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Every Team's Deepest Position Heading into 2012

Vincent FrankCorrespondent IJune 24, 2016

Every Team's Deepest Position Heading into 2012

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    Some teams around the National Football League made a strong effort to build as much talent in one area on the football field as possible. Some of them did so in order to mask a certain weakness on another area of the field. Others were able to compile talent by drafting well.

    Just take a look at the Houston Texans for a second. Neither Ben Tate or Arian Foster were considered "studs" coming out of college. Instead, they flew under the radar of nearly every team in the league. In Foster's case to the point where he wasn't even drafted.

    In the process, Houston built the best running game in the league.

    There are a myriad of different examples around the NFL that we can use in terms of pointing out deep positions for specific teams.

    Not to leave anyone out, this article is going to focus on the deepest position for all 32 NFL teams heading into training camp in about a month.

Denver Broncos: Tight End

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Virgil Green and Julius Thomas

    We all know how much Peyton Manning loved using Dallas Clark at the tight end position with the Indianapolis Colts. The type of game that the future Hall of Fame quarterback plays goes extremely well with dual-threat tight ends between the hashes.

    You have to believe this is one of the primary reasons that the Denver Broncos went out in the free agent market and brought in two solid players at this position.

    Jacob Tamme, a teammate of Manning's with the Colts, will provide that safety valve down the field that will help out a great deal in the Broncos offensive scheme.

    Joel Dreessen was another solid vet pickup that should help Manning out as a safety valve.

San Diego Chargers: Outside Linebacker

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Shaun Phillips, Jarret Johnson, Antwan Barnes, Melvin Ingram and Larry English.

    Base 3-4 defenses need a consistent pass-rush in order to be successful. We saw this with the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers last season.

    San Diego set out to improve this aspect of their team in the offseason.

    While Jarret Johnson isn't a huge pass-rush threat, he did standout in the Ravens defense over the course of nearly the last decade as a run-stuffing outside linebacker. He will be a great complement to what San Diego has on the outside.

    That being said, the most important addition San Diego made along this unit was in the 2012 NFL draft when they picked up South Carolina product Melvin Ingram in the first round. Many experts have concluded that Ingram was the best pure pass-rusher in the draft.

    What this does is give the Chargers three solidly consistent pass-rush threats to rotate in and out opposite Johnson, who has played in a 3-4 for his entire career.

     


Oakland Raiders: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Juron Criner.

    You might not be too familiar with these names, but it is time that you start to be. While it does seem that the Oakland Raiders are missing a true No. 1 receiver, they have threats up and down this unit.

    Heyward-Bey came on extremely strong last season and nearly amassed 1,000 receiving yards. He came on much stronger throughout the last quarter of the season with Carson Palmer throwing the ball. The former top-10 pick accumulated 26 receptions for 433 yards and two touchdowns during those final four games.

    Moore was probably the most surprising of all Raiders' receivers in 2011. He acted as a major deep threat for their offense, averaging nearly 19 yards a catch and scoring five touchdowns.

    The major question here is whether one of Ford, Murphy or Criner can step up into the No. 3 wide receiver role. If so, Palmer is going to have a great deal of options on the outside.

     

     


Kansas City Chiefs: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Dexter McCluster, Devon Wylie and Terrance Copper.


    This position has a chance to be dynamic for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. Dwayne Bowe, is without a doubt, the team's No. 1 receiver. He has recorded 1,000 or more yards in three of his last four seasons and led the NFL in touchdown catches in 2010.

    Jonathan Baldwin struggled with both immaturity and injuries during his rookie season, but possesses the necessary talent to be a great player on the outside moving forward.

    The big story here is going to be the No. 3 receiver job and who is going to come out on top during training camp. Steve Breaston wasn't great in his first season with Kansas City, but he still did rack up nearly 800 yards in 2011. Dexter McCluster is also a huge wildcard. He is a combo wide receiver/running back that has big-play ability written all over him. McCluster gained over 500 yards rushing and caught 46 passes for another 328 yards.

Baltimore Ravens: Guard

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Marshall Yanda, Jah Reid, Kelechi Osemele, Bobbie Williams and Gino Gradkowski.

