As we inch closer to OTAs and Minicamps, here is my first projection for the Buffalo Bills’ post-draft/UDFA signings depth chart.
|QB||3||E.J. Manuel||9||Thad Lewis||7||Jeff Tuel||6||Dennis Dixon|
|RB||28||C.J. Spiller||22||Fred Jackson||35||Bryce Brown||26||Anthony Dixon||42||Ronnie Wingo|
|LT||77||Cordy Glenn||72||Edawn Coughman||66||Seantrel Henderson|
|LG||74||Chris Williams||64||J.J. Unga||73||Antoine Mclain|
|C||70||Eric Wood||59||Doug Legursky|
|RG||60||Kraig Urbik||68||Cyril Richardson||76||Randy Colling|
|RT||71||Cyrus Kouandijo||79||Erik Pears||75||Chris Hairston||62||Mark Asper|
|TE||84||Scott Chandler||82||Tony Moeaki||85||Lee Smith||89||Chris Gragg||80||Mike Caussin||48||Evan Rodriguez|
|WR1||14||Sammy Watkins||88||Marquise Goodwin||11||T.J. Graham||15||Chris Hogan||18||Kevin Elliott||87||Chirs Summers|
|WR2||10||Robert Woods||19||Mike Williams||81||Marcus Easley||17||Brandon Kaufman||86||Ramses Barden||14||Cordell Roberson|
|LE||94||Mario Williams||92||Jarius Wynn||98||Ikponmwosa Igbinosun|
|DT1||99||Marcel Dareus||90||Alan Branch||96||Stefan Charles||Colby Way|
|DT2||95||Kyle Williams||97||Corbin Bryant||Damien Jacobs|
|RE||55||Jerry Hughes||91||Manny Lawson|
|SLB||56||Keith Rivers||57||Ty Powell||56||Jacquies Smith||Bryan Johnson|
|MLB||51||Brandon Spikes||52||Preston Brown||93||Randell Johnson||James Gaines|
|WLB||50||Kiko Alonso||53||Nigel Bradham||58||Nathan Williams||Darrin Kitchens|
|CB1||24||Stephon Gilmore||37||Nickell Robey||30||Mario Butler||Darius Robinson|
|CB2||21||Leodis McKelvin||29||Ross Cockrell||33||Ron Brooks||44||Brandon Smith|
|SS||23||Aaron Williams||25||Da’Norris Searcy||40||Jajuan Harley||Deon Broomfield|
|FS||20||Corey Graham||27||Duke Williams||36||Jonathan Meeks||Kenny Ladler||Derek Brim|
|K||2||Dan Carpenter||5||Dustin Hopkins|
|P||8||Brian Moorman||4||Jacob Dombrowski|
- Prior to the draft, Bills Director of Player Personnel, Jim Monos, confirmed that Manny Lawson will be playing defensive end in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 defense.
- Sammy Watkins immediately slots in at the top of the wide receiver depth chart. I am all for players earning their stripes, but you don’t give up a first round pick for someone unless you believe he will immediately contribute from day one.
- After spending a 2nd round pick on OT Cyrus Kouandijo, one of the key position battles to follow heading into Training Camp will be at the right tackle position. Based on the fact that the Bills used a high draft choice on Kouandijo, the prevailing opinion is that he will be given every opportunity to win the job. Several analysts/experts graded Kouandijo as a first round talent, but he ultimately fell to the second due to long-term health and durability concerns that were magnified by his weak combine performance.
- The battle for the 3rd string quarterback position should be intriguing as well. Jeff Tuel slots in ahead of Dennis Dixon on the initial depth chart due to his familiarity with the system. However, Dixon’s talents, at least on the surface, appear to fit better with the schemes of Nathaniel Hackett’s offense, and I would not be surprised at all if Dixon earns this roster spot.
- The Bills still appear to be thin at the defensive end position, even after moving Manny Lawson. It will be interesting to see if one of the undrafted free agent linebackers eventually slot their way into one of the end positions. If one or more of these rookies proves they can sufficiently rush the passer during camp, as well as contribute on special teams, a 53-man roster spot or practice squad position could be earned.
- The undrafted free agent that I will be watching closely this camp will be safety Kenny Ladler. Ladler started at both safety positions throughout his SEC career at Vanderbilt, and earned first team All-SEC honors from the AP last year. He brings versatility and size (6’0”, 207 pounds) to a position that also has the most uncertainty behind projected starters Aaron Williams and Corey Graham. It’s highly unlikely that the Bills would keep more than five safeties, but Ladler has enough talent to push for a 53-man roster spot.
- After re-signing K Dan Carpenter to a four-year, $9.9 million contract in early March, last year’s 6th round selection Dustin Hopkins roster spot may be in jeopardy. I have never liked it when teams kept two place kickers on their 53-man rosters, and Carpenter’s leg is decent enough on kickoffs that Hopkins is most likely already on the roster bubble heading into camp. He will need to have an extremely strong camp and show well in preseason games to make his case for the final 53.
- As the Bills did not address the tight end position during the draft, incumbent starter Scott Chandler remains atop the depth chart. What shakes out behind him should make for an interesting storyline during camp. Tony Moeaki has some athletic talent, but has been injury prone throughout his career. Chris Gragg was still very green as a rookie last year, but can he prove to the coaches that he deserves a spot on this year’s roster? Gragg has raw ability that could translate for pass catching, but will need to show that he can be a more complete player by improving his blocking skills during camp.
Bills fans – what players are you hoping climb the current depth chart? Will any of the incumbents be knocked for their starting perches? Will there be a surprise name that makes waves during training camp?