Every Team's Deepest Position Heading into 2013
The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers were not only the teams represented in the Super Bowl, but were also recognized as two of the more successful franchises in the league.
A big reason why is due to their superb drafting and smart decisions made in free agency. With injuries continuing to play a major role in the current NFL, it's absolutely crucial for contending teams to have depth across some of the more important positions.
Thus, here is a look each NFL team's deepest position. Granted, there is one position that is the most common on this list. However, the deepest position does not necessarily mean that it involves the most talented player on the roster.
As teams are set to begin training camp in about a month, there is at least one position that will create competition in camp, or provide insurance for teams looking to compete for a championship.
Arizona Cardinals: Cornerback
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As the Arizona Cardinals move forward during the Bruce Arians era, one thing remains clear: there is plenty of depth at the cornerback position.
Patrick Peterson continues to emerge as a future All-Pro cover corner, anchoring a secondary that was a strong suit during the disappointing campaign in 2013. Yet, it's the talent following Peterson that is impressive in its own right.
Antoine Cason is a likely candidate to receive an increased role in 2013 with the departure of some veterans. Meanwhile, rookie Tyrann Mathieu could be the most notable young defensive back that will have an opportunity to earn playing time right away.
Arizona has a plethora of young pass defenders who can continue to enhance their development this upcoming season.
Atlanta Falcons: Wide Receiver
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The Falcons have been impressive with their development of wide receivers, which has propelled this franchise to become an instant contender in 2013. The elite duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones earns the accolades for its consistency over the last few seasons.
Yet, Harry Douglas continues to provide a third option with experience, while Drew Davis and Kevin Cone are two young receivers who could provide insurance on the roster with having a full year of experience in Atlanta's offense.
Baltimore Ravens: Outside Linebacker
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While the Baltimore Ravens endured plenty of change across its defense, one area of significant improvement was at outside linebacker.
The most notable addition was the signing of Elvis Dumervil, who has been one of the game's elite pass rushers. He will find himself playing opposite of veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is primed for a much-improved 2013 season after recovering from his torn Achilles.
Fortunately, the Ravens continue to watch Courtney Upshaw, Albert McClellan and Pernell McPhee, who is making the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker in 2013.
Buffalo Bills: Wide Receiver
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The Buffalo Bills begin a new era under rookie head coach Doug Marrone, who returns to the pro ranks after his stint as the sheriff at Syracuse University.
His first draft appears to be a breath of fresh air for the Bills, who took advantage of the chance to add plenty of surging receivers to complement Stevie Johnson.
The most notable additions were Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, two receivers with contrasting playing styles.
While Woods is more of a polished route-runner who brings size to the position, Goodwin's electrifying speed as an Olympic athlete adds an intriguing dynamic to this developing passing attack for Buffalo.
They may also pay off in the long run by signing Da'Rick Rogers, a pass catcher with first-round talent who wasn't drafted due to poor decisions made off the field. Thus far, Rogers has avoided trouble since joining the Bills, and could become a fortified downfield threat for years to come.
Carolina Panthers: Running Back
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The Panthers' deepest position on the roster is exactly the same from 2012. While the value of running backs has decreased in the NFL, quality ones are not easy to find in the league today.
For Carolina, they have three capable tailbacks on the roster. DeAngelo Williams provides the most explosiveness among the talented trio. Jonathan Stewart has proven to be a capable change-of-pace back that is incredibly effective when healthy.
Following those two, Mike Tolbert has plenty of experience receiving carries out of the backfield after his tenure with the Chargers.
As the franchise looks to take a step forward with quarterback Cam Newton, there should be no concern about the three veteran backs heading into the season.
Chicago Bears: Wide Receiver
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As the Bears transition to an offensive-minded coach in Marc Trestman, this could finally be the season that the variety of talent at wide receiver stands out.
Earl Bennett could receive many more opportunities as the Bears continue to increase the opportunities in the passing game. Joe Anderson could become a pleasant surprise this season as his breakaway speed could be an effective tool if Trestman goes more toward a spread offense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Tight End
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As the Bengals prepare for the 2013 season, the strong depth at the tight end position bodes well for third-year quarterback Andy Dalton.
