Bills Training Camp: Pre-Pre-Season 53-Man Roster Projection

The Buffalo Bills will play their first pre-season game of the year this Saturday when they take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. In that light, I thought it'd be fun for interested community members to make their first (and in most cases, only) pre-pre-season Bills roster projections.

My guess lies after the jump, with a blow-by-blow explanation of the process I used to get to that final depth chart. What changes would you make to it, Bills fans?

Step 1: The Ideal Numbers Roster. No matter where a team has talent, the NFL is a numbers game, and the Bills will likely need to cut good football players to ensure they have proper numbers at another position. I figured the smart place to start would be to determine an ideal roster from a numbers standpoint, then tweak it for talent from there. Here's what I came up with on that front (note the 50/50 split between offense and defense):

  • Offense (25): 3 QB, 3 RB, 1 FB, 6 WR, 3 TE, 9 OL
  • Defense (25): 4 DE, 2 NT, 4 OLB, 5 ILB, 6 CB, 4 S
  • Specialists (3): 1 K, 1 P, 1 LS

Step 2: Fill out the Ideal Numbers Roster. From there, I simply filled out the "ideal numbers roster" with the names of players, straight down the list, on our unofficial Bills depth chart. Here's what that initial depth chart looked like. Please note, post-skimmers, that the below depth chart is not my final projection.

Pos. # STARTER # Backup # Reserve
WR 13 ST. JOHNSON 11 R. Parrish 18 N. Roosevelt
LT 77 D. BELL 71 E. Wang
LG 67 A. LEVITRE
C 70 E. WOOD 63 G. Hangartner
RG 60 K. URBIK 61 M. Wrotto
RT 79 E. PEARS 75 C. Hairston*
TE 84 S. CHANDLER 80 D. Martin 82 M. Caussin
WR 83 L. EVANS 86 D. Nelson 19 D. Jones
QB 14 R. FITZPATRICK 4 T. Thigpen 16 B. Smith
RB 22 F. JACKSON 28 C. Spiller 35 J. White*
FB 38 C. McINTYRE
LE 99 M. DAREUS* 91 Sp. Johnson
NT 95 K. WILLIAMS 96 T. Troup
RE 98 D. EDWARDS 92 A. Carrington
SLB 90 C. KELSAY 57 D. Batten
MLB 53 R. TORBOR 55 K. Sheppard* 94 C. White*
WLB 50 N. BARNETT 52 A. Moats
JLB 55 S. MERRIMAN 59 A. Coleman
LCB 24 T. McGEE 23 A. Williams* 42 J. Rogers*
SS 37 G. WILSON 43 B. Scott 25 D. Searcy*
FS 31 J. BYRD
RCB 29 D. FLORENCE 21 L. McKelvin 27 R. Corner
K 9 R. LINDELL
P 8 B. MOORMAN
LS 65 G. SANBORN

Step 3: Find and make cases for exceptions. The next (and final) step was to identify players that I consider strong possibilities to make the team (for any of a number of reasons), then see if it was feasible to sneak them onto the above roster. I came up with five names, immediately discounted three, and then fought hard for the remaining two.

  • The three fringe players I discounted immediately? Marcus Easley, Shawn Nelson and Cordaro Howard. It was easiest to discount Easley, who despite being a fourth-round pick last year is playing at a loaded position and can't find a way to stay on the field. Nelson isn't playing at a loaded position, but he's also constantly missing time, and at some point that's going to haunt him. Howard was the toughest cut of the three, but again, he's a player missing time at a position where the team has alternatives.
  • I tried hard to find a spot for Chad Rinehart, who was surprisingly effective to close the 2010 season as the team's starting right guard. While some insist that he has the flexibility to kick out to tackle as a reserve, I haven't seen it yet, and therefore couldn't nudge him in ahead of versatile backups like Ed Wang. Clearly, Rinehart still has an excellent opportunity to make this football team, but he's not on my final projection.
  • The other big name not on the list above is veteran inside linebacker Andra Davis, but in his case alone, I found a way to sneak him onto the team - as a starter, no less. Davis is, in my opinion, critical to the team's short-term success because of his vast knowledge of the defense George Edwards runs. Nine linebackers is a bit thin anyway, and adding Davis to the mix brings the total to 10. I had very little problem nixing rookie cornerback Justin Rogers from the roster (despite some positive buzz about him) to make room for a veteran linebacker on a run defense that is one of the league's worst.

That Davis-for-Rogers swap was the final tweak to my 53-man projection. Yes, post-skimmers, the below depth chart is my final pre-pre-season 53-man Bills roster projection. Have at it.

Pos. # STARTER # Backup # Reserve
WR 13 ST. JOHNSON 11 R. Parrish 18 N. Roosevelt
LT 77 D. BELL 71 E. Wang
LG 67 A. LEVITRE
C 70 E. WOOD 63 G. Hangartner
RG 60 K. URBIK 61 M. Wrotto
RT 79 E. PEARS 75 C. Hairston*
TE 84 S. CHANDLER 80 D. Martin 82 M. Caussin
WR 83 L. EVANS 86 D. Nelson 19 D. Jones
QB 14 R. FITZPATRICK 4 T. Thigpen 16 B. Smith
RB 22 F. JACKSON 28 C. Spiller 35 J. White*
FB 38 C. McINTYRE
LE 99 M. DAREUS* 91 Sp. Johnson
NT 95 K. WILLIAMS 96 T. Troup
RE 98 D. EDWARDS 92 A. Carrington
SLB 90 C. KELSAY 57 D. Batten
MLB 54 A. DAVIS 53 R. Torbor 94 C. White*
WLB 50 N. BARNETT 52 A. Moats 55 K. Sheppard*
JLB 55 S. MERRIMAN 59 A. Coleman
LCB 24 T. McGEE 23 A. Williams*

SS 37 G. WILSON 43 B. Scott 25 D. Searcy*
FS 31 J. BYRD
RCB 29 D. FLORENCE 21 L. McKelvin 27 R. Corner
K 9 R. LINDELL
P 8 B. MOORMAN
LS 65 G. SANBORN

The full list of cuts: QB Levi Brown, QB Josh Nesbitt, RB Bruce Hall, RB Anthony Elzy, FB Jehuu Caulcrick, WR Buster Davis, WR Felton Huggins, WR Paul Hubbard, WR Marcus Easley, WR Kamar Aiken, TE Shawn Nelson, TE Zach Pianalto, OT Jason Watkins, OG Cordaro Howard, OG Chad Rinehart, OG Colin Brown, OG Isaiah Thompson, C Michael Switzer, DE Lionel Dotson, DE T.J. Langley, NT Michael Jasper, NT Kellen Heard, OLB Aaron Maybin, OLB Jammie Kirlew, OLB Robert Eddins, ILB Brad Jefferson, ILB Brandon Hicks, CB Justin Rogers, CB Doyle Miller, CB Loyce Means, S Jon Corto, S Rajric Coleman, S Sidney Glover, K Chris Hazley, P Reid Forrest, LS Danny Aiken.

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