After finishing the 2018 NFL preseason on a high note, coming back from a 20-7 deficit to defeat the Chicago Bears, the Buffalo Bills now will trim their roster from 90 players to the final 53-man roster they’ll take into the 2018 NFL season. Not much has changed from my 53-man roster prediction from over one week ago so it will be interesting to see how Buffalo puts together their roster for the regular season.
Here at Cover 1, I offer my final prediction of the 2018 Buffalo Bills 53-man roster
Quarterbacks (3) – Josh Allen, Nathan Peterman, AJ McCarron
No surprises here. Both Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen are roster locks and regardless of AJ McCarron’s strong outing against the Bengals, it is clearly a two-man competition. However, it’s hard to not see him at the team’s thing-stringer. In a trade, the Bills could have a hope of getting a sixth or seventh round pick for the five-year veteran, from a team with a desperate backup QB situation.
Running Backs: 3 – LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Marcus Murphy
The first change from my last prediction happens here. Taiwan Jones, the kickoff returner specialist, isn’t on the 53 anymore. He didn’t play yesternight, maybe a sign of job security for most people. I think the Bills known what they have in him and wanted to see how rookie wideout Ray Ray McCloud would perform at his role. McCloud showed enough and with Marcus Murphy and Jeremy Kerley other capable returners on the roster, I’ll be surprised if Jones makes the team.
If the Bills choose to go the four running backs route, I see Tarvaris Cadet making the team over Jones at this point. But with Keith Ford playing well and probably being kept at the practice squad, I think they will carry three RBs and open one more roster spot for a defensive player here.
Fullback (1) – Patrick DiMarco
No surprise here, the veteran is one of the leaders of this team and should be one of the new team captains.
Tight Ends: 4 – Charles Clay, Khari Lee, Jason Croom, Logan Thomas
What we suspected ten days ago looks like a lock at this point. Nick O’Leary was surpassed in the depth chart and I can’t see him making the team over any of those four options.
Wide Receivers: 6 – Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, Jeremy Kerley, Andre Holmes, Ray-Ray McCloud, Corey Coleman
Another group I kept intact since the last list. The change is how I see their job security at this point. Kerley and Holmes, whose I thought could be in danger, didn’t play last night and will be on the team. On the other hand, Zay Jones played a lot but I think it was just a matter of giving the second-year receiver more reps after missing the start of the preseason because of a knee injury. Now, I’m not so sure if it’s the same case with Corey Coleman. I think it is, but he’s the most threatened guy of not making the team in this group. McCloud secured his roster spot with a good special teams showing in Chicago.
Offensive Line: 8 – Dion Dawkins, Vlad Ducasse, Ryan Groy, John Miller, Jordan Mills, Russell Bodine, Wyatt Teller, Marshall Newhouse
No changes here too, but for lack of options. It’s a very depressing group and Marshall Newhouse really struggled again last night. Maybe general manager Brandon Beane can find an interesting option in the waiver wire and replace the veteran. For now, he makes the team.
Defensive Tackles: 4 – Kyle Williams, Star Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, Adolphus Washington
I had Rickey Hatley making the team, but even Tyrunn Walker is ahead of him right now. It’s tough to go with only four DTs in the final 53, especially not knowing when Kyle will be available again, but the lack of quality players there left the team with no choice. DE Shaq Lawson and LB Lorenzo Alexander will be used there in clear passing downs, helping the rotation too. It’s another group which Beane should be looking for options behind the top three and it wouldn’t surprise me if they finally move on from Adolphus Washington too. The guy was still playing late in the game last night and never dominated the weaker competition.
Defensive Ends: 5 – Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, Shaq Lawson, Eddie Yarbrough, Terrence Fede
With the uncertainty rounding Trent Murphy and his status for week one and carrying four defensive tackles on the roster, I see them holding onto five DEs on the roster. Terrence Fede replaces the uninspiring Ryan Russell in the last spot, but he should be the first cut to make room for another good DL option appearing in the waiver wire.
Linebackers: 7 – Lorenzo Alexander, Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Ramon Humber, Tanner Vallejo, Deon Lacey, Julian Stanford
Here’s one of the places which I spent one of the spots cleared by Taiwan Jones and Rickey Hatley cuts. I kept the top six guys, the starters and their natural backups, but added Stanford for special teams purposes. He was signed to be a bright spot there and I think he will be important in his role.
Cornerbacks: 4 – Tre’Davious White, Vontae Davis, Taron Johnson, Phillip Gaines
No changes as the coaching staff looks comfortable being thin at this position since last year. Levi Wallace should make the practice squad and Lafayette Pitts and Breon Borders never showed enough to warrant a roster spot.
Safeties: 5 – Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Rafael Bush, Siran Neal, Dean Marlowe
The other saved spot from the RBs and DTs groups was spent here, with the addition of rookie Siran Neal. I think Marlowe isn’t so secure and can be expendable if GM Brandon Beane finds interesting names available after other teams cuts.
Special Teams: 3 – Steven Hauschka, Jon Ryan, Reid Ferguson
I’m really not sure about the punter competition but have a feeling they’re comfortable with the new veteran signing and allowed Colton Schmidt to get the bulk of the reps to show off his skill to other teams. Tomorrow we’ll have the answer.