    The Baltimore Ravens set forth to replace Ben Grubbs this offseason, who departed for the New Orleans Saints in free agency. While Grubbs was somewhat of an inconsistent performer in Baltimore over the course of the last couple seasons he did perform extremely well in the run game.

    Finding someone that could replace that level and help Ray Rice between the hashes was huge.

    Baltimore drafted Kelechi Osemele, a physically imposing guard, in the second round of April's draft before adding Bobbie Williams in free agency earlier this month.

    Those two are going to be competing for the starting left guard position with in-house candidate Jah Reid. Whoever comes out on top should have a strong foundation following an intense training camp battle. This also gives Baltimore a great deal of depth at both backup guard positions heading into the 2012 season.

     

     


     



Pittsburgh Steelers: Outside Linebacker

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, Brandon Johnson and Adrian Robinson.

    Harrison and Woodley combined for 18 sacks last season, once again cementing their status as one of the best pass-rushing combos in the National Football League. What makes this unit so stacked is the four players that are slated to battle for positions behind them.

    Worilds, a second-round pick in 2010, recorded three sacks in limited action last season and Pittsburgh has two talented youngsters behind him in the form of Carter as well as Robinson.

    Look for Pittsburgh to be dynamic when it comes to this aspect of their defense once again in 2012.

Cincinnati Bengals: Cornerback

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Dre Kirkpatrick, Terence Newman, Jason Allen and Pacman Jones.

    A unit that was lacking in depth and talent for the Cincinnati Bengals last season seems to be the strong suit of their defense heading into training camp.

    Cincinnati signed both Terence Newman and Jason Allen in free agency before going out there and selecting Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round of April's draft. That trio joins Leon Hall and Nate Clements to form one of the deepest cornerback groups in the entire league.

    Making things look even better in Cincinnati is a recent report by the Bengals official website that indicates there is "some optimism" that the talented Hall will be available for training camp after tearing his Achilles last season.

     


Cleveland Browns: Running Back

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    Depth Chart: Trent Richardson, Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty

    A team that wins four games in a season isn't going to have an incredible amount of depth at certain positions on the football field.

    This is where the Cleveland Browns find themselves. While they might have strong starters at specific positions, they don't have the depth that is necessary to succeed on a consistent basis.

    The primary reason I chose running back is because of the selection of Trent Richardson in April's draft. He gives the Browns that every-down running back that helps the rest of the unit succeed down the depth chart.

    The Browns also have two running backs in Brandon Jackson and Montario Hardesty further down on the depth chart that seem capable of coming in and making an impact.

    Sorry Browns' fans this is the best I can do for you.

Houston Texans: Running Back

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Justin Forsett.

    What's amazing about the Houston Texans success in the running game is the fact that neither Arian Foster or Ben Tate were sought after commodities in the draft when they left college.

    Some may call it luck, but this really doesn't matter. The Texans have the best run game in the National Football League and it really isn't that close.

    Foster and Tate combined for nearly 3,000 yards of total offense and scored 16 touchdowns in 2011. Those are some remarkable numbers if I have ever seen any.

    Houston also has depth outside of these top two backs after signing Justin Forsett in free agency. The former Seattle Seahawks 'back combined for nearly 2,000 total yards in 2009 and 2010 before taking a backseat to Marshawn Lynch last season.

     


Tennessee Titans: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins and Marc Mariani.

    What was considered a relative weakness for the Tennessee Titans last season has become a strength heading into training camp.

    Not only did Tennessee add Kendall Wright in the first round of April's draft, but it also appears that they are going to be returning a healthy Kenny Britt to the mix. A recent report by The Tennessean quotes Britt as saying the following, "“Do I think I am going to be ready (for the season opener)? I am confident I’ll be ready."

    That is some great news right there.

    Those two players promise to bring an added dimension to the Titans passing game, no matter who their starting quarterback is going to be heading into the season.

    It is also important to take into account that Nate Washington stepped it up a great deal deal as the Titans' No. 1 receiver in 2011, recording over 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

     


Jacksonville Jaguars: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Laurent Robinson, Justin Blackmon, Lee Evans, Mike Thomas, Brian Robiskie, Chastin West and Cecil Shorts.

    Much has been made about Justin Blackmon and his off-field issues since being drafted in April. That being said, the Jacksonville Jaguars have upgraded their receiving corp with the addition of the former Oklahoma State standout, among others.

