader of his offense. Former No. 1 overall draft pick, Alex Smith, had another unimpressive year, failing to pass for 2,500 yards, while throwing 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The 49ers selected quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada in the second round, and he has a legitimate shot at being the opening day quarterback, despite playing in the pistol offense throughout his collegiate career.
Kaepernick is versatile and is the only player in the history of the NCAA to pass for over 10,000 yards and rush for over 3,000 yards in a career.
Will Tim Hightower Be out of Arizona?
The Arizona Cardinals are still waiting for former first round draft pick, Beanie Wells, to produce like an elite back, while Tim Hightower continues to be the third down and goal line back.
Hightower has appeared in every game in his three year career, rushing 439 times for 1,733 yards and 23 touchdowns, while adding another 801 receiving yards.
However, when the Cardinals selected Ryan Williams out of Virginia in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Hightower probably wasn't too happy.
This will be a big battle for a team with deep talent at the running back position.