The 2014 NFL Draft is now just over three weeks away, and Buffalo Bills fans are still doing their best to finalize their thoughts and wrap their minds around the team's biggest areas of need heading into the big event.
One of my favorite ways to take a big-picture look at the team in the days leading up to a big offseason event is to establish a functional depth chart. Rather than list players by their roles if the season were to start tomorrow, this depth chart is broken down first by positional value, and then by each player's functional outlook heading into the new year.
We've talked about position value a couple of times here before. It's important to fold that into any team-building conversations, because the fact of the matter is that NFL teams value some positions more than others. In terms of a player's function, here's my preferred method of separating players into categories.
- Every-down players: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Assuming full health (the "if he's healthy" scenario), this player will be, or is talented enough to be, on the field in most (if not all) situations for the Bills in 2014.
- Role players: Again assuming full health, this player will play a prominent role on offense or defense, even if he won't (or shouldn't) be a full-time starter.
- Situational players: This is sort of a catch-all group, combining players that could have major roles depending on what happens in the draft, prominent special teams players and special case scenarios.
- Reserve players: Every other player that, for now, is relevant in some way to the outlook at his position. This list consists mostly of players that saw action last year or are well-known project players.
It's hardly scientific, and placing players is debatable in many cases (you're welcome to do that in the comments section if you wish), but I find this method useful in keeping a big-picture perspective on the team. Perhaps you will, too; hence this post.
|Pos.||Every Down||Role Player||Situational||Reserve|
|QB||EJ Manuel||Thad Lewis
|DE||Mario Williams||Jerry Hughes||Jarius Wynn|
|Marquise Goodwin||Marcus Easley||T.J. Graham
|OT||Cordy Glenn||Erik Pears
|LB||Kiko Alonso||Brandon Spikes
|Manny Lawson||Nigel Bradham
|Alan Branch||Corbin Bryant
|S||Aaron Williams||Da'Norris Searcy||Duke Williams
|TE||Scott Chandler||Lee Smith