    Laurent Robinson had the best season of his injury-plagued career in 2011, recording nearly 900 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games. He immediately becomes the Jaguars No. 1 receiver and a great target for Blaine Gabbert on the outside.

    Despite struggling a great deal with the Baltimore Ravens last year, Lee Evans is only three years removed from a 1,000 yard campaign for the Buffalo Bills. It remains to be seen if Evans can regain that form, but he should be an upgrade along this unit nonetheless.

    Then you have the aforementioned Blackmon. He was the consensus No.1 receiver in the 2012 NFL draft and does possess the talent to be a truly dominating player on the outside. However, issues remain in regards to route-running and getting off the line against press coverage.

    Mike Thomas should also be a nice complementary guy if he is able to rebound from a down 2011 season.

Indianapolis Colts: Running Back

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Mewelde Moore, Vick Ballard, Deji Karim and Darren Evans.

    There was a thought about going with outside linebacker here due to the transitions of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to that position. That being said, I decided to go with the position that the Indianapolis Colts are going to be relying on a lot, running back.

    Donald Brown and Delone Carter could make up a strong duo in the backfield behind rookie Andrew Luck. Both possess the ability to go for 1,000 yards in a season and should strive in Bruce Arians newly installed offense.

    Indianapolis also just went out and signed Mewelde Moore from Arians' former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. This veteran running back can be a solid performer on third down and possesses an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

    Vick Ballard and Deji Karim will be battling for the final running back spot here and bring two different things to the table. Whoever makes the team will make an impact on special teams.

     


New England Patriots: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Jabar Gaffney, Donte' Stallworth, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater and Jeremy Ebert.

    This just isn't fair. Give Tom Brady consistent forces on the outside and watch him literally pick apart opposing defenses. The New England Patriots recognized this would make their offense nearly unstoppable and ran with it in the offseason.

    They added Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth in free agency. While all three have questions, there is no doubting the fact that Brady makes his receivers much better on the football field.

    A tandem of Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd at wide receiver has to scare the collective jockstraps off of opposing defenses. This is magnified with the presence of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at tight end.

    Expect defensive coordinators to spend long nights, and have awful nightmares, planning on an attack to "stop" this passing game.

     


New York Jets: Safety

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: LaRon Landry (FS), Yeremiah Bell (SS), Eric Smith, Josh Bush, Antonio Allen and Tracy Wilson.

    Looking at the New York Jets roster I just couldn't come up with many positions that can be perceived to have "depth." Of course Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow both have starting experience at quarterback, so that was a possibility until I realized it was Sanchez and Tebow we were talking about.

    The safety position let New York down a great deal in 2011. This is the reason why they went out there during the offseason and completely revamped this unit.

    LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are unquestionable upgrades over what the Jets ran out on the field in 2011. The primary question here is whether Landry can actually make an impact and stay on the field.

    While I wasn't a huge fan of the Jets selecting Josh Bush in the sixth round, they did get tremendous value in the form of Antonio Allen a round later in April's draft.

    If nothing else, this position is much deeper than last season.

     


Buffalo Bills: Defensive End

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, Chris Kelsay, Shawne Merriman and Spencer Johnson.

    By simply adding Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to the mix the Buffalo Bills improved their entire defense. These two players are going to make a dramatic impact on how offenses game-plan against this unit.

    Just think about it for a second. The Bills tallied a total of 29 sacks in 2011. By comparison, these two additions accumulated 15 sacks in 2011 despite the fact that Williams only played in five games.

    That is simply amazing.

    The additions of Williams and Anderson also has a trickle-down effect as Chris Kelsay will be pushed to a reserve role.

     


Miami Dolphins: Running Back

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller and Steve Slaton.

    Yet another team that saw a weakness a couple years ago and sought out to address it, the Miami Dolphins now have four running backs on their roster that could be counted on to carry the load.

    This helps out their offense a great deal considering the quarterback issues Miami has going into camp. Whoever lines up behind center is going to have a consistent run game to help him out.

    Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas combined for over 2,000 total yards last season while showing Dolphin' fans that they can be a dynamic duo in the backfield.

