By 4:00 PM on Tuesday, August 29, all teams must cut their rosters down to 53 players. Upwards of 1,184 players will hit the open market that day and set in motion a frenzy of moves as teams not only finalize their 53-man rosters, but their Practice Squads, as well. Those Practice Squads will provide 512 players with a way to continue their NFL career.
For the Bills, that group of 16 players will be selected carefully as valuable assets. In the sections below Hans Hansen and Chris Jahnke lay out their comprehensive prediction of the 16 players from the Bills’ 90-man roster which could be selected. Each player below has been selected based off of historical trends and the presumptive future plans of the Buffalo Bills.
Matt Barkley (QB)
Every week since 2020 the Bills have carried at least 1 Quarterback on their Practice Squad. In 2023 expect more of the same with Matt Barkley being the guy for the job. There was a possibility that Barkley could steal the QB2 job but after recent performances and an injury to Barkley that looks unlikely. Last season he served as the Bills Practice Squad Quarterback, with that experience alone providing Barkley with an easy path to this gig.
Ty Johnson (RB)
A late addition to the Bills, Ty Johnson was added to the 90-man roster on August 21. To many, Johnson was simply a late preseason carry soaker, but in reality, Johnson has the chance to be much more. With 62 games played since 2019, Johnson brings with him real NFL experience, which could give him a leg up on Darrynton Evans and Jordan Mims for the Bills Practice Squad RB role. He impressed in the Bills preseason finale and may have done just enough to stick in Buffalo.
KeeSean Johnson (WR)
It’s a foregone conclusion that the Bills will carry a veteran Wide Receiver on their Practice Squad and if Andy Isabella is going to make the 53-man roster, why not that man be KeeSean Johnson? A sixth-round pick by the Cardinals in 2019, Johnson has appeared in 18 NFL Games. He’s also looked good this preseason, finishing the three games with six catches for 59 yards, and is a player the Bills could easily stash on their Practice Squad as an emergency option at Wide Receiver.
Tyrell Shavers (WR)
If Buffalo is going to carry a veteran Wide Receiver on their Practice Squad, why not a rookie one as well? Tyrell Shavers has made a couple of very good catches this preseason and has had a couple of really bad drops. But it’s his reputation as a Special Teams player in college that should earn him a spot in Buffalo. He had 410 Special Teams snaps in college and went undrafted as a high upside Wide Receiver prospect with a floor of being a really good Special Teams player.
Matt Barkley connects with Tyrell Shavers for the TD!
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2023
Jace Sternberger (TE)
The drafting of Dalton Kincaid in the first round signified the Bills are going to make the move to an offense that often consists of two Tight Ends. To support that the Bills are likely to carry four Tight Ends in Kincaid, Knox, Morris, and Gilliam, all of whom could see consistent playing time in 2023. If one of them goes down though Buffalo will need a Tight End that can step in. Jace Sternberger could be that guy as a player who flashed in the USFL and has the tools to be a successful depth Tight End in the NFL.
Richard Gouraige (OL)
A UDFA out of Florida, Richard Gouraige has done enough this summer to earn a Practice Squad spot. In college, he allowed just four Sacks on 1,319 Pass Block reps and in the pros hasn’t blinked. An Offensive Tackle Prospect with the possibility of pushing inside to Guard makes Gouraige a valuable asset in Buffalo. If he can continue to develop come 2024, don’t expect to see his name in this article, but on a lot of 53-man roster predictions.
Alec Anderson (OL)
In college Alec Anderson almost exclusively played Tackle. After going undrafted in 2022 Anderson came into the NFL as a Guard prospect. Now in this preseason, we’ve seen Anderson play all over the Offensive Line including Center. That versatility alone makes Anderson an interesting player to watch out for but it’s his recent work at Center that makes him a near lock to make the Bills Practice Squad. With Buffalo likely only rostering Mitch Morse and Ryan Bates as players capable of playing Center, Anderson could be an important call-up if the injury bug strikes Buffalo in 2023.
Nick Broeker (OG)
The 230th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Nick Broeker just has no real path to make the Bills roster. This is despite him being impressive this preseason at Guard. The best way to describe Broeker’s play is by saying he looks like he belongs in the NFL. Buffalo is going to try and sneak Broeker onto their Practice Squad but don’t be surprised if an OL-needy team takes a shot on Broeker as a high upside Guard prospect.