The selection of Tyler Eifert in the first round of this year's draft should bring the most out of veteran Jermaine Gresham in the battle for the top spot.
For the Bengals' sake, that shouldn't stop offensive coordinator Jay Gruden from using more two-tight-end sets and expanding the playbook even more for its other options along the depth chart.
Veteran Alex Smith brings nine years of experience to the table, while second-year tight end Orson Charles will compete for a roster spot moving forward.
Cleveland Browns: Outside Linebacker
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As the Browns undergo another new coaching scheme in 2013, they could quickly benefit from their young defense that could be affected in a positive way with the addition of defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Specifically, the outside linebacker position has improved as a whole this offseason, which could work to Horton's advantage as he implements the 3-4 defense.
Paul Kruger became the first addition after having the best year of his career with the Ravens, emerging as a formidable pass rusher late into the regular season before producing in the postseason.
Cleveland did not stop there, as they decided to address the position early on in the Draft with the selection of Barkevious Mingo. The former LSU product brings an impressive skill set that allows him to potentially emerge as a consistent pass rusher in 2013.
The most interesting storyline, however, does not involve either one of these linebackers. Instead, it involves Jabaal Sheard, who is making the transition to outside linebacker under Horton's scheme.
Dallas Cowboys: Wide Receiver
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The Cowboys find themselves in a great position with their combination of youth and depth at the wide receiver position.
Dez Bryant continues to emerge as one of the elite pass catchers, elevating himself to atop the depth chart in Dallas. While Miles Austin did display a disappointing campaign in 2013, he is still in the prime of his career and is an effective number two option in the Cowboys offense.
Though, that didn't stop Jerry Jones from adding the talented Terrance Williams, a rookie out of Baylor who likely will find himself third on the depth chart.
Rounding out the remaining open spots at receiver are Dwayne Harris and Anthony Armstrong, who will challenge Williams for playing time with the hope of becoming viable deep threat options.
Denver Broncos: Cornerback
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Following their collapse in last year's playoffs against the Ravens, the Broncos made it a priority to upgrade the position that failed them late in that loss.
The addition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie adds impressive depth to a unit that already boasts Champ Bailey and Chris Harris, who is now a candidate to move into the slot.
Denver continued to add more talent to the position this offseason, most notably with veteran Quentin Jammer, who has played the majority of his career in the AFC West.
Detroit Lions: Cornerback
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The Lions don't have a superb amount of talent across the secondary, specifically at the cornerback position. Despite the lack of an elite cover corner, there will be plenty of competition for the starting position opposite Chris Houston.
As MLive.com notes, there are a handful of cornerbacks who are poised to earn the starting job. Ron Bartell, Bill Bentley, Jonte Green, Chris Greenwood and Darius Slay are all competing for the starting job, with Bartell having the most starting experience among the group.
However, Greenwood and Slay add youth to the position. If they are able to learn their defensive schemes quickly, they will pose a major threat to the veterans due to their speed and the potential to create game-changing plays in a blink of an eye.
Green Bay Packers: Running Back
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The depth at running back for the Packers is quite a refreshing sight for the franchise, which has relied heavily on their talented quarterbacks over the past decade.
Through the 2013 draft, the additions of Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin should create an intriguing battle for the starting spot in the backfield.
Though the talent does not stop there. DuJuan Harris, Alex Green, and James Starks are veterans who will not only battle for impending roster spots, but also attempt to gain carries away from the unproven rookies.
Ultimately, it's a good problem for Green Bay to deal with this upcoming season.
Houston Texans: Running Back
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The talent at running back runs quite deep down the depth chart for the defending AFC South champions.
With Arian Foster emerging as one of the game's elite running backs, the talent that follows him on the roster is impressive as well.
Ben Tate continues to find a bigger role in the offense each season, and that production could very well continue this coming season.
