With the NFL Draft now less than a week away, there are several members of the Buffalo Bills whose starting positions, roster spots, or both could quickly evaporate should GM Buddy Nix choose a particular player at a particular position in a particular round. These nine players won't be anxiously watching the draft to see who their new teammates are. These guys will be watching to see who their competition will be once minicamp starts in June.
Buffalo's opening day starter at left tackle a year ago, Bell had a rocky beginning while anchoring the blind side of the Bills' line in 2009. He started eight games in total at left tackle while battling yellow flags, injuries and inconsistency. Bell led the league in penalties until he was finally put on shelf for the rest of the season with an ACL tear. If the Bills take a new OT with the ninth overall pick, Bell goes from starting tackle to possibly the bench, and his next contract loses a digit. If the Bills select one later, though, Bell may have a fair chance of beating that rookie and staying in the starting lineup. You could lump in Cornell Green here, as the staff could choose is to move Bell to right tackle, possibly demoting Green to reserve should he lose a competition.
Kelsay is the only player to appear on our list two years in a row. Aaron Maybin is set to take over for Kelsay in the starting lineup in the new 3-4 defense, and if Aaron Schobel returns, Kelsay will be on the bench for a majority of snaps. Should the Bills select another young outside linebacker, his roster spot could even be in jeopardy. In a similar boat, Chris Ellis will have to fight for a place on the 53-man roster behind Maybin, Schobel, Kelsay, and whichever young player(s) they import.
Williams' roster spot isn't in jeopardy, but his amount of playing time very well could be. Penciled in as the starter at nose tackle, Williams could lose that job very quickly should the Bills select a true NT in the first few rounds. Williams has to know the Bills will take another big man to play the nose in the draft, but the key for him will be where that run-stuffer is selected. If it's a first- or second-round selection, Williams may go from starter at NT to key reserve at all three DL spots.
Lynch isn't listed because he's likely to be replaced by a high draft pick, but because there's still a chance that he could be dealt on draft day. The likeliest two days of the calendar for the running back to be traded are Thursday and Friday as part of a package to move up in the draft, or in a straight-up deal for a pick. The only real question becomes whether he's sweating about being traded or about not being traded? Only Lynch can answer that question right now, and he hasn't said anything publicly.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm
All three of Buffalo's QBs know they will be in a battle for a starting job, as well as a roster spot, once training camp opens this summer. One of them will surely be gone by the time September rolls around. But that's not why they're on this list. The Bills' QBs are not sweating out if a QB is picked, but when. The team could add an immediate starter at the QB position with the ninth overall selection. There's no question all three would like a shot to prove he belongs as a starter, and with a high pick on the roster, these three may not get that opportunity. If the Bills pick a developmental prospect (second round or later), all four QBs may get the chance to earn the right to be the starter for the long or short term. If the Bills select a signal caller in the first round, though, these three will be guaranteed of being a perennial backup in the long term.