Which NFL position battles are you looking forward to during training camp? Will we see some fresh faces at the top of the depth charts?
After so many personnel changes, trades, and more, we have finally made it to training camp. Players can no longer avoid putting their money where their mouth is. The time for roster spots and starting roles to be earned is here. All 32 teams are now in full training camp mode and there are plenty of position battles on the way this year.
In just over a month of work, teams will have their rosters ready to go for week one of the regular season. With all the position battles in the league, it is time to discuss which ones are going to be the most important to watch. From quarterback battles in the NFC to running back battles in the AFC, there is plenty to unpack here. Let’s get started, shall we?
Carolina Panthers QB Battle: Baker Mayfield vs Sam Darnold
The first big NFL position battle is in the NFC South in the Panthers quarterback room. Sam Darnold looked to have the starting role locked up until injuries knocked him out. The Panthers brought back PJ Walker who will serve as the third-string quarterback. But with newly acquired Baker Mayfield, the starting role is up for grabs.
If you compare Mayfield to Darnold stat-wise, Baker is far better in every single category. Of course, Baker has played more talented rosters in Cleveland versus Darnold’s Jets and mediocre Panthers teams. Therefore, it is sort of unfair to compare Mayfield to Darnold with such drastic differences in the roster around them. Both have also dealt with injuries in recent seasons so that could be a concern for Carolina moving forward.
Overall, I think Baker has to prove he is better than Darnold even in the first couple of days of camp. Mayfield has the chance to spearhead this Panthers offense and get a fresh start. Darnold is better suited as a backup and Mayfield needs to guarantee that happens. Hopefully, Baker shows up and proves he is the better starting QB over Darnold.
Seattle Seahawks QB Battle: Geno Smith vs Drew Lock
Another quarterback battle that might not be nearly as interesting, is the one between Drew Lock and Geno Smith. Smith enters 2022 as the favored candidate to start considering he took over for Russell Wilson during his time out with a thumb injury. Smith had three starts and finished with a 108.4 passer rating. He knows what Pete Carroll prefers and knows the system. The only problem is Smith is an “aged” quarterback and the upside is not really there.
In steps Drew Lock who arrived in the huge trade for Russell Wilson. The 25-year-old Lock obviously brings a younger skillset. However, Lock has yet to show the ability to cut down on errors, process more quickly, and create explosive plays. If he can change that around in camp then Lock could easily beat out Smith for the starting job. Only time will tell if bringing in Lock in the Wilson trade will be worth their time.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Battle: Mitch Trubisky vs Kenny Pickett
Back to the AFC we go as we get to see a QB battle between Mitch Trubisky and much anticipated rookie Kenny Pickett. Trubisky comes to Pittsburgh via free agency after a brief stint in Buffalo. Pickett is the star rookie quarterback from this years draft. Pickett is the hometown kid out of Pittsburgh University and is looking to immediately take over for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh still has Mason Rudolph who is the most experienced under Mike Tomlin. However, Trubisky and Pickett are going to be the better options. Trubisky is getting another chance at a starting role since his days in Chicago. Trubisky struggled with the deep pass and Pickett excelled with that in college. I have a feeling that Tomlin will choose the QB that can sail the ball more accurately. It would not surprise me to see Trubisky get the starting nod for at least the first couple of weeks and then transition to Pickett at some point.
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Battle: James Washington vs Jalen Tolbert
WIth Michael Gallup still on the mend from his ACL tear in 2021, there are some questions at wide receiver for Dallas. Not only will Washington and Tolbert be competing for the WR3 spot but they could be battling for a starting role opposite from CeeDee Lamb in a two-wideout set. Washington joined the Cowboys after four seasons in Pittsburgh where he was barely utilized in the offense. Tolbert is one of the newly drafted rookies from this years draft.
Washington brings the experience and knowledge but Tolbert brings better speed and leaping ability. Both guys will play significant amounts no matter what but the issue is who gets the early reps before Gallup returns. I like Washington to be valued for his experience over a fast rookie. Tolbert has adapted nicely in camp but I would still like Washington to get the starting role first.
Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Battle: Pick One Of The Many Possible Players
The Packers lost the best receiver in the NFL after trading him to the Raiders. They also lost their number two guy in Marquez Valdez-Scantling via free agency to the Chiefs. However, the Packers still have Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. They also went and added Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted three wide receivers. With some youthful rookies and seasoned veterans competing for receptions, Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of options.
Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb will see the most touches considering they bring solid upside even as veterans. Second round pick Christian Watson out of North Dakota State could surprise a lot of people and be a solid draft pick. The other receivers via the draft will have to prove they are worthy of playing time and catching passes from Rodgers on a weekly basis. The Packers will either be solid again or struggle to figure out who touches the ball and lose more games than they are used to.
Which position battle will be worth watching during training camp? Comment below and join the discussion!