You have almost made it! You have made it through the draft. You’ve made it through the offseason. You’ve made it through training camp and preseason. And now, you’ve made it to the final roster cut down. So as we wait and twiddle our thumbs for Thursday’s season opener, let’s reflect on the players who helped themselves the most and surprised us most during the Buffalo Bills’ preseason.
LB Baylon Spector
An afterthought coming into camp, Baylon Spector ensured the vacancy left by Andre Smith’s PED suspension did not go unfilled. Spector was tied for second in tackles among all players in the preseason. Additionally, he earned 5 defensive stops and flashes in every phase of special teams except field goal kicking. Spector demonstrated the traits of a player who, at a minimum, can be a key special teams contributor in the NFL.
OL Bobby Hart
Bobby Hart has been the butt of the joke for much of his time in Buffalo. But thanks to a switch from left tackle to guard this offseason, Hart has transitioned from turnstile to a seemingly serviceable NFL backup – and a versatile one at that. Hart played 48 snaps at left tackle, 34 at left guard, and 30 at right guard during the preseason, beating out former second-round draft pick Cody Ford, which speaks to the level of growth fans should expect to see under new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
TE Quintin Morris
O.J. Howard was the shiny new toy and seemed to be a roster lock coming into training camp. But Quintin Morris’ play throughout the preseason was good enough for the Bills to eat Howard’s $2.6 million dead cap number in favor of rostering the former undrafted free agent. Morris showcased great versatility – an asset that Buffalo’s coaching staff covets – lining up in the backfield 26 times, in-line 32 times, and in the slot 17 times. Additionally, Morris proved to be a serviceable blocking tight end, not allowing a single pressure when pass blocking, and was an asset in the run game as well.
CB Christian Benford
Like Spector, Benford was more of an afterthought following the draft, overshadowed by first-round draft pick Kaiir Elam. But no one told Benford that. From the start of camp, Benford’s play and rise to the top of the depth chart was a big storyline, thanks to his strong play. Benford was only targeted twice while on the field during the preseason but forced a pass breakup on one of the two throws his way. Benford was graded as the Bills’ third-best defensive player during preseason per PFF and could push fellow rookie Kaiir Elam for playing time during the regular season.