One rookie for each NFC team with the most to gain from 2023 NFL training camp

2R63F4R New Orleans Saints linebacker Isaiah Foskey (55) warms up during an NFL football practice in Metairie, La., Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

• Dalvin Cook's release creates opportunity for DeWayne McBride: The seventh-round UAB product averaged 4.60 yards after contact per attempt in 2022, the third-best mark in college football.

• Bears interior defender Gervon Dexter Sr. has clear path to playing time: The Florida product can carve out a starting role amid a shaky Chicago defensive front.

• Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson can take advantage of new-look Rams CB unit: He allowed a lockdown 39.1% career catch rate across four years at TCU.

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Playing time, praise and depth chart positions are up for grabs in NFL training camp. After rookie minicamps, it's the next opportunity for first-year players to prove they belong. Some have more to gain than others, and we highlight those rookies here for each NFC squad.

*Undrafted free agents were not considered for this exercise, although many will make final rosters based on training camp and preseason performances.


MIN | NO | NYG | PHI | SF | SEA | TB | WSH

Arizona Cardinals: CB Kei'Trel Clark/CB Garrett Williams

A quick glance at the Cardinals’ cornerback room tells all. Former first-round Swiss Army knife Isaiah Simmons is set to switch to cornerback full time, and he’ll join Rashad Fenton, Marco Wilson and Antonio Hamilton. While that group did combine for six interceptions in 2022, they also allowed 10 touchdowns and more than 1,600 yards in coverage. There is little star power to speak of.

It then becomes clear why Arizona drafted two cornerbacks. Third-round pick Garrett Williams will likely come along slowly as he works his way back from an ACL tear suffered last October, currently sitting out on the non-football injury list. Sixth-round pick Kei’Trel Clark brings plenty of college experience — 2,450 snaps of it — to a roster lacking much proven talent. Neither player was overly dominant in 2022, with Williams earning a 72.5 coverage grade and Clark posting a 58.5 mark, but this is a wide-open position group in Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons: OG Matthew Bergeron

Bergeron has an opportunity to overtake 2020 third-round pick Matt Hennessy at left guard this summer. The second-round pick out of Syracuse featured at left tackle for the majority of his last three college seasons but is moving inside with Atlanta. And due to Hennessy’s lack of NFL experience at the position — serving as the team’s starting center in 2021 — Bergeron is a more-than-worthy contender for the gig.

Hennessy slotted in for an injured Elijah Wilkinson at left guard in Week 9 last season before suffering a knee injury. In all, he played 76 pass-blocking snaps at the position and let up four pressures — two of which were sacks. Bergeron at left tackle in 2022 surrendered only 12 pressures and graded out as an above-average run blocker (69.0).

Carolina Panthers: WR Jonathan Mingo

Adam Thielen’s March arrival in Carolina was always going to dampen any chance of a Panthers rookie receiver securing a significant role, but Mingo is too athletic to not be a factor in this offense. And he should show as such in training camp. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Mingo set career highs in receptions (51), yards (861), touchdowns (five) and receiving grade (78.6) with Ole Miss in 2022. He is set to battle D.J. Chark Jr. and Terrace Marshall Jr. for snaps, with the former looking to establish himself with his third team in three years and the latter hoping for a Year 3 breakout amid a lackluster start to his career.

Chicago Bears: DI Gervon Dexter Sr.

The Bears occupy one spot above the cellar in these PFF offseason defensive line unit rankings. Their depth chart along the defensive front features few household names, and none of the unit’s players last year surpassed even a 60.0 pass-rush grade or a 60.0 run-defense grade. As such, any signs of life from Dexter in training camp should have coaches ready to slot him in as a starter or an impact role player.

The 312-pounder managed 31 tackles and 24 stops in run defense at Florida in 2022, both top-10 figures among Power Five interior defenders. Third-round edge defender Zacch Pickens should also have a chance to earn playing time in training camp.

Dallas Cowboys: LB DeMarvion Overshown

Overshown, a third-round pick out of Texas, faces some linebacker traffic ahead of him in Dallas. Perhaps his early college background at safety comes into play here, as defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is no stranger to getting the most out of his multi-faceted chess pieces (see: Parsons, Micah).

Versatility reigns supreme in today’s NFL. And that means the world is Overshown’s oyster after he registered snaps at free safety, strong safety, off-ball linebacker and slot cornerback in college. He posted career highs in overall grade (72.2), pass-rush grade (73.9) and run-defense grade (73.8) in his final season with the Longhorns, and he may have a leg up on Jabril Cox, who has logged only 46 NFL snaps over two years due to injury, at Sam linebacker when all is said and done.

Detroit Lions: TE Sam LaPorta

LaPorta’s training camp will be more about confirming priors than breaking out or gaining significant ground in a depth chart battle. One look at the Lions’ tight end room confirms that. He joins Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra, James Mitchell and Derrick Deese Jr. — a quartet that has combined for 59 NFL catches.

Almost all of Detroit’s top rookies have something to gain in training camp, but LaPorta is the future at a position once occupied by T.J. Hockenson, a top-five tight end now with the Vikings. LaPorta’s 2.10 yards per route ranked seventh among Power Five tight ends last year, and his 82.7 receiving grade placed fourth.

Green Bay Packers: DI Karl Brooks/DI Colby Wooden

Brooks and Wooden caught some eyes during OTAs. While Green Bay has beefed up its defensive line with early draft picks in recent years, namely interior defender Devonte Wyatt and edge defender Lukas Van Ness, don’t count out the sixth-rounder Brooks and the fourth-rounder Wooden from securing snaps.

