Written by: The Blitz Team
We are just a few weeks away from teams kicking off training camps! Each team will start of with a 90-man roster, and in a little over a month they will work that down to 53 players. This is a process that can be difficult to navigate through and it’s stressful for players that are on the roster bubble. Sometimes players find themselves in the right situation in which a team lacks depth at a position, so it offers them a better chance to make the roster. On the flipside, increased competition may mean unemployment for others. For this month’s All32, we take a look at players we believe have a chance at making the 53-man roster.
Troy Fumagalli (TE)
Troy Fumagalli was selected by the Denver Broncos during the 5th round of this year’s NFL Draft. The Broncos have been searching for an answer at the tight end position since Julius Thomas left in 2015. They selected Jake Butt in the 5th round of last year’s draft, but he hasn’t seen the field due to an injury he suffered in college. The other two tight ends on the roster are unproven at this point. Fumagalli enters a situation where he could win the starting position if he plays well enough throughout the preseason.
Fumagalli was a 4-year starter at Wisconsin, and he finished his college career with 135 catches, 1,627 yards, and 7 touchdowns. He has great pass catching ability despite the fact that he only has 4 fingers on his left hand. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, Fumagalli should be able to fight his way onto the 53-man roster and potentially give the Broncos an answer at the tight end position.
Kansas City Chiefs
Will Redmond (CB)
Redmond comes in at a huge position of need for the Chiefs, and he will make the roster if he can show that he still has the same talent that made him the 68th pick (by the 49ers) in the 2016 NFL Draft despite being in the process of an ACL recovery. If you have been following the draft process the past few years, you may remember the former Mississippi State stud who was known for his man coverage and athleticism (even while recovering from an ACL injury, he ran a 4.45 40). Redmond has had a run of bad luck with health throughout his NFL career, having never really been provided the chance to show his abilities with the 49ers due to setbacks in recovery from his initial ACL injury halfway through his senior season. Redmond was placed on the IR through both the 2016 and 2017 seasons for the 49ers until he was eventually cut by them on November 1st.
Their loss was the Chiefs’ gain, who in turn signed Redmond to their practice squad on November 9th. Redmond comes in at a premium position of need for the Chiefs. If he is capable of tapping into the potential that made him a first round prospect at one point, not only will he make the final 53-man roster, but he may be a capable contributor sooner than later. Currently at the cornerback position, the only “roster locks” that should be considered are Kendall Fuller, Steven Nelson, and David Amerson, and with how deep the CB position is required to be this day and age due to an abundance of spread offenses, it’s safe to say the Chiefs intend to keep at least two more players at this spot. I’ll be rooting for Will this season, because honestly if he doesn’t make it at this point his chances of playing in the NFL are pretty much extinguished.
Los Angeles Chargers
Dylan Cantrell (WR)
Dylan Cantrell was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers during the sixth round in this year’s draft. The receiving corps is full right now so there will be major competition for the last couple spots on the roster. He will have to make himself standout and valuable to their offense. Unfortunately, the Chargers suffered a major setback during the offseason, aa their star tight end, Hunter Henry, suffered a season-ending injury during the OTAs.
The Chargers currently only have Virgil Green and unproven players in their tight end group. Cantrell is a bigger receiver who may not be a tight end but could be used as a receiving tight end in certain situations. The team may also want to open things up in their offense, so they may keep more receivers on their roster. Cantrell must like his chances to make the 53-man roster and the Chargers may find a role for him in their offense.
Marcell Ateman (WR)
The Raiders went all in on upgrading every aspect of the team this offseason. From the coaching staff to the O-line, D-line, secondary, and especially the team’s receiving corps. Oakland got rid of Michael Crabtree and replaced him with Jordy Nelson. They also traded for Martavis Bryant and slot receiver Ryan Switzer. Adding those three players to a roster that already features #1 receiver Amari Cooper creates a dynamic set of weapons for Derek Carr to choose from. With only a few roster spots left for the team’s remaining receivers, it’s going to be a tight race between Seth Roberts, Johnny Holton, Isaac Whitney, and Oklahoma St. rookie Marcell Ateman.
At 6’4” 220 lbs, Ateman is a big bodied, red zone threat whose game relies on overpowering his opponents and high pointing the ball. The Raiders spent a 7th round pick on Marcell, and he’ll need to impress this offseason to make the team. His final two years in college he averaged 18.4 yards per catch, totaling 1922 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns on 104 receptions. It’s indeed anyone’s race for five and six on the depth chart, but Ateman’s physical presence should separate himself from the others. Expect him to have a significant role inside the twenty during the preseason, and banking on touchdown production to make the final roster.