Analysis

Notable Players Fighting For Roster Spots

player battles

NFL teams are allowed to bring 90 players to training camp each year to fill just 53 roster spots. As a result, the competition is outrageously fierce. Careers, contracts and dreams are on the line. Here are some notable players battling for their roster spot this August. 

Jalen Reagor WR (Philadelphia Eagles)

The Eagles selected Reagor with the 21st overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, with the very next pick, the Minnesota Vikings selected Justin Jefferson. Thus far, Reagor has struggled to show he was deserving of this draft slot. 

Reagor got plenty of action in his first two seasons, participating in 67% of the team’s offensive snaps. But in year three, the former TCU standout finds himself in a crowded WR room. AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, Quez Watkins and free-agent signing Zach Pascal could force Reagor to compete for one of the final spots on the roster. 

The 33rd Team’s Head of Scouting, TJ McCreight, says, “Reagor has been passed up by Quez Watkins and certainly has not lived up to expectations. But, fairly or not, he will always be mentioned along with Justin Jefferson. I am concerned that he will not get a chance to redeem himself, just not enough balls to go around in Philly.”

Darius Slayton WR (New York Giants)

Slayton enjoyed a rookie season in which he caught 48 passes for 740 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. However, since that breakout campaign, he’s struggled to find consistency. With a new regime in place, it’s possible the organization will decide to move on from the speedy wideout. 

“Slayton is a vertical threat that can take the top off the defense,” McCreight said. “I do see some catchable balls that he does not come up with…but he must always be accounted for.”

The Giants spent a first-round draft on wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the 2021 NFL Draft just a few months after handing out a massive contract to free agent Kenny Golladay. Then, in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Giants used a second-round pick to select wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. 

With veteran receiver Sterling Shepherd—and returner CJ Board—likely in place, Slayton will compete with Collin Johnson, David Sills, Richie James and others for one of the last WR spots on the depth chart. 

Deion Jones LB (Atlanta Falcons)

Jones got off to a successful start in the NFL by making the Pro Bowl in his second season. But now, entering his seventh season in Atlanta, there are doubts Jones makes sense for a Falcons team transitioning into a new era. And after reports surfaced Jones was available via trade, it became more apparent he might not be on the Falcons’ 53-man roster. 

“Deion Jones has always had steady production for Atlanta,” McCreight said. “I like how he gets his hands on the ball and is always around the action. He is a very instinctive player.”

Head Coach Arthur Smith and the Falcons carried four inside linebackers on the roster going into the 2021 regular season. So, will Jones be the fourth LB this season? Or will he bring his instinctive, productive skill set to a different team? 

Ronald Jones RB (Kansas City Chiefs)

The Chiefs running back room is crowded. It was even crowded before the Chiefs selected Isaih Pacheco in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pacheco has been one of the breakout stars of training camp and recent reports indicate he could join Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerrick McKinnon as the Chiefs running backs heading into the regular season.

Jones spent the first four seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His tenure there was highlighted by winning the Super Bowl in 2020. He recorded 978 rushing yards and seven touchdowns despite starting only 13 games that season. 

According to McCreight, “Jones can churn out yards and extend the game. He does not have elite speed, but it’s good enough. Solid player.”

Jones signed with the Chiefs on a one-year deal back in March. But come September, he may be suiting up for an entirely different team.

Myles Gaskin RB (Miami Dolphins)

The Dolphins’ leading rusher the past two seasons, Gaskin could find himself the odd man out in a talented group of backs. Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel signed this off-season as free agents. 

However, McCreight is a fan of Gaskin’s game and thinks he would be an asset to Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

“Gaskins is a dual-purpose back that has some mismatch qualities in the pass game,” McCreight said. “He can be dangerous out in space. He would be my best friend if I were Tua.”

Denzel Mims WR (New York Jets)

Mims addressed his potential playing time while speaking to the media during the early stages of training camp. He made it clear his goal was to be a starting receiver this season. The problem with that doesn’t appear to be with Mims’ talent but, rather, with the Jets’ depth

“Mims has all of the size, length and speed you look for but has yet to put it all together,” McCreight said. “[He] needs to get a better feel for running routes and become a better finisher.”

Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson and Braxton Berrios are all likely to compete for playing time as the Jets try to surround their young QB Zach Wilson with reliable targets.

Clelin Ferrell EDGE (Las Vegas Raiders)

When a team drafts a player in the top five, they hope to land a franchise cornerstone—a foundational talent to help build around. Thus far, Clelin Ferrell has failed to produce those kinds of results in his short NFL tenure. 

McCreight’s take on Ferrell? 

Ferrell is more of a run defender that lacks elite edge speed,” McCreight said. “Lacks the twitch, and it shows in modest sack production. He was over-drafted.

The brain trust that drafted Ferrell fourth overall back in 2019 is no longer in charge. It’s possible new Head Coach Josh McDaniels and Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham will choose to cut ties with Ferrell. They also have solid edge-rushing depth behind Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones, so Ferrell could end up with a fresh start on a new team for the 2022 season.

Jamie Arnowich contributed to this report. 

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