Buffalo Bills 53 Man Opening Day Roster Prediction
With two preseason games completed and training camp coming to a close, the Buffalo Bills are moving closer to finalizing their squad for the upcoming season. Here is my 53-man roster projection:
Quarterbacks (3): Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones
This seems to be one of the easiest position groups to sort out and boy is that weird to say as a Bills fan. Tyrod Taylor seems to have picked up right where he left off in 2015 and is poised for a big 2016. EJ Manuel has been EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones has shown flashes but isn’t ready to be the team’s primary backup. All three will make the roster.
Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush, Mike Gillislee, Jonathan Williams (cut: notable cut James Wilder Jr.)
Speaking of easy projections, with the surprising release of Karlos Williams over the weekend, the running back position looks set. Wilder has been a fan favorite throughout the offseason but hasn’t shown enough to warrant a roster spot.
Fullbacks (1): Jerome Felton (notable cut: Glenn Gronkowski)
Undrafted rookie Glenn Gronkowski a.k.a “Baby Gronk” hasn’t done anything in training camp or the preseason to pose a serious threat to Felton’s job.
Wide receivers (6): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas, Greg Little, Walter Powell (notable cuts: Dezmin Lewis, Jarrett Boykin)
This is arguably the hardest position on the roster to project after the top three. Goodwin put together a solid training camp and seems to have locked up the No. 3 job. Greg Little made a late push to secure a roster spot and has been consistently running with the 2’s throughout training camp into the preseason. Greg Salas seemed to have a defined role in the offense before his hamstring injury. Dezmin Lewis after a strong spring fell off the face of the planet in training camp and it took a 2pt conversion play last Saturday to even remember he was still on the roster. With that said, you would have to give the last receiver spot to Walter Powell for having a strong training camp and preseason, while adding value as a returner. These are the six, assuming Marcus Easley and sixth-round pick Kolby Listenbee start the season on some sort of injury list.
Tight ends (3): Charles Clay, Chris Gragg, Jim Dray (notable cuts: Nick O’Leary, Blake Annen)
Considering the multiple tight end usage in Greg Roman’s offense, it is possible the Bills will go four deep here and keep Nick O’Leary or Blake Annen who has had a strong spring and has rare athleticism. But neither has shown enough to warrant a roster spot during camp or preseason.
Offensive line (8): Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Jordan Mills, Cyrus Kouandjio, Seantrel Henderson, Ryan Groy (Notable cuts: Fernando Velasco, Cyril Richardson)
Fernando Velasco was signed to a one-year deal in April and was expected to replace Kraig Urbik as the team’s top “swing” interior lineman, but he hasn’t looked the part in training camp or preseason. The coaches seemed to have taken notice too, as Rex Ryan recently named Ryan Groy as the team’s top interior player in a press conference earlier this week. Groy also has value as an additional tight end/in-line blocker having done this along with Cyrus Kouandjio in the teams heavy sets late last season.
***Stay tuned for a breakdown of Kouandjio and Mills***
Defensive line (6): Kyle Williams, Adolphus Washington, Corbin Bryant, Jerel Worthy, Leger Douzable, Lavar Edwards
Despite losing Marcel Dareus to suspension for the first four games, this remains a strong position group with surprising performances by Leger Douzable and Jerel Worthy in the preseason thus far. With Rex Ryan’s recent comments on Lavar Edwards, I think he makes the roster.
“And then looking at it defensively, I think (Lavar) Edwards too. I think he’s improved quite a bit”
Linebacker (8): Jerry Hughes, Kroy Biermann, Preston Brown, Zach Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, David Hawthorne, Brandon Spikes, and Bryson Albright (Notable Cut: Randell Johnson)
I had high hopes for Randell Johnson when we drafted him in 2014. Sure he was a 7th round flier, but I thought he had the athletic gifts to develop into a nice player. Johnson moved to Mike linebacker this offseason and was running with the 2nd team all through minicamp into training camp that is until the team signed Brandon Spikes. Following the signing of Spikes, Johnson was demoted to 3rd team instantly. With Reggie Ragland out for the season, Zach Brown will start at Will LB with David Hawthorne backing him up. Spikes will back up the Mike inside backer spot behind Preston Brown. Jerry Hughes & Lorenzo Alexander will start at the outside linebacker spots with Kroy Biermann and Bryson Albright backing them up. Alexander’s spot in the lineup hinges on Manny Lawson’s ability to be cleared for week one. Shaq Lawson will most likely land on some kind of injury list. Who ends up getting cut when they return is a discussion for a different time.
Cornerback (6): Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Corey White, Kevon Seymour, Sterling Moore
This is one of the NFL’s best cornerback groups. Stephon Gilmore, has been a shutdown corner for the past two seasons, is seeking a big payday, and was the teams top performer throughout training camp. Ronald Darby has had a rocky camp, but I think everyone remembers his preseason last year and he still proved to be an absolute steal as a second-round pick. Speaking of steals former undrafted free agent Nickell Robey-Coleman will also make this team. He is a favorite of the coaching staff and has been the teams nickel back since signing with the team after the 2013 NFL Draft. The Bills seemed to have struck gold again with this year’s sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour. Seymour has impressed the coaching staff since the spring, he has taken 1st team reps at both nickel and left corner positions, and put together a strong preseason so far.As of the release of this article Seymour has only been tested four times and allowed one reception for six yards and has two pass deflections. Corey White has been making plays all spring and summer, he even landed himself on PFF Team of the Week for his performance against the Giants last Saturday.
Safety (5): Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Duke Williams, Robert Blanton, Colt Anderson (notable cut: Jonathan Meeks)
The starters are set with Aaron Williams and Corey Graham. The big question was/is who will be the third safety. When training camp started it looked like Robert Blanton had the spot, then there was a push by Jonathan Meeks, but through two preseason games it looks like Duke Williams has put a stranglehold on the role. Colt Anderson doesn’t seem to have a defined role defensively, but he is on every special teams unit, he’s seemingly a lock for a roster spot. Rex Ryan has raved about this group all offseason and there could be a scenario where Rex keeps six.
Kickers (1): Dan Carpenter (notable cut: Jordan Gay)
Dan Carpenter struggled last year, but seems to be back on track for 2016 with a strong training camp. As for Jordan Gay, who has served as the kickoff specialist for the past two seasons, Rex Ryan tried him out as a place-kicker over the weekend and the results weren’t pretty. Gay missed an extra point and a field goal in the game, proving he isn’t really a threat to Carpenter’s job as the place-kicker. Carpenter kicking off to begin the second half of Saturday’s preseason game was the writing on the wall for Gay.
Punter (1): Colton Schmidt
Long-snapper (1): Garrison Sanborn