The Buffalo Bills take on the Detroit Lions Thursday night, wrapping up the Bills’ 2017 preseason. The Bills are carrying 83 players on their roster right now and will need to cut down to 53 come September 2nd. So while most people could care less about the final game of the preseason, there are still roster spots available for the taking. Let’s take a quick look at guys that have performed well so far.
The highest-graded Bills offensive player per Pro Football Focus, Michael Ola (Raw grade +4.4), is one of those players vying for a roster spot. He has bounced around the offensive line so far this preseason, first starting at tackle, then playing some guard the last two games. He has done a good job climbing to the second level and on pulls, and it has shown in his PFF +3.6 run block grade (2nd highest on offense).
Second round draft choice tackle Dion Dawkins is another offensive lineman that has bounced around the offensive line. Dawkins was supposed to unseat Jordan Mills at right tackle, but he has failed to do so thus far. With Cordy Glenn still nursing an injury, the staff played him at left tackle and he looked much more comfortable. His kick slide looked a lot smoother and he continued to dominate in the run game. He now has a cumulative run grade of of +6.1 (elite status), which is nearly double the next closest offensive lineman.
Good adjustment by Dawkins, but a flag on Dimarco pic.twitter.com/zpjMJfVusc
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 19, 2017
So far this preseason, Dawkins is the second highest graded offensive player with a raw grade of a +4.3.
Dawkins does a heck of a job of getting across the face of the 3t. Another decisive cut on weak side zone. pic.twitter.com/9Xu9iwUHwE
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 20, 2017
One of the biggest surprises so far this preseason has to be tight end Nick O’Leary. We expected the Bills to utilize a good amount of tight end sets, but many worried about our depth. O’Leary seemed to become the lost man in the shuffle as the preseason started, seeing as how the Bills brought in more athletic receiving tight ends in Logan Thomas and Jason Croom. Neither of these options offer the balance and versatility that O’Leary does, though. The former Seminole has built quite the rapport with rookie Nathan Peterman, and it has helped O’Leary rack up five receptions for 77 yards, 41 of which were yards after the catch.
Peterman found O’Leary several times as the tight end came out of breaks, and it has allowed him to maximize his skills, such as catching the ball without gloves . . .
Much like 2016, O’Leary has also held his own in the run game, grading out dead even with Charles Clay for the third highest run blocking grade on offense. Overall, O’Leary has played pretty well, and his play is reflected in his +3.4 grade.