Kingsley Jonathan (DE)
In a similar spot as Broeker, Kingsley Jonathan just doesn’t have a real path to the roster. In order to do so he would have to jump at least two of Rousseau, Floyd, Epenesa, Basham, or Lawson. Jonathan looks the part of an NFL Defensive End though with his career arc likely resembling that of Eddie Yarbrough. Jonathan was claimed this time last year by the Bears and after a short stint in Chicago made his way back to Buffalo in November. Expect the Bills to try to push Jonathan to their Practice Squad again this year as a player they will continue to try and develop into an NFL caliber Pass Rusher.
Our Nickel City Cigars (@NickelCityCigar) Light Up Pass Rush of the Game is executed by DE Kingsley Jonathan!
— Erik Turner (@ErikJTurner) August 24, 2023
DJ Dale (DT)
The only Defensive Tackle the Bills have under contract for 2024 is Ed Oliver. For that reason alone, we should expect the Bills to keep at least one Defensive Tackle on their Practice Squad, with the edge going to DJ Dale. Slightly undersized for his position, Dale was still impressive during his college years with Alabama. He needs some refinement before he can be a successful NFL player, making the Practice Squad the perfect spot for him. Similar to Gouraige, if Dale can develop over the next year, he will make his way onto plenty of 53-man roster predictions in 2024.
Kameron Cline (DL)
Kameron Cline is the dark horse candidate to make the Practice Squad and had to earn every last piece of even that title. A hybrid DT/DE, Cline spent the first three seasons of his NFL career with the Colts compiling three tackles in five games. There is a buzz around Cline though that has been noticeable by many local reporters consistently bringing him up. That hasn’t gone unnoticed and is likely foreshadowing his ultimate addition to the Bills Practice Squad.
Baylon Spector (LB)
Baylon Spector had a legitimate shot to earn the starting Middle Linebacker role this summer. He was removed from that conversation pretty quickly putting his 53-man roster spot in jeopardy. It will be hard for the Bills to carry seven linebackers heading into this season with Spector the likely odd man out. If that’s the case the Bills will attempt to bring Spector back on their Practice Squad with significant concern that one of the 31 other teams see Spector as a rosterable player.
Alex Austin (CB)
The Bills’ final pick of the 2023 NFL Draft had an uphill climb to make the Bills roster. With Buffalo boasting one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL, Austin had a minimal chance of making the roster. Despite that remaining unlikely, Austin is a player that has the tools to play Corner, or possibly even Safety in the NFL. Give him a year on the Practice Squad and with the DB Whisperer, AKA Sean McDermott, and Buffalo may have a diamond in the rough waiting for them in their future.
Ja’Marcus Ingram (CB)
Ja’Marcus Ingram saw real NFL playing time in 2022 because of injuries and he looked halfway decent. In his two games with the Bills, he gave up a Passer Rating Against of just 67.1 and this summer, it looks like he has even improved. It’s unlikely Ingram cracks the Bills’ 53-man roster but he’s a player Buffalo obviously believes has a future in the NFL. Out of all the players the Bills will try to sneak onto their Practice Squad Ingram may just be the one with the highest chance of being claimed elsewhere.
Cam Lewis (CB)
They tell young NFL players that the more you can do the better chance you have of making an NFL roster. Cam Lewis is the embodiment of that as a player who can play Outside CB, Inside CB, and even Safety providing him with loads of value to the Bills. He may not be the best Defensive Back in the NFL but it’s that versatility that has kept Lewis in Buffalo since going undrafted in 2019. He’s the perfect Practice Squad player and one the Bills can comfortably use multiple call-ups on, if need be, in 2023.
Dean Marlowe (S)
Dean Marlowe has the respect of the Bills and a love for the city of Buffalo that makes him a player worth keeping around. He is without a doubt an NFL-caliber football player and one who has carved out a solid career in the league. He’s likely the Bills’ Safety No. 5 behind Hyde, Poyer, Rapp, and Hamlin which makes a 53-man roster spot unlikely. That being said, keeping Marlowe on the practice squad provides the Bills with a legitimate option at Safety during the season while keeping a high-character player around the rest of the Bills roster.