After the top two backs in Houston, the open competition involves undrafted rookies in Ray Graham and Cierre Wood, who could add a unique dynamic in certain situations for a team looking for a third straight divisional crown.
Indianapolis Colts: Inside Linebacker
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The Colts cannot boast the inside linebacker position as one of the more talented units by any stretch of the imagination.
However, there is a clear competition for the starting position in 2013, with three young and growing defensive players up for the challenge.
Jerrell Freeman was very impressive last season by recording over 100 tackles. Despite his success, Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner are legitimate options who bring a plethora of youth and athleticism to the battle during training camp.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Safety
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The Jaguars do not currently have a roster that consists of positions that are incredibly deep across the depth chart.
Despite the lack of overall talent, the additions at safety certainly make the position an interesting factor in 2013.
Rookie head coach Gus Bradley coached an impressive defense in Seattle, most notably due to the talent of their secondary.
In Jacksonville, veteran Dwight Lowery continues to anchor the starting spot at free safety, while rookie Johnathan Cyprien could quickly become a household name.
Chris Prosinski and rookie Josh Evans round out the group who will be competing for roster sports moving forward.
Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback
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The Chiefs' defense displays plenty of former Pro-Bowlers who have made this unit respectable over the last few seasons.
While there is talent at linebacker, the depth at cornerback has improved drastically this offseason.
After losing Brandon Carr in 2012, the Chiefs were active in their pursuit of two talented veterans- Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson. Both men will compete for the starting spot opposite Brandon Flowers.
Jalil Brown is likely to emerge fourth on the depth chart and could receive a raise in playing time as opposing offenses continue to focus on instituting spread offenses.
Sanders Commings could be a young defensive back that makes the final cut in the rotation for Kansas City, who is looking to rebound after a disastrous campaign in 2013.
Miami Dolphins: Cornerback
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The Dolphins were incredibly active this offseason with the intent on improving a team that can compete in the AFC.
Suddenly, they enter training camp with an underrated group of cornerbacks that could very well be an upgrade to last year's unit.
Brett Grimes, the former Falcons cornerback, joined Miami following an injury-plagued season in Atlanta. If healthy, Grimes is an aggressive cornerback who shores up any questions about the top defensive back on the roster.
After the seasoned veteran, Richard Marshall and rookie Jamar Taylor are two young candidates who can easily win the open competition in camp. They continue to battle with Dimitri Patterson and Will Davis for those positions.
Minnesota Vikings: Defensive Tackle
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The Vikings have prided themselves on building a defensive front that can make opposing quarterbacks miserable on Sundays.
Fortunately for them, they have very impressive depth at one of the more important positions.
Defensive tackle has been a position that Kevin Williams has anchored alongside Pat Williams.
Now, Williams is surrounded by other talent at the position.
Letroy Guion and Fred Evans have the most experience on the roster besides Williams, but continue to improve each year as they earn playing time in this league.
Christian Ballard was the youngest of the group for the last few years, having played in every game the last two seasons. In 2013, he'll have to make room on the roster for first-round pick Sharrif Floyd, whose athleticism makes him a player who could develop quite nicely with this NFC North franchise.
New England Patriots: Running Back
As the New England Patriots shocked the NFL landscape when they released a statement announcing the release of Aaron Hernandez, the transaction now has a major impact on what was the deepest position on the roster.
Now, the focus should be turned towards the running back position, which the Patriots are likely to use much more in 2013.
Stevan Ridley gained the majority of the carries as the first halfback, though Bill Belichick is notorious for using multiple running backs in his system. The departure of Hernandez will not only lead to more touches for Ridley, but also for Shane Vereen.
Veteran Leon Washington could add some explosiveness to the backfield when he isn't returning punts or kicks. And in goal line situations, LeGarrette Blount could find some carries and produce as a result.
New Orleans Saints: Wide Receiver
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The Saints have continued to produce top-flight offenses each season under Sean Payton, with many of its receivers falling under the radar in the high flying attack.
