Pre-Camp: 53 Man Roster Prediction

Chan Gailey has some tough decisions ahead as the Bills head into camp.

With the first practice of training camp just about 24 hours from now, we wanted to take one last stab at predicting our final 53 man roster (starters in bold) before the pads get strapped on and we can actually see something on film. We will have a camp reporter giving you as many updates as he can muster throughout camp and we will have all the latest as it happens throughout the entire preseason.

Quarterback (3):
14 Ryan Fitzpatrick
10 Vince Young
16 Brad Smith

Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming to camp entrenched as the starter but that doesn’t mean there is no pressure on him to perform. Many fans are assuming he is the lynch pin to a potential playoff run and he will need to change his tendency to throw bad INT’s if that’s going to be the case. We are projecting Vince Young to beat out Tyler Thigpen because for the most part Thigpen has been brutal in his Bills career and Vince Young for all the problems he has still has quite a bit of skill. We won’t keep both QB’s since we have Brad Smith who can play the third QB role along with WR, so one of them has to go and that will be Thigpen.

Running Back (3):
22 Fred Jackson
28 C.J. Spiller
20 Johnny White

We initially intended on keeping four RB’s with Tashard Choice sticking around but had to find space and we find Choice to be expendable. While he’s familiar with Gailey’s system and a good blocker there isn’t a place where he helps us. While some would argue he needs to be in there to help pass protect you then leave two of your best pass catchers (CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson) on the sideline. Nobody wants that and Johnny White can more than handle the 2-3 carries he might see. Depth is a concern here since we are only going three deep but this group offers toughness, elusiveness, and plenty of speed.

Fullback (1):
38 Corey McIntyre

McIntyre returns as the lead blocking FB for yet another season. His position may eventually be fazed completely out of our offense but I think that for the time being he sticks around.

Wide Receiver (6):
13 Stevie Johnson
81 Marcus Easley
11 T.J. Graham
80 Derek Hagan
19 Donald Jones
86 David Nelson

So this number is more like seven than six with Brad Smith doubling as a QB but this group gives us the best mix of inside and outside options moving forward. We already know that Stevie is the #1 option playing on the outside and we expect the battle to come down to Derek Hagan and Marcus Easley for the #2 spot on the outside. We think those three will be your main outside WR options with Graham, Nelson, Jones, and Smith working on the inside. The nice thing about the group we selected is that any of these parts are interchangeable and can line up at any of the X, Y, or Z receiver positions. That’s why Naaman Roosevelt was our final cut. We felt like he didn’t offer the same versatility that others did.

Tight End (3):
84 Scott Chandler
85 Lee Smith
42 Dorin Dickerson

Scott Chandler is back with some new faces behind him. Chandler is the starter because of how gifted a pass catcher he is. He needs to become a bigger player in this offense and a bigger threat in the red zone. His proper utilization will be key to this team’s success long term. We felt as though Lee Smith needed to be added because of how poor our 3rd down offense was last year. With his added blocking skills he could help to make a push for the running back to get a few extra yards or be a forgotten option in our jumbo set who could we could sneak into the flat. Dorin Dickerson is the most exciting TE option we have on the team. He has the speed to fly all over the field and present nightmare matchup issues for opposing defenses. He’s yet to show a ton of consistency despite being the league a few years already but we think that with what the Bills do he’s a good fit.

Offensive Tackle (5):
77 Cordy Glenn
79 Erik Pears
75 Chris Hairston
64 James Carmon
66 Zebrie Sanders
77 Cordy Glenn
79 Erik Pears

We went with five OT’s on the roster because we really like the potential of James Carmon who can play both the left and right side of the line. The issue with this group is that you have three rookies, one second year player, and the lone veterans in Pears. The other issue is that you may have five RT’s and not one LT. The hope is that a combination of Hairston and Glenn can hold down the LT spot but there are still lots of questions there. You can’t expect much from Sanders, who struggled at LT his senior year at FSU, or Carmon, who is recovering from injury and has limited OT experience after transitioning from being a DT, in terms of being a LT so that could be a massive hole in our line.

Offensive Guard (4):
67 Andy Levitre
60 Kraig Urbik
68 Keith Williams
76 Chad Rinehart

This group is actually one of our more tested groups as they were cover both the injuries at OC and OG last year. They have two solid starters in Levitre and Urbik and should be the steadiest part of our line. Rhinehart and Williams may not be the most ideal set of backups but they are hard working guys who know the assignments and make their blocks. Additional depth is also available if needed as Cordy Glenn was an All-American at guard in college and Colin Brown can kick out for the center position.

