Tip to Aerostar and his hilarious avatar for first posting this.
The first depth chart of the year is released. Yes, we all know about Charlie Johnson being the starting left tackle over Ugoh, but I found other tidbits just as astounding and surprising. I need to remember that this isn't the final roster, but it does show Caldwell's impressions. We have been looking at tweets and reports and even first-hand accounts, but Caldwell is the man who makes the final decisions, and this gives us a peek into his thought process. This is also very telling of who will be cut and who will make the roster. Note that the PUP list players are listed at the bottom, so like Aerostar said, don't grab your pitchforks and torches and head out for Caldwell when you see Sanders listed as the #3 strong safety.
My position-by-position analysis is after the jump.
No surprises there.
Coming into training camp, people would have said you were crazy if you had Chad Simpson, who was just plain bad last year over the promising Lance Ball, but now Simpson is above Ball. Everything I've heard out of training camp has Simpson being a phenomenal player. Ball does have practice squad eligibility left, so there is that. Last year Lance Ball dominated in preseason for the Rams much like Mike Hart did for the Colts and ended up not making the roster, so it is hard to say that if Ball has a great preseason he will make the roster.
Again, we are seeing Tamme listed as an H-back while his skill sets fit more of the tight end/slot receiver role that Dallas Clark plays. That confused me.
A lot of things to note here. First, Austin Collie behind Pierre Garcon and Roy Hall? That surprised me. Collie has been practicing as the slot receiver while Garcon has been the fourth and Hall hasn't really been heard from. Second, who's this Brett McDermott? Taj Smith has supposedly been very impressive, but he is listed behind McDermott. That shocked me. Giguere is obviously listed last because he is on the PUP list.
So Santi is fourth. That disappoints me since I am such a Santi fan. Gijon Robinson holds onto the second receiver job for now. This could seriously change this preseason. Santi was out for training camp and preseason last year and has battled injuries for his career, so he could surprise the coaches who have seen very little from him so far.
These are some names that have been around for a while, but usually Ugoh would be above Johnson. That continues to shock me. The Colts gave up a first round pick for Ugoh in the most deep running back class I can remember. Some players that were left when the Niner picked were receivers Donny Avery and Eddie Royal, tight ends Dustin Keller and John Carlson, and running backs Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Kevin Smith. Keep that in mind when deciding whether Ugoh was a bust or not.
It's nice to see Lilja in a depth chart again. That is the biggest addition of the offseason. They are getting back an outstanding offensive guard that will have a chip on his shoulder. I expect left guard to be the strongest position on the line other than center with Jamey Richard being the backup. Richard is going to be one of Polian's diamonds in the rough picks. It isn't looking great for Thomas to make the roster right now, but training camp could change that.
No surprise with Saturday at the top. Justice really needs to step it up because he was awful last season in both the preseason and regular season. The DeVan signing keeps looking weirder now that he isn't making any impact.
Pollak is another young offensive lineman who needs to step it up. This really is a huge question mark. Pollak was not good last year, but at least he will have a training camp to get ready for the season. Federkeil, straight outta Medicine Hat, has been a long time Colt and has played well when given the opportunity. Barnes was another weird signing who hasn't panned out.
Diem was the only healthy lineman last year, but he wasn't great. I would not be surprised to see Ugoh starting on the right side one day. Hilliard played well at the training camp I went to and he could make the roster. Pestock is in the same boat as Barnes and DeVan. All three will be in the UFL soon enough.
Left Defensive End
This surprised me a lot. Not only is Robert Mathis starting, but Raheem Brock isn't even listed as a left defensive end. Dawson's move to defensive end must be going well now that he is listed above Howard, someone who I think could make a huge impact. I do not want to see Mathis starting. He isn't great against the run, and he is much more effective as a pass rush specialist.
This shocked me to be honest. I thought Mookie was in trouble with his injury, but now he is a starter. He earned it after last season, but with the way Muir has been playing and the drafting of Taylor I thought he may have been the odd man out. Besides AJ, nothing surprises me. Muir has almost guaranteed himself a roster spot now, and things aren't looking good for Grady.
I don't know how Ed Johnson is an under tackle. He's a huge man. This doesn't seem right. I think the defense will be a little different next year, which is a good thing. There will be better run defense and hopefully the Johnsons could even get pressure on the QB. Fili Moala isn't starting, but he isn't a wasted pick. Let's see how he does with the preseason. Foster better make the roster.
Right Defensive End
Things aren't looking good for Johnson. He could very easily not make the roster after minimal playing time last year. He is a good pass rusher, but there are much better lineman, and I think he is the odd man out. Nothing surprising at RDE.
No surprises here.
This shocked me. Keiaho is listed as a middle linebacker, and he's third on the depth chart? He may not even make the roster. Special teams may save him. Besides that, no surprises.
Senn is the backup WILL right now. He was a special teams stud, so maybe he will make the roster. The 2008 UDFAs were a very special group. Maybe he will continue to be a part of it.
To me, this looks like Hughes may be winning the nickelback job, something that would please me. Hughes was built for the Tampa-2, and if he can stay healthy, he can be a very good player. He was another third round pick that was starting to look like a bust, but maybe he can end up breaking the curse. Rushing and Coe may be the odd men out when it comes to making the roster. Losing Rushing would disappoint me, and Coe could have been a great special teams player, but when a team has great depth, good players end up getting cut.
This may be the most talented group on the team. Bullitt was an absolute stud filling in for Sanders last year, and Silva is a great special teams player. Sanders is obviously an amazing player, but he has to stay healthy. I'm not sure if I can take more of his injuries.
Bethea is in his contract year, so I expect him to really step it up. Giordano is a great gunner who has found his place on the roster. Key is a training camp player and nothing more. No surprises here.
PUP players are listed last, so that's why Andrus is the team's kicker. Vinatieri should be healthy by the Jaguars game, so this is what I expected. Keep Vinatieri off the field and let him rehab.
How can you hold the ball AND the clipboard at the same time? Obviously Sorgi isn't going to win this job.
This may be the way Rushing makes the roster. He is a great punt returner. I did not know that Powers was a returner, so that surprised me. Garcon is not a good returner so hopefully Rushing makes the roster or Powers beats him out for the job.
Simpson being named the starter shows how bad the kick return game is. Hopefully they draft someone like Perrish Cox next year so this isn't a problem anymore.
Good old Justin Snow. He's been around forever, and I couldn't be happier. He has a great job.
I do not expect all of these to stand. Obviously Ed Johnson isn't starting Week One because of suspension, but there is no way AJ is going to be a regular starter. I also expect Ugoh to start Week One as well. Overall, this was a shocking depth chart. I can't wait to see these guys play on Friday.