NFL News & Analysis

NFL News: 15 storylines to keep an eye on for 2022 minicamps

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (4) works on the field during OTA at Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL offseason has reached the point of mandatory minicamps for all 32 teams. Fifteen teams will begin their annual minicamps this week, while others have already taken place.

Post-draft storylines run rampant throughout these offseason practices. Whether it’s a positional battle in the NFC South or a contract dispute in the AFC North, topical dilemmas always reign supreme as teams begin to establish their identity for the upcoming year. 

Here are some headlines to monitor for this week's minicamps as the 2022 NFL season nears.

ARIZONA CARDINALS: Kyler Murray's Contract Situation

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

The Cardinals enter minicamp with a lingering unknown surrounding quarterback Kyler Murray. He’s been vocal about wanting a contract extension and showcased his frustration by not attending OTAs, although he is reporting for mandatory workouts. He'll be looking for that new deal — and to build upon his career-best 86.7 passing grade from 2021.

ATLANTA FALCONS: QB1 Battle

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

The Falcons' new-look offense will center on the outcome of their offseason QB1 battle between former top-two pick Marcus Mariota and third-round rookie Desmond Ridder. Mariota’s five-year tenure with the Titans was defined by inconsistent play, including 83 big-time throws to 82 turnover-worthy plays and zero season passing grades above 75.0. His second chance as an NFL starter will hinge on staving off Ridder, whose college career at Cincinnati featured 83 big-time throws to just 45 turnover-worthy plays across four years as a starter.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: Lamar Jackson's Rapport with Rashod Bateman

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

Quarterback Lamar Jackson reported to minicamp Monday, ending some speculation about the motivation behind him sitting out of OTAs. Furthering his chemistry with second-year receiver Rashod Bateman will be vital to elevating the Ravens' passing offense. Injury delayed Bateman's rookie debut in 2021, but he did produce a top-15 rookie passer rating (80.0) when targeted across 12 games by the carousel of Baltimore quarterbacks.

BUFFALO BILLS: RB1 competition

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

For the third time in four seasons, Buffalo drafted a running back. This year’s rookie prospect is dual-threat James Cook, who showcased his underrated rushing ability (83.2) and natural receiving talent (83.4) in a rotational role for Georgia in 2021. His skill set opens the door for a spicy RB1 competition between him, Devin Singletary and Zach Moss.

CAROLINA PANTHERS: QB1 Battle

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

The QB1 duel between Sam Darnold and third-round rookie Matt Corral will be the ultimate offseason storyline in Carolina. Darnold is competing for his career, as he’s fresh off of a fourth consecutive season with a higher turnover-worthy play rate (4.3%) than big-time throw rate (3.5%). And if the rookie Corral is to emerge as the team’s Week 1 starter, it will come down to his ability to protect the football in camp against an underrated Panthers defense. 

CHICAGO BEARS: Justin Fields' Weapons

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

The Matt Eberflus era is underway in Chicago, but the offensive cupboard is even barer than it was a season ago. Quarterback Justin Fields‘ lack of weaponry doesn't seem conducive to a second-year surge. Whoever emerges as the team’s de facto WR1, from third-year wideout Darnell Mooney (74.9 receiving grade in 2021) to third-year tight end Cole Kmet (63.4 receiving grade in 2021), will have the tall task of helping elevate the Bears’ aerial attack throughout minicamp and beyond this season.

CLEVELAND BROWNS: Deshaun Watson's Legal Issues

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

A recent report from the New York Times brought to light new information about quarterback Deshaun Watson and the more than 20 civil lawsuits filed against him alleging sexual misconduct. It remains unclear if the star signal-caller will play a single snap of football this season after the Browns traded for him this offseason, making the team's minicamp important in terms of getting backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett up to speed to be their potential full-time starter.

Just last year in spot duty for the Miami Dolphins, Brissett registered a 70.0-plus passing grade while under duress on 44% of his dropbacks. His play could elevate to even higher levels if he’s forced to feature long-term behind Cleveland's stout offensive line

DALLAS COWBOYS: Tony Pollard's Potential 

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

Tony Pollard earned the second-best rushing grade in the league last year (90.3) despite playing just 162 snaps. The jury is still out on if Ezekiel Elliott will ever regain his early career dominance due to recent wear and tear. Pollard can etch his name as the focal point of the Cowboys’ ground game in camp this offseason. 

HOUSTON TEXANS: Davis Mills' Progression

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

Head coach Lovie Smith has his work cut out for him as the Texans continue to rebuild following their trade of quarterback Deshaun Watson. Leading the charge will be second-year quarterback Davis Mills, who has another season to prove his worth after solid performances versus the Chargers (74.8 passing grade) and Titans (80.6 passing grade) to end the 2021 campaign. How he jells within a new-look offense during mandatory workouts can set the tone for the team and his NFL future this upcoming season. 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: New WR1 Without Tyreek Hill

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

Tyreek Hill’s dynamic presence will no longer grace the Chiefs’ offense after the team traded him to Miami this offseason. Who materializes as his replacement opposite TE1 Travis Kelce will be the marquee question throughout minicamp. Rookie Skyy Moore earned the second-highest offensive grade among qualified FBS receivers last season (91.8) and is a prime candidate to emerge as the new face of  Kansas City's wide receiver corps.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Interior Offensive Line Depth

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

The Saints’ offense has a variety of question marks, but their interior offensive line stands out as a top concern. Caesar Ruiz hasn’t panned out as a guard or center through two seasons after registering sub-60.0 overall grades, and Andrus Peat has struggled to consistently stay on the field due to injuries. The roster depth behind them will be more of a focus point during camp, with there being an outside chance of some prospects competing for a starting position.

NEW YORK JETS: CB2 Battle

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

The Jets' defense is starting to mold itself into Robert Saleh’s image thanks to a stellar 2022 NFL Draft and an underrated free agency period. Competition for the CB2 position opposite Sauce Gardner is one intriguing camp storyline. Former Seahawks' corner D.J. Reed earned the highest overall grade of his career in 2021 (78.6) and is the leading candidate to fill the opening.

TENNESSEE TITANS: Malik Willis' development

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

While fourth-round rookie Malik Willis won’t challenge Ryan Tannehill for the starting quarterback job during camp, his presence alone will be the talk of the town. During his final season at Liberty, the dual-threat signal-caller posted the highest rushing grade among FBS quarterbacks (94.5). His lethal legs will likely be integrated into some offseason gadget plays to prepare him for his upcoming rookie tenure.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: Terry McLaurin's holdout

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-16

Terry McLaurin skipped voluntary OTAs, and his holdout has now extended into mandatory workouts. As he seeks a new contract, the concern is whether the situation will be resolved in time for McLaurin to return for team workouts and build pass-catching rapport with new QB1 Carson Wentz. When he’s on the field, McLaurin is one of the surest receivers in the NFL, possessing the ninth-lowest drop-rate percentage (2.8%) and the third-most contested catches (T-34) since 2020.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERSWR3 Concerns

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-15

The re-signing of Mike Williams this offseason solidified the top-two wide receiver positions on the Chargers' offense. The question still remains on who will emerge as their ideal WR3 option during camp . The expected frontrunner is second-year talent Josh Palmer who registered a top-10 rookie passer rating when targeted in man coverage this past season (99.7).

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