Bleacher report did an interesting slideshow of "The most useless player on every NFL team in 2012". Although the criteria for selection is rather vague, the idea is as follows:
-Chosen player is assumed and predicted to make the team in 2012.
-Player is evaluated on ability relative to their role on the team and salary. (A highly paid, veteran starter has higher expectations than cheap depth guys)
-Exclude kickers (Bleacher Report didn't do this, but most teams IMO could nominate a kicker for this role)
I don't know if this exercise will be frowned upon because it highlights poor play. But I feel that every roster spot is important and those tough decisions in training camp can be very meaningful later in the season and as the years go by.
Bleacher Report picked Alex Carrington. Part of the justification was:
Carrington’s usefulness might come down to whether or not he is able to find a way to integrate himself into the Bills' new defensive structure. He has been moved over to defensive tackle this offseason as the Bills attempt to find a way to work with him to make something positive happen, but if that transition does not go smoothly, Carrington may see his playing time take a hit.
By no means is Carrington playing as a DT finalized, but that doesn't make the analysis invalid.
Although I disagree with the decision to pick Carrington, from a results perspective, I understand. Carrington has produced very little and may in fact be an odd-man out this season on the defensive line. The analysis isn't particularly salary oriented if you look at the majority of other selections, including this one. Carrington is still in his rookie contract that pays an average salary of $665k a year.
This exercise would be easier if the final roster is set, but to make this easier, I only evaluated choices that I truly think will make the final roster.
The players that come to mind for me were Dwan Edwards, Chris Kelsay, Lee Smith, Kirk Morrison, Ruvell Martin, Arthur Moats, Shawne Merriman, Torell Troup, Mark Asper. All players that have potential to make the team. But not ALL players I expect to make the team.
I initially picked Kirk Morrison as my most useless player. But as I tried to justify it I realized how important his veteran experience will be amongst such a young group of linebackers. He is penciled in as the day one starter. Morrison has been a highly durable, highly productive player throughout his career. He may not be one of the top 10 Bills to decide 2012, but he is definitely important. And his salary is reasonable. He has maybe the most limited upside of our day 1 starters, but unless Nigel Bradham establishes himself VERY early, Morrison will be important not useless.
Guys like Lee Smith and Corey Mac I expect to make the team, and their upside is also very limited, but their roles are important and I suspect they will do exactly what is asked for and needed from them.
I expect Dwan Edwards and Ruvell Martin to be cut in training camp or else I would have selected one of them.
This leaves me to select the ever controversial Chris Kelsay. I really didn't want to select Kelsay. Kelsay could certainly have a productive season and could show substantial improvement with this new look D-line. But he is still an expensive veteran reserve, with less upside than Shawne Merriman who is in an almost identical situation. Kelsay is less versatile than Spencer Johnson and Alex Carrington, in terms of what should be expected from a veteran at his price point. I don't put nearly as much stock into his intangibles as others on this website do. But I am definitely not trying to start a Chris Kelsay debate, there are enough of those.
I think this selection is indicative of the turnover and young talent in training camp this year. This team is obviously undergoing a re-build and it is hard to call a young, developing player useless. Troup would be my selection next year if he doesn't show improvement and gets through another training camp, but I haven't given up hope.
I have clearly have a lot of defensive lineman on this list and that is not coincidental. With the additions of Anderson/Mario this offseason, and Dareus last year, very little is required from some of the depth guys. In previous years Spencer Johnson or Chris Kelsay were way to important to our success to be discussed like this. But with the revamped unit, these guys are facing a make or break season. May as well have some younger cheaper options to learn behind this new area of strength.