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[Clash of Camp] AFC East: Once Upon a Time in the East

From 90 to 53. For a permanent or rotational position, there are many candidates, for few elected. Because competition means emulation, apart from a few executives, NFL staff all experience battles during training camps.

New York Jets: Defensive Ends

On the starting line: John Franklin-Myers, Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson, Will McDonald, Michael Clemons, Bryce Huff

Little publicized, John Franklin-Myers is nevertheless a basic man in the defense of the Jets. His pressure percentage for two seasons ranks him in the top 25 in the NFL. Used in 3-Technique (34DE) in 2020, his game was already very penetrating with 51 pressures! For two seasons, with the arrival of coach Robert Saleh, he has been evolving outside of a pattern alternating fairly between 4-3-4 and 3-3-5.

Carl Lawson didn’t miss much in 2022, just half a second almost every time: 24 QB Hits (8th NFL in his position) but only 7 sacks! In terms of pressure, his results are those of an average starter with a pressure rate by 11.3%, ranking him only 41st in his NFL position.

For his rookie season, Jermaine Johnson was used sparingly: 14 games but only 27% of possible games. His contribution to countering the opposing ground game was spectacular and already makes him a player deserving more playing time. But when a franchise chooses a player from this position in the 1st round (choice 26 in 2022), it must also (and above all) provide pass rush : on this side, only 14 pressures, 5 QB Hits and 2.5 bags! The next two players are just experts at putting pressure on.

Will McDonald is a hyper-athletic player to get around offensive tackles. Endowed with an effective arm game and a liveliness allowing him to change direction quickly, he also knows how to fake his opponent and attack him inside. Pass rush specialist, he will fight for his playing time with Bryce Huff. Mainly used on the 3rd attempt, his playing time was limited in 2022 (17%) but his efficiency was impressive: 31 pressures and 18 QB Hits!

Michael Clemons is the strong type: 1m96 for 122 kilos. He knows how to use his power and size to defend the race. Alongside Quinnen Williams inside, Michael Clemson could be refocused in 2023 and battle Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas for his playing time.

According to the qualities shown by the two youngest (Johnson and McDonald), it would not be surprising to see the Jets trade Carl Lawson, if an acceptable offer reached them.

Prognosis: John Franklin-Myers and Carl Lawson to start the season. Carl Lawson traded during the season.

Also: offensive tackles, runners, linebackers, receivers

Miami Dolphins: No. 3 receiver

On the starting line: Cedrick Wilson, Chosen Anderson, Braxton Berrios, River Cracraft, Erik Ezukanma

The Miami coach likes the so-called 11 Personnel system because it allows him to field three receivers at the same time. Tua Tagovailoa will rely on the defense blasters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but who will accompany them? Especially since the Tight-End Mike Gesicki, often lined up as a receiver, and Trent Sherfield (WR3 in 2022) are gone.

Signed after a season at 600 yards and 6 touchdowns with Dallas, Cedrick Wilson did not justify his contract in 2022: 12 receptions for 136 yards, 15 games played but only 22% of offensive games! From a financial point of view, a contract cut would do nothing for the Dolphins so he will be there. But his playing time is disputed.

Robbie Anderson, aka Chosen, looks like a receiver for those Dolphins of the 2020s: his burst of speed rivals that of Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller of those years under Mike McDaniel. But after 7 seasons in the NFL, he still hasn’t proven to be a major player in three other franchises. Signed for almost nothing, by NFL standards, he will play a decisive season for his future in the league.

Braxton Berrios arrives from rivals New York (Jets). Small but very lively, the Dolphins recruited him because he is a specialist in returning kicks in the special team, and thus give good starting positions to Tua Tagovailoa. He also knows how to provide a solution in attack inside the field, gaining yards after a small reception.

With a hero’s name in a Hollywood movie, River Cracraft is fighting to stay in the NFL and since 2018, he’s been doing it. First with Denver, then with San Francisco where the coach appreciated him and therefore took him with him to Miami in 2022. Extended for one season, his contract can be interrupted at any time: 1.08 million dollars but no guaranteed! Erik Ezukanma was drafted in the 4th round in 2022 but injury concerns, as well as a lack of confidence from the staff, allowed him only one reception for three yards in 2022! He, River Cracraft as well as Freddie Swain and Braylon Sanders, will fight to be the 6th receiver of the final 53.