Marques Colston might be the most underrated receiver in the entire league, as his combination of size and speed has made him a legitimate number-one receiver for Drew Brees over the years.
Lance Moore has been an impressive target in the slot for Brees since coming to New Orleans. In 2013, Chris Givens will have the opportunity to use his speed and become another talent within this system. Joe Morgan could also see an increasing role in the offense after taking advantage of his limited opportunities with three touchdowns last season.
New York Giants: Wide Receiver
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The Giants display an impressive one-two punch at wide receiver, which highlights the developing trend of young receivers on their roster.
Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are in contract seasons, with both expected to eventually earn a big paycheck after the impressive numbers they have accumulated as teammates over the years.
Following the more notable receivers on the roster, however, others will battle for prime position on the depth chart.
Rueben Randle is likely to emerge as a viable third option for Eli Manning after spending his rookie season developing within the offense and adjusting to the speed of NFL defenses. Louis Murphy lands on the Giants radar, as he is a pass catcher who has shown flashes of explosiveness during his time in the league.
While the rest of the receivers were not used much in 2013, look for the Giants to look at the play of Ramses Barden and other players on the roster who could become factors in the near future due to the potential departure of Nicks or Cruz.
New York Jets: Defensive End/Defensive Tackle
The Jets were an unfortunate team that was greatly impacted by the losses of a handful of veteran players, most notably on defense.
It's evident that they intend on building a nucleus across the defensive front.
The three players who headline the defensive front are Quinton Coples, Muhammad Wilkerson, and 2013 first-round draft pick Sheldon Richardson.
All three of these players could be used as defensive ends in the 3-4 or defensive tackles in the 4-3 set, which creates a problem regarding how they will use all three players on a consistent basis.
However, it may be a good problem to have for the Jets, as having a rotation of three young linemen keeps them fresh and allows them to be a force consistently.
With the addition of veteran Kenrick Ellis into the mix, Rex Ryan could be much more creative with his multiple sets he can display to opposing offenses each week.
Oakland Raiders: Tight End
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As the Raiders continue the slow rebuilding process under general manager Reggie McKenzie, it's evident that the most interesting battle heading into training camp is at tight end.
While there isn't one player who stands out among the rest, the Raiders will have a look at potentially six tight ends vying for playing time in 2013.
David Ausberry, Richard Gordon, and Mickey Shuler all have limited experience in the NFL. But with a starting job on the line, it could eventually bring the best out of these veterans.
The youth at the position continues down the roster, where rookies Nick Kasa, Mychal Rivera and Brian Leonhardt will compete for roster spots with the hope of taking away valuable playing time from the three above them.
Philadelphia Eagles: Running Back
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As the Eagles shift toward a faster-paced offense under Chip Kelly, the value of their experienced running backs will pay off in 2013.
LeSean McCoy was underused at times during the Andy Reid era. However, he will receive his fair share of carries in an offense that is predicated on quick runs and moving screens.
Bryce Brown was a major disappointment in college, but that didn't stop him from becoming one of the brighter spots on the roster last season. Kelly is bound to get him carries in order to keep both of his tailbacks fresh for an entire year.
Chris Polk lacks experience at 23 years old, but his 4.45 40-yard dash at the Combine will likely allow him to gain some carries away from the dynamic duo forming in Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Wide Receiver
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The Steelers are in unfamiliar territory as a team that lacks depth across the roster due to the loss of multiple free agents.
Though the situation at wide receiver could turn out to be a good problem for Pittsburgh. The departure of Mike Wallace will allow offensive coordinator Todd Haley to see if Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders can emerge as a duo.
In the meantime, they can continue to develop rookie receiver Markus Wheaton, whose size and speed makes him a viable candidate to replace Wallace's production.
There will be two veterans who will also try to gain more playing time than they did in 2013. Plaxico Burress will try to prove that he has one good year left in his career, while Jerricho Cotchery continues to build chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger.
St. Louis Rams: Cornerback
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As the Rams continue their surge under Jeff Fisher, one of the team's biggest strengths is the talent at the cornerback position.
