Although it’s almost time for teams to lock in their rotations, some are still unsure of what to do. Whether a major player left a team, injury riddled the roster, or an unexpected player arose in training camp, teams have tough decisions to make before the season. In the AFC, these are some of the most important position battles in each division.
AFC East: New England Patriots, wide receiver
Julian Edelman will be the No. 1 receiver for the Patriots. First-rounder N’Keal Harry will likely get the next spot. After that, however, coach Bill Belichick has some decisions to make. Phillip Dorsett will likely get a lot of looks, but at what capacity? Other players like Maurice Harris and Braxton Berrios are also fighting for big roles. Dontrelle Inman and Demaryius Thomas are far from guaranteed, but they could get the look, too.
A sleeper option could be Josh Gordon. Cleared to return from suspension, Gordon switched back and forth between the wide receiver and running back positions during his time with the Patriots. Although he may be better suited at running back with this roster, he may get some burn at wide receiver. After all, it’s where he played with Cleveland.
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers, right tackle
After a tumultuous 2018 campaign, the Steelers want to exit the drama surrounding both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell — without wasting any time during the latter part of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. With their quarterback getting older, the Steelers may need to depend on defense to ease the burden off Roethlisberger’s shoulders.
Because of this, we suggest paying attention to the right tackle battle. Matt Feiler was their full-time starter last year, but at 22 years old, Chukwuma Okorafor could get the call if the Steelers want to establish the right tackle of the future.
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts, cornerback
Hoping to build off the return to form from Andrew Luck, the Colts will look to the other side of the field to support the star quarterback. Despite this, Indianapolis doesn’t seem to know what to do about some positions, specifically cornerback.
Pierre Desir has a position on lock. But who will join him at cornerback is still anybody’s guess. Kenny Moore’s salary may make him a no-brainer, but the team also has Rock Ya-Sin, a rookie who could be NFL-ready right away. He’ll likely battle Quincy Wilson and could beat him if he ends the preseason well.
AFC West: Denver Broncos, wide receiver
The Broncos have an utter logjam at wide receiver. On paper, the presumed starters, Emmanuel Sanders, DaeSean Hamilton, and Courtland Sutton, should fill the slot. But their opening at backup is anybody’s guess. After tearing his Achilles last year, Sanders isn’t guaranteed for an entire season. It will be vital to have someone ready to go.
River Cracraft, Trinity Benson, Tim Patrick, Kelvin McKnight, and rookie Juwann Winfree are all in the running for the next slot. Furthermore, Nick Williams was a late addition to the team. If he can show his worth, he’ll be right in the mix. Whether these players end up on the practice squad or in the game, the Broncos’ situation at wide receiver may be one of the most compelling in the NFL.