With the second week of OTAs completed, a better look at how the Bills’ 2018 roster and depth chart will end up is beginning to take shape. After so many big moves this winter that included trades, surprise retirements, and big free agent signings, it was difficult to get a feel for how this team would look. And while plenty is left to be proven in training camp and preseason, here are my predictions for who will crack the 53-man roster on the offensive side of the ball:
Quarterbacks: A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen
Of course, the issue here isn’t who makes the roster, but in which order they make it. All three guys have a legitimate chance at being the starter week one, which will make this one of the more interesting positional battles in recent memory. Whereas some teams only carry two quarterbacks on their roster to free up a spot, the Bills really have no reason to. All three will be on the 53-man.
Running backs: LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Marcus Murphy
It was a toss-up for me between Murphy and Travaris Cadet for the final spot, but I went with the younger Murphy because of what he showed at the end of last season. The five-foot-eight Murphy should be a nice piece on third down and as a change of pace back from McCoy and Ivory. With that being said, McCoy is going to be the workhorse of this unit once more.
Shady is still on another 🎚️🎚️ pic.twitter.com/9OueffO11n
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) June 1, 2018
If he stays healthy, it wouldn’t surprise me if he finished in the top three of the league in total touches at the conclusion of the season. He is that important to the team. Also on the outside looking in for this group were Taiwan Jones, Aaron Green, and Keith Ford.
Fullback: Patrick DiMarco
Sean McDermott has already gone on record this offseason saying he expects a bigger role for the veteran fullback on Buffalo’s roster this season. With no competition, DiMarco is a lock to not only be on the field more in 2018, but also to have the opportunity to make some plays.
Wide receivers: Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, Jeremy Kerley, Andre Holmes, Rod Streater, Ray-Ray McCloud
Aside from the quarterback group, the wide receiver position will garner the most attention in training camp. If anyone says for certain they know what’ll happen with this unit, they’re lying. It’ll come down to which guys step up and show up in training camp because the last three spots are especially up for grabs. I chose Holmes, Streater, and McCloud because I feel that those guys present more upside — both on offense and special teams — than the players that didn’t make the cut.
The Bills could always still bring in another veteran option; there are still several names that remain on the free agent market. And while this unit is certainly one of the weakest in the league, it also gives plenty of guys the chance to prove themselves. McCloud, a sixth-round pick, has a very legitimate chance to not only make the roster, but also to play a contributing role on the team. A few thousand words can be written about Jones, Kerley, and Holmes and where exactly they fit in the grand scheme of things in Buffalo’s offense, but it really comes down to which guys, both young and old, can prove themselves to a new offensive coordinator.
Tight ends: Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, Logan Thomas
Clay and O’Leary are pretty much locks at this position, and I think Thomas sneaks in as the third option as long as he shows improvement in his blocking during offseason activities. The Bills do have three other tight ends on the roster (Khari Lee, Jason Croom, Keith Towbridge), and it wouldn’t be shocking if one of them impressed new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and stole that last roster spot.
TT has made some incredible throws on the run this year, but this one may rank ahead of them. Threat of Shady holds LB at depth, A+ accuracy pic.twitter.com/QPCKE0SiCC
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) October 23, 2017
Interior linemen: John Miller, Ryan Groy, Vlad Ducasse, Russell Bodine, Wyatt Teller
Much like the quarterback position, this group mostly comes down to who starts and plays where rather than who makes the roster. You’d be hard-pressed to find many NFL teams that can withstand losing a Pro Bowl-caliber guard, but the Bills will have to do it without both Eric Wood and Richie Incognito. I think Miller earns his starting spot back at right guard, but other than that it’s too early for many other concrete predictions. Newly-signed Bodine has been getting first-team reps at center in OTAs with Ducasse at left guard, but the offseason is young.
Fifth-round pick Wyatt Teller should start the season as a depth option, but much like Dion Dawkins last year, he could see his role increase significantly as the season progresses.
Tackles: Dion Dawkins, Conor McDermott, Jordan Mills, Marshall Newhouse
With Cordy Glenn out of the picture, this unit has been simplified to two guys fighting for one spot. After a great rookie campaign, Dawkins will go in as the starting left tackle, and instead of having to battle someone for playing time, he can instead work on his craft. It’s a little different on the right side; Jordan Mills has been shaky at best over the past couple of seasons, and veteran tackle Marshall Newhouse was brought in to compete against him. Newhouse has plenty of NFL experience, starting over 70 games for some of the league’s best teams. I think the Bills will keep whichever guy doesn’t win the starting role to provide depth or as a replacement if things go south. I threw McDermott in as the final tackle to make the roster, but there are several other promising young guys gunning for a roster spot at this position, including Gerhard de Beer.
A look at the defensive side of the ball will release next week, so be on the lookout for that!