How The 2012 Buffalo Bills Were Built

Mar 15, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills new defensive end Mario Williams speaks at a press conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Chief executive officer Russ Brandon is seen in the background. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

One of the nerdiest features that I thoroughly enjoy putting together each and every year is how the Buffalo Bills' roster was assembled. Today, we'll look at the team's 88-man roster that they're heading into the 2012 season with two ways: how players were acquired, and where players were drafted.

This exercise is not particularly relevant to how the team will perform this coming season, but it's interesting when applied to GM Buddy Nix and his preferences for acquiring talent. The short version: he likes finding draft picks in the bargain bin, and he has a fairly strong track record of adding veteran players. See it all after the jump.

The first thing we'll do is look at how Nix built the roster. We'll break the 88-player list up into four groups: incumbents, draft picks, undrafted free agents and veteran in-season acquisitions.

Incumbents are, obviously, players that were already on the roster when Nix took over as GM. There are 17 such players - and as we discussed earlier this week, 11 of them have already gotten new deals from the Nix regime.

17 incumbents: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Stevie Johnson, OG Andy Levitre, C Eric Wood, DE Chris Kelsay, DE Spencer Johnson, DT Kyle Williams, LB Bryan Scott, CB Terrence McGee, CB Leodis McKelvin, S Jairus Byrd, S George Wilson, K Rian Lindell, P Brian Moorman, LS Garrison Sanborn

Another obvious group: draft picks. Note that between three draft classes, just three draft picks are no longer with the organization.

24 draft picks: RB C.J. Spiller, RB Johnny White, WR T.J. Graham, WR Marcus Easley, OT Cordy Glenn, OT Chris Hairston, OT Zebrie Sanders, OG Mark Asper, OG Michael Jasper, DE Danny Batten, DT Marcell Dareus, DT Torell Troup, DT Alex Carrington, LB Kelvin Sheppard, LB Nigel Bradham, LB Tank Carder, LB Chris White, LB Arthur Moats, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Aaron Williams, CB Ron Brooks, CB Justin Rogers, S Da'Norris Searcy, K John Potter

The last obvious group: undrafted free agents. These were undrafted players that Nix signed to the active roster. The majority of these players will officially sign their deals tomorrow, when the team's rookie mini-camp begins. The rest are undrafted free agents that managed to stick with the team.

16 undrafted free agents: QB Aaron Corp, RB Chris Douglas, WR David Nelson, WR Donald Jones, WR Naaman Roosevelt, WR Kamar Aiken, OT Paul Madsen, OG David Snow, DE Robert Eddins, LB Garrick Williams, CB Cris Hill, S Joshua Nesbitt, S Delano Howell, S Nick Sukay, S Ian Wild, P Shawn Powell

Now the not-so-obvious groups begin. First, we have free agent signings - and thanks to the 2011 lockout, it's rather difficult to separate out some of the team's veteran acquisitions from the group that follows. Still, we count six players that we consider true-blue free agent signings - ones that involved wooing, gobs of money and a multi-team market for the player's services.

6 free agent signings: QB Tyler Thigpen, QB/WR Brad Smith, DE Mario Williams, DE Mark Anderson, DT Dwan Edwards, LB Nick Barnett

Finally, we have a hodgepodge of a group that we're calling "in-season veteran acquisitions." This group is largely comprised of street free agents, waiver wire acquisitions and practice squad signings. All of these players were either unemployed when the Bills signed them in-season (largely due to injury issues), or were employed by other teams and either waived or allowed to leave. We were surprised at just how large this list is.

25 in-season veteran acquisitions: RB Tashard Choice, WR Derek Hagan, WR Ruvell Martin, WR David Clowney, TE Scott Chandler, TE Lee Smith, TE Mike Caussin, TE Fendi Onobun, TE Kevin Brock, OT Erik Pears, OT Sam Young, OG Kraig Urbik, OG Chad Rinehart, OG Colin Brown, OG Keith Williams, OG Jake Vermiglio, DE Shawne Merriman, DE Lionel Dotson, DE Kyle Moore, DT Kellen Heard, DT Jarron Gilbert, DT Jay Ross, LB Kirk Morrison, LB Scott McKillop, CB Prince Miller

As we mentioned, Nix has a reputation for finding former draft picks on the scrap heap and adding mid-round talent to his roster in unconventional ways. To illustrate that point, here is Buffalo's roster divided up by draft status.

  • Eight (8) First-Round Picks: RB C.J. Spiller, C Eric Wood, DE Mario Williams, DE Shawne Merriman, DT Marcell Dareus, LB Nick Barnett, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Leodis McKelvin
  • Eight (8) Second-Round Picks: OT Cordy Glenn, OG Andy Levitre, DE Chris Kelsay, DT Dwan Edwards, DT Torell Troup, LB Bryan Scott, CB Aaron Williams, S Jairus Byrd
  • Eight (8) Third-Round Picks: WR T.J. Graham, WR Derek Hagan, OG Kraig Urbik, OG Chad Rinehart, DT Alex Carrington, DT Jarron Gilbert, LB Kelvin Sheppard, LB Kirk Morrison
  • Ten (10) Fourth-Round Picks: QB/WR Brad Smith, RB Tashard Choice, WR Marcus Easley, TE Scott Chandler, OT Chris Hairston, DE Kyle Moore, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Terrence McGee, CB Ron Brooks, S Da'Norris Searcy
  • Nine (9) Fifth-Round Picks: RB Johnny White, WR David Clowney, TE Lee Smith, OT Zebrie Sanders, OG Colin Brown, DE Mark Anderson, DT Kyle Williams, LB Tank Carder, LB Scott McKillop
  • Seven (7) Sixth-Round Picks: TE Fendi Onobun, OT Sam Young, OG Mark Asper, OG Keith Williams, DE Danny Batten, LB Chris White, LB Arthur Moats
  • Seven (7) Seventh-Round Picks: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Tyler Thigpen, WR Stevie Johnson, OG Michael Jasper, DE Lionel Dotson, CB Justin Rogers, K John Potter
  • 31 Undrafted Free Agents: QB Aaron Corp, RB Fred Jackson, RB Chris Douglas, FB Corey McIntyre, WR David Nelson, WR Donald Jones, WR Ruvell Martin, WR Naaman Roosevelt, WR Kamar Aiken, TE Mike Caussin, TE Kevin Brock, OT Erik Pears, OT Paul Madsen, OG Jake Vermiglio, OG David Snow, DE Spencer Johnson, DE Robert Eddins, DT Kellen Heard, DT Jay Ross, LB Garrick Williams, CB Prince Miller, CB Cris Hill, S George Wilson, S Joshua Nesbitt, S Delano Howell, S Nick Sukay, S Ian Wild, K Rian Lindell, P Brian Moorman, P Shawn Powell, LS Garrison Sanborn
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