Offensive Center (2):
70 Eric Wood
74 Colin Brown

Wood is back from injury and should be a full go from camp. This team and this line is much better with him in there then without him. He does a tremendous job helping out his OG with combo blocks and keeping his head on a swivel to look for late blitzers. Behind him Colin Brown is solid but not spectacular, Brown could see a challenge by David Snow in camp, but we don’t see him getting beat out.

Defensive End (4):
93 Mark Anderson
94 Mario Williams
90 Chris Kelsay
56 Shawne Merriman

We fully expect FA acquisitions Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to be our starting DE tandem in 2012. We hope that with the attention Williams will command Anderson can take advantage of one on one blocking assignments and get after the QB. A finally healthy Shawne Merriman could be a big boost to a DE skill set that must rotate and keep our players fresh. Anderson in particularly is far more effective when allowed to stay fresh. Kelsay rounds out this group with his solid play, we may not love his contract but he at times was one of our better defenders and he is good depth.

Defensive Tackle (4):
99 Marcell Dareus
95 Kyle Williams
92 Alex Carrington
73 Jarron Gilbert

Williams and Dareus should combine to produce one of the most feared and talented DT combinations in the entire NFL. Williams has always been a better fit in a 43 defense due to his speed and first step, while Dareus will bring the power and strength. Many fans expect these two to be dominant this season and that will only happen if the depth behind them gets figured out. We project Alex Carrington and Jarron Gilbert to hold down those roles now because both have good first steps and offer the similar quickness and power traits that Williams and Dareus do. Gilbert was once considered a very good prospect coming out of San Jose State and he especially could flourish in this setting.

Outside Linebacker (5):
50 Nick Barnett
58 Kirk Morrison
53 Nigel Bradham
43 Bryan Scott
51 Chris White

We kept five outside linebackers because of the versatility of Bryan Scott and Chris White. We feel like both of these players offer the ability to add cover at other positions (White-ILB, Scott-SAF) and add something to our special teams coverage. We expect the initial starters to be Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison with Bradham providing cover for both positions and subbing in on obvious passing downs to help with our coverage.

Inside Linebacker (2):
55 Kelvin Sheppard
45 Tank Carder

The MLB crew will be a young one but one that is full of talent. We think Sheppard has the job locked down and that Carder will see time both as Sheppard’s backup and as the backup to the WLB. Carder has arguably better cover skills than Sheppard and could see some reps in passing downs next to Bradham.

Cornerback (5):
21 Leodis McKelvin
23 Aaron Williams
33 Ron Brooks
26 Justin Rogers
27 Stephon Gilmore

This group is going to be young and its going to be exciting in 2012. We project McGee to be a camp casualty because we don’t think he offers enough at this time to cover what you potentially lose in releasing one of the younger players. The leader of this group will have to Aaron Williams or Leodis McKelvin as they will likely be your starting CB duo. Stephon Gilmore should start in the nickel spot (for now) with Rogers and Brooks battling for the Dime spot. Rogers and McKelvin also offer some return ability so they have added value on this roster. McKelvin has to take his game to the next level as many people are already counting him out of this DB group in the future.

Safeties (3):
31 Jairus Byrd
37 George Wilson
25 Da’Norris Searcy

Not a lot of depth here with only Searcy giving cover to both positions, but the Bills have two very steady starters in Byrd and Wilson. Byrd is a borderline Pro Bowl caliber player and does a good job playing the CF role that made his so successful so quickly. Wilson is the emotional leader of this defense having come from a former undrafted FA WR to now a starter at SS. He is tested, determined, and a mentor to our younger DB’s.

Special Teams (3):
9 Rian Lindell
8 Brian Moorman
65 Garrison Sanborn

Despite the fan fare for rookies Shaun Powell and John Potter we don’t expect either to make the team at this point. Going with rookie kickers is always a massive risk and wasting an extra spot on one of them was just not something we could justify this time around. Garrison Sanborn is still our team MVP.

Tags: Buffalo Bills

2 Responses to “Pre-Camp: 53 Man Roster Prediction”

  1. Mark Oblick says:

    Surprised that Troup isn’t in your final roster. I think if he stays healthy, he will be a difference maker

    • Matt Elder says:

      Just haven’t seen anything from him to indicate he is worth a roster spot. Granted he was a very good fit in the UCF 43 defense in college.


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