Over the next two weeks, we're analyzing the depth charts of every Big 12 team coming out of the spring. We continue the series with Kansas. The Jayhawks haven't released an official depth chart so we'll project the two-deep for David Beaty's program with the understanding that no starting spot is safe on a squad that was winless a year ago.
OFFENSE (projected starters in bold)
Willis remains the favorite to be the Jayhawks starter after a solid freshman season which saw him battle through the ups and downs of youth but finish with 1,719 passing yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It’s the last chance for Cozart to fulfill his potential but a disappointing spring showing (three interceptions) won’t help his cause in the race for playing time. Keep an eye on redshirt freshman Carter Stanley, who could force his way into contention for snaps.
Kinner is a shifty, quick runner who has the ability to create positive plays out of negative situations. He had 566 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Martin, one of the Jayhawks’ fastest players, could end up as the primary backup after logging 15 carries in Kansas spring game. Realistically, the battle for carries behind Kinner could last deep into the season with J.J. Jolaoso and Ryan Schadler among the other options at running back. It seems wide open for Class of 2016 running back signee Khalil Herbert to get a chance to play immediately.
The Jayhawks have some pretty good options at receiver with Gonzalez highlighting the group with his speed and game-breaking ability. Booker looks promising, Sims has loads of upside and Johnson could have a significant role at tight end. Don’t be surprised to see receivers not even listed here -- like freshman Keegan Brewer and junior Darious Crawley -- become impact players. Overall, this looks like a talented group that could be pushed to another level if Gonzalez forces defenses to double-team him.
The battle to start should continue into preseason camp since none of these listed starters looks like a lock to earn a spot among the top five linemen on the roster. Banks' switch from guard to tackle gives Kansas pretty good depth at the position with Shelley-Smith, McCauley and Hughes each capable of stepping in at a tackle position. With Gibson, Bragg, Ribordy and Rhodes, the interior has options and competition.
DEFENSE (projected starters in bold)
If he continues to approach the rest of his career as he did his true freshman season, Armstrong has star written all over him. He joins the other three defensive ends to give Kansas some options on the perimeter while Dezir, Williams and Wise are solid along the interior. The Jayhawks likely won’t have a overwhelmingly dominant defensive line but they shouldn’t get overrun either if they continue to develop as a unit.
This could be the deepest position on the roster with Dineen finding a home at linebacker and becoming a playmaking force last season. Roberts, a transfer from South Carolina, is a stalwart on the defense with a good combination of size and athleticism. Meanwhile, Arnick is a top-notch backup and Ogbebor is a promising prospect.
Smithson is a playmaker and leader who led the Big 12 in tackles a year ago while Miller seems to have made a smooth transition from cornerback after starting seven games at the position as a true freshman. The overall depth at cornerback is increasing with Stewart as the headliner of that group. It’s an experienced secondary that could set the standard for the defense as a whole.