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Five takeaways from the Buccaneers’ first 2017 depth chart

Doug Martin is starting, for one.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Training Camp Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just published their first depth chart of 2017, and it’s mostly unremarkable. The players we thought were starting, are starting. No one’s down the depth chart at a position where we thought they were competing, and none of the undrafted free agents are very high up either.

That’s natural: the published depth chart never actually reflect the depth charts coaches are working on a day-to-day basis, if only because those charts are based more around specific packages and roles than around simple priority lists. This chart doesn’t have slot receivers or slot cornerbacks, for instance, but the coaches do. Plus, coaches don’t like to publish all their innermost feelings about players.

In addition, the earliest depth chart is also the most meaningless one. Most position battles have yet to play out fully, and coaches always keep a few young players down the depth chart early on only to see them rise later. As will likely happen with Chris Godwin, for instance.

Still, there’s a few key things we can take away from this depth chart.

O.J. Howard isn’t really competing with Cameron Brate

I’ve said this before, but while both Brate and Howard are tight ends, they’re not really competing with each other. That’s reinforced in this depth chart, which has two spots for tight ends: one with smaller move tight ends like Brate, and one with bigger tight ends like Howard who can be a force as blockers.

Mostly, this means that if Brate and Howard both do well, we’ll see both of them on the field at the same time a lot. If one of them falters, then they may be taken off the field to be replaced by someone at another position group—say, Adam Humphries coming in as a receiver to replace Brate, or a sixth lineman instead of Howard on running plays.

Nick Folk and Roberto Aguayo are still too close to call

The Bucs are listing Folk and Aguayo as co-starters at kicker, which indicates that there’s no clear front-runner right now. That fits with what we’ve seen of training camp. And all of that implies that Aguayo’s the most likely player to get that kicker roster spot: he’s the one the Bucs have invested in the most, after all.

Doug Martin is starting

Doug Martin has done everything the Bucs have asked him to do, and he’s listed as the starter at running back. While he’ll miss the first three games, and he’ll probably have to give up some playing time, he should still get the bulk of the carries once he’s back.

One interesting note here: Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims are listed as sharing the backup spot. It’s unclear what that means exactly, though it may be an indication of what we’ll see the first three games of the regular season.

Noah Spence isn’t starting

This doesn’t mean Spence won’t be playing, as he’s the first pass-rush specialist off the bench. But it does mean that Spence likely won’t see the field as much as he did during most of last season, when he was forced to start for large periods of time due to a lack of depth.

Instead, the Bucs will go with Robert Ayers and William Gholston on early downs to defend against the run, while bringing in Spence (and probably Jacquies Smith once he’s healthy) on passing downs and against pass-heavy personnel.

Most newcomers haven’t won a starting job, yet

Aside from DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, who were shoe-ins for starting jobs, most newcomers haven’t managed to grab hold of a starting job. That’s kind of standard practice, at least until after the first preseason game, so don’t read too much into that.

Still, safeties Justin Evans and J.J. Wilcox, wide receiver Chris Godwin, running back Jeremy McNichols, defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and cornerback Robert McClain are all a little further down the depth chart than they’d presumably like. We’ll see if they can change their fortunes.

Full depth chart


Quarterback: Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Ryan Griffin, Sefo Liufau

Wide receiver 1: DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, Donteea Dye, Josh Huff, Jesus Wilson, Shaq Hill

Wide receiver 2: Mike Evans, Freddie Martino, Chris Godwin, Bernard Reedy, Derel Walker

Tight end 1: Cameron Brate, Tevin Westbrook, Antony Auclair

Tight end 2: O.J. Howard, Luke Stocker, Alan Cross, Austin Johnson

Running back: Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers or Charles Sims, Jeremy McNichols, Peyton Barber, Russell Hansbrough, Blake Sims, Quayvon Hicks

Left tackle: Donovan Smith, Leonard Wester, Cole Gardner

Left guard: Kevin Pamphile, Josh Allen, Jarvis Harrison

Center: Ali Marpet, Joe Hawley, James Stone

Right guard: J.R. Sweezy, Evan Smith, Michael Liedtke

Right tackle: Demar Dotson, Caleb Benenoch, Korren Kirven


Defensive end 1: Robert Ayers, Noah Spence, Ryan Russell, Justin Trattou, Tavaris Barnes

Defensive tackle 1: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Channing Ward

Defensive tackle 2: Chris Baker, Sealver Siliga, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu

Defensive end 2: William Gholston, DaVonte Lambert, George Johnson, Jacquies Smith (injured), Sterling Bailey

Strongside linebacker: Devante Bond, Kendell Beckwith, Jeff Knox

Middle linebacker: Kwon Alexander, Adarius Glanton, Riley Bullough

Weakside linebacker: Lavonte David, Cameron Lynch, Richie Brown, Eric Nzeocha

Cornerback 1: Vernon Hargreaves, Jude Adjei-Barimah, Robert McClain, Jonathan Moxey

Cornerback 2: Brent Grimes, Ryan Smith, Javien Elliott, Maurice Fleming

Safety 1: Chris Conte, Justin Evans, Isaiah Johnson, Cody Riggs

Safety 2: Keith Tandy, J.J. Wilcox, Josh Robinson, Marqueston Huff

Special teams

Punter: Bryan Anger

Placekicker: Roberto Aguayo or Nick Folk

Kickoffs: Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk

Holder: Bryan Anger

Longsnapper: Garrison Sanborn, Adarius Glanton

Punt returner: Adam Humphries, Vernon Hargreaves III, Bernard Reedy, Bobo Wilson

Kick returner: Ryan Smith, Donteea Dye Jr., Josh Huff, Justin Evans