Veterans with jobs in jeopardy

Rob Housler, Stephen Paea among starters who will be challenged by rookies

Updated: May 15, 2014, 11:11 AM ET
By Nathan Jahnke | Pro Football Focus

Troy NiklasAP Photo/Scott BoehmWith Troy Niklas now in the mix in Arizona, Rob Housler's role could be greatly reduced.

Each year, rookies are drafted who we assume will get handed the starting job. It would be shocking if Buffalo traded so much to acquire WR Sammy Watkins just to put him on the bench. While it will be great for the Bills' fan base to see Watkins in action during training camp, what will be more interesting throughout the league are the position battles that pit veterans against rookies for starting roles.

First-rounders are drafted to start, but each year the draft produces starters who are drafted far lower than that. In Detroit last year, third-round pick Larry Warford won the starting right guard job and didn't miss a snap. And in Tampa Bay,  Akeem Spence was the 100th pick in the draft but ended up starting the whole season. For every rookie who gains a starting job, there is a veteran who loses his.

Here are 10 players who currently hold a starting spot but will face competition as a result of the 2014 rookie class.


Rob Housler, TE, Arizona Cardinals

2013 was supposed to be a breakout year for Housler, but his emergence into stardom never happened. He averaged only 32 receiving yards per game and had one touchdown. In each of his first three games, he played in over 70 percent of Arizona's offensive snaps, which he accomplished only twice the rest of the season as his role decreased.

On one of every three snaps, the Cardinals use two or more tight ends, so Housler might not lose his job completely. However, the Cardinals' selection of   Troy Niklas in the second round is not a good sign for Housler's playing time or his role in the offense.


Stephen Paea, DT, Chicago Bears

Over the past two years, Paea has seen significant playing time in Chicago, partially due to a lack of other healthy options. Partway into the season, the Bears moved Corey Wootton inside to start at one defensive tackle position. Jeremiah "Jay" Ratliff was signed midseason, and it took only one week of action for Ratliff to overtake Paea in the starting lineup.