Eight in the Box: Rookie eye-catchers

A first-year player who has turned heads in OTAs/minicamps:

Chicago Bears: Linebacker Jon Bostic, a second-round draft pick from Florida, has proved far enough along that he has been calling defensive signals at middle linebacker with the second team during spring practices. That's a key component for young linebackers. A lot can change once the pads come on for training camp, but at the very least, Bostic is positioning himself to be the next linebacker on the field if anything happens to starters Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams or James Anderson.

Detroit Lions: Tight end Joseph Fauria, a college free agent, is naturally the kind of player who stands out in spring practice drills, which are in jerseys and shorts. He is 6-foot-7 with long arms and thus a huge catching radius, combined with soft enough hands that he can catch the ball in a crowd. Blocking will be another story for a player that tall, but the Lions have plenty of uses for a pass-catching tight end. They also need to consider building up their depth as Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler both approach free agency.

Green Bay Packers: Micah Hyde is a cornerback drafted in the fifth round, one who is competing against a deep group just to make the roster. I have no idea how things will turn out once the team gets to full pads in training camp, but he caught my eye this week with tight coverage on several passes. On one in particular, Hyde stayed close with receiver James Jones on a red zone pass into the corner of the end zone. Jones led NFL receivers with 14 touchdown receptions last season, but Hyde managed to strip the ball from his hands before he got both feet down. Putting a play like that on tape is important.

Minnesota Vikings: This much counts in OTAs: Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson certainly looks the part. He is a solid 6-3 and approaching 210 pounds, much thicker than anticipated but still with the speed that made him such a dangerous open-field runner last year at Tennessee. Patterson no doubt has much to learn, but Vikings coaches are quietly optimistic that he can quickly develop into a significant playmaker.