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Which NFL players are ones to watch at offseason workouts? One pick for all 32 teams

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NFL rookie camps are over, and the next phase of offseason workouts begins this week with organized team activities. Mandatory minicamps follow during the first two weeks of June.

These controlled practices largely are designed to help players work their way into football shape and to learn or re-familiarize themselves with the systems they will run in training camp later this summer.

But these practices also provide valuable opportunities for players to make important statements while under the watchful eyes of their coaches and front office staff.

Here’s one player from each team with something to prove this offseason. We’ve only included players with at least one year of NFL experience, since the rookies all have something to prove.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray

Kliff Kingsbury is gone. Now Murray must show that he is indeed the transcendent player worthy of that first overall pick in 2019 and the five-year, $230 million contract extension he received in 2022 despite having led his team to only one winning season. He’ll be starting over with a first-year head coach (Jonathan Gannon) and offensive coordinator (Drew Petzing).

Los Angeles Rams: LB Ernest Jones

Bobby Wagner left L.A. and rejoined the Seahawks in free agency, so Jones finds himself in position to take over a crucial leadership position in his third season. Yes, Aaron Donald still commands all of the attention, but Jones, a 2021 third-rounder, is primed to serve as the signal-caller of the defense while also taking over as its leading tackler.

San Francisco 49ers: QB Trey Lance

The 49ers brass would have no problem rolling with Brock Purdy. But it’s unclear when the 2022 Mr. Irrelevant, who led his team to eight straight wins before losing in the NFC Championship Game, will return from elbow surgery. That means this summer is a prime opportunity for Lance, the 49ers’ once-prized 2021 draft pick, to prove it’s unwise to move on from him. Early struggles and a season-ending injury after just two starts last fall cast doubts on Lance’s future with the team. So, too, does the addition this offseason of Sam Darnold  — another first-round quarterback trying to salvage his career.

Seattle Seahawks: WR Dee Eskridge

Eskridge, a 2021 second-round pick, was supposed to team with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf to give the Seahawks a strong trio of pass catchers. But in two seasons, Eskridge has only 17 catches for 122 yards and one touchdown. He needs a strong offseason showing, or the Seahawks could be ready to move on after drafting Ohio State wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20 in April.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: QB Justin Fields

The Bears are counting on significant growth from their third-year quarterback. Last season, Fields showed how dangerous he is as a runner. Now he must work to develop a connection with newly acquired wide receiver DJ Moore and holdover Chase Claypool while making strides as a passer.

Detroit Lions: CB Cameron Sutton

In need of an impact cornerback, the Lions signed the former Steeler to a three-year, $33 million deal. Sutton’s goal this offseason is to learn a new system and show he can be a big part of the answer for Aaron Glenn’s defense.

Green Bay Packers: QB Jordan Love

As he tries to continue the tradition of legendary quarterback play for Green Bay, Love has plenty to prove, but he also will receive every opportunity to do so. Having signed an extension that will keep him in Green Bay through 2024, Love must show that he’s ready for prime time. He can’t afford to display growing pains that could set the franchise back.

Minnesota Vikings: WR Jalen Reagor

The Vikings hoped Reagor could complement Justin Jefferson, but the former Eagles receiver managed only eight catches for 104 yards and one touchdown in 17 games last season. Reagor’s days could be numbered, especially after Minnesota drafted USC wide receiver Jordan Addison 23rd overall this spring.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: QB Dak Prescott

Coach Mike McCarthy tried to blame Kellen Moore for the inconsistencies of Dallas’ offense. Now Moore is gone, and the Cowboys have added the well-traveled but talented Brandin Cooks in hopes of upgrading Prescott’s supporting cast. It’s all on Prescott to show he can finally, fully live up to expectations in what could be a make-or-break year (the Cowboys can get out of his contract after this season).

New York Giants: OT Evan Neal

The seventh pick of the 2022 draft had more struggles than bright moments while lining up at right tackle for the Giants. Now he hopes that a season under his belt helps him develop into a reliable bookend opposite Andrew Thomas.

Philadelphia Eagles: CB Greedy Williams

The cornerback was supposed to team with Denzel Ward to give the Browns a suffocating tandem, but Williams never fulfilled the potential Cleveland saw when taking him in the 2019 second round. The Eagles lost valuable pieces in their secondary this past offseason, and they’re giving Williams a chance to prove that a change of scenery can launch him toward success.

Washington Commanders: QB Sam Howell

Ron Rivera believes the 2022 fifth-round pick can be the guy despite having just one game of NFL playing experience. Howell must validate those beliefs while also learning a new offense designed by Eric Bieniemy. Offseason addition Jacoby Brissett is waiting should Howell falter.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: TE Kyle Pitts

It’s still too early to know whether 2022 third-rounder Desmond Ridder is a capable NFL passer, but the Falcons are giving him the first crack at the job. Meanwhile, they desperately need Pitts, the No. 4 pick in 2021, to step up after a season of regression (28 catches for 356 yards in 10 appearances) followed a 1,000-yard rookie campaign.

Carolina Panthers: WR Terrace Marshall Jr.

The Panthers traded away DJ Moore, and they’re hoping Marshall (their second-round pick in 2021) can emerge as their top threat. He has plenty of questions to answer and could wind up getting overtaken by DJ Chark and Adam Thielen.

