Well, it's that time. The pre-season schedule is over, and now the media, experts and fans everywhere will begin breaking down NFL rosters and pretending they know what's going on inside their favorite team's war rooms. So, in the spirit of this joyous event, I'll take a stab - what follows is my breakdown of the entire Bills' roster and the 54 players (thank you, Anthony Hargrove's suspension) that would comprise my opening day roster.
Consider this an official entry in The Great Cutdown Prediction Thread, the brainchild of community member Dock Ellis and an interesting project. The Bills are just shy of 20 hours away from reaching the deadline of making final roster cuts; until that occurs, feel free to leave your predictions in that thread. On to the predictions, broken down as such:
Bills 1-24: "The Starters"
We'll start the breakdown with the obvious players - those Bills that are expected to start. Even if these 24 players are not starting by season's end, it's a certainty that they will be resting easy tonight - these guys don't have anything to worry about.
QB J.P. Losman, RB Marshawn Lynch, HB Ryan Neufeld, WR Lee Evans, WR Peerless Price, TE Robert Royal, LT Jason Peters, LG Derrick Dockery, C Melvin Fowler, RG Jason Whittle, RT Langston Walker, LE Chris Kelsay, RE Aaron Schobel, DT Larry Tripplett, DT Kyle Williams, SLB Angelo Crowell, MLB Paul Posluszny, WLB Keith Ellison, CB Terrence McGee, CB Jason Webster, SS Donte Whitner, FS Ko Simpson, K Rian Lindell, P Brian Moorman
Bills 25-35: "The Sub-Package Guys"
With the starters out of the way, let's move on to - obviously - the reserves. By my estimation, there are currently 11 Bills players that won't be starters but will see a lot of playing time - whether that be offensively, defensively or on special teams.
RB Anthony Thomas, WR Josh Reed, WR Roscoe Parrish, TE Kevin Everett, DE Anthony Hargrove, DE Al Wallace, DT John McCargo, DT Tim Anderson, LB Coy Wire, CB Kiwaukee Thomas, S Jim Leonhard
Bills 36-45: "The Specialists"
First, a quick recap - I've got 35 players on the team right now. These are all guys I consider locks to make the team, with the minor exception of Al Wallace, who may not have enough accrued time to earn a roster spot - especially with Ryan Denney still off the IR list. But I'll stick with those 35 guys, as I'm fairly confident every single one of them will be on the team. From here on out it's (mostly) guesswork.
We all know that, as one of the most dominant special teams units in the leagues, the Bills are going to keep players that are stalwarts on their special teams units. Ten names made my cut in this department - some are here specifically for special teams, while others are solid here and provide great depth at some positions where depth is thin.
LS Mike Schneck, RB Fred Jackson, HB Derek Schouman, WR Sam Aiken, LB Mario Haggan, LB Josh Stamer, LB John DiGiorgio, CB Ashton Youboty, CB Jabari Greer, S John Wendling
Bills 46-51: "The Necessary and Talented Backups"
45 down. Well, since Hargrove was counted above ("The Sub-Package Guys") and he'll start the season on the Reserve/Suspended list, the team can actually keep 53 players and Hargrove. So we've got 44 down, with 9 to go. Next up: the guesswork is getting serious. I have six players making the cut that are necessary at positions of thin depth and likely to make the cut based on their potential, standing with the coaching staff or general "gut feeling".
QB Trent Edwards, QB Craig Nall, RB Dwayne Wright, OT Terrance Pennington, OG Duke Preston, OL Brad Butler
Bills 52-54: "The Extras"
Three spots to go - and these three spots were, not surprisingly, the most difficult to fill. The following three players were based on positional need, potential and depth purposes. One note about these three: if the Bills were to make any sort of roster pickup before the cutdown (say, signing an interior O-Lineman or another position), it would be one of these three guys who get bumped off the active roster.
OG Christian Gaddis, DE Ryan Denney, DE C.J. Ah You
So those are, in my estimation at least, your 2007 Buffalo Bills. That leaves the following 21 players searching for another team or attempting to make their way onto the practice squad:
RB Shaud Williams, RB Josh Scobey, HB Brad Cieslak, WR Jonathan Smith, WR Jemalle Cornelius, WR Justin Jenkins, WR Scott Mayle, TE Matt Murphy, OT Kirk Chambers, OG Corey Davis, OG Nevin McCaskill, DE Eric Powell, DE Ryan Neill, DT Jason Jefferson, DT Corey Mace, LB Thaddaeus Washington, LB Kevin Harrison, CB Eric Bassey, CB Riley Swanson, S George Wilson, S Trevor Hooper
My guess is that a few of you are scratching your heads and asking questions such as "Didn't he include 6 defensive ends in his final roster?" I'll attempt to address those questions here, and as briefly as possible:
QB - 3; RB - 4; HB - 2; WR - 5; TE - 2; OL - 9; DE - 6; DT - 4; LB - 7; CB - 5; S - 4; SP - 3; Total = 54
As mentioned, I've included 54 here to account for 53 warm bodies on the active roster and DE Anthony Hargrove, who will eventually be on the active roster but must start the season on the Reserve/Suspended list.
DE Ryan Denney is a tough situation - I get the feeling that Dick Jauron doesn't want to IR him, so I think he'll end up staying on the active roster. With he and Hargrove both missing the first four weeks, it was imperative that the Bills keep six defensive ends, just so they can field four during the opening four games. Wallace and Ah You will be fine during those games; once Hargrove returns, I would expect Wallace to get released, as I think the coaching staff would want to keep Ah You around as he has more long-term value to the club.
Christian Gaddis, in all likelihood, won't make the final roster. But I do think the Bills will keep nine offensive linemen. My guess is that the team will be scouring the waiver wire tomorrow looking for a guard to stash on the roster; if not, I really believe that Gaddis will get the nod over any other player I have on the current Cuts list.
What's Your Verdict?
So there's my final roster prediction in all its lengthy glory. Being a humble blogger, I'm shooting for getting at least 75% of this right, but I realize that nobody knows what's going to happen tomorrow. But for the next 20 hours, we can have some fun with this, right? So poke holes in my arguments. Mock me for my six defensive end theory. But most importantly, let's get chatting - I assure you, I can back up any claims I've made above. Let's have some fun!