Written by The Blitz Team
We are just a few weeks away from teams kicking of 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 a 53-man roster. This a process that can be difficult to navigate through and it’s stressful players that are on the roster bubble. Sometimes players find themselves in the right situation where the team lacks depth at a position so it offers them a better chance to make the roster. For this month’s All32, we take a look at players we believe have a chance at making the 53-man roster.
Chicago BearsTaquan Mizzell (RB)
One of the best coaching hires in 2018 was Matt Nagy. Nagy is known for his RPO style of offense, and he utilizes his offensive weapons very well. Last season, he was able to take rookie running back Kareem Hunt and make him a household name in fantasy circles. Not only did he boost Hunt’s value, he also created a playbook in which Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were put in positions to flourish with average quarterback play. I think Nagy will do wonders for the Chicago Bears’ offense this season. One problem that Chicago have had is the fact that their wide receiver play has been well below average for years. Signing Allen Robinson will certainly help out a ton if he is able to successfully come back from his ACL injury. Kevin White has not been healthy since they drafted him. Taylor Gabriel was also a good addition to the group this offseason. Running back Tarik Cohen does a majority of his damage on the outside as well.
One player that I do not think average fans know about is Taquan Mizzell. He was a former standout at Virginia that can do a little bit of everything. While at Virginia, Mizzell only had 1,604 yards on the ground in his final 2 seasons on the campus. The best part about his time at Virginia was the fact that he had 127 receptions and 1,125 yards during that same time period. If you combined those stats, Mizzell had 2,729 yards total in 2015 and 2016 combined. If something were to happen to Tarik Cohen, he could easily step in and fill that need in Nagy’s offense. I think he could even slide outside and help the Bears’ wide receiver problems if need be.
Mizzell played in 3 games during the 2017 season. He did not register a catch or rushing attempt. This is a complete shot in the dark, but I think a creative offensive mind like Matt Nagy could utilize a player like Mizzell either at running back or wide receiver. I could totally see him killing it in the preseason and making the Chicago Bears’ roster out of training camp.
Detroit LionsMile Killebrew (S), Antwaun Davis (CB), Chad Meredith (LB)
Detroit will be the home of many players entrenched in position battles, and that includes names that have become accustomed to joining the final 53-man roster. Miles Killebrew, their versatile safety has yet to find a full time role within Detroit’s system, and with the signings of Tracy Walker and Deshawn Shead, the backend of the defense looks flush with depth. Although he could potentially fill a role at linebacker, he has yet to play that spot at the professional level. With the talent Detroit is boasting in the secondary, a fire is sure to be lit in Killebrew. Matt Patricia now in Detroit, Killebrew’s versatility may become a godsend for their defense.
A player to watch as camp roles around lies in undrafted free agent Antwaun Davis. The Lions already mined gold when they found Qunadre Diggs out of Texas and Davis could be the next. The Longhorns defender came on strong with a solid senior season accounting for 30 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown. The physical corner has the potential to play man-to-man coverage in Matt Patricia’s defense, and with a strong showing at camp, he could wind up with a role on the 53-man roster, come September.
Another name to keep an eye on is linebacker, Chad Meredith. The UDFA out of Southeast Missouri State has a chance to find a role within a weak linebacker corps. Meredith fits Matt Patricia’s scheme as a defensive thumper standing at 6’4” and weighing 250 pounds. The Lions handed him a 25,000-dollar signing bonus (4th most among UDFA’s). He will certainly get opportunities in preseason, and with a strong performance later this month, he could find a role as a reserve player after final cuts roll out.
Green Bay PackersJoe Kerridge (FB) & Aaron Ripkowski (FB)
Every NFL team around the league has roster spot battles across every position to watch and monitor as the summer progresses. The Green Bay Packers are no exception to this inevitability, and have two specific players to keep and eye as camp progresses.
The first player to look at is Joe Kerridge at the fullback position. Kerridge has been signed to the practice squad and 53-man roster three different times over the past two seasons, and has suited up twelve times in that span. He made his mark mostly as a special teamer, having only a single career rush and a single reception on his resume. With Aaron Ripkowski having a down year in 2017 by most fullback standards, Kerridge has an opportunity to steal away the position from the former Sooner. Kerridge has a similar build to Ripkowski, and could claim the spot based solely on his contributions on special teams. Keep an eye out.
Minnesota VikingsHolton Hill (CB)
One of the players to keep an eye on during the Minnesota Vikings training camp is the undrafted rookie corner from Texas, Holton Hill. The reason why Holton Hill went undrafted is not because of his talent but it is because of his many of the field incidents while we was at Texas. Hill was won of the most talented corners in the 2018 NFL Draft. Corners that are 6–3 and runs a sub 4.5 are hard to come by, the Vikings realized that by giving Hill $75,000 in guaranteed money which is one of the biggest guaranteed contracts for undrafted rookies this year.
Hill does have some competition to beat out opposite of All-Pro Corner Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings still have former top ten pick in Trae Waynes and they drafted Mike Hughes from UCF with the 30th pick in this past NFL Draft. If Hill can flourish in the Vikings system they will have no choice but to keep him on the 53-man roster. Hill has the ability to make the roster even though he is undrafted and he has shown striders during minicamp. In just a few months Holton Hill can go from being undrafted to vying for playing time with the Minnesota Vikings.