    Moreover, Miami picked up tremendous value when Lamar Miller fell to them the fourth round. In fact, most experts had concluded that the Miami product was the second best running back in the 2012 NFL draft behind Trent Richardson.

     


New York Giants: Defensive End

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora

    You had to see this coming. Despite only listing three players on the New York Giants depth chart at defensive end, this unit has to be considered deep.

    Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora combined for a whopping 30.5 sacks last season, completely dominating opposing offensive lines.

    Not much more to say here.

     


Philadelphia Eagles: Defensive End

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt.

    The top two NFC East teams from 2011 are absolutely stacked at the defensive end position and the Philadelphia Eagles pretty much assured that during the offseason.

    The addition of Vinny Curry, an elite pass-rush threat, in the second round of April's draft is going to be absolutely huge for this unit. The Marshall product has the ability to beat his blocker on the outside with a great speed-rush move. Moreover, he also has the ability to bull-rush with the best of them. In short, Curry was one of the best value picks of the entire 2012 NFL draft.

    He joins a unit that is stacked. Trent Cole and Jason Babin combined for 29 sacks in 2011, with Cole coming up strong against the run as well.

    They should also help out a revamped linebacker group get acclimated to the Eagles defensive set.

     


Dallas Cowboys: Cornerback

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Mario Butler and C.J. Wilson.

    We really do have to give Jerry Jones and Co. props with what they did in the offseason at the cornerback position. They recognized the need and acquired the best player at that position in both the draft and free agency.

    Brandon Carr is going to be a true No. 1 shutdown type guy in Dallas. People will point to him playing opposite Brandon Flowers in Kansas City, but that is overblown. The Chiefs ran a direct right to left defensive scheme in the secondary, which means that Carr went up against opposing top targets nearly as much as Flowers.

    Morris Claiborne was the consensus No. 1 defensive player in the entire 2012 NFL draft. He already possesses pro-ready technique on the outside and can be an immediate impact performer as a rookie.

    Moreover, the Cowboys are going to be able to move Mike Jenkins to the slot. This will help takeaway the middle of the field and hashes from opposing slot receivers.

    Just watch, this is going to have a major impact on the Cowboys ability to contend in the NFC East in 2012.

     

     


Washington Redskins: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks and Aldrick Robinson.

    The Washington Redskins now have three proven NFL receivers. When was the last time you could say that about this organization?

    While Washington might have overpaid for the likes of Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, those two are going to do wonders for Robert Griffin III in the passing game. Morgan can be that slot guy that the rookie quarterback can look to on third downs. Garcon has the ability to stretch the field, which helps out a great deal down the field.

    Santana Moss might not be the receiver he once was, but he should be a consistent veteran presence on the outside for RGIII.

    The also have a myriad of talented young receivers behind these three. If any of those individuals step up the Skins' could have a really solid receiving group.


Green Bay Packers: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Driver and Randall Cobb.

    Nearly as unfair as the New England Patriots' passing game is the one we are going to see on a continual basis in Green Bay this upcoming season.

    Aaron Rodgers had the best single-season in modern NFL history last year and owes a debt of gratitude to his receiving corp for that. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson combined for over 2,200 total receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.

    To put that into perspective as it relates to NFC Title contenders, the San Francisco 49ers threw a total of 18 touchdowns.

    Randall Cobb also had an amazing rookie season considering that he was a part-time performer on offense, compiling nearly 400 receiving yards.

    The Packers also return Donald Driver and James Jones, who are going to be vying for the No. 4 receiving duties. Those two combined for 75 receptions, over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

    Talk about being stacked.

     


Detroit Lions: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Calvin Johnson, Titus Young, Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles, Maurice Stovall, Stefan Logan and Jarrett Dillard.

    I really do pity NFC North pass defenses, most specifically the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, who are going to be playing four games against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

    While the Packers do not have that true "No. 1 receiver," Detroit is sitting on a goldmine with the best all-around receiving threat in the league. Calvin Johnson wasn't just dominating last season, that would be putting it too lightly.

    He literally put up Madden numbers on a consistent basis in 2011. Don't take my word for it, look at his game-log from last season. I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I saw that Johnson accumulated 36 receptions for nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns in the Lions final four games, including their playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

    Their receiving unit isn't just limited to the "other-worldly" Johnson. Nate Burleson was a solid complementary target and Titus Young came on big time as the season progressed.

