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Jimmy Graham, Marcus Mariota among the most hyped players at NFL OTAs

There are a lot of players getting a lot of hype in OTAs and minicamps around the NFL. But even among the excessive praise, seven players stood out.

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It's important to take things you hear during organized team activities with a grain of salt. That isn't to say that NFL teams or beat writers are lying to anybody. OTAs are just such a controlled, friendly environment for players, that it's easy for them to look good. Every team in the league is fired up and excited about what they've seen thus far, what they have coming in training camp and all the possibilities for the upcoming season.

That said, the things you hear throughout OTAs are not useless, either. It's important that oft-injured players have stayed healthy throughout practices, or that underutilized players from last year are now working with the first team. Then there's the first glimpses of players who moved from one team to another during the offseason and what their impact may be.

Below, we're going to take a look at some of the most hyped players from OTAs and minicamps around the league. Some of these guys are already big names, and some of them are somewhat unknown. We'll start with one of the former.

Jimmy Graham

The Seattle Seahawks didn't have a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they still arguably won the day because they parlayed that pick and center Max Unger into superstar tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham is expected to give Seattle's passing game the much-needed oomph it has been lacking over the past few years. If his performance at OTAs is anything to go by, he'll certainly make an impact.

Graham has been "unstoppable" at OTAs, according to Rob Rang of That's good to hear, especially considering the caliber of the players he's going up against. Russell Wilson is regarded as one of the league's top quarterbacks, but he rarely racks up touchdowns. Graham can change that, especially with Seattle fielding an actual rushing attack to draw coverage away, unlike New Orleans. Graham is worth every single bit of hype thrown his way.

Marcus Mariota

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone from any team saying something negative about their first-round quarterback, but the positive buzz around Marcus Mariota was intense nonetheless. Mariota was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the Titans passed on multiple big trade offers to take him. He's the future of that franchise, and he turned heads during OTAs.

Mariota was praised for his arm strength, his quick study in a new offense and his leadership. All of those things are absolutely crucial to his success as a rookie. Few actually thought Mariota was a bad pick for the Titans, but it bodes well for the Titans that he has looked really, really good so far.

Brandon Coleman

Without Graham, the Saints have some holes on offense. Brandin Cooks is expected to benefit the most from Graham's departure, but another guy who needs to be mentioned is Brandon Coleman. He's plays like a cross between Graham and departed receiver Kenny Stills, and at 6'6, he can be a matchup nightmare.

Coleman has been getting a lot of work throughout OTAs, and he's improved massively from last offseason, when he struggled with drops. He was, at the time, released and then re-signed to the team's practice squad. But Coleman is on the active roster now, is healthy, and is making the same kinds of catches that Graham was known for. He could be New Orleans' secret weapon.

Amari Cooper

The Oakland Raiders really need good news these days, don't they? Fortunately, the Raiders have strung together a couple of productive offseasons and seem to have nailed the 2015 draft with their first-round pick of receiver Amari Cooper. Reports suggest Cooper looks much more seasoned than the average rookie receiver. More than that, he looks like a true No. 1 and outshines everyone else in practice on a daily basis. He's had no trouble picking up the playbook, he runs NFL routes like a pro and doesn't have a problem with drops. The Raiders desperately need this hype to be real.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Like it or not, the New England Patriots could be without Tom Brady for four games next season. Fortunately for them, there have been positive reports this offseason about quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was developing behind Brady. Garoppolo is now the presumed starter, and while it's suspiciously convenient that he has been getting rave reviews, he has looked on-target more often than not and clearly has a full grasp of New England's offense.

Geno Atkins

It's probably safe to say Geno Atkins hit a low point last season. He dealt with injuries and was called out by his coaches. Somewhere along the way, he turned that into motivation. Atkins showed a brand new attitude on the practice field every day, according to The Bengals say Atkins looks as good as anyone on the team, calling him explosive and strong. Defensive line coach Jay Hayes called him "scary," even. And that's for good reason -- Atkins has all the tools to be an effective, dominant defensive lineman in the NFL. He had a down year in 2014 and still made the Pro Bowl. Imagine what he'll do fully motivated and healthy.

Grady Jarrett

Grady Jarrett doesn't generate the kind of hype that first-round pick Vic Beasley does, but Jarrett might be an even better fit for Dan Quinn's defense, and he's been making plays at OTAs. The Falcons love everything they've seen from the defensive lineman thus far. He's fast, he's aggressive and he's making a case to see the field more and more each time he takes a snap.

Anti-Hype: Buffalo Bills QBs

If there's one way Buffalo Bills fans can positively spin OTAs, it's by saying that the defense played exceptionally well. And that may be true, but the quarterbacks were mostly bad throughout OTAs. It was even worse than usual during a late minicamp practice. Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor all stunk up the place during 11-on-11 drills. According to Matthew Fairburn of, there were just four completions on the day, compared to eight sacks and two penalties on 22 dropbacks during drills. The longest play of the day was a 15-yard pass, and that was by backup Matt Simms. Yeah, Buffalo's offense could be ugly this season.