0 out of 6
AP Photo / Gail Burton
The NFL offseason moves from off-field news to on-field activity. With the draft completed and the bulk of the free agency completed, OTA reports poured in as newbies entered the field for the first time. Although this is a far cry from the real action we’ll see in September, positive takeaways are always welcome.
Not all UTA stars and boot camp stars will be entry-level contributors, as Diamey Brown and Dion Kane can attest. However, early returns can indicate that the player is more advanced than evaluators think.
We scoured the takeaways for journalists to find the six newbies that made waves in OTAs. Some may be surprising, as they were taken long after the first round. The others were in the top 20 picks and believed to be a dominant talent. Let’s dive in.
1 of 6
Zach Bollinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The Indianapolis Colts made bold acquisitions of the season for veteran quarterback Matt Ryan and cornerback Stevon Gilmore. It was a good time for them to make aggressive changes after stalling with Carson Wentz under center last year. For this team to become a contender in the AFC, it needs to create a more reliable play at the receiver.
Injuries devastated a talented group that included TY Hilton and Paris Campbell. Hilton hasn’t played a full season since 2018 and is a free agent, while Campbell hasn’t played more than seven games in any of his three campaigns.
So the Ponies drafted former Cincinnati Bearcat star Alec Pierce’s future in the third round.
Weighing in, 6’3″, 211 pounds, Pierce is as big a vertical threat as Michael Bateman Jr. (6’4″, 223 pounds). Ryan’s accuracy should align well with Pierce’s game, which is not based on separation. During the rookie OTAs, Pierce demonstrated the possibility of picking up the role of the second receiver behind Pittman.
Possession recipient will need to end traffic catches, and Zach Keefer Athletic’s note that he was twice exposed to the pressure on the toe during the team’s red zone training. Joel A. Ericsson subordinate Indianapolis Star He noted that he hadn’t seen Pierce drop a pass over the weekend OTAs, speaking of his reliability. This must be music to Ryan’s ears.
The Colts have a young and dynamic pool of emerging talent with Bateman, behind Jonathan Taylor and Pierce. The competition ceiling in the AFC has skyrocketed over the past few seasons with stars moving to the conference. Pierce will have more pressure on him to be able to produce earlier than most beginners on day two.
2 of 6
David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Anytime a rookie blocker gains praise, it’s notable because it can be easy for trench players to go through the moves while the beam is clamping. But that was not the case for the number 6 player who chose Ikem Ekwonu.
The Carolina Panthers desperately needed him to be an effective blind side protector as a rookie. Their attack has been marred by the constant wave of defenders who reached the middle within seconds of a snap last year. Neither Sam Darnold nor Cam Newton stood a real chance.
Ekwonu appears to be part of the franchise’s left handling. according to Dean Jones From Fansided, Panthers offensive line coach James Kampen has given Ekwonu all he can handle. The former North Carolina producer went to great lengths in his response.
Jones noted Ekwonu’s “heart, energy, and focus” in his novice OTAs. With the Panthers poised to take on elite talents like Cleveland’s Myles Garrett and San Francisco’s Nick Bosa early in the season, Ekwonu will need to be as sharp as any rookie blocker he’s picked up in the past few years. His pedigree is promising, and his mentality appears to be as well.
3 of 6
Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Running four receivers selected in a select period among the top 12 receivers in the 2022 draft had a ripple effect. Jahan Dotson and Trillon Borks were selected to a first-round marginal list in the top 18, and veteran receivers AJ Brown and Marquis Brown were traded for first-round picks.
Dotson was the most surprising at first. A talented road runner who is faster than fast, and has a knack for playing outside or inside. But the Penn State star who is 5’11 inches and 182 pounds hasn’t lit up the Boy Scouts quite as well as his star Relative Math Score He was humble.
It may not matter as long as Washington uses Dotson in creative ways and plays on his strengths. He earned early praise for his OTA performance. Ethan Cado NBC Sports Washington reported that Dotson “impresses his teammates and new coaches” with his speed and hands.
Dotson’s speed off the line of scrimmage and authoritative hands should make him a reliable target for quarterback Carson Wentz right away. One of the problems Washington faced last year was finding receivers alongside Terry McLaurin who could make room in a hurry. Dotson is already showing off this valuable skill set.
4 of 6
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The beauty of Tom Brady’s crime-ridden crime is that the front office can transform the talent of the game industry and keep production. This isn’t to say Brady doesn’t need or have stellar stars around him in Tampa Bay, but he will maximize everything he has to work with him at all times. And the running back position benefited the most from Brady’s presence.
Current player Leonard Fournette is back to come out of a strong season with 1,266 total yards and 10 touchdowns. His re-signation didn’t stop Bucs general manager Jason Licht from trying to find a long-term star. With pick number 91, the Boss family acquired former Arizona-based Rashad White.
White had a dominant but short college career, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and scoring 15 touchdowns in 2021. He also averaged 10 yards per carry on 42 attempts in 2020. His receiving ability should be particularly interesting to the Bucs, He hit 51 receptions for 607 yards in two years for the Sun Devils.
At OTAs, White continued to create a stir. according to Rick Stroud subordinate Tampa Bay TimesWhite seemed to have the double threat Tampa desired in her high-octane attack. His comfort in working as a receiver could give him an immediate role as a novice. White is a strong back with a dash velocity of 4.48 seconds 40 yards, so Fortnite will need to be at the top of his game again to fend off a rookie from eating too much into a surprise number in 2022.
5 of 6
AP Photo / Gail Burton
One of the best recruiting class marriages in the first round was the Baltimore Ravens and former Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. The rookie has filled nearly every possible role in his time with the Irish fighter and possesses a rare 6’4″, 220lb frame that allows him to match any offensive weapon in the league.
New Ravens defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald will be able to post Hamilton anyway, not just because of his skill set but also because of the fact that this defense is full of talent.
Hamilton’s speed and fluidity combined with his massive stature mean he should stand out in OTA games. He lived up to expectations by earning worldwide praise for his ability to defend his passing attackers one-on-one. According to The Athletic’s Jeff ZribekHamilton showed aggressiveness, confidence and great timing while playing in the area as well.
Unleashing Derwin James’ presence in defense that usually ends up as a top five unit gives the Ravens a real X factor. Baltimore’s attack likely took a step back after Marquis Brown lost and didn’t add a playmaker to replace him, so the defense needs to get this team back into the playoffs.
Look for Hamilton to play a big role in determining if they can return beyond the season.
6 of 6
Michael Zagaris / San Francisco 49ers / Getty Images
Danny Gray was one of the most surprising picks this year in the third round. The former SMU receiver was productive in college, scoring 1,251 yards and 13 touchdowns while scoring 15.3 yards per catch. but it also Spread An 8.3 percent decline rate in 2020 and a 12.5 percent decline rate in 2021, according to On Tap Sports Net.
San Francisco chose Gray’s 6’2″ and 200lbs over other fast-paced prospects like Romeo Dobbs, Khalil Shaker and Beau Melton. The 49ers lacked a real threat despite talented playmakers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. who ran a 4.33sec From 40 yards, he certainly qualifies as a viable deep option for quarterback Trey Lance.
With Samuel’s long-term status continuing to change, with the status of his contract not yet settled, Gray showed that the upside is growing into a larger role. According to Kam Inman of Mercury NewsAnd the Gray admired his way of running and speed across OTAs. SMU’s offense was more of an air raid attack than an accuracy-based strategy, so Gray’s road run was rarely on offer in college.
If Gray was more advanced than he was able to boast in college, he could play a much bigger role in this crime than expected.