The Buffalo Bills on Saturday published a new depth chart that was purportedly "signed off on" by head coach Chan Gailey and defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt. The surprises contained within were few and far between, but there are a few things worth pointing out, starting at wide receiver.
The team's first (Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones) and second-team receivers (David Nelson, Derek Hagan) were not surprising. Nor was rookie T.J. Graham being listed as a third-teamer. The surprise was that veteran Ruvell Martin was also listed as a third-teamer, ahead of a popular young trio of receivers in Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt and Kamar Aiken.
Taking it a step further, Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com combined the two receiver positions into one cohesive list based on a rough rep count from the first week-plus of camp. Martin ranked sixth, followed by Easley and Roosevelt. Brown slotted journeyman David Clowney ahead of Aiken, as well, though Aiken has missed camp time with an injury.
Keep in mind that depth charts are put together by coaches, and coaches - unless a young player has enough invested in him to mandate a specific role - almost always favor veterans to youngsters. That may help to explain why Martin, a strong special teams player, is listed higher than expected. Personnel executives and scouts help shape final rosters, as well, so the young receivers may still have an edge on the vets that won't necessarily be reflected in a depth chart.
Here are a few more worthwhile talking points from the depth chart:
Prince Miller, who has had a strong training camp, is listed as a third-team cornerback, while rookie fourth-round pick Ron Brooks is buried on the fourth team. There's no way Brooks doesn't make the final roster, but this may be a nod to how well Miller has performed in camp.
Tank Carder is listed as a middle linebacker (he's running with the threes), and Chris White - who has reportedly seen middle linebacker reps in camp - is listed as the third-team strong-side linebacker. One other curious note: 6'3", 319-pound defensive lineman Jay Ross is listed as a defensive end. Someday, the Bills will put their defensive linemen onto a depth chart that makes sense across the board.
In the battle to be the third running back, Tashard Choice is listed in that spot, just ahead of 2011 fifth-round pick Johnny White. And in other position battle news, Tyler Thigpen outranks Vince Young at backup quarterback, and Chris Hairston is currently edging out rookie Cordy Glenn at left tackle.
The team has also established its preliminary set of return men. Justin Rogers will handle kickoffs after closing the 2011 season on a tear in that particular department, while Leodis McKelvin is listed as the first-team punt returner. McKelvin also sits behind Rogers at kick returner, as does fourth quarterback Brad Smith. The only other punt returner listed by the team behind McKelvin is third-year running back C.J. Spiller.
What stands out to you as you peruse the Bills' new depth chart?