The Buffalo Bills are now one game into a five-game pre-season slate, and are set to begin their third full week of training camp practices when they get back on the Growney Stadium field at St. John Fisher College tomorrow. With two full weeks of practices and a pre-season game officially in the books, it's time to take a third stab at projecting the Bills' final regular season roster - something the Bills won't shape themselves for more than a month. (Not that they don't already have a pretty clear picture in their mind.)
We did this before camp started, and again after a full week of practices. The goal here is not to be right every time - clearly, that would be impossible, and we'd already have lost - but to chart how much can change in public perception after such a short amount of time. This third iteration of our little project is far more experiment than self-proclaimed clairvoyance. We get a little more courageous with each iteration as well; I daresay you'll find this our most fearless installment yet. Probably to the detriment of your opinion on this place. We do what we can.
Here's what you'll find after the jump: a depth chart with all 62 players I would expect to be around in some capacity if the season started tomorrow (whether on the active roster, exempt from the roster, or on the practice squad); and, as usual, the last five guys on the roster with the last five guys to "get cut." As always, we would love to see your own projections and hear any comments you'd like to make on the matter.
First thing's first: here's our projected depth chart.
|WR2||83 - LEE EVANS||84 - James Hardy|
|WR3||82 - JOSH REED||11 - Roscoe Parrish|
|LT||68 - LANGSTON WALKER||79 - Jonathan Scott|
|LG||67 - ANDY LEVITRE*||73 - Kirk Chambers|
|C||63 - GEOFF HANGARTNER|
|RG||70 - ERIC WOOD*||66 - Seth McKinney|
|RT||60 - BRAD BUTLER||77 - Demetrius Bell|
|TE||80 - DEREK SCHOUMAN||86 - Derek Fine||89 - Shawn Nelson*||88 - Jonathan Stupar|
|WR1||81 - TERRELL OWENS||13 - Steve Johnson|
|QB||5 - TRENT EDWARDS||14 - Ryan Fitzpatrick||10 - Gibran Hamdan|
|RB||23 - MARSHAWN LYNCH||22 - Fred Jackson||33 - Dominic Rhodes||44 - Xavier Omon|
|LE||90 - CHRIS KELSAY||92 - Ryan Denney|
|1T||99 - MARCUS STROUD||97 - John McCargo|
|3T||95 - KYLE WILLIAMS||91 - Spencer Johnson|
|RE||94 - AARON SCHOBEL||58 - Aaron Maybin*|
|SLB||56 - KEITH ELLISON||54 - Nic Harris*|
|MLB||51 - PAUL POSLUSZNY||59 - Pat Thomas||53 - Marcus Buggs|
|WLB||55 - KAWIKA MITCHELL||57 - Jon Corto|
|CB2||28 - LEODIS McKELVIN||29 - Drayton Florence|
|SS||43 - BRYAN SCOTT||37 - George Wilson|
|FS||20 - DONTE WHITNER||31 - Jairus Byrd*||30 - Ko Simpson|
|CB1||24 - TERRENCE McGEE||27 - Reggie Corner||46 - Ellis Lankster*|
|K||9 - RIAN LINDELL|
|P||8 - BRIAN MOORMAN|
|LS||72 - RYAN NEILL|
We might as well give you a practice squad as well.
|WR Shaine Smith|
|TE Travis McCall*|
|OT Chris Denman|
|C Brandon Rodd|
|DT Derrick Jones|
|LB Alvin Bowen|
|CB Cary Harris*|
|CB Lydell Sargeant*|
Full list of "cuts": QB Matt Baker, RB Bruce Hall, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Justin Jenkins, WR C.J. Hawthorne, WR Felton Huggins, OT Chris Denman, OT Nick Hennessey, C Marvin Philip, DE Chris Ellis, DE Copeland Bryan, DE Jermaine McGhee, DE Ataefiok Etukeren, DT Marcus Smith, DT Corey Mace, LB Ashlee Palmer, CB Ashton Youboty, S John Wendling, S Dustin Fox, LS Garrison Sanborn.
We'll finish this off with a look at the last five guys on "our" roster and the last five guys we "cut" (i.e. those closest to a roster spot, but no dice).
LB Jon Corto. The coaching staff loves this guy. He's added a significant amount of weight since last season, and has maintained the speed that once made him an NFL safety prospect. We know he's a favorite of Bobby April's in particular. He can play either outside linebacker position. The more I hear about this guy, the closer I come to certain that he'll stick with this team as a pure specialist.
TE Jonathan Stupar. He had an impressive pre-season debut, which adds to two solid weeks of camp. He might have some issues getting active on game days as the fourth tight end, but right now, he simply looks too good to cut.
OT Jonathan Scott. I felt like I was going out on a limb keeping Scott the last time I did this; that's not the case this time around. Like Stupar, he might have a hard time getting activated, but the Bills would be taking a major risk keeping just eight linemen on the active roster. Scott beats out Brandon Rodd by just a hair for this honor; that could change if Rodd continues to impress.
RB Xavier Omon. The Bills aren't going to gamble with keeping just two running backs during Marshawn Lynch's suspension, particularly after Omon's impressive performance in the loss to Tennessee.
LB Marcus Buggs. Buggs was the last guy on the roster. He gives the Bills another instant contributor on special teams, good numbers at a weaker position, and two reserve middle linebackers that can moonlight outside as well. No other bubble player gives the Bills options quite like Buggs does.
LB Alvin Bowen. Bowen's chances of cracking the roster are slowly climbing, though if you'd have spoken with me before yesterday's game, he wasn't coming close in my next projection. Bowen played well last night, however, and offers special teams value to boot. He just doesn't do as much for Buffalo's roster flexibility as Buggs does.
FB Corey McIntyre. You're not surprised to see McIntyre here, but it's still tough to cut him since he plays such a specialized position. Who knows how comfortable the Bills are cutting the only true lead blocker on the roster? Don't be surprised if he makes the team, folks. Right now, I can't find a spot for him.
S John Wendling. It's tough to imagine the Bills cutting a guy that Bobby April likes so much. Truth be told, Wendling is the only person in this exercise that I feel more than slightly uncomfortable putting in my cuts list. Corto can do much of what Wendling already does on special teams, and there are other capable players that April can work as punt gunners. Add in the fact that Simpson looked very good against Tennessee, and I'd put Wendling squarely on the bubble - and out before Simpson.
DE Chris Ellis. Considering the changes in special teams rules and the numbers the Bills have at other positions, it's going to be hard for the team to keep more than four defensive ends (provided, of course, that their top four can stay healthy through the pre-season). Ellis has been solid, yet underwhelming through two weeks of camp, particularly over the past week and in Canton. He's going to have a job making the team; when Aaron Maybin finally gets to camp, his rep count could diminish significantly.
CB Ashton Youboty. I'm not sure that Youboty will get cut. I'd certainly hate to see it, because there's no denying that the young man has a world of talent. But his constant injury issues have got to be wearing the coaching staff's patience thin; Youboty missed the pre-season opener with what I've heard described as a minor injury. Meanwhile, many young Bills cornerbacks are playing very well, including rookie Ellis Lankster. Is it really unfathomable that the Bills would cut Youboty? I think not. He certainly has a better shot to stick than most bubble players, but can the staff rely on him?
I get the feeling this will be the most hotly-contested installment of this series to date. Let it rip.