Of 90 to 53. For a permanent or rotational position, there are many candidates, for few elected. Because competition means emulation, apart from a few executives, NFL staff all experience battles during training camps. Worst division in terms of cumulative victories in 2021 (28 for the 4 franchises), the AFC South has a lot to prove this season.
Direction the AFC Sud, a division which seems divided in two, between two teams in reconstruction and two teams which dream of playoffs. Jacksonville and Houston need time to rebuild, and incumbents are open for plenty of positions. Tennessee lost AJ Brown, but retains a strong roster, as does Matt Ryan’s Colts. However even for these two squads, the duels will be numerous.
Houston Texans: Safety
If the defense as a whole is an enigma, the position of safety is particularly uncertain. Indeed, no player can be considered as holder at the moment and the race is open.
MJ Stewart is the favorite, but that’s far from certain. Never really starting, he only exploded in 2021 after three average seasons. Interesting in coverage, he doesn’t have the same impact on running defense. He is a third attempt player, but before? It’s a big risk.
Jalen Pitre is the one with the most potential. Versatile, smart and fast, it ticks all the boxes. If it would not be surprising to see him also evolve as a slot cornerback or linebacker, he brings a strong option in the box, and could well be the one in the squad who will have the longest playing time.
What if the surprise was Jonathan Owens? Author of two capital performances against the Chargers and the Jaguars, he saw his 2021 season be disrupted by injuries. But the undrafted player has potential, in a profile similar to Stewart but with better instincts against the run. He doesn’t have the experience, but there is potential!
Last player: Eric Murray. Holder for two years, he has however shown nothing that encourages optimism. Overwhelmed against the pass and the run, he has taken advantage of the nothingness of the last two seasons but it would be surprising to see him with playing time.
Prognosis : Jonathan Owens / Jalen Pitre on the first two attempts. MJ Stewart / Jalen Pitre on third.
Also to follow: Running Back, Number 2 Receiver, Linebacker, Right Guard, Defensive Tackle
Indianapolis Colts: Left Tackle
If the Colts are “known” in recent years to change quarterbacks every year, there is another position that has seen many changes: the position of left tackle. Duel to come with, as often, a reassuring profile and a profile with greater potential but more uncertain.
Matt Pryor has only three seasons in the NFL, yet the 6th round of the 2018 draft has already seen 44 NFL games and 15 starts. If he has navigated between several positions, he has what it takes to be a starter in the NFL, without being a reference. Solid in all aspects of the game, his ceiling, however, seems limited.
The other candidate is an Austrian scheduled for the first round of the draft and who nevertheless « fallen » in the third round. A former tight end, he is as athletic as he is intelligent and his ability to take shocks makes him a luxury bodyguard for Matt Ryan. If he’s still technically raw from his late position change, he has the potential to be a long-term starter for the Colts.
Prognosis : Bernhard Raimann
Also to follow: Cornerback number 2, Safety, Guard Right
Jacksonville Jaguars: Center
If the Jaguars line has improved on paper, the departure of Brandon Linder necessitates a lasting change to a position that has known stability. The « advantage » is that Linder’s fragile health made it possible to anticipate this change. There is a clear favorite for the position, yet the duel is much tighter than we think as rumors from the side of Jacksonville confirm.
Tyler Shatley is the reassuring profile. Neo-thirties, the former Clemson has 33 NFL starts, including 18 in his last two seasons. Shatley is the definition of the average player: not bad, not good, average in all areas. It is therefore a lesser evil, but the ceiling is very limited.
Potential level, the risk to be taken is called Luke Fortner, the rookie from Kentucky. Versatile, fast and smart, he just needs a bit of work on his technique to become a potential starter. Particularly effective in the passing game, he would be a good bulwark for Lawrence. Even if it means being in the worst teams in the league, you might as well bet on potential, right?
Prognosis : Tyler Shatley at the start, Luke Fortner at the end
Also to follow:EDGE, Safety, Receiver
Tennessee Titans: Left Guard
Tennessee’s main concern last year was protecting the quarterback. And it’s the construction site that is driving the 2022 camp. Dillon Radunz should have his chance as a right tackle, but it’s the left guard position that is in the spotlight. And this duel is between two similar young players.
Aaron Brewer has come a long way since not being drafted after his career at Texas State. In two seasons, he has 6 starts for 24 matches in two seasons. Promising as a rookie, he took a small « sophomore wall » but remains a reliable player in the racing game. Good news, because it’s the priority in Tennessee.
Jamarco Jones has a similar profile: 7 starts, and a particular strength in the running game. The former Seahawks 5th rounder has the same profile as his competitor, and that’s what’s driving this race crazy. The camp will decide everything, there is not really a favorite and each training could be decisive. A true July duel the way the NFL loves them.
Prognosis : Aaron Brewer
Also to follow: Right Tackle, Receiver, Linebacker