BBD Staff Writer: Ryan Talbot
Training camp doesn’t begin until July 28th and while much can and will change on the Buffalo Bills’ roster, it’s time to start making some predictions. Specifically, it’s time to predict which players will make the Bills’ 53-man roster.
Below is a position-by-position breakdown of who is projected to make final cuts, along with brief analysis of each position and a few blurbs on surprise or veteran cuts.
E.J. Manuel, Kevin Kolb
This one is pretty simple. Tarvaris Jackson was the odd man out and was released on June 10. Manuel and Kolb are fighting for the starting position and the loser will play backup in 2013. Undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel misses the cut, but I see him getting an invite to the Bills’ practice squad.
Running Back (3):
C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Tashard Choice
Spiller and Jackson form one of the strongest 1-2 punches in the NFL. I fully expect head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to find ways to get both players on the field together. In 2012, Choice did an adequate job of filling in when Spiller and/or Jackson were injured. Choice could be pushed for the third running back role, but I like his odds of making the roster.
I really don’t know much about Summers, but he’s the only player on the Bills roster listed as a fullback on the Bills’ official website (though undrafted free agent Kendall Gaskins could also play fullback). As Chief Wiggum once said on The Simpsons, “I like those odds.”
Wide Receivers (6):
Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, Da’Rick Rogers, T.J. Graham, Marquise Goodwin, Kevin Elliott
Johnson is Buffalo’s top wide receiver and is coming off of three straight 1,000 yard seasons. Woods, Buffalo’s second round pick in the 2013 draft, should share time in the slot with Johnson, as well as playing Z receiver. Rogers is an undrafted free agent, but the Bills had a late first/early second round grade on the wide out based on his talent. As long as Rogers keeps his nose clean, he’ll make the roster and could be the team’s X receiver by season’s end.
Graham and Goodwin are clones in that they’re both speedsters who are a bit unpolished. Graham showed great improvement at OTAs and has a good chance of starting the season at the X receiver due to his speed. As for Goodwin, he’s safe as a rookie third-round pick and can be utilized as a receiver, a weapon on gadget plays and in the return game.
Elliott is my choice for the team’s sixth receiver. His size (6’3″) and speed (4.57 40-yard dash) intrigues me and he played well during OTAs.
Brad Smith missed the cut, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was chosen as the team’s sixth wide receiver. He is valuable for his special teams play.
Tight Ends (3):
Scott Chandler, Chris Gragg, Mike Caussin
Chandler is coming off of an ACL injury but as long as he’s healthy, he’s a definite to make the roster. Gragg, Buffalo’s seventh-round pick in the 2013 draft is not a sure thing to make the team, but his athleticism is too appealing to pass up. By the end of the season, I see Gragg as the team’s second tight end and involved as a down field threat in Buffalo’s offense.
Mike Caussin wins the third tight end job as a decent receiver and blocker. Lee Smith is out, but another team will pick him up for his blocking skills. Dorin Dickerson is also out as his skillset is comparable to that of Gragg.
Offensive Tackles (4):
Cordy Glenn, Chris Hairston, Erik Pears, Zebrie Sanders
Glenn struggled with his footwork in OTAs according to WGR’s Joe Buscaglia, but he played well at left tackle during his rookie season last year. Hairston is entering his third season in the NFL and should be favorite to start at right tackle. Pears is an excellent backup and should see his fair share of reps. Sanders is not a lock by any means, but he certainly has the talent to play swing tackle in the NFL.
Offensive Guards (5):
Kraig Urbik, Doug Legursky, Chris Scott, Sam Young, Colin Brown
Urbik is a definite starter at right guard and has played extremely well in three seasons with the Bills. Legursky was signed by the Bills on June 5th and has a great chance to start for Buffalo at left guard. He can also slide over to center if Eric Wood suffers an injury.
Scott, a former Steelers fifth-round pick, has seen first-team snaps at left guard and while he isn’t likely to start, the team seems high on Scott. Young is truly a tackle, but the team has tried him at guard. He too is in the running to possibly start at left guard. Brown is another example of solid depth for Buffalo. He’s played in 12 games for Buffalo in the last two seasons.
Wood has played extremely well for the Bills. His biggest issue has been staying healthy. That said, his roster spot is completely safe.
Defensive/special teams projections are on Page 2.