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Collateral Damage: 18 veterans hurt by the NFL Draft

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The NFL draft is the beginning of the journey for hundreds of college prospects. It's a day of unbridled hope for many fans. And it's a huge downer for many veterans out there.

Imagine watching your boss hire your replacement on national television. That's how it probably felt for many of the veterans that suffered collateral damage during draft week. Here are some of the players that will be facing new competition or will be facing a search for a new job:

1. Zach Mettenberger, Titans quarterback: The Titans weren't necessarily bluffing about their appreciation for Mettenberger. Perhaps they agree with my assessment that he looked like a future mid-level starting quarterback, but there's no comparison between his ceiling and Marcus Mariota. This was a case of bad luck for Mettenberger. If the Titans were drafting fourth, Mettenberger would have wound up as a Week 1 starter.

Now Mettenberger will be riding the bench for the team's new face of the franchise. The Titans made it clear on draft day they expect Mariota to start in Week 1. Mettenberger will only start again if Mariota gets hurt or things go horribly wrong in Tennessee.

2. Andrew Whitworth, Bengals tackle: Whitworth dared the Bengals to draft his replacement. They took the challenge and then double dog dared him back by taking two tackles in the first two rounds. Whitworth wants a new contract and instead faces new competition.

"It's not really top of the line customer service," said Whitworth, per the team site. "Eventually, hopefully, one day that (contract) conversation will be had and I'll be here."

3. Marquess Wilson, Bears receiver: When Brandon Marshall was traded, Wilson became a buzzy name in fantasy football circles. That buzz should end after Chicago drafted Kevin White. With Eddie Royal in the slot, snaps will be hard to come by.

4. Tre Mason, Rams running back: Mason's explosiveness absolutely jumped off the screen last season. He was perhaps our favorite rookie running back to watch last season, and now he's been replaced by a true three-down running back in No. 10 overall pick Todd Gurley. The Rams have a good problem now because Mason absolutely deserves to get consistent snaps. But the team won't be relying on him as a starter anymore.

5. Phil Taylor, Browns defensive tackle: Taylor was once a highly-thought of first-round pick at nose tackle. Now he's potentially getting replaced by one after Danny Shelton was taken No. 12 overall. Due $5.4 million this season, Taylor has to be worried about making the Cleveland roster.

6 + 7. Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills, Dolphins receivers: Jennings surely saw an opportunity to start in Miami when he signed late in free agency. The drafting of No. 14 overall pick DeVante Parker will make that assignment tougher. Second-year pro Jarvis Landry is locked into major snaps, meaning Jennings or Stills could wind up on the bench. In Jennings' case, he could be battling just to make the team.

8. Branden Oliver, Chargers running back: All offseason, we expected the Chargers to draft a running back high. That's exactly what they did, eliminating any chance of Oliver starting in 2015. With first-round pick Melvin Gordon starting and Danny Woodhead taking third downs, Oliver will battle just for snaps.

9. Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets defensive end: It's not like Wilkerson is going to be benched anytime soon. No. 6 overall pick Leonard Williams has a different style of play, and Wilkerson is one of the best at his position in the league. Williams' arrival, however, could hurt Wilkerson at the negotiating table. He should get big money eventually, but might not be able to get top dollar from the Jets now. New York could also use the franchise tag on Wilkerson in 2016, knowing they have plenty of depth.

10. Jarvis Jones, Steelers outside linebacker: The 2013 first-round pick is overdue to make an impact on the field in Pittsburgh. That won't be easier after the team drafted another pass-rusher, Bud Dupree, in the first round.

11. Hakeem Nicks, Titans wide receiver: Like Jennings in Miami, Nicks likely saw a path to playing time when he signed with Tennessee. Now second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham could make it difficult for Nicks just to make the team. Harry Douglas is a much safer bet to take up the "trusty veteran" role now that Nate Washington is out of the picture.

12. Morris Claiborne, Cowboys cornerback: It seems like a long time ago he was a top-five pick. Claiborne has to prove he can stay healthy just to get on the field. Dallas first-round pick Byron Jones is a better bet for snaps.

13. Denard Robinson, Jaguars running back: Check out NFL Media columnist Michael Silver's article on the Jacksonville draft process. Head coach Gus Bradley was clearly desperate to upgrade their starting running back spot, and they found a three-down option in T.J. Yeldon. Robinson is best suited in a change-of-pace role.

14 + 15. Crockett Gillmore and Dennis Pitta, Ravens tight ends: Gillmore was a promising rookie a season ago, and could still wind up starting for Baltimore. But the team brought in some serious competition with second-round pick Maxx Williams and fifth-rounder Nick Boyle. This is a pretty clear sign that Pitta is not a lock for the roster.

16. Theo Riddick, Lions running back: He spent about half a season showing off some Reggie Bush-like traits as Detroit's third-down back. Riddick should get moved to No. 3 on the depth chart after Detroit drafted Ameer Abdullah. The Lions essentially drafted a similar but superior version to Riddick.

17. Terrance West, Browns running back: Last year's third-down back is not going to get much of a chance to develop into an every-down player. Duke Johnson could wind up ahead of both West and last year's surprise power back Isaiah Crowell.

18. James Jones, former Raiders receiver: This is the most obvious name on the list. The weekend wasn't over before Jones was informed of his release, according to CSNBayArea.com. With Amari Cooper in Oakland, the competition for snaps at wide receiver will be fierce. Michael Crabtree, Andre Holmes, Rod Streater and Kenbrell Thompkins will all be battling for snaps behind the No. 4 overall pick.

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