• Wide receivers dominate the risers in training camp, headlined by the Chiefs' JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Texans' Nico Collins, and the Commanders' Jahan Dotson.
• The most notable fallers include Rams running back Darrell Henderson, Raiders edge rusher Clelin Ferrell and Bears tackle Teven Jenkins.
• Cowboys undrafted free agent WR Dennis Houston has been making waves and earning first-team reps in a depleted receiver room.
NFL depth charts are a two-way street, so we wanted to identify players who are on the ascent and those who are fighting to maintain their roles and roster spots.
We reached out to beat reporters across the league to pick one riser and one faller from the team they cover. Some writers chose not to be cited in this piece.
JUMP TO A TEAM:
Players chosen by: Johnny Venerable, PHNX
Riser: WR GREG DORTCH
Kyed: Venerable wrote that Dortch has “made big plays all throughout camp and should force his way onto the roster.” The 5-foot-7 wide receiver has bounced around the league from the Jets to the Panthers, Rams, Falcons and Cardinals since going undrafted out of Wake Forest in 2019.
Faller: CB MARCO WILSON
Kyed: Venerable wrote that “after entering camp as a surefire starter in the outside, Wilson’s inconsistent practice plays have led to coach Kliff Kingsbury second-guessing the second-year CB as a full-time player.”
“We want him to step up and be an every-down starter, but we'll see,” Kingsbury said. “I think the jury's still out, and the rest of the young guys, somebody's got to step up and help us out.”
Players chosen by: Kelly Price, FOX5
Riser: SS RICHIE GRANT/TE FELEIPE FRANKS
Kyed: Based on reports from camp, Grant, a 2021 second-round pick out of UCF, has been competitive in drills against tight end Kyle Pitts. Franks has received reps at quarterback and tight end, but his transition to tight end has been most impressive. The 6-foot-7 athlete ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash while going undrafted out of Arkansas last year.
Faller: OLB ARNOLD EBIKETIE
Kyed: Ebiketie came in with high expectations as a second-round pick, but Price wrote that “he seems to be having quite a rookie learning curve.”
Players chosen by: Jonas Shaffer, Baltimore Sun
Riser: EDGE ODAFE OWEH
Kyed: Oweh earned a respectable 67.9 PFF grade as a rookie first-round pick last year. He’s been making plays throughout training camp and appears primed to improve upon that mark in Year 2.
Faller: OG BEN CLEVELAND
Kyed: Cleveland began training camp on the non-football injury list after failing to pass his conditioning test. He’s since struggled in camp.
Riser: WR ISAIAH MCKENZIE
Kyed: McKenzie looks primed for a much bigger role in 2022 and is atop the Bills’ depth chart at slot wide receiver.
Faller: TE O.J. HOWARD
Kyed: Howard will be involved this season but likely won’t put up big numbers in an offense that also includes McKenzie, Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Dawson Knox, Devin Singletary, James Cook and others.
Players chosen by: Ellis Williams, The Charlotte Observer
Riser: DI DERRICK BROWN
Kyed: Williams wrote that “the Panthers defensive line is consistently generating a pass rusher during 11-on-11 periods, specifically up the middle in the A and B gaps. That pressure starts with Brown.”
Faller: RB D’ONTA FOREMAN
Kyed: Williams wrote that Foreman hasn’t earned many opportunities in Panthers camp so far. “When spelling Christian McCaffrey, Chuba Hubbard has been more explosive and efficient,” Williams wrote. “The second-year back has scored multiple red-zone touchdowns via both the ground and air. When Foreman is on the field during team segments, the defense anticipates a run.”
Players chosen by: Josh Schrock, NBC Sports Chicago
Riser: WR DAZZ NEWSOME
Kyed: A 2021 sixth-round pick out of UNC, Newsome has been one of the lone bright spots for Chicago at wide receiver in training camp. He was also taking punt return reps in Tuesday’s practice. Bears wideouts Velus Jones, Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry weren’t practicing Tuesday, and David Moore was carted off the field.
Faller: OT LARRY BOROM/OT TEVEN JENKINS
Kyed: Borom, a 2021 fifth-round pick, and Jenkins, a 2021 second-round pick, both are working on the second-team offensive line.