    To make matters worse for opposing defenses, the Lions drafted former Oklahoma standout Ryan Broyles in the second round of April's draft. Despite coming off a serious injury, the rookie promises to be a major contributor sooner rather than later. 

    Simply amazing!

     

     


Chicago Bears: Defensive End

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Shea McClellin, Corey Wooton and Chauncey Davis.

    I could have gone receiver here after the Chicago Bears added Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in the offseason, but we need to see them perform together before placing that label on them.

    Instead, I went with a defensive end rotation that promises to reek havoc on opposing quarterbacks throughout the 2012 season.

    We all know what Julius Peppers brings to the table. The Pro Bowl defensive end has recorded an average of over 11 sacks a season over the course of the last four seasons and consistently puts pressure on the backfield when he is unable to acquire a sack.

    The huge factor here is going to be rookie first-round pick Shea McClellin. The Boise State product may struggle against the run early, but there is no questioning the pass-rushing talent that he possesses. Team the rookie up with Israel Idonije opposite Peppers and you have the makings for a dominant defensive end trio.

     


Minnesota Vikings: Defensive Tackle

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Christian Ballard, Trevor Guyton and Tydreke Powell.

    One thing the Minnesota Vikings shouldn't have a problem with in 2012 is lining up fresh bodies along the interior of their defensive line to stop the run.

    This is a unit that goes about six deep, which will enable them to input fresh bodies throughout the game consistently in 2012.

    It is also important to note that Minnesota finished 11th in the NFL last season in rush defense, giving up 107 yards per outing.


    One player to take a long look at during training camp and in the preseason is rookie seventh-round pick Trevor Guyton from California. I had a third-round grade on the stout run-stopping defensive linemen. He should be able to come in and make some noise early.

    In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Guyton eventually earn a starting role as a rookie.

     


New Orleans Saints: Running Back

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory.

    A lot has been made of the New Orleans Saints pass offense led by Drew Brees. While we cannot discount the record numbers that he has put up over the course of the last few seasons, it is important to note that the Saints had a surprisingly strong running game in 2011.

    In fact, they finished sixth in the NFL in rushing offense with a surprising 132 yards per game.

    What is even more amazing is the lack of impact that Mark Ingram had on the football field outside of the red-zone. If healthy, you can expect the former first-round pick to be a solid contributor in 2012.

    Then you have the Mini-Me of the National Football League in the form of Darren Sproles. The talented running back had a whopping 4,300 yards from scrimmage, including over 1,300 yards of total offense.

     

     


Atlanta Falcons: Cornerback

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Brent Grimes, Asante Samuel, Dunta Robinson, Dominique Franks and Christopher Owens.

    The addition of Asante Samuel changes the whole dynamic of the Atlanta Falcons defense. By adding the Pro Bowl cornerback they are able to move Dunta Robinson to the nickel position, a spot that he seems better suited for.

    Moreover, it gives them two dynamic players on the outside in the form of Samuel and incumbent No. 1 corner Brent Grimes.

    This is going to be absolutely huge going up against the likes of the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers in the NFC South. It might actually decide the outcome of the division.

    One trade and the possibility for a season long division battle in the South just got much better.


Carolina Panthers: Running Back

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Tauren Poole.

    The funny thing is that this doesn't even take into account quarterback Cam Newton, who broke a NFL record at that position with 14 rushing touchdowns as a rookie in 2011.

    While it could be said that both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart had down seasons last year, it really is hard to imagine them repeating that performance this upcoming season. Running backs that possess that type of talent are few and far between.

    The NFL has a short memory, but Williams and Stewart are just two seasons removed from both rushing for over 1,000 yards.

    Did I mention the Panthers also signed Mike Tolbert away from the San Diego Chargers? The human bowling-ball might start at fullback, but he has accumulated over 1,900 total yards and scored 21 touchdowns in the last two seasons combined.

     


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Safety

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Ronde Barber (FS), Mark Barron (SS), Cody Grimm, Ahmad Black, Tramain Thomas and Larry Asante

    It is no secret that the safety let down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense a great deal in 2011. Sean Jones and Tanard Jackson just didn't get it done. They combined for a total of two interceptions and six passes defended as the last line of defense.

