The Buffalo Bills won't put out their first depth chart until training camp, and even then they will caution it's "unofficial."
But with the entire team together on the field Tuesday for the first time – Phase Three of the NFL's offseason program began with the first "organized team activity" of the spring – it's a good time to debut one. Every NFL team is permitted 10 such practices, which are voluntary for players. The Bills will hold theirs over the next four weeks before wrapping up the spring with a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15.
Team drills are allowed during OTAs, which means the Bills can hold 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s between the offense and defense. No 1-on-1 drills, like receivers against cornerbacks or offensive lineman against defensive lineman, are permitted under terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players.
None of the OTAs or minicamp are open to the public. Media will attend three OTA practices, with the first coming Thursday. After practice, the Bills will make assistant coaches available to the media for the first time since they were hired. Here is The Buffalo News' crack at providing a 90-man depth chart.
• Quarterback: 1. Tyrod Taylor. 2. T.J. Yates. 3. Cardale Jones. 4. Nathan Peterman. 5. Josh Woodrum.
Analysis: There has been plenty of talk about how every position on the roster is up for grabs, but the reality is it would take a significant injury for Taylor to lose his starting spot. The more interesting battles will come behind him. Can either Jones or Peterman push Yates for the backup job? Will it come down to Peterman or Jones for a roster spot as the third quarterback?
• Running back: 1. LeSean McCoy. 2. Jonathan Williams. 3. Joe Banyard. 4. Cedric O'Neal. 5. Jordan Johnson.
Analysis: Much like at quarterback, the starting job is all but locked up. Williams would figure to be safe for a roster spot, but that's not guaranteed. Will the team keep three or four running backs?
• Fullback: 1. Patrick DiMarco. 2. Mike Tolbert.
Analysis: Tolbert is a hybrid running back/fullback, which may help his case for a roster spot, while hurting the running back group.
• Wide receiver: 1. Sammy Watkins. 2. Zay Jones. 3. Andre Holmes. 4. Philly Brown. 5. Brandon Tate. 6. Walt Powell. 7. Dez Lewis. 8. Jeremy Butler. 9. Kolby Listenbee. 10. Daikiel Shorts. 11. Brandon Reilly.
Analysis: Figure on two jobs being up for grabs here if the team keeps six receivers. Tate gets one of them for now because he's projected to be the primary return man for both kicks and punts. Powell flashed some ability last season, but will have to prove himself all over again with a new coaching staff.
• Tight end: 1. Charles Clay. 2. Nick O'Leary. 3. Logan Thomas. 4. Blake Annen. 5. Jason Croom. 6. Keith Towbridge.
Analysis: Like at running back, there is only one sure thing at the position. Clay is a lock, but there in nothing guaranteed beyond him. O'Leary figures to have a spot as the top reserve, but could be in jeopardy if those behind him look good. This is a position the Bills could look to upgrade between now and September through free agency.
• Center: 1. Eric Wood. 2. Patrick Lewis.
Analysis: Lewis would save the Bills about $1 million against the salary cap, so he figures to be a prime candidate for release.
• Guard: 1. Richie Incognito. 2. John Miller. 3. Ryan Groy. 4. Vlad Ducasse. 5. Jordan Mudge. 6. Greg Pyke. 7. Zach Voytek.
Analysis: The only drama here is whether Ducasse makes the 53-man roster. The top three spots are virtually guaranteed.
• Offensive tackle: 1. Cordy Glenn. 2. Dion Dawkins. 3. Jordan Mills. 4. Cyrus Kouandjio. 5. Michael Ola. 6. Seantrel Henderson. 7. Cameron Jefferson.
Analysis: The Bills might list Mills as the starter at right tackle, but they didn't move up into the second round to draft Dawkins with the idea that he would be a reserve. Expect him to be starting soon. Kouandjio would be a quality fourth tackle if he's ready to play – both mentally and physically.
• Defensive end: 1. Jerry Hughes. 2. Shaq Lawson. 3. Ryan Davis. 4. Max Valles. 5. Ian Seau. 6. Jake Metz. 7. Marquais Lewis.
Analysis: This is another position the team might decide to upgrade before the season. Davis represents the only experience depth of note. An injury to Hughes or Lawson would be a massive problem.
• Defensive tackle: 1. Marcell Dareus. 2. Kyle Williams. 3. Adolphus Washington. 4. Jerel Worthy. 5. Deandre Coleman. 6. Nigel Williams.
Analysis: There is experienced depth here, but Washington and Worthy were brought in by the previous coaching staff, so it's not certain how they will fit with Sean McDermott and Co.
• Middle linebacker: 1. Reggie Ragland. 2. Preston Brown. 3. Eddie Yarbrough.
Analysis: Ragland gets the first crack with the starting lineup despite missing all of his rookie season because of injury. Brown could be one of the more prominent Bills on the roster bubble. Yarbrough is listed here based on his size (6-foot-3, 259 pounds), but might lineup elsewhere.
• Weak side linebacker: 1. Ramon Humber. 2. Matt Milano. 3. Tanner Vallejo. 4. Jacob Lindsey.
Analysis: A lot has been made about the lack of depth here, but it's possible the Bills' base defense will be a nickel package anyway. If it's not, it's fair to question Humber as a starter given that he's been mostly a contributor on special teams to this point in his professional career.
• Strong side linebacker: 1. Lorenzo Alexander. 2. Carl Bradford. 3. Abner Logan. 4. Anthony Harrell.
Analysis: Bradford, a recent addition of the waiver wire, has six games of NFL experience, which makes him a seasoned veteran on this depth chart.
• Safety: 1. Micah Hyde. 2. Jordan Poyer. 3. Colt Anderson. 4. Trae Elston. 5. Jonathan Dowling. 6. Shamiel Gary. 7. Joe Powell. 8. B.T. Sanders.
Analysis: Have you noticed the trend here? Safety is another position without a ton of depth. Anderson's primary function has been on special teams, but that will change if there is an injury. Dowling missed all of last season with an injury, but the Bills thought enough of him to keep him on injured reserve.
• Cornerback: 1. Ronald Darby. 2. Tre'Davious White. 3. Kevon Seymour. 4. Shareece Wright. 5. Leonard Johnson. 6. Charles Gaines. 7. Charles James. 8. Bradley Sylve. 9. Marcus Sayles.
Analysis: The Bills have done a decent job rebuilding this position after losing Stephon Gilmore and Nickell Robey-Coleman earlier in the offseason. So much so, in fact, that there could be a cut or two here that would interest another team.
• Long snapper: 1. Reid Ferguson.
Analysis: The job is apparently his since no competition was brought in.
• Kicker: 1. Stephen Hauschka.
Analysis: Ditto the long snapper.
• Punter: 1. Colton Schmidt. 2. Austin Rehkow.
Analysis: Even though he was re-signed, Schmidt figures to be pushed in training camp by Rehkow.
• Punt returner/kick returner: 1. Brandon Tate.
Analysis: It remains to be seen who else will get a chance to earn these jobs, but Tate figures to get the first crack.