With report dates for NFL training camps just a few weeks away, ESPN last week conducted a panel in which it asked its beat writers to identify one player from each team who has been “a surprise offseason standout” during the various team camps that are held throughout the offseason.
“All 32 of these players have caught the eyes of our reporters — and their teams — this offseason, showing that they could play a bigger role than expected in 2022,” reads the introduction.
Two players with Utah ties — both rookies — made the list: Former Murray High and SUU offensive lineman Braxton Jones of the Chicago Bears and former Utah State wide receiver Deven Thompkins of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Wrote Courtney Cronin about Jones: “The fifth-round pick quickly emerged with the first-team offensive line at left tackle during spring practices and supplanted Teven Jenkins, who moved to right tackle with the second-team unit.
“Jones admitted he was “a little bit surprised” he was competing with the ones this early but understands the importance of the reps he has gotten, which have helped him create a pre-snap process, learn different cadences and move faster.”
As for Thompkins, Jenna Laine wrote that the small but productive wideout “caught the attention” of Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles during a minicamp.
“At his pro day, he clocked a 4.35 40-yard dash and had the second-most receiving yards in college football with 1,704 yards and 10 touchdowns,” Laine wrote.
“But he faces tall odds to make the Bucs’ 53-man roster at 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds and at a position that already has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage. His ticket would likely come in the form of kick and punt returns, which hasn’t been a strong spot for the Bucs.”