CLEVELAND — With organized team activities(OTA’s) well underway, there are many interesting position battles at both running back and quarterback to keep an eye on. Here are the top five that should keep fans intrigued well throughout training camp.
Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel : In what is most likely the most ballyhooed and over-hyped quarterback competition in NFL history, in one corner, you have the local born and bred Brian Hoyer, who prepped at national powerhouse, Cleveland St. Ignatius and stared at Big 10 power, Michigan State.
A former understudy of this generation’s greatest quarterback, Tom Brady, Hoyer has a quick release, commands respect and has all the intangibles of being a good field general. At 28, Hoyer is coming from a ACL injury and is on his fourth NFL team, so many are wondering if Hoyer is “the” guy, or just a bridge of the future?
Which leads to Johnny Football.
In Manziel, you have all the potential of the next Jeff Garcia/Russell Wilson, with a media circus and enviable hype that would make Tim Tebow blush. While he was selected 22nd in the 2014 NFL Draft, based on all the stories and reports on the newly-branded Johnny Cleveland, you’d swear that he was the top overall pick—and first quarterback taken—and not Houston Texans linebacker/defensive end, Jadaveon Clowney or Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Blake Bortles.
Currently number three on the depth chart behind Hoyer and Tyler Thigpen, don’t be surprised if Manziel closes the “significant” gap between him and Hoyer and ends up under center week one in Pittsburgh.
Matt Cassel vs. Teddy Bridgewater: While not as publicized as the aforementioned Hoyer/Manziel competition, thanks to the inept handling of Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel’s serviceable performance in throwing 11 touchdowns and passing for 1,807 yards last season, rookie Teddy Bridgewater has a real chance to start for the Minnesota Vikings.
Quiet, polished and mature, Bridgewater seems to have the makings of a franchise quarterback for the Vikings. If Cassel can find a way to fend off Bridgewater in training camp in pre-season, expect for Cassel to be on a very short leash under rookie head coach Mike Zimmer and veteran play-caller Norv Turner.
Geno Smith vs. Michael Vick: While the New York Jets are trying to downplay the addition of Michael Vick, Geno Smith’s grasp on the Jets starting job is far from firm. the former second-round pick showed flashes of potential in an up-and-down season where threw for 3,046 yards, 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
While far from perfect, Smith clearly doesn’t have the complete confidence of the Jets brass, especially in bringing in a player of Vick’s caliber. While the additions of Erik Decker, Jacoby Ford and Chris Johnson in free agency and Jace Amaro and Jalen Saunders in the draft to help him, Smith will need to step his game up, or else find himself holding a clipboard come Week 1.
Josh McKown vs Mike Glennon: How is it that a 34-year-old journeyman is able to potentially unseat a promising rookie with talent? Only in Tampa Bay of course.
Newly-acquired signal caller, Josh McKown, who filled in admirably for the ever-brittle Jay Cutler, passed for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and a 109.0 QB rating for the Bears.
While it may be questionable that McKown could come south to Tampa and beat out second-year starter in Mike Glennon, who passed for 2,608 yards and 19 touchdowns, remains to be seen. Only new head coach, Lovie Smith knows the answer to that riddle, but do no be surprised if Glennon holds off McKown come Week 1.
Chad Henne vs. Blake Bortles: For those thinking that a quarterback taken third overall and not start Week 1 are fooling themselves. Blake Bortles, the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft—and not Johnny Manziel—could not have landed in a better spot, as his main competition is Chad Henne.
While Henne played well for the Jags in passing for 3,241 yards and 13 touchdowns, Bortles is the quarterback of the future, and Jacksonville wants to see what their future franchise signal-caller can do.
Couple in second-round picks in Marquise Lee, Allen Robinson and No.1 wideout Cecil Shorts gives Bortles a bevy of targets to throw too and the future looks bright for both Bortles and the Jags.
Robert D. Cobb Is the CEO/Founder/Senior Editor-In-Chief of the InscriberMag : Digital Magazine and a member of the PFWA(Pro Football Writers Association), please follow him on Twitter at @RC_TheInscriberMag