If you've been hanging out with us for at least the past three weeks, you're probably aware of the drill: after every Buffalo Bills pre-season game, we update our roster projection for the upcoming season. For point of reference, here is last week's projection.
It was a busy week in Buffalo, as the team made more roster moves to deal with minor injuries. Strong performances from several key youngsters in the team's 27-20 victory over the Chicago Bears on Saturday obviously necessitated a few tweaks as well. Our full projection, with a depth chart, a projected practice squad and an explanation for the last five on and the first five cut, is after the jump.
You know what comes first: our roster projection in depth chart form. Please note - we've got 55 names on the roster; two are start-of-season exemptions in our eyes: RB Marshawn Lynch, who obviously is suspended, and WR James Hardy, who might not play in the pre-season, and thus stands a strong chance of starting the year on the PUP list. There is no reason for the Bills to rush Hardy back onto the field.
|WR2||83 - LEE EVANS||17 - Justin Jenkins||
84 - James Hardy
|WR3||82 - JOSH REED||11 - Roscoe Parrish|
|LT||68 - LANGSTON WALKER||77 - Demetrius Bell
|LG||67 - ANDY LEVITRE*||73 - Kirk Chambers|
|C||63 - GEOFF HANGARTNER|
|RG||70 - ERIC WOOD*||66 - Seth McKinney|
|RT||60 - BRAD BUTLER|
|TE||80 - DEREK SCHOUMAN||86 - Derek Fine||89 - Shawn Nelson*||88 - Jonathan Stupar|
|WR1||81 - TERRELL OWENS||13 - Steve Johnson|
|QB||5 - TRENT EDWARDS||14 - Ryan Fitzpatrick||10 - Gibran Hamdan|
|RB||23 - MARSHAWN LYNCH||22 - Fred Jackson||33 - Dominic Rhodes||44 - Xavier Omon|
|LE||90 - CHRIS KELSAY||92 - Ryan Denney||93 - Chris Ellis
|1T||99 - MARCUS STROUD||97 - John McCargo|
|3T||95 - KYLE WILLIAMS||91 - Spencer Johnson|
|RE||94 - AARON SCHOBEL||58 - Aaron Maybin*|
|SLB||56 - KEITH ELLISON||54 - Nic Harris*|
|MLB||51 - PAUL POSLUSZNY||59 - Pat Thomas|
|WLB||55 - KAWIKA MITCHELL||57 - Jon Corto|
|CB2||28 - LEODIS McKELVIN||29 - Drayton Florence||26 - Ashton Youboty
|SS||43 - BRYAN SCOTT||37 - George Wilson||21 - John Wendling
|FS||20 - DONTE WHITNER||31 - Jairus Byrd*|
|CB1||24 - TERRENCE McGEE||27 - Reggie Corner||46 - Ellis Lankster*|
|K||9 - RIAN LINDELL|
|P||8 - BRIAN MOORMAN|
|LS||72 - RYAN NEILL|
We might as well give you a practice squad as well.
|WR C.J. Hawthorne|
|OT Chris Denman|
|C Brandon Rodd
|DT Derrick Jones
|LB Marcus Buggs
|LB Ashlee Palmer*
|CB Cary Harris*|
|CB Lydell Sargeant*|
Full list of "cuts": QB Matt Baker, RB Bruce Hall, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Felton Huggins, WR Shaine Smith, TE Travis McCall*, OT Nick Hennessey, C Christian Gaddis, DE Copeland Bryan, DE Ataefiok Etukeren*, DT Marcus Smith, DT Corey Mace, LB Alvin Bowen, LB Ryan Manalac*, FS Ko Simpson, FS Antwain Spann
WR Justin Jenkins: Jenkins is making life easy for Bills coaches right now, in particular with how they can handle Hardy. He has been on every first unit for Bobby April's special teams units this pre-season. More importantly, he's produced relatively well when he's been in offensively. Because of Jenkins, the Bills don't need to rush Hardy back onto the field simply for receiver depth. Plus, Jenkins can help on game days until the coaches are ready to sacrifice some special teams to get Hardy onto the active roster.
TE Jonathan Stupar: He really shouldn't be on this list based on his pre-season production; his ten receptions in roughly five quarters of play is consistent, solid production. This guy can play. He's clearly not a go-to target or an above-average athlete in any way, shape or form, but for a second-year player with very little experience, he's remarkably consistent. He's the type of player that the coaches will make room for.
DE Chris Ellis: I have left Ellis off of the roster on several iterations of this exercise; after his strong performance Saturday, however, I couldn't resist the temptation to include him. I've seen Ellis sleepwalk through drills at practice, but he was busting his butt against the Bears; his sack and fumble recovery on consecutive plays speak for themselves. He can produce when he wants to work. If he can work hard consistently, he should develop into a pretty nice player. By no means, however, is he a lock for the roster - Aaron Maybin will be on board at some point, and Copeland Bryan is giving him a run for his money as well.
LB Jon Corto: I knew going in that I'd only be keeping six linebackers. It was tough to keep Corto over some other, perhaps more talented players, but all indications right now are that Corto will sneak onto the roster as a pure specialist. He remains a first-unit special teams player on all units; obviously, that counts for a lot in Buffalo.
S John Wendling: Wendling got some second-team reps on Saturday night as an in-the-box run defender (at strong safety, obviously), and he looked pretty solid doing it. His special teams prowess is well-known. He was the last player on the roster for me, however, not because of what he brings to the table, but because I was thoroughly unimpressed by Ko Simpson's play. Wendling is a known commodity - and right now, that gives him an edge over Simpson.
FB Corey McIntyre: Give Buffalo's coaches some credit - they know they're going to have a hard time keeping McIntyre around, but they're giving him opportunities to earn a spot. McIntyre, who has never logged a carry in a regular season game, carried the ball six times against the Bears, and looked borderline competent doing so. He, too, has value as a special teams player. Right now, however, the fullback position is completely phased out of the no-huddle offense, and that, ultimately, should ruin McIntyre's chances of making the roster.
OT Jonathan Scott: The "Other Scott" has been pretty average of late, and on a roster loaded with back-end special teams options, average isn't going to cut it when you're the ninth-best lineman on the team. He still has a shot at the roster, but right now, he's likely going to be the victim of the numbers game. He doesn't provide any game-day value as a ninth lineman.
DE Copeland Bryan: The coaches are going to hate cutting Bryan. He's as dependable as young players come - hard-working, semi-athletic, and able to contribute in a few different ways. His problem is that he'll never be anything more than he currently is. It's tough to cut dependable young players. But at best, he's 5A in the Bills' (fully stocked) DE rotation.
LB Alvin Bowen: Bowen has made some big hits in the practice setting, but other than one big tackle in the Hall of Fame Game, he's relatively invisible on the field - even on special teams. He's a solid athlete, but other young Bills linebackers are making bigger plays. Right now, his chances at a roster spot are slim. He does, however, have practice squad eligibility - but even that is a stretch.
FS Ko Simpson: While George Wilson continues to impress me on the field, Simpson was thoroughly underwhelming against Chicago after a decent performance against Tennessee. He's more limited athletically than even Wilson, and with Jairus Byrd set to hit the field possibly this week, Simpson's stock is most definitely on the decline.
Your own comments and projections, as always, are welcomed below.