National Football League
Bryce Young among 5 players who must shine at OTAs, minicamps
National Football League

Bryce Young among 5 players who must shine at OTAs, minicamps

Updated May. 23, 2024 6:13 p.m. ET

The offseason program is all about learning and development for most players, but there are a handful of players who need strong performances at OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamps to solidify prominent roles on their respective teams. While it is hard to fully evaluate a player's progress in workouts conducted in jerseys and shorts, coaches can certainly spot a player on the rise after watching him work in Phase Three of the offseason program. With a few players entering "make-or-break" seasons in 2024, here are five who need to crush OTAs over the next few weeks: 

Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers

The former No. 1 overall pick slogged through a disappointing rookie campaign due to inexperience, coaching ineptitude, and a lack of support on the perimeter. Things should change in 2024 with new head coach Dave Canales installing a quarterback-friendly scheme that helped Baker Mayfield revive his career in Tampa. The easily digestible Xs and Os should help the young quarterback play faster with an upgraded cast of playmakers (Diontae Johnson, Xavier Leggette and Ja'Tavion Sanders) around him to spark an aerial attack that was essentially a one-man show with Adam Thielen leading the way. With an improved offensive line in front of him, Young needs a strong offseason showing to set the table for a significant jump in Year 2 as the Panthers' franchise quarterback. 

Khalil Shakir, WR, Buffalo Bills 


The loss of Gabe Davis and the departure of Stefon Diggs via trade leaves the Bills without a true No. 1 receiver in the lineup. While Keon Coleman could eventually fill the void as a hot-shot rookie with superstar potential, Shakir could temporarily handle the duties as the WR1 if he continues to progress as a playmaker. The third-year pro is coming off a solid sophomore season (39 catches, 611 receiving yards, and a pair of scores) that showcased his potential as a big-play specialist. As Josh Allen looks for a dependable option as a downfield threat, Shakir's explosiveness could make him the Bills' top choice when looking for explosive plays in the passing game. Considering how trust is gained through extensive repetitions on the practice field, the former fifth-round pick could secure his spot in the pecking order with a strong showing at camp. 

Zamir White, RB, Las Vegas Raiders 

After filling in admirably for Josh Jacobs in 2023, the third-year pro can wrestle the No. 1 job away from Alexander Mattison and others during training camp. As a rugged downhill runner with an excellent combination of balance, body control, vision, and burst, White is built to handle the rigors of being the No.1 option on the ground. He displays the grit and toughness to handle the grind while flashing enough juice to get to the second level when he spots a crease at the line of scrimmage. Though the Raiders have plans to utilize a committee approach in the backfield, White's performance throughout camp could alter the team's thinking heading into the fall. 

Drake Jackson, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers 

The mass exodus of blue-chip defensive linemen leaves a vacancy for Jackson as a key rotational player on the edges. The third-year pro has dazzled in limited action (six sacks in 23 games) as a situational pass-rushing specialist for a team that loves to attack opposing quarterbacks with waves of defenders. Although Leonard Floyd will get the first bite of the apple as the "DPR" (designated pass rusher) opposite Nick Bosa, the former second-round pick should carve out a prominent role as a potential every-down defender with diverse pass-rushing background. 

Cam Jurgens, C, Philadelphia Eagles

It is hard replacing a legendary pivot with unique skills for the position, but Jurgens has to do it while acclimating to a new position after spending two years at offensive guard. Although the scrappy interior blocker has shown promise as a mauler/brawler at the point of attack, the former second-rounder is an experienced pivot (three-year starter at Nebraska) with a game that perfectly suits the Eagles' scheme and expectations for the position. As he gets reacquainted with the position during off-season workouts and mini-camps, Jurgens needs to earn the trust of his coaches and QB1 (Jalen Hurts) to help the offense find its rhythm heading into training camp. 

Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He also breaks down the game for NFL Network and as a cohost of the "Moving the Sticks" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.



Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more