Off-season practices are not where offensive linemen establish themselves. OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamps are made to order for "skill-position" players that can stand out running around in shorts.
That is evident in this look at early surprises in a full week of OTAs for AFC teams heading toward this week's OTAs, although Buffalo and the L.A. Chargers won't be on the field.
Asked to identify surprises of the week, our writers on the scene named four wide receivers, three each of tight ends and cornerbacks and one quarterback that caught the eye of the coaches. But, yes, there was one tackle and one center.
There were also five rookies among the 16 AFC surprises.
WR Breshad Perriman: The third-year player is fully aware of the lofty expectations that come with being a first-round pick. With one full season under his belt, Perriman is ready to become the impact player the Ravens envisioned. Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury, but he showed promise last year with 33 receptions for 499 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Dennis Pitta said no one made more plays in the recent OTA than Perriman, who flashed his blazing speed and ability to catch balls downfield. The Ravens did not take a receiver in the April's draft so they will be relying heavily on Perriman to be a key playmaker. So far, he has embraced that role.
OL Dion Dawkins: The Bills traded up into the second round to select the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder out of Temple because they liked his versatility, being a player who has lined up at guard and tackle. However, they need to get better at right tackle, and in a perfect world, they hope Dawkins can supplant Jordan Mills, who has started the last two years and underperformed. No matter who wins the job, the Bills were confident enough that the odd man out could serve as the swing tackle that they cut former second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio.
WR A.J. Green: Hamstring injuries can linger. They are uncertain and unpredictable. But, if the diving catch Green made of quarterback Andy Dalton's pass on an out-route Tuesday, the first day of OTAs is any indication, the five-time Pro Bowler is back at full speed sooner than expected. Green missed the final five games last season after injuring his hamstring early in a game against the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 20. The injury left him 36 receiving yards short of 1,000, missing that milestone for the first time in his career. Barring any setbacks, Green would appear poised for a big year with plenty of support from veteran Brandon LaFell and a talented corps of young receivers.
TE Taylor McNamara: McNamara was primarily a blocker during his time at USC, but he made the catch of the day in OTAs on Wednesday when he reached up with his right hand to make a one-handed grab of a pass from Kevin Hogan. Browns second-year quarterback Cody Kessler played with McNamara for one year at USC. McNamara might shine most when the pads go on in training camp and he can show his skills as a blocker, but he is already proving he can catch the ball.
OL Connor McGovern: With Matt Paradis out until training camp following two hip surgeries, McGovern finds himself working as the first-team center after spending his entire rookie season on the game-day inactive list. McGovern has the versatility to play any position on the offensive line, and if he can establish himself as a viable relief option at center, he should get a jersey and might end up being the first offensive lineman off the bench when injuries strike.
CB Robert Nelson: A reserve defensive back who had one interception last season, Nelson was disruptive during an organized team activity. He batted down several throws while working with the first-team defense. Nelson is competing for an increased role now that A.J. Bouye is with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
DT Grover Stewart: The rookie is getting a lot of attention from the Indianapolis coaching staff. Stewart was a fourth-round draft pick by the Colts who played collegiately at Division II Albany State. The 6-foot-4, 347-pound defensive lineman appears to be versatile enough to play both as a tackle and at nose tackle. Stewart is a pretty good athlete and moves well. He's still getting his feet wet as he learns the intricacies of NFL defensive line play.
CB Doran Grant: He's one of 11 cornerbacks on the team who returns to the Jaguars after he was signed to the team's practice squad last October. The competition to make the Jaguars' 53-man roster will be difficult for Grant, especially after the team signed two NFL journeyman corners in Brian Dixon and Tyler Patmon earlier this week. But Grant has gained some attention with his hard play and has especially caught the eye of head coach Doug Marrone.
"(Doran) had an unbelievable bounce back today. From yesterday to today, I mean he had about three or four pass breakups today and I told him to break down the team," Marrone said after the Jaguars' workout on Friday. "I mean he was on fire today. I was happy to see that. I think I always try to reward people who are able to have a good practice or come back and do a good thing. He's a guy that's been up and down, kind of buried, no one knows about him and then all of a sudden today everyone was like 'who is that?'"
WR Demarcus Robinson: A fourth-round selection in the 2016 draft by the Chiefs, Robinson played in 16 games as a rookie, with all but a small handful of snaps coming on special teams. The 6-foot-1, 203-pound product out of the University of Florida did not touch the ball in the Kansas City offense. But in the first week of OTA practices, Robinson has been a visible contributor in the Chiefs' passing game, displaying his speed, quickness and improved hands from last year. One of six veteran receivers on the roster, Robinson will need to make a bigger contribution to keep his spot on the 53-man roster.
WR Jamaal Jones: He caught head coach Anthony Lynn's eye in the rookie minicamp and Lynn was anxious to see him compete against the veterans. Lynn is still encouraged and he mentioned Jones' play after practice. Jones, a rookie from Montana, is taking advantage of Mike Williams and Dontrelle Inman being out with injuries.
QB Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill, whose season ended three games early due to two sprained ligaments in his left knee, is on the field, wearing a brace, during OTAs. Running back Jay Ajayi said Tannehill "looked great" adding, "He's got his brace on and everything, but there's no difference for me. I haven't seen any difference." Tannehill had 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a career-best 93.5 passer rating last season.
CB Jonathan Jones: A year ago, the undrafted rookie was a surprise winner of a roster spot, seemingly primarily for special teams action. He played in 16 games in 2016 with one start. But early in OTA action this spring, Jones has gotten reps working in the slot with New England's Pro-Bowl cornerback duo of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore. It's rather early, but at this point the speedy youngster is ahead of 2016 second-round pick Cyrus Jones as well as veteran Justin Coleman in regards to a potential role in the slot.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: This is probably the last NFL chance for Jenkins, who has all the measurables (6-foot-5, 252 pounds) and draft stock (a 2014 second-round pick) of an elite tight end but has failed to put it together due to injuries and off-field issues. Jenkins will be suspended the first two games of the season due to last September's DUI arrest, but he likely got an early leg up on rookie Jordan Leggett by making a handful of impressive catches in Tuesday's first OTA practice. The Jets can't help but utilize their tight ends more this season than in the previous two years (when tight ends had just 26 catches under former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey), so Jenkins has an opportunity here to stake a claim to a job once he returns in week three.
LB Cory James: A smallish inside linebacker who got some time last season as a rookie, James was working with the first team and will compete for a spot as a starter in the middle with fifth-round draft pick Marquel Lee. Lee shows good speed and instincts, although his lack of bulk could be an issue once the pads go on.
OLB T.J Watt: Building off his impressive showing at rookie minicamp, Watt worked with the first-team defense when the Steelers had their first practice. Veteran James Harrison will be the starter, but he watched the first OTA from the sidelines. Harrison has his own way of getting ready for the season and the Steelers allow him to follow his routine. That's great news for Watt. The experience of playing with the first-team defense this spring will help him learn the defense and get some much-needed reps with his new teammates.
TE Jace Amaro: In a fight to hold onto his roster spot after the drafting of Jonnu Smith, Amaro's challenge is to improve his blocking stills to the point where he is not a liability there. Pass-catching has never been the issue for the former Jets second-round pick. In Tuesday's work, Amaro had one nice block on the edge to spring the runner for a nice gain in team drills. Perhaps the message is getting through.