With one preseason game in the books, do we have a solid view of the team's strengths and weaknesses? We have some vague ideas about depth and talent level, but solid judgments are hard to make. Still, we can make rash judgments in polls, because that's what we're for.
Which position group is the strongest?
There's a very good argument to make here. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are top notch starters, even if they didn't do much of anything in the first preseason game. But the depth looked pretty decent in that game, too. With the exception of Chris Owusu, most receivers looked competent. Kevin Ogletree was arguably the MVP of that game, while Tiquan Underwood didn't look too bad and even Derek Hagan got in on the action.
The one concern was Chris Owusu, but given his strong performances in training camp we can probably write his play off as preseason jitters. That has to improve pretty soon, though.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have more quality on their starting offensive line than any team in the NFL. Carl Nicks is an All-Pro and arguably the best guard in the NFL, while Davin Joseph and Donald Penn are both Pro Bowlers and at the very least above average players. Jeremy Zuttah is good enough as a center and excellent on the move, while Demar Dotson looked like he has improved immensely on last year's up-and-down performance.
And while the Bucs' depth is nothing to write home about, they have more of it than most NFL teams. Gabe Carimi looked fine at right tackle and can play guard as well. Ted Larsen would be okay as a starting center and is fine for a backup guard, while Jamon Meredith gives the team some more versatility as well.
Doug Martin is one of the best five running backs in the NFL, if you ask me. And despite trading Blount for effectively nothing, the Buccaneers do appear to have some decent depth at the position. Brian Leonard is a pretty good third-down back, while one of Mike James, Peyton Hillis and Michael Smith is likely to emerge as a decent backup. Still, while Doug Martin is great, I wouldn't exactly feel comfortable with the running game depending on Hillis' health or Leonard's elusiveness.
Cornerback? I can't really make an argument for this, but in light of rave offseason reviews and the solid performance we saw on Thursday we do have to mention them. Darrelle Revis hasn't joined the fray, but everyone who stepped on the field looked, well, good. Danny Gorrer had two splash plays and looked outstanding before leaving with a groin injury. Johnthan Banks was very solid and physical, while Leonard Johnson wasn't tested much but didn't seem to be out of position either.
Add in veteran Michael Adams and possibly undrafted rookie Rashaan Melvin, who got some rare Schiano praise after the game, and you have what looks like a surprisingly solid group with some depth despite the loss of Eric Wright. But we do have to keep in mind that that was just one game, and the Ravens aren't exactly loaded with wide receivers right now.
We barely got a good look at Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson on Thursday, but we know what they can do. They're good. And with Barron's role in the box increasing and another year under his belt he should be better than he was last year. But it's the depth that's impressive in this group.
I wouldn't feel bad about Cody Grimm or Ahmad Black starting, although both have their faults and limitations. That's some impressive depth for a team that had Sean Jones and Sabby Piscitelli on the field in 2010. Keith Tandy was disappointing against the Ravens, but he does have some talent.