By John Camera
With rookies adjusting to the complexities of the NFL, some new-guys are not just treading water but excelling and looking to take jobs from their more experienced teammates. These are five NFL veterans who could see themselves passed on their squad’s depth chart in favor of a rookie:
1. Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears
There’s no surprise or drama with this one. Despite Glennon getting a massive deal on a very small sample size, the Bears were willing to give him the reigns of their offense up until April 27th. Then they traded up to get UNC QB Mitchell Trubisky, who should be expected to start sooner rather than later. Although he would be a very expensive back-up, the Bears could turn to their future now with Trubisky if he proves to be as good, if not better, than Glennon. While Glennon has the requisite arm and body of a pocket passer at Quarterback, his accuracy and ability under pressure may not measure up to Trubisky’s.
2. Latavius Murray, Vikings
After moving on from future Hall of Famer Runningback Adrian Peterson, the Vikings invested in former Raider Latavius Murray, coming off a career year for Oakland. But with FSU’s star tailback Dalvin Cook on the clock when Minnesota made their first selection of the 2017 draft, they didn’t resist selecting a player who could very well be their next historically-great back. While Cook isn’t quite as powerful as Peterson was in his prime, he does bring the same level of home-run hitting and explosion in his speed and agility that Murray doesn’t measure up to. Cook should be the starter by Week 1 and leave Murray in a complimentary role.
3. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
Jeremy Hill surpassed all expectations in his breakout rookie season of 2014, rushing for over 1,100 yards and 9 Touchdowns. Since then he has failed to find consistency in his game and capture the role of the Bengals backfield’s lead man. Enter Joe Mixon, the talented yet troubled RB from Oklahoma. Mixon’s on-field gifts are unquestionable and Marvin Lewis and company have shown a willingness to gamble on players with less than clean off-the-field records and get great results. With Gio Bernard an effective threat on third down and Mixon possessing the speed, size, and strength to be a bellcow, Hill could slide all the way to the bottom of the lineup or even out of Cincy altogether.
4. Chris Long, Eagles
Chris Long joined the Eagles after a solid year with the Super Bowl champion Patriots, looking to grab the starting job from the overpaid and disappointing Vinny Curry. But with star Tennessee pass-rusher Derek Barnett on the board at pick 14, the Eagles snatched him up to complete a nightmare-inducing D-Line; Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, and Barnett. Long will likely slide into a rotational role but with Barnett’s excellence as a QB disrupter and run stuffer, Long may find fewer snaps than initially anticipated.
5. Sean Smith, Raiders
While Sean Smith was not especially bad last season as a free agent pick-up, he had a rough start with his new team and had several other bumps along the way. To add to the pressure on the highly-paid Cornerback, the Raiders selected one half of Ohio State’s talented CB tandem in the 22-year-old Gareon Conley. Conley’s combination of size and ball skills, and with slightly better speed than Smith, could get him into the starting lineup next to David Amerson sooner rather than later, especially if Smith continues to play inconsistently on the outside.