PITTSFORD, NY - AUGUST 08: Johnny White #35 of the Buffalo Bills runs against Arthur Moats #52l during the Buffalo Bills Training Camp at St. John Fisher College on August 8, 2011 in Pittsford, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
With Buffalo Bills training camp just around the corner (the first practice will take place two weeks from today), fans are starting to get serious about breaking down the team's roster from every angle (again). Reader Chad submits this question to me via email: "BG, would you mind running through the draft picks Buddy Nix has made and split them into locks/bubble players?"
Right now, of the 27 draft picks Nix has made as Bills GM, 24 are still with the organization. Of that group, I count 13 players that, barring injury, I believe are certain bets to make the opening day roster. Those players: Marcell Dareus, C.J. Spiller, Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams, Cordy Glenn, Kelvin Sheppard, T.J. Graham, Da'Norris Searcy, Nigel Bradham, Chris Hairston, Ron Brooks, Zebrie Sanders and Justin Rogers.
That, of course, leaves 11 Nix draft picks that are fighting for jobs. Let's examine those names after the jump.
2010-2-41: Torell Troup, DT, Central Florida. Back injuries first slowed, and then stopped, Troup's on-field development. He's aided by the fact that the depth at defensive tackle is currently in a state of flux, but Troup must prove that his back is fully repaired to earn a roster spot.
2010-3-72: Alex Carrington, DT, Arkansas State. Drafted to be a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4, Carrington will now slide to defensive tackle, where he has some upside as a situational pass rusher. How quickly he transitions to his new role will go a long way toward determining whether or not he makes the team.
2010-4-107: Marcus Easley, WR, Connecticut. Easley's story is well-known at this point: he's an excellent physical talent that has yet to appear in a regular season game due to a rookie knee injury and a heart condition. Purportedly healthy again, if Easley can stay that way through early September, he's a strong bet to stick.
2011-5-133: Johnny White, RB, North Carolina. Considered an excellent special teams player with upside as a backup-type runner, White was unremarkable as a rookie, and will compete with veteran Tashard Choice for the third running back job this summer.
2012-5-147: Tank Carder, LB, TCU. Linebacker depth is something of a free-for-all this year, so it's hard to call any depth player a lock at this point. I like Carder's chances, considering he was the only linebacker on this list drafted specifically to play in a 4-3.
2011-6-169: Chris White, LB, Mississippi State. To my eye, Carder and White are fairly interchangeable athletically, with Carder perhaps a hair more agile. I like White coming into the league, and think he's got just as good a chance at earning a depth/special teams spot as any other linebacker this year.
2010-6-178: Arthur Moats, LB, James Madison. Earlier in the off-season, it was fair to question where the former college defensive end fit as a 4-3 linebacker, but Moats has had a great off-season to date. He's now hovering near lock territory, and his pass rushing ability gives the Bills a potential sub-package wrinkle if he makes the cut.
2012-6-178: Mark Asper, C, Oregon. A massive 6'7", 325-pound former college tackle and guard, Asper is learning the center position, where he'll compete with veteran Colin Brown - among others - for the fifth interior lineman spot on the final roster.
2010-6-192: Danny Batten, LB, South Dakota State. Another former college defensive end drafted to play 3-4 outside linebacker, Batten now looks very out of place in a 4-3. He's worked as a long snapper in spring practices to try to increase his roster value, but Batten has the steepest climb to the final roster of any linebacker listed here.
2011-7-245: Michael Jasper, OG, Bethel (TN). A fan favorite from the very day he was drafted, Jasper spent his rookie season on the practice squad working as a guard. The fact that he's purely a guard at this point hurts his cause, but he's still a marvelous athlete for such a massive man, and he'll be fighting for the final guard/center spot alongside Asper.
2012-7-251: John Potter, K, Western Michigan. There's no question that Potter will capably perform the role of kickoff specialist that he was drafted to fill. The question will be whether or not the coaching staff can find a spot for such a limited role player on the final roster.
How would you stack the list, fellow fan? Would any players that I consider locks slide onto your bubble list, or vice versa?