4. Mickey Shuler
The newest addition to the Buffalo Bills, Shuler was claimed off waivers on May 14. At 6’4” and 247 pounds, Shuler is another elite blocking tight end. Never a major part of the offensive gameplan at Penn State, Shuler has been on the rosters of the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins in the NFL, but has only caught two balls for 44 yards, both during his time in Miami.
Given his inadequacies in the passing game, Shuler is really only being looked at as a blocking tight end. He’s new to the team, with only a week of practices under his belt. In order to make the roster, he is going to need to prove himself more adept in the Bills’ system than Smith, who has more NFL experience behind him.
5. Mike Caussin
A slightly better athlete than Shuler and Smith, Caussin is another large tight end that lacks explosiveness in the passing game. At 6’5” and 244 pounds, the James Madison product has made little impact in three NFL season. He has caught five career passes for 41 yards.
He missed all of last season after undergoing ACL surgery on his own, but has been able to practice with the team during OTA’s. He received “increased reps” during the Bills’ most recent OTA on Thursday, according to BuffaloBills.com.
Since he’s relatively more well-rounded than Smith and Shuler, Caussin had a good chance to make the team as a third option before Chandler declared that he might be ready for the start of the season. Now he seems to be on the outside looking in.
6. Dorin Dickerson (listed at WR)
The fact that Dickerson is listed as a wide receiver doesn’t bode well for his chances of making the team. If the Bills’ brass doesn’t see him as a tight end, he will be in competition at a much deeper position.
As it is, Dickerson saw time last year in the same H-back role that many think Gragg will fill this year. The two are similar in terms of size and athleticism. At 6’1” and 226 pounds, Dickerson is smaller than Gragg but an even more explosive athlete.
Dickerson ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, registered a 43.5 inch vertical, and a 10’5″ broad jump at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine. He also had more success on the field in college, catching 49 passes for 708 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Pittsburgh.
However, Dickerson hasn’t been able to make a huge impact in the NFL. He saw more playing time at the end of last season for the Bills, including four catches for 54 yards in the game against Miami where Chandler got hurt. He’s a superior athlete who has incredible potential in the open field. However, Gragg’s similar skill set, larger frame and ties to the new regime don’t bode well for Dickerson.
How Many Tight Ends Make the Final Roster?
Looking at all the facts, it would seem as though the Bills will opt to keep a collection of tight ends that offer a variety of skill sets for the new coaching staff.
In my opinion, those three options are likely to be Scott Chandler, Chris Gragg, and Lee Smith.