Players chosen by: Mike Petraglia, CLNS
Riser: WR KWAMIE LASSITER II
Kyed: Lassiter is an undrafted free agent out of Kansas who’s moving up the wide receiver depth chart in Cincinnati and has even earned some first-team reps. He’s also in the mix as a punt returner. He registered a 73.6 grade in 2021 as a senior with the Jayhawks.
Faller: DT TYLER SHELVIN
Kyed: Shelvin, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of LSU, is competing for a roster spot after playing just 75 snaps last season.
Players chosen by: Brad Stainbrook, Orange and Brown Report
Riser: CB A.J. GREEN
Kyed: Green has been a playmaker in camp and solidified his spot on the roster, per Stainbrook.
Faller: WR ANTHONY SCHWARTZ
Kyed: Schwartz will make the 53-man roster, especially after Jakeem Grant went down with an Achilles injury Tuesday, but the 2021 third-round pick hasn’t set himself apart in practice.
Players chosen by: Jori Epstein, USA Today
Riser: WR DENNIS HOUSTON
Kyed: Houston has been earning reps with the first-team offense in Dallas’ depleted wide receiver room. Houston, an undrafted rookie out of Western Illinois, came into the NFL with a solid size-speed combo at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds with a 4.49-second 40-yard dash.
Faller: LG CONNOR MCGOVERN
Kyed: McGovern is currently atop the Cowboys' depth chart at left guard but is likely to be replaced by rookie Tyler Smith before the start of the season.
Players chosen by: George Stoia, Denver Gazette
Riser: WR MONTRELL WASHINGTON
Kyed: In need of depth at wide receiver after Tim Patrick’s torn ACL, Washington, a rookie fifth-round pick out of Samford, has stepped up in a big way for Denver, being on the receiving end of a ton of big plays in camp.
Faller: TE GREG DULCICH
Kyed: Dulcich has gotten out to a slow start due to a hamstring injury.
Players chosen by: Kyle Meinke, MLive
Riser: WR D.J. CHARK/LB MALCOLM RODRIGUEZ
Kyed: Meinke wrote that Chark “has been sensational” and “is looking like a WR1.” Rodriguez is a rookie sixth-round pick who’s been getting reps with the first-team defense.
Faller: DT LEVI ONWUZURIKE
Kyed: The 2021 second-round pick has been out with back and hip ailments after also missing time last season with injuries. Lions head coach Dan Campbell did say Tuesday that he expects Onwuzurike to be back for Week 1.
Players chosen by: Andy Herman, Pack-A-Day Podcast
Riser: DT JARRAN REED/WR ROMEO DOUBS
Kyed: Reed, who signed a one-year deal with Green Bay as a free agent this offseason, has been a difference-maker as a run defender early in camp. Doubs, meanwhile, has emerged as an early favorite of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The rookie wideout has been providing “wow” moments in training camp.
Faller: OT ROYCE NEWMAN
Players chosen by: Brooks Kubena, Houston Chronicle
Riser: WR NICO COLLINS
Kyed: Collins caught 33 passes for 446 yards with one touchdown as a rookie last season but appears primed for a much bigger role in 2022 after a strong camp.
Faller: G KENYON GREEN
Kyed: Green, a rookie first-round pick, is dealing with a knee injury and missing crucial time to develop this summer.
Players chosen by: Joel Erickson, Indianapolis Star
Riser: RB NYHEIM HINES
Kyed: Hines should see his production jump this season after catching just 40 passes in 2021. The Colts have been using him in a number of different ways in training camp.
Faller: CB ISAIAH RODGERS
Players chosen by: John Shipley, Jaguar Report
Riser: CB TRE HERNDON
Kyed: Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson talked up Herndon last week.
“He’s been doing extremely well,” Pederson said. “He’s locked in.”
Faller: WR LAVISKA SHENAULT JR.
Kyed: Shenault is fighting for snaps after the Jaguars added Christian Kirk and Zay Jones at wide receiver this offseason. Jacksonville already had Marvin Jones Jr. and Jamal Agnew on the roster, as well.
Players chosen by Matt Lane, KC Sports Network
Riser: WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER
Faller: EDGE MIKE DANNA
Kyed: Danna appears primed to lose reps due to the Carlos Dunlap addition.