Both showcased edge-rushing prowess in college but may be pigeonholed to the interior in the NFL. Regardless, Brooks was the sixth-highest-graded pass rusher (92.0) in college football in 2022 and Wooden ranked fifth in the SEC in stops (tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense).

Los Angeles Rams: CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson

A unit once revered for its lockdown ability and big names, from Jalen Ramsey to Marcus Peters to Darious Williams, lacks both heading into 2023, although Cobie Durant was promising as a rookie in 2022.

Enter Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, a player who allowed a 39.1% career catch rate across four years at TCU. While projected depth charts have the sixth-rounder as a backup, understandably, there is a clear opportunity for him to secure a starting spot this summer.

Minnesota Vikings: RB DeWayne McBride

Dalvin Cook is out, Alexander Mattison is in and McBride is all of a sudden a prime candidate to see significant carries this year. The seventh-round UAB product averaged 4.60 yards after contact per attempt in 2022, the third-best mark in college football. That helped him earn an elite 94.1 grade in the regular season, ranking behind only then-Texas running back Bijan Robinson and Michigan’s Blake Corum.

Rookie running backs, regardless of the round they are drafted in, tend to find their way onto the field. Tyler Allgeier (fifth round), Isiah Pacheco (seventh round) and Brian Robinson Jr. (third round), among others, proved as much last year. And McBride’s college production was up there with the best of them, so it will be hard for Minnesota to keep him off the field if he can continue to shine in training camp and beyond.

New Orleans Saints: EDGE Isaiah Foskey

Marcus Davenport’s offseason departure opens up a starting edge spot for the Saints, one that fifth-year pass rusher Carl Granderson currently holds. But no team can effectively generate pressure with only two guys, and that’s where Foskey comes in.

The second-round pick is set to duke it out with 2021 first-rounder Payton Turner, who will be looking to dispel a looming “bust” label amid an injury-riddled start to his career. Twelve of Foskey’s 33 pressures at Notre Dame last season were sacks.

New York Giants: WR Jalin Hyatt

The Giants prioritized their wide receiver room this offseason, re-signing Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton while adding Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder, among others. It’s a crowded position group, but one with a bevy of players trying to prove they belong in a significant role. Who’s to say Hyatt can’t outperform some of the veterans ahead of him or 2022 second-rounder Wan’Dale Robinson?

The 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner, given to college football’s most outstanding receiver, ranked first in the FBS in deep receiving yards (677) and yards per route on deep targets (28.21). Expect him to stretch the field for quarterback Daniel Jones in training camp, and then in game action.

Jalin Hyatt | 20-Plus-Yard Passes in 2022, Among FBS WRs
Targets Receptions Yards Touchdowns Yds/Route Run
24 14 677 (1st) 8 (T-1st) 28.21 (1st)

Philadelphia Eagles: OL Tyler Steen

Rookies are going to have a tough time gaining much of anything on this already-stacked Eagles roster. Philadelphia lost 2022 starting right guard Isaac Seumalo in free agency, pushing Cam Jurgens into the spotlight as the presumed starter in 2023. But with just 44 NFL snaps to his name, 39 of which came at center, there’s a potential battle on our hands.

Rookie Tyler Steen, strictly a tackle at Alabama, let up 20 pressures on 472 pass-blocking snaps in 2022. If Jurgens doesn’t establish himself as clearly the better player this summer, Steen could get an opportunity.

San Francisco 49ers: S Ji’Ayir Brown

A safety group of Brown, Tashaun Gipson Sr. and Talanoa Hufanga sounds daunting for opposing offenses. Brown likely already has the third spot in his grasp, but training camp is a chance for him to prove he belongs as a starter.

Brown brings positional flexibility, logging 100-plus snaps each at cornerback, at free safety and in the box last season at Penn State. He wasn’t overly impressive in coverage but didn’t surrender a touchdown and snagged three interceptions.

Seattle Seahawks: RB Zach Charbonnet

Fantasy football gurus will be closely watching Charbonnet in training camp. Kenneth Walker III shined as a rookie, recording 17 runs of 15-plus yards and forcing 50 missed tackles on 243 attempts. But as PFF’s Nathan Jahnke has noted, Seattle has been home to running back committees and production from unlikely sources at the position.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Charbonnet supplant Walker at some point during the year. He ranked second in the Power Five with 7.0 yards per attempt last season with a top-10 mark in yards after contact per attempt (4.10). While training camp likely won’t cement Charbonnet as a starter, it will go a long way toward determining his eventual role as the year wears on.

Editor's Note: Charbonnet is now reportedly dealing with a shoulder injury

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OG Cody Mauch

Injuries decimated the Buccaneers’ offensive line in 2022, so Mauch serving as a depth piece — as opposed to a starter — is still valuable. He appears to be the favorite for the right guard job, although Nick Leverett surprised in 2022 with a solid season in relief at left guard. He didn’t allow a single sack on 513 pass-blocking snaps.

Mauch similarly avoided sacks at North Dakota, letting up only two in his college career. The second-round pick’s training camp efforts could help him solidify his role as a starter or, at the very least, become a priority backup.

Washington Commanders: EDGE K.J. Henry

On the surface, Henry is stuck behind one of the NFL’s most talented stables of defensive linemen. Yet, the two elite edge rushers ahead of him are in contract years. Should Washington choose not to pay both Chase Young and Montez Sweat, or if the team simply can’t afford to, a starting role opens up for 2024. This year’s training camp is not only a time for Henry to become a role player, but it’s also one where he can show he’s part of the team’s future on defense.

Henry’s 48 regular-season pressures in 2022 ranked eighth among Power Five edge defenders. He added a 78.3 run-defense grade — top 20 at the position — to form his best season of five at Clemson.


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