With the NFL at the deadest point of its calendar year while the NBA’s crazy, fun-filled offseason is underway, our minds are getting curious.
Inspired by the Los Angeles Lakers giving 21-year-old former second overall pick D’Angelo Russell a chance to start over with the Brooklyn Nets, we take a look at seven young NFL players who have talent but would be better off with a new home.
WR Quincy Enunwa, Jets
Landing with the Jets has been somewhat of a blessing thus far for Enunwa, as he hasn’t needed to pass many receivers on his way up the depth chart. However, now that Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are gone, Enunwa is in for some tough sledding.
The 25-year-old caught 58 passes for 857 yards and four touchdowns last season working with Ryan Fitzpatrick. But with some combination of Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, and/or Bryce Petty throwing to him as the top receiver this season, expectations for Enunwa will go up while the accuracy of his targets will go down. He may be able to leave after the 2016-17 campaign, but if he re-signs with the Jets, he could waste his prime years as the team sputters through another rebuild.
CB Darqueze Dennard, Bengals
The Bengals gave Dennard his fifth-year extension this offseason, though the 2014 first-round cornerback has barely made an impact through his first three seasons, starting just four games combined.
Dennard hasn’t been able to escape the logjam in the Bengals’ secondary, stuck behind Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick, and now battling 2016 first-rounder William Jackson III. He’s yet to start games consecutively, while only seeing heavy action when others are injured. Perhaps Dennard has experienced enough hiccups in practice to rightfully keep him out of the lineup, but a more cornerback-needy team would let the 25-year-old discover if he’s got the chops.
QB Cardale Jones, Bills
Jones was reportedly taking snaps with the fourth-team offense in minicamp this spring, though new Bills head coach Sean McDermott expects to work him in more this summer.
The Ohio State product, 24, clearly has one of the strongest arms in the league, but hasn’t had much chance to learn or develop so far in his NFL career. Instead of working on the sidelines of the Bills’ practice field, Jones would benefit deeply from sitting behind an accomplished veteran quarterback who can confidently teach him how to take advantage of his arm.
RB Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
Rawls, 23, was a rookie miracle in 2015 when injuries temporarily took down Marshawn Lynch, but after an injury-plagued 2016 and with a deepened running back pool in Seattle, he may be the odd man out.
Eddie Lacy is taking over the power-back role and C.J. Prosise has been touted as a top-rung receiving back. Meanwhile, sophomore Alex Collins can be used as a hammer in spot duty, so Rawls’ all-around skill set leave his role up in the air.
LB Stephone Anthony, Saints
After Anthony produced a solid rookie season in 2015 – recording 112 tackles – the Saints struggled to find a use for the linebacker last year, as the former first-rounder notched 96 less.
The recent signings of A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o will make it even tougher for the 24-year-old Anthony to crack the Saints’ starting unit in 2016.
WR Phillip Dorsett, Colts
Colts fans are still scratching their heads over why the team drafted this pure speedster in the 2015 first round with T.Y. Hilton already on the roster – and rightfully so.
While Dorsett’s speed is real, the Colts have not found a way to use him, and quite frankly they don’t need to. With Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Kamar Aiken on the roster, the Colts’ weapons are just fine. Plenty of other teams could use a young deep threat, though.
TE Maxx Williams, Ravens
Williams was considered the top tight end in the 2015 draft class, and gradually worked his way into the lineup as a rookie.
But in 2016, the 23-year-old didn’t catch a pass before going down with a knee injury, as he was buried behind Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Darren Waller, and Ben Watson. The Ravens are arguably the deepest team in the league at tight end, giving the former second-round pick little room to develop.
(Photos Courtesy: Action Images)
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