Players chosen by: Vincent Bonsignore, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Riser: CB NATE HOBBS
Kyed: Hobbs has been competitive against Davante Adams during Raiders camp, which is just about the best compliment you can give a cornerback.
Faller: EDGE CLELIN FERRELL
Kyed: The Raiders declined Ferrell’s fifth-year option before the season, and now he hasn’t practiced since July 27. Not a great start to Ferrell’s fourth NFL season under new leadership in Las Vegas.
Players chosen by: Daniel Popper, The Athletic
Riser: RB JOSHUA KELLEY
Kyed: Kelley, entering his third season, has been hyped up by coaches and players in Los Angeles.
“He’s become a more complete back,” head coach Brandon Staley said earlier this week. “Physically, he’s come in outstanding shape. He’s done a really good job earning our players' trust in pass pro. Then running the football, he’s making people miss, breaking tackles and being physical.”
Faller: S MARK WEBB
Kyed: Webb, a seventh-round pick last year, looked like he’d find a role in sub packages with the Chargers but has been injured for the second straight training camp.
Players chosen by: Gilbert Manzano, O.C. Register
Riser: WR TUTU ATWELL
Kyed: Atwell, a 2021 second-round pick, has shown promise as a deep threat since Van Jefferson injured his knee early in training camp. He’s also shown a willingness to fight for contested catches, per Manzano.
Faller: RB DARRELL HENDERSON
Kyed: Cam Akers has outplayed Henderson in training camp, and there’s increased competition at running back with rookie Kyren Williams, a fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, off the PUP list and back at practice.
Players chosen by: Daniel Oyefusi, Miami Herald
Riser: WR ERIK EZUKANMA
Kyed: As if the Dolphins needed more help at wide receiver with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Cedrick Wilson already in the mix, Ezukanma — a rookie fourth-round pick out of Texas Tech — has been a downfield threat early in camp.
Faller: WR PRESTON WILLIAMS
Kyed: Williams, meanwhile, is on the trade block, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. Williams recently tweeted, “just want opportunity. #smh.”
Players chosen by: Matthew Coller, Purple Insider
Riser: S CAMRYN BYNUM
Kyed: Bynum continues to take first-team reps next to Harrison Smith over rookie Lewis Cine. Even if Cine grabs hold of the starting job, Bynum, a 2021 fourth-round pick, could carve out a role this season.
Faller: C GARRETT BRADBURY
Kyed: Bradbury continues to struggle even with a new coaching staff in Minnesota. New general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell aren’t tied to Bradbury, a 2019 first-round pick, and O’Connell has said there’s competition for the starting center job.
Players chosen by: Doug Kyed, PFF
Riser: CB MARCUS JONES
Kyed: Since I’ve been a regular at Patriots training camp, I’ll handle this one. Jones has emerged as a starting option at slot cornerback in the Patriots’ defense in recent days while Jonathan Jones has shifted to the outside playing across from Jalen Mills. Jones is a rookie third-round pick out of Houston who also appears to be the favorite to return punts. Wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, a rookie second-round pick out of Baylor, and safety Joshuah Bledsoe, a 2021 sixth-round pick, also deserve mention for increased reps with first-team units.
Faller: CB MALCOLM BUTLER
Kyed: The Patriots re-signed Butler and added Terrance Mitchell this offseason. Both veteran cornerbacks have taken fewer first-team reps in recent practices after Marcus Jones' emergence.
Players chosen by: Nick Underhill, NewOrleans.Football
Riser: CB PAULSON ADEBO/CB BRADLEY ROBY
Kyed: The Saints are four-deep at cornerback with Marshon Lattimore and C.J. Gardner-Johnson also in the fold. Adebo looks primed for a second-year leap after posting a 60.3 defensive grade as a rookie.
Faller: WR MARQUEZ CALLAWAY
Kyed: Callaway has only three catches in team drills this summer. He was destined to fall behind the pack since New Orleans added Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry and got back Michael Thomas this offseason.
Players chosen by: Pat Leonard, New York Daily News
Riser: CB DARNAY HOLMES
Kyed: Holmes, a 2020 fourth-round pick, is primed to be New York’s starting nickel back this season. He’s been a playmaker early in camp.
