Now that the 2011 draft has come and gone, let’s take a look at the current Bills roster. The first name listed is the current starter, followed by back-ups and reserve players.
WR: L. Evans, D. Nelson, D. Jones, F. Huggins and P. Hubbard
Lee Evans is given another year to perform better and improve on his route running. If Evans doesn’t make significant improvements by the end of the season, this will be his last year in a Bills uniform.
WR: S. Johnson, R. Parrish, M. Easley and N. Roosevelt
If Marcus Easley can stay healthy and makes an impact during training camp and pre-season, this could leave guys like Naaman Roosevelt, Felton Huggins and Paul Hubbard either on the practice squad or looking for a new job.
LT: D. Bell, E. Wang and C. Brown
Bell was given a pass for last year, considering he was battling an injured shoulder all year long, plus coming off of season ending knee surgery the previous year. If Bell doesn’t improve, the Bills could look at Chris Hairston at the LT position or have to address the position next year either in the draft or free agency.
LG: A. Levitre, C. Howard, C. Brown
No change in the LG position as Levitre is entrenched as the starter.
C: E. Wood, G. Hangartner
Wood shined as the teams Center when Hangartner went down with an injury last year. Wood looked better in his natural position, than he did at RG, so putting him at Center is better for him and the offense.
RG: K. Urbik, C. Rinehart
Urbik was a nice pickup during the season last year. But how will he rebound from his season ending injury?
RT: E. Pears, M. Wrotto, C. Hairston
Both Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey like what they’ve seen from Pears, but he hasn’t won the starting RT position yet. Battling Pears for the RT position is 4th round draft pick, Chris Hairston, a former LT now converting to RT.
TE: S. Chandler, D. Martin, S. Nelson, M. Caussin
At the moment, Nix and Gailey like Chandler, especially from his time with the Chargers, so he’s the odds on favorite to win the starting TE position. Shawn Nelson needs to step up his game and become a factor in the offense; otherwise his days in Buffalo could be numbered. Expect the Bills to look for another TE in free agency.
QB: R. Fitzpatrick, L. Brown
After the draft, it’s obvious that Nix and Gailey have the confidence in Fitz as the starting QB for 2011. But that’s as far as they’re going with at the time being. Both Nix and Gailey are looking for the franchise QB that will be around at least 8-10 years. Unless Fitz has a spectacular season, in which he passes for 30+ TD’s and has close to a 2:1 TD/INT ratio, expect the Bills to draft their franchise QB next season. The Bills will added at least two more QB’s in Free Agency (or at least one UDFA).
RB: F. Jackson, C. Spiller, J. Caulcrick, J. White
Fred Jackson is the entrenched starter and C.J. Spiller is the backup going into the year. Fans were surprised to see the Bills use a draft pick this year on another RB. Nix stated that they didn’t want to go into the season with only two RB’s, which is why they drafted RB Johnny White in the 5th round. White is an all purpose RB that is tough, physical and hard to bring down. If White makes the team as the #3 RB, it’s possible that he could see time in short yardage/goal line situations. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have not had much success finding the end zone last year, so adding a smash mouth RB that good in between the tackles is a plus for the Bills.
FB: C. McIntyre
No change in the FB position.
DE: M. Dareus, Sp. Johnson
The Bills used the 3rd pick in the draft on Marcell Dareus to help shore up their woeful run defense. Dareus is very versatile and can play DE, NT or DT either in the 3-4 or DT in the 4-3. The Bills and the fans are expecting big things from Dareus this year and years to come. Could Dareus become the second elite player on the team (with Kyle Williams being the first), only time will tell.
NT: K. Williams, T. Troup, K. Heard, M. Jasper
It’s a no-brainer here with Kyle Williams. Torell Troup has been working very hard to bulk up to near 330lbs for the start of this season. Michael Jasper has fans very intrigued; he’s a mountain of a man at 6’4”, 378 lbs who has a vertical jump of 33”. That’s absolutely amazing for a guy his size. Between Heard and Jasper, expect one to either be a reserve or practice squad member, while the other will most likely be one of the training camp/pre-season cuts.
DE: D. Edwards and A. Carrington
Most people were expecting Alex Carrington to be one of the starting DE’s this year since Marcus Stroud was released earlier in the year. But that all changed with the drafting of Marcell Dareus. If Dwan Edwards struggles after coming back from a season ending injury last year, then expect Carrington to get more playing time.
