As some rookies make their way to training camp this week, we’re about to see new faces dominate the news around the league.
Some of these players are looking for breakout seasons after making their way to the NFL last season. Others are attempting to make great initial impressions on their coaches in the weeks leading up to the start of preseason.
It’s in this that we look at 10 NFL players set to make waves during training camp, including young receivers in San Francisco, Green Bay, Philadelphia and New England.
Devin Singletary, running back, Buffalo Bills
This rookie third-round pick is in an interesting situaiton in that he’s joined in Buffalo’s backfield by veterans LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. How Singletary performs could tell us whether McCoy is traded or not. He’s been on the block for some time. A product of Florida Atlantic, Singletary tallied nearly 4,700 total yards and 67 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons. He could be a breakout performer during camp.
Chris Godwin, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Now that the Buccaneers have moved on from DeSean Jackson, Godwin will get his chance to shine opposite Mike Evans. That can’t be seen as a bad thing for Tampa Bay. The 23-year-old receiver tallied 59 receptions for 842 yards as a sophomore last season. His average of 14.3 yards per reception was eye opening. We’re highly intrigued to see how the Penn State product performs during his initial training camp under first-year Bucs head coach Bruce Arians.
Justin Jackson, running back, Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon could very well decide to hold out throughout training camp. The Pro Bowl back has already threatened to do so. If that does happen, Jackson will be given first-team reps in camp. This could be big for both the young back and Gordon’s future in Los Angeles. If Jackson proves himself, it could potentially lead to the Chargers moving on from Gordon. Jackson gained 201 yards at a pace of 4.1 yards per touch as a rookie last season.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia added an influx of talent at the skill positions this offseason. That includes former Pro Bowlers, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back Jordan Howard. Though, it’s this former Stanford standout that could turn heads during camp. Whiteside stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 225 pounds. He’s a physical presence, which is something that the Eagles have missed at wide receiver in the past. Look for him to get some first-team play during camp. Taking on a questionable Eagles cornerback group, that could lead to a tremendous late-summer performance from the rookie.
Jordan Thomas, tight end, Houston Texans
A late-round pick out of Mississippi State last year, Thomas performed much better than expected as a rookie. The big-bodied 6-foot-5 tight end start 10 games and caught 20 of his 27 targets. Houston is now looking for Thomas to be a full-time starter. A strong camp performance would pretty much guarantee this. And if that were to happen, Thomas has an opportunity to break out big time as a sophomore. There are certainly targets to go around from Deshaun Watson behind battery mate DeAndre Hopkins.
Greedy Williams, cornerback, Cleveland Browns
This former stud cornerback at LSU was the steal of April’s draft. Most experts had Williams as a top-10 pick leading up to the annual event. He fell all the way to the 46th pick and a Browns team in desperate need of corner help. If the 6-foot-2 Williams is able to impress during camp, he could very well start over veteran Terrance Mitchell next to fellow youngster Denzel Ward. It will also be fun to see Williams go up against the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. He’s a confident young man with a mouth that doesn’t stop on the field.
Dante Pettis, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers
There’s a darn good chance that this second-year receiver will find himself No. 1 on San Francisco’s depth chart once camp breaks next month. Pettis is an electric performer with the ball in his hands and might already be one of the best route runners in the game. Last season saw the Washington product put up 27 receptions for 467 yards with Jimmy Garoppolo out all but three games. Now that Garoppolo is 100 percent, it will be fun to see them teaming up during the summer. It’s also going to be fun to see Pettis try to embarrass Richard Sherman.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers
Valdes-Scantling has drawn rave reviews from Packers coaches this offseason. In fact, new offensive coordinator Joe Philbin has drawn some plays up solely for the young wide receiver. For good reason. Valdes-Scantling caught 38 passes for nearly 600 yards as a rookie last season. That’s some tremendous production from a late-round pick. We’re now highly intrigued to see how he performs with Aaron Rodgers in a completely different offense.
Khalen Saunders, defensive tackle, Kansas City Chiefs
Pretty much the talk of this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Saunders is an absolute freak of nature. The defensive tackle stands at 6-foot and weighs 324 pounds. He’s physical at the point of contact and has enough athleticism to be a tremendous pass rusher. We’re highly intrigued to see how Saunders performs during camp. If he’s as good as we’ve seen on tape, Kansas City could have a great trio of interior linemen with Saunders, Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi.
N’Keal Harry, wide receiver, New England Patriots
It was really surprising to see New England exhaust a first-round pick on a wide receiver. That has not been the team’s MO under Bill Belichick. It also tells us a story of an organization that’s expecting big things from the 6-foot-4 Harry as a rookie. He was a dominant figure at Arizona State, going for north of 2,200 yards over his final two seasons with the Sun Devils. Now that Rob Gronkowski is retired, the Patriots must get production elsewhere. How Harry performs against an elite secondary during camp will be telling.