Faller: WR DARIUS SLAYTON
Players chosen by: Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic
Riser: TE TYLER CONKLIN
Kyed: Rosenblatt recently tweeted: “TE Tyler Conklin remains heavily involved with Zach Wilson. I'm not sure anyone's stock has been on the rise more throughout camp than him.”
Faller: OT MEKHI BECTON
Kyed: In another unfortunate injury situation for Becton, New York’s 2020 first-round pick, he is likely out for the season after fracturing his kneecap in training camp.
Players chosen by: Josh Tolentino, Philadelphia Inquirer
Riser: RB KENNETH GAINWELL
Kyed: Tolentino wrote that while Miles Sanders likely will still be the Eagles’ No. 1 running back, “Gainwell seems to be cemented as the team’s featured running back in high-leverage situations, including goal-line and two-minute packages.”
Gainwell has been explosive a shifty in camp, per Tolentino.
Faller: WR DEVON ALLEN
Kyed: Allen is a champion sprinter, but Tolentino noted that the 27-year-old wideout has shown rust in his return to football since last playing at Oregon in 2016.
“He possesses world-class speed, but his feet haven’t been crisp throughout execution of his route trees at multiple levels,” per Tolentino.
Riser: WR GEORGE PICKENS
Kyed: We’re at the point in Pickens’ ascent that a former player told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the rookie wideout reminds him of Randy Moss.
Faller: LB DEVIN BUSH
Players chosen by: Tracy Sandler, Fangirl Sports Network
Riser: OL SPENCER BURFORD
Kyed: Sandler wrote that Burford “has spent the majority of training camp with the first-team unit and looks to be the favorite to start at right guard.”
“He's got the skill set to do it, so it's about getting the reps and getting used to going against our D-line and just doing it down in and down out at this level,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said of the 2022 fourth-round pick Friday. “But he's got the ability to do it at a high level.”
Faller: CB DEOMMODORE LENOIR/CB AMBRY THOMAS
Kyed: Sandler recently asked defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans about the two second-year cornerbacks.
“They're still learning. They're still growing. They have a lot to improve with their technique,” Ryans said. “And they have to continue to show us that, they have to show their teammates that they are headed in the right direction. They are improving. And they are headed in the right direction. They are doing good things, but they still have improvements. Still need to keep bringing it.”
Riser: CB TARIQ WOOLEN
Kyed: The 2022 fifth-round pick has worked with starters at right cornerback and had an almost-interception and another deflection during Saturday’s team scrimmage.
Faller: WR DEE ESKRIDGE
Kyed: The 2021 second-round pick hasn’t practiced since the first day of camp as he continues to battle injuries.
Players chosen by: Matt Matera, Pewter Report
Riser: WR RUSSELL GAGE
Kyed: Matera called Gage, “the best WR in camp.”
“They’re moving him around, he’s creating space with ease and building good chemistry with all QBs,” Matera continued.
The Buccaneers signed Gage away from the Falcons on a three-year, $30 million contract in free agency this offseason.
Faller: CB SEAN MURPHY-BUNTING
Kyed: Murphy-Bunting is back working at outside cornerback after last year’s experiment in the slot. He’s competing with Jamel Dean for the No. 2 cornerback spot but will likely be on the outside looking in at a starting job.
Players chosen by: Ben Arthur, Tennessean
Riser: CB ROGER MCCREARY
Kyed: The 2022 second-round pick has been a pass-breakup machine in training camp, drawing high praise from head coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Shane Bowen.
Faller: OT DILLON RADUNZ
Kyed: Radunz, a 2021 second-round pick, is battling for the starting right tackle job with rookie third-round pick Nicholas Petit-Frere.
Players chosen by: Sam Fortier, The Washington Post
Riser: WR JAHAN DOTSON
Kyed: Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz has developed early chemistry with Dotson, who has earned praise for his steady hands and ability to make acrobatic catches. He looks like an impact-maker from Day 1.
Faller: WR CURTIS SAMUEL
Kyed: Samuel was limited to five games and six receptions in 2021, his first season with Washington. Head coach Ron Rivera said there was concern about the receiver’s “overall football conditioning and shape” when he reported for training camp. He was limited in practice as recently as Tuesday morning.