SLB: C. Kelsay, A. Coleman, J. Kirlew (D. Batten)
It’s still surprising that Chris Kelsay is on the team, let alone a starter with a new contract. With the drafting of Kelvin Sheppard and Chris White, this puts Danny Batten back in the mix at OLB. Right now, Nix, Gailey and Wannstedt have yet to determine if Batten will play on as a SLB or JLB.
MLB: A. Davis and C. White
Andra Davis comes back as the starting MLB. But how effective will he be after a season ending shoulder injury?
WLB: R. Torbor and K. Sheppard
The Bills drafted Kelvin Sheppard to help shore up the run defense. At 6’2”. 250 lbs, Sheppard has the size that Nix and Gailey are looking for in a MLB. Expect Sheppard to push Torbor hard for the starting WLB position in camp and preseason.
JLB: S. Merriman, A. Moats, A. Maybin (D. Batten)
The Bills are expecting Shawne Merriman to be healthy and be back to his pro-bowl form from when he was on the San Diego Chargers. But after three unproductive, injury laden seasons, can Merriman finally put together a solid season for the Bills? If so, then that’s huge for the Bills pass rush, if not, then expect to see Arthur “Don’t cross the” Moats getting the start at JLB. With the addition of Dareus, plus having Kyle Williams up front, Aaron Maybin could possibly benefit from this. If players on the offense are double-teaming Dareus and Williams, this could give Maybin a clear shot at the QB. With Maybin’s speed, he should be able to close in on the opposing QB very quickly. But, this is likely Maybin’s last season with the Bills if he does not improve as the team has expressed their frustrations publicly about Maybin. Let’s see what Dave Wannstedt can do with Maybin this year.
SS: G. Wilson, B. Scott and D. Searcy
At the moment, George Wilson is slotted as the teams SS, which is not a bad thing as Wilson has shown his ability to make plays in the backfield. The Bills addressed their secondary with three draft picks, including 4th round pick, Da’ChuckNorris Searcy. Searcy is 223 lbs and is a big, physical player. Searcy can either play CB or SS. Expect Searcy to push Wilson for the SS position.
FS: J. Byrd, J. Corto
Jairus Byrd is entrenched as the teams FS. Last year, without a good pass rush, Byrd did not come close to the INT’s that he had his rookie year, but Byrd did improve on his run game and had 3 forced fumbles, and 1 sack. With the Bills front 7 improved, and the possibility of the pass rush also improved, it’s possible to see Byrd’s INT production come back up.
RCB: T. McGee, A. Williams and J. Rogers
It looks like Terrence McGee’s career is winding down, with the amount of injuries he’s been sustaining over the years, which is why the Bills drafted Aaron Williams in the 2nd round. Williams is a big CB at 6’0” 204 lbs. Williams is very versatile in which he can play either CB or FS. Expect to see Williams as the starting RCB come Week 1 vs the Chiefs.
K: R. Lindell; P: B. Moorman; LS: G. Sanborn
No changes here. Lindell and Moorman have been the most consistent players for the Bills since they first started playing with the team. But both didn’t have the same consistent seasons last year as we have from those two last season. If Lindell and Moorman struggle again this season, then the Bills front office will have to think about replacements for either one or both of them.
Those not listed in the current roster:
Drayton Florence (CB) and Akin Ayodele (ILB) are unrestricted free agents. While I would like to see the Bills retain Florence, Florence is looking to take the highest bidder for his services, so it looks like his career in Buffalo is coming to an end.
Paul Posluszny (ILB) and Donte Whitner (SS) were given restricted offers before the close of the 2010 season. A new CBA is expected to render those tags useless, making Poz and Whitner UFA's. Whitner wants top 5 SS money, but is very unlikely to get that from the Bills.
John McCargo (DE), Keith Ellison (ILB) and Ashton Youboty (CB) are also in a similar situation with Poz & Whitner, but were not given restricted offers. So it looks like McCargo, Youboty and Ellison have played their last games in a Bills uniform. McCargo never lived up to his 1st round draft status, while Ellison and Youboty proved to be as fragile as a carton of eggs. Both Ellison and Youboty could never stay healthy enough to be major contributors to the Bills defense.
Brian Brohm (QB), Quinton Ganther (RB) and Jonathan Stupar (TE) were scheduled for RFA status regardless of what the new CBA looks like. They did not receive tender offers prior to the end of the 2011 season, which means those three have likely played in their last games for the Bills.