Prediction: Chosen Anderson

Also: right tackle, left guard, linebackers

New England Patriots: Linebacker number 3

On the starting line: Jahlani Tavai, Josh Uche, Marte Mapu, Anfernee Jennings, Mack Wilson

The Patriots defense is moving from a 3-3-5 base. Of the three back-curtain positions, two players will have maximum playing time: Matt Judon on the outside and Ja’Whaun Bentley on the inside. The 3rd position will be subject to a competition during the camp.

Arrived from Detroit, Jahlani Tavai mainly played in the special team in 2021. A big hitter, he was able to win his place in defense in 2022 (51% of snaps): 69 tackles. He starts as the favorite on the first two attempts. On the 3rd attempt, the specialist in pass rush Josh Uche is often favored. Little used in the first part of the season, he signed 11.5 sacks in the last 9 games of 2022! These two players could share this role of LB3, unless a rookie beats them to the post.

Marte Mapu comes from the second level university, yet Bill Belichick chose him in the 3rd round (choice 76). Tall and athletic, he played a position with both linebacker assignments (off-ball) and safety. In the NFL, he could follow in the footsteps of another player between two positions and also coming from a lower level: Jeremy Chinn (Panthers).

“He reminds me of Jamie Collins or Dont’a Hightower: those players who are quick as backs and strong enough to play in the box. Matt Judon on Marte Mapu, masslive.com

The Patriots have already had success signing players from a lower tier, like Kyle Dugger and Cole Strange, so Marte Mapu could become a versatile piece on the BB master board. The two alumni of the University of Alabama, Mack Wilson and Anfernee Jennings, complete the squad but struggle to get consistent playing time.

Prediction: Marte Mapu

Also: right tackle, receivers, SDE (Strong Defensive End)

Buffalo Bills: Guards

On the starting line: Ryan Bates, Connor McGovern, O’Cyrus Torrence, David Edwards, Nick Broeker, Ike Boettger, David Quessenberry, Kevin Jarvis

Roger Saffold having ended his career (13 NFL seasons), the manager gave 22 million dollars (11M guaranteed) to Connor McGovern to replace him.

Anecdote: this player has the distinction of having a perfect namesake in the NFL, Connor McGovern, offensive lineman too, at the New York Jets!

The one arriving from Dallas is an effective guard for the run and even more in protecting the quarterback. Trained at Penn State, he played with the one who is again his teammate in Buffalo: Ryan Bates.

If he also played center by replacing Mitch Morse (in 3 games), Ryan Bates mainly played right guard with Buffalo in 2022. Solid player (3 penalties and 3 sacks in 15 games), his position is however threatened by a rookie . O’Cyrus Torrence is powerful for this ground game that the Bills want to develop more. It seems smart to leave the beginner on the side where he evolved in university. If he wins on the right then Ryan Bates could compete with Mitch Morse in the center.

Trained in a university specializing in the offensive line, David Edwards knew how to evolve his body to be drafted. Three correct years with the Rams then a fourth thwarted by an injury, this is the season where ever for him: winning to obtain a new contract in 2024 or saying goodbye to the NFL.

After Torrence in the 2nd round, the Bills also drafted Nick Broeker in the 7th round. Three seasons as a left tackle with Ole Miss then a 2022 season refocused as a left guard. This two-position experience is bound to be interesting when a player is fighting to be in the rotation. Same situation and same versatility for Kevin Jarvis: signed by Detroit after the 2022 draft but not retained in the final 53. Ike Boettger has been with the team for 5 years, although his 2022 season was almost white with an injury. Widely used in 2020 and 2021, it had proven to be solid in protection.

David Quessenberry is above all a tackle and if Dion Dawkins and Spencer Brown will be the holders, he will fight with Brandon Shell and Tommy Doyle to be the swing tackle (3rd OT on certain games and 1st substitute if injured). He also has the ability to troubleshoot inside if necessary.

Prediction: Connor McGovern (left) and O’Cyrus Torrence (right)

Also: receiver (slot), defensive ends

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