Cortland Finnegan brings the physicality that makes him one of the more feared cover corners in the league. Janoris Jenkins's rookie season was impressive, yet he has plenty of room for growth as he enters his second year in the league.
Trumaine Johnson was a viable third option last season, recording two interceptions in the process. After Johnson, Quinton Pointer and Brandon McGee remain as young options who are bound to receive an opportunity in 2013.
San Diego Chargers: Wide Receiver
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The Chargers will enter training camp with a group of receivers that may not display the most consistency, but the combination of youth and experience could provide quality competition for the starting jobs.
Danario Alexander is in line to emerge as the Chargers' top receiver, while veterans Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem can benefit from a new offensive scheme in 2013.
Vincent Brown is healthy in 2013, which could be a sign for a young receiver who has the potential to become a special asset for this franchise moving forward. Rookie Keenan Allen is in a position to be one of the more surprising rookies this upcoming year after falling in the draft.
Rookie head coach Mike McCoy shouldn't be disappointed with the competition that could emerge this summer.
San Francisco 49ers: Outside Linebacker
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The 49ers have arguably both the most talented and deepest roster in the league, which creates an interesting debate regarding the deepest position on the team.
However, their depth at outside linebacker is an extremely encouraging sign for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.
Aldon Smith continues to develop as one of the league's most dominant pass rushers. Alongside him is Ahmad Brooks, who was extremely productive for the 49ers during last year's postseason run.
Parys Haralson can provide quality depth as he returns from an injury last season.
The 49ers continued their philosophy of picking the best available player in the draft with the selection of Corey Lemonier.
The rich continue to get richer.
Seattle Seahawks: Cornerback
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While Richard Sherman gains the majority of the within the Seahawks secondary, the amount of talent at cornerback is a testament to the success the franchise has found through both the draft and free agency.
Brandon Browner is emerging alongside Sherman as a potential All-Pro caliber pass defender. Jeremy Lane, Will Blackmon, and Walter Thurmond are among the talented corner backs that are adding impressive depth to one of the more important positions in the league.
However, the front office did not stop there with their additions. Veteran Antoine Winfield joins Seattle after a fantastic season in Minnesota for a corner who is 35 years old.
Ultimately, the talent assembled in the secondary has led to realistic Super Bowl title aspirations.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offensive Guard
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The Buccaneers have established one of the more talented offensive lines in the NFL, as injuries to some of its more notable blockers did not stop the offense from having their share of success.
For Tampa Bay, the depth at offensive guard is certainly worth noting. Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph are a fantastic duo when healthy, and could do wonders for second-year running back Doug Martin in 2013.
However. it's worth noting that Ted Larson did an impressive job when he was picked up, while Jeremy Zuttah was a veteran presence who was able to step in right away.
Tennessee Titans: Wide Receiver
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When the Titans break for training camp one month from now, the overall depth at the wide receiver position is pretty astounding. Currently, 13 receivers are on the roster, which should lead to quite the competition for the roster spots that will be available.
If Kenny Britt can manage to stay healthy for a full season, he could finally reach his full potential as an explosive offensive threat. Kendall Wright has a full season under his belt, which could do wonders as he looks to improve the Titans passing game.
The Titans continued to add quality talent at receiver through the draft, most notably Justin Hunter. While Hunter was the second receiver from Tennessee taken in the draft, he is a more polished route-runner who can effectively use his speed to his advantage.
Washington Redskins: Quarterback
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The argument for the deepest position on the Redskins could be made for a few different ways, especially at running back.
However, the amount of depth at the quarterback position is more impressive than ever now that the position is the cornerstone of franchises.
Robert Griffin III has the potential to be a transcendent superstar that can change the position for years to come. Yet, when he went down with injury over the course of last season, the Redskins turned to another rookie in Kirk Cousins.
Cousins proved his worth as a quality backup, and seems poised to eventually become a starting quarterback in the near future. Currently, Rex Grossman holds the third spot on the depth chart, which is surprising given his experience of playing in big games as a veteran quarterback.