Buffalo Bills roster battles: No. 3 tight end

Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

While Scott Chandler is expected to start the season as the No. 1 tight end on the Buffalo Bills' roster, which players at the position could fill out the depth chart?

We're here at Buffalo Rumblings to keep you posted on the Buffalo Bills' happenings from the top of the roster all the way to the bottom. While Brian is currently highlighting the most competitive training camp battles to keep an eye on focusing on the starting lineup and top reserves, I'll be running down through each position group, matching players against each other that could fill out the bottom of the roster.

Player Acquired Age Ht Wt Speed
Mike Caussin Practice squad (JAC) 26 6'5" 243 4.77
Dorin Dickerson Street free agent (NE) 25 6'2" 227 4.40
Lee Smith Waivers (NE) 25 6'6" 265 4.94

The battle for the No. 3 tight end job behind incumbent starter Scott Chandler and rookie Chris Gragg should be an interesting one to keep an eye on. The Bills' front office will have to decide whether they want to keep an athletic, H-Back type in Dorin Dickerson, a big pass-catcher in Mike Caussin, or a primary blocker in Lee Smith.

Dickerson was a standout tight end during his college career at the University of Pittsburgh, where he caught 49 passes for 708 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season before being selected as a seventh-round draft pick of the Houston Texans. Dickerson was retained as a restricted free agent by the Bills during the offseason, and after a short position switch to wide receiver, he requested to make the move back to tight end.

Clearly the most athletic tight end on the Bills' roster at this point, Dickerson hasn't yet been given an opportunity to showcase his ability. With the rising popularity of H-Backs in the league, Dickerson could be an intriguing option, as his smaller frame would allow him to serve not only as a receiving tight end, but as a fullback in the backfield as well.

Caussin is coming off of ACL surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season, but he was noted as receiving "increased reps" in OTAs via BuffaloBills.com, where lead journalist Chris Brown wrote:

Mike Caussin looks ready to compete now more than a year removed from an ACL injury of his own. Of the four touchdowns thrown by Bills quarterbacks Thursday, three of them went to tight ends... Caussin made a quality over the shoulder grab in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown on a pass from Kolb.

Caussin has caught five passes for 41 yards in his three years with the Bills, but the former James Madison product has the size (6'5" 243) that's ideal for the tight end position. Buried at the bottom of the depth chart, Caussin is now healthy and should have an opportunity to impress when training camp rolls around.

Smith is primarily a blocking tight end, but that isn't a knock on his other qualities. Teams generally keep at least one or two tight ends that are quality blockers, and Smith can serve as a proverbial sixth offensive lineman in certain situations. The 25-year old caught two touchdowns last year with the Bills, but as BuffaloBills.com noted, Smith is a sleeper to keep an eye on:

Primarily a blocker in his first two seasons with Buffalo, the tight end could have a larger role in the passing game than some might expect. Provided he can steer clear of nagging injuries Smith could prove to be more than just an in-line guy.

While Chandler, if healthy, is obviously the No. 1 tight end, he's in a contract year and the Bills need to look towards the future. All of the tight ends listed above have special traits to them, but the coaching staff and front office will have to decide which direction they intend to head when training camp rolls around.

What say you, Rumblers? Which of the listed tight ends have the best shot at making the 53-man roster?

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