With NFL mini-camps in full swing around the league, John Ewing checks in on a few key position battles including NFL rookies. Last weeks article focused on the NFC, check it out here, now we look at the AFC. (2012 projections for rookies are based on this analysis which projects rookie seasons for all NFL prospects as if they were starters on average NFL teams.)
Miami Dolphins – Starting QBs
Incumbent: Matt Moore, 2011 stats – 2,497 yards, 16 TDs, and 9 INTs
Moore started 13 games for the Dolphins in 2011, but began mini-camp working with the second team offense. Rookie head coach Joe Philbin may feel that Moore isn’t as comfortable with the Dolphin’s new West Coast offense, a system Moore has not operated.
Challenger: David Garrard, 2010 stats – 2,734 yards, 23 TDs, and 15 INTs
After missing all of the 2011 season with back issues after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, David Garrard has found himself in the middle of a three-way quarterback competition. Garrard took most of the first team snaps last Tuesday as the Dolphins opened a three-day mini-camp. Garrard is hoping to return to form and in doing so find himself in Hawaii again like he was for the 2010 Pro Bowl.
Challenger: Ryan Tannehill, 2012 projections – 3,192 yards, 20 TDs, and 22 INTs
PredictionMachine.com’s ninth ranked QB in this year's draft, the Dolphins selected Tannehill with the eighth overall pick in the draft. Word out of camp is that Tannehill has yet to impress and has spent most of his time taking snaps with the third team. Additional bad news from the Tannehill family, Lauren, Ryan’s wife, may not be posing for Maxim magazine. However, expect to see her in HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Cincinnati Bengals – Starting WRs
Incumbent: A.J. Green, 2011 stats – 65 receptions, 1,057 yards, and 7 TDs
With veteran starting wide receivers, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, leaving Cincy in free agency, the spotlight fixes firmly on Green. Last season, Green exceeded expectations and became the first rookie receiver to make the Pro Bowl since Anquan Boldin in 2003. However, in a “What have you done for me lately?” NFL Green will have to continue to produce.
Challenger: Mohamed Sanu, 2012 projections – 52 receptions, 542 yards, and 2 TDs
The third round pick out of Rutgers and PredictionMachine.com’s 28th ranked WR, Mohamed Sanu, has received high praise from the coaching staff coming out of mini-camp. Last season the Bengals had many drives stall due to dropped passes by players not named A.J. Green. Sanu’s great hands and pass catching ability make him a favorite to see a lot of playing time this season.
Challenger: Marvin Jones, 2012 projections – 42 receptions, 523 yards, and 3 TDs
Jones, out of California, was the Bengals fifth round pick and PM’s 32nd ranked WR. His great straight-line speed and route running has impressed at mini-camp. Jones also took reps as punt returner, a job currently held by Brandon Tate.
Tennessee Titans– Starting WRs
WR Incumbent: Nate Washington, 2011 stats - 74 receptions, 1,023 yards, and 7 TDs
Washington’s previous season highs in receptions/yards/TDs were 47/687/6. Last year the former Tiffin University star smashed all of those marks on his way to a career season. Washington returns this year as Matt Hasselbeck’s favorite target.
WR Incumbent: Kenny Britt, 2011 stats - 17 receptions, 289 yards, and 3 TDs
Britt started three games last season before tearing his ACL and MCL in a game against the Denver Broncos. The Titans look to have a pair of stud wide receivers in Washington and Britt if they can get them on the field at the same time. The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt reports that Britt performed five 100-yard sprints after organized team activities last Thursday and felt fine the following day.
Challenger: Kendall Wright, 2012 projections - 70 receptions, 938 yards, and 6 TDs
Wright was PredictionMachine.com’s third ranked wide receiver going into the draft. The Titan’s have placed an emphasis on the passing game, which is evident by their selection of Wright in this draft and quarterback Jake Locker in the first round last year. Offensive Coordinator Chris Palmer plans to get Wright on the field early and often having the young receiver learn the split end, flanker, and the slot positions. However, Wright injured his shouldered in a June 14 practice after falling on it trying to catch a pass from Locker.