    Wow, that is just plain bad.

    Tampa Bay sought out to address this deficiency by moving future Hall of Fame cornerback Ronde Barber to safety and drafting Mark Barron in the top-10 of April's draft.

    Other talented cornerbacks have made successful transitions to safety in the past. Both Rod Woodson and Corey Chavous come to mind. You can expect Barber to be fine at his new position.

    While Barron might have issues in coverage early in his career, the talented Alabama product is going to be stout against the run in the box and will definitely make strides in coverage.

     

     


San Francisco 49ers: Running Back

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon.

    This is as deep of a position as it comes in the National Football League. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter combined for nearly 2,000 total yards in 2011 and have received a tremendous amount of help with offseason additions.

    Brandon Jacobs, who has scored a whopping 36 rushing touchdowns over the course of the last four seasons, takes over as their primary short-yardage running back. This was an area where San Francisco struggled a great deal last year.

    The biggest addition to this group could be rookie second-round pick LaMichael James. The former Oregon standout adds an entirely new dimension to the 49ers offense. He has the ability to break it the distance on every play, is a solid receiving option on third down and can by a dynamic player on special teams.

     


Arizona Cardinals: Cornerback

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Patrick Peterson, Greg Toler, William Gay, A.J. Jefferson, Jamell Fleming and Michael Adams.

    This unit is stacked with potential and talent. Patrick Peterson started out his rookie season slow, but progressed to a Pro Bowl level as the season continued. In the end, Peterson had the look of a true shutdown corner. That is an extremely impressive feat considering how rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle on the outside in the NFL.

    While Greg Toler, A.J.Jefferson and Mike Adams might leave a lot to be desired, all have something they do very well and will be great depth players.

    The biggest additions to this unit were William Gay via free agency and Jamell Fleming in the draft. Gay, a veteran starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, adds a nice amount of valuable experience to the secondary. Fleming was one of my favorite cornerbacks in the draft and should have received first-round play.

    This unit should be a strength in 2012.

     


Seattle Seahawks: Wide Receiver

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Doug Baldwin, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, Deon Butler and Kris Durham.

    Let me skip over the two starters for a second here. Doug Baldwin is worth mentioning above anyone else. The talented young receiver spent three days during the 2011 NFL draft waiting for his name to be called, only to be disappointed when it wasn't.

    His former coach at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh, decided to pass on Baldwin with the San Francisco 49ers. It wasn't looking good for him until Pete Carroll took a chance.

    Boy, did Baldwin make the best of that opportunity. He recorded nearly 800 receiving yards as a rookie and was a Seahawks most consistent receiver throughout the majority of the season.

    Sidney Rice came over via free agency, but struggled to stay on the field and was inconsistent when he saw action. There is no doubting the talent that Rice possesses and you can fully expect on him to recover from a disastrous first season in the Pacific Northwest.


    The huge wildcard here is going to be Mike Williams. Will he be the outstanding performer that we saw for most of the 2010 season or will he be the inconsistent player that we saw for a majority of last year? If Williams can regain his old form then the Seahawks receiving corp is going to be loaded.

    This doesn't even take into account Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate, both of whom have the talent to be successful complementary receivers in the NFL.

     


St. Louis Rams: Cornerback

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    Unofficial Depth Chart: Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Bradley Fletcher, Josh Gordy, Kendric Burney and Jerome Murphy.

    The St. Louis Rams did a tremendous job acknowledging then addressing shortcomings throughout their roster in the offseason and it all started at the cornerback position.

    This is indicated by the fact that Justin King and Josh Gordy started 21 games last season and are nowhere to be found in regards to the starting positions this upcoming season.

    They went out and signed Cortland Finnegan away from the Tennessee Titans, which provides this secondary with a veteran presence that they have been missing.

    More importantly, St. Louis utilized two picks in the first three rounds on cornerback help. Janoris Jenkins is going to be a No. 1 corner in the National Football League if consistent off-field issues cease to continue. Moreover, the Rams picked up Trumaine Johnson in the third round. The former Montana standout was jumping draft boards prior to the annual event in April and provides a tremendous amount of value.

    It might take a little bit of time for this unit to gel, but once it does watch out.

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