New Orleans Saints: WR Michael Thomas

Despite talk that Thomas could be dealt, the Saints have held onto their injury-riddled receiver, hoping he can get healthy and team with Derek Carr to form a dynamic duo they desperately need. But the timeline for Thomas’ return remains a bit of a mystery.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Baker Mayfield

Mayfield, the 2018 No. 1 pick by Cleveland, is trying to prove he’s not a bust while playing with his fourth NFL team and third in the last two seasons. But he’s also trying to replace Tom Brady and keep the Bucs relevant. Talk about a tall task.

AFC West

Denver Broncos: QB Russell Wilson

The Nathaniel Hackett experiment was disastrous, and the Broncos hope the trade for Wilson won’t prove to be as well. Wilson last year looked like a player who had greatly declined, but this offseason is all about getting on the same page with his new head coach, Sean Payton, and recapturing the magic that once caused people to regard him as a future Hall of Famer.

Kansas City Chiefs: OT Jawaan Taylor

As Kansas City comes off of another Super Bowl victory, protecting Patrick Mahomes remains chief priority. That led to the signing of Taylor in free agency. Will he play right tackle, where he has spent much of his career, or left tackle to replace the departed Orlando Brown Jr.? Taylor, who played four seasons for the Jaguars, aims to answer that question this offseason.

Las Vegas Raiders: S Tre’von Moehrig

The 2021 second-round pick is a holdover from the Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock regime who has yet to live up to expectations. After managing just one interception, 11 pass deflections and 110 combined tackles in two seasons, Moehrig very well could need a highly productive offseason to remain employed.

Los Angeles Chargers: CB J.C. Jackson

The former Patriots cornerback looked like a bust free agency signing for the Chargers last season, but he was transitioning to a new and very different system. Jackson and the Chargers hope familiarity helps him regain the form that led to 17 interceptions from 2020 to 2021. He played in just five games and had zero picks in 2022.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

After spending last season recovering from a torn ACL, OBJ is back in the NFL on a one-year, $15.75 million contract. He’ll spend the offseason knocking off the rust and trying to prove to the Ravens that he is still a game-changing talent, despite questions around the league about a loss of explosiveness.

Cincinnati Bengals: S Daxton Hill

After losing veterans Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell to free agency, the Bengals need Hill (a 2022 first-round pick) to prove he’s capable of taking on a lead role after recording just 16 tackles in 15 appearances (two starts) last season.

Cleveland Browns: QB Deshaun Watson

The quarterback certainly didn’t look like a $230 million man during his six-game showcase to conclude the 2022 season, but he had a lot of rust to work off. That’s why this offseason will be so important for Watson, whom the Texans declined to play in 2021 following 24 civil suits alleging sexual misconduct by the quarterback, all since settled. The Browns desperately need him to show he still possesses MVP-caliber magic.

Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Kenny Pickett

The second-year quarterback proved serviceable last season, going 7-5 while completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,404 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. But anyone who knows anything about the quarterback position will tell you the second offseason is a crucial window for growth for a young passer.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: S Damar Hamlin

Doctors have fully cleared the young defensive back to resume football activities four months after he suffered cardiac arrest during a game. Hamlin, who as a second-year pro recorded 91 tackles, two pass deflections, 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble, now aims to resume a promising career.

Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa

The Dolphins quarterback had a promising season derailed by multiple concussions. Miami’s brass has stood by him rather than replacing the 2020 No. 5 pick. Now Tagovailoa has to prove he can take another step forward in his development.

New England Patriots: QB Mac Jones

Bill Belichick had hoped Jones would strengthen his grip on the quarterback position last season, but inconsistencies, two promising performances by Bailey Zappe and tepid responses from the NFL’s most decorated coach have cast doubt on Jones’ job security.

New York Jets: OT Mekhi Becton

Aaron Rodgers has plenty of expectations to meet, but he’s not fighting for his job like Becton is. The talented, yet oft-injured Becton took offense to talk of playing right tackle rather than left tackle. Coach Robert Saleh issued a simple and blunt challenge: “Go earn left tackle.”

AFC South

Houston Texans: TE Dalton Schultz

The tight end bet on himself, taking a one-year deal with Houston, believing he can be a top-flight tight end and should be compensated accordingly. It’s important for him to quickly develop a connection with C.J. Stroud in the Texans’ new tight end-friendly offense.

Indianapolis Colts: WR Isaiah McKenzie

The Colts signed McKenzie after losing Parris Campbell in free agency. But they then drafted Josh Downs out of North Carolina, and he along with Michael Pittman Jr. could wind up making it hard for the streaky former Bills slot receiver to carve out a steady role.

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Calvin Ridley

Making his return from a season-long suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policy, the 2018 first-round pick aims to show he still has it as an impact wide receiver, and that he is in a healthier place both physically and mentally. If he can recapture the form that helped him record 248 catches, 3,342 yards and 28 touchdowns in 49 games from 2018 to 2021, Ridley will become a valuable weapon for Trevor Lawrence.

Tennessee Titans: QB Malik Willis

Ryan Tannehill’s days with Tennessee are numbered, and the Titans spent a second-round pick on Will Levis. But coach Mike Vrabel says Levis is third on the depth chart. That means Willis, whom the Titans selected in the third round in 2022 with hopes that he could develop into their franchise quarterback, will get another shot (at least for the offseason) to show he can make significant strides despite abundant struggles as a rookie.

“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

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