NFL position battles to keep an eye on over the summer

7/9/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Chiefs Tight End: Anthony Fasano vs. Travis Kelce vs. Tony Moeaki: The Chiefs just signed Fasano to a four-year deal, but he has mostly been a blocker to this point in his career, and is a low-upside signing. He set a career-high in receptions last season with 41, but was only able to pile up 332 yards (8.1 yard average).

Kelce was the most complete tight end in the 2013 draft. He is a great asset in the passing game as a receiver, and also excels as a blocker. Character concerns are part of what dropped him down to the third round. However, if he can keep his head on straight while adjusting to an NFL offense and NFL competition, I think he'll lead the Chiefs' tight ends in receiving this season.

Moeaki looked like a promising young player when he caught 47 passes for 556 yards as a rookie in 2010, but knee issues have since plagued him. He now looks to be the odd man out in the tight end rotation.

Bears Middle Linebacker: Jon Bostic vs. D.J. Williams: It looked like Williams would be the man to succeed the legendary Brian Urlacher when he was signed as a free agent, but then the Bears went and spent a second-round pick on Bostic, who was a standout during the pre-draft process. Bostic looks to have the inside track on the starting middle linebacker job for a few reasons - Williams was suspended on two separate occasions last season, and he also has experience at all three linebacker positions. The Bears could roll with Bostic in the middle, while they use Williams as an upgrade over James Anderson on the strong side.
Blog Photo - NFL position battles to keep an eye on over the summer
Steelers Outside Linebacker: Jarvis Jones vs. Jason Worilds: Who will replace legendary Steelers pass rusher James Harrison? With LaMarr Woodley having one OLB spot locked down, the Steelers can't start both Jones and Worilds.

Worilds is an explosive 25-year-old entering a contract year, and he played very well in limited action last season, racking up 5.0 sacks.

Jones, a rookie, was the most productive defensive player in April's draft. He doesn't have the measurables of many first-round talents, but is more of an in-game performer than a practice standout. It currently looks like he has the slight edge over Worilds to start opposite Woodley, which would make him the Steelers' first rookie starter on defense since 2001. Whoever loses this position battle will still get regular playing time.

Buccaneers No. 2 Cornerback: Johnthan Banks vs. Eric Wright: The Bucs brought back Wright on a one-year deal in April, but went on to draft Banks with the 43rd pick later in the month. Banks was long considered a first-round talent, but his stock dropped after a poor combine showing.

The Bucs' No. 2 cornerback job will be crucial to the defense, as one side of the field will be constantly ignored by opposing quarterbacks thanks to the addition of Darrelle Revis. As of now, it looks like the Bucs will ease Banks into the NFL game, which means Wright is the favorite to get picked on opposite of Revis.

Banks will likely end up as the team's No. 3 cornerback, coming in for nickel packages. In a pass-happy NFC South, the nickel back will still get plenty of playing time.

Redskins Free Safety: Reed Doughty vs. Phillip Thomas vs. Bacarri Rambo: A big part of the reason that the Redskins' defense finished 30th against the pass last season was because of subpar safety play. As a result, the team went out and grabbed two talented youngsters (Thomas and Rambo) in the draft to compete for the position. Doughty is likely to be replaced, as defending the pass is not his strength.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said he expects either Thomas or Rambo to start at free safety. Though Thomas was drafted two rounds earlier, Rambo appears to be the favorite to land the job.

Thomas has been playing strong safety during camp, and could push Brandon Meriweather - who tore his ACL during Week 11 last season - for the starting job there. The Redskins could potentially start an all-rookie safety tandem if Meriweather doesn't look good off of knee surgery, but as of now, it looks like Rambo and Meriweather will man the back end of the Redskins' defense.
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