Rookie Depth Chart Battles: Kelvin Sheppard

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 4: Kelvin Sheppard #11 of the LSU Tigers tackles Johnny White #34 of the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Georgia Dome September 4 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

More and more NFL rookies are expected to contribute early in their careers.  However, for them to make an impact they need to beat out a veteran player.  We are going to analyze the situation of specific rookies and determine the likely hood of them winning a position battle.

Player: Kelvin Sheppard

Team: Buffalo Bills

Position: Linebacker

Competition: Paul Posluszny (free agent), Akin Ayodele 

Chance of winning the battle: 60 percent

Thoughts: Sheppard landed on a team that lacks great defensive talent and depth.  The Bills have been working to improve their overall talent for a few years and are making strides.  The first thing Buffalo needs to figure out is a defensive identity as last year they rotated between a 3-4 and 4-3 alignment.  It appears they are leaning towards running a 3-4 system.

Sheppard has good size and decent athletic ability.  He would be best served as an inside linebacker where he can attack the line and plug holes.  However, he is not the most instinctive player and at times is out of position.  What he lacks in instincts is compensated by athletic talent. 

The linebacker corps in Buffalo is thin and could get thinner if Paul Posluszny leaves via free agency.  The lack of depth means that Sheppard has a good shot to earn a starting spot early.  At the very least he will be looking at significant playing time as part of the rotation.  However, it will all come down to how he performs in training camp because starting jobs need to be earned.



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