The Buffalo Bills will wrap up their preseason schedule tonight when they take on the Detroit Lions. Clearly, there are more than just ten Bills players that will be fighting for their NFL futures tonight. Perhaps the biggest name on the list, backup quarterback candidate Brian Brohm, will likely be of particular interest to a large portion of the fan base this evening.
But in Brohm's case, whether or not he makes the 53-man roster will not have a ripple effect on the rest of the roster. Buffalo will be keeping three quarterbacks, and that's the long and short of it; no matter what happens with Brohm, the Bills will still have 50 more roster slots to fill. The following ten players, however, could all create a ripple effect - largely in terms of numbers at each position - should they perform well enough to crack the final roster.
Running backs Joique Bell and Chad Simpson. Bell is getting all of the attention, but both of these nifty runners have had their moments during preseason action. Simpson offers the team a bit more versatility as a receiver and return man, but Bell has been lights out, and has improved slightly on special teams. With three well-established running backs ahead of them on the depth chart, if either of these players is able to crack the roster, the Bills will have to sacrifice a player at another position.
Wide receiver James Hardy. Buffalo seems reasonably well set at receiver with their current top five of Evans, Johnson, Parrish, Nelson and Jackson. Hardy, the third-year pro that can neither stay healthy nor produce satisfactorily when he gets opportunities, is still an intriguing enough prospect to warrant final roster consideration. I still deem it unlikely that he accomplishes that goal, but a strong showing against Detroit could garner support he currently doesn't have.
Offensive linemen Nick Hennessey and Sean Allen. Aside from swing tackle Jamon Meredith, it's anyone's guess as to how Buffalo will stack depth behind their five projected starting offensive linemen. They're likely to keep at least eight, perhaps nine, and two linemen that could solidify spots after quiet preseasons are Allen and Hennessey. Pretty much an afterthought since the moment he arrived in Buffalo, Hennessey has been a second-unit left guard for weeks now, and even saw first-team action against Cincinnati as an extra tackle in the goal line package. He can also play tackle, and the Bills value versatility in their reserves. Allen has been the second-team center since camp opened, and if he's impressive enough, the Bills wouldn't necessarily have to give Eric Wood snaps at center during practices. Ed Wang is a factor here, as well; he's still got a shot to make the team despite missing most of training camp due to thumb surgery.
Defensive end John McCargo. I know that I, personally, am looking forward to watching McCargo tonight more than any other Bill. He's had an excellent camp and preseason, has earned public praise from his head coach, and now has a great opportunity to make the team - perhaps even unseating a veteran to do so. The most likely course of events is McCargo making the roster as a seventh defensive linemen, which could knock a defender out of the race at linebacker or in the defensive backfield.
Linebackers Keith Ellison and Antonio Coleman. The linebacker position is really hard to figure out at the moment. There are no stand-outs at this position - either outside or inside - and the Bills have a nice group of veterans and a nice group of intriguing young guys. How they mix and match veteran with youth, and how many of each they keep, will be influenced, if only slightly, by how fringe 'backers like Ellison and Coleman perform tonight.
Cornerbacks Ashton Youboty and Ellis Lankster. Buffalo's depth chart is fairly ironclad four cornerbacks deep. They'll keep at least five, and perhaps six. Lankster has been roughed up this preseason, but still has unusual athletic ability. Youboty has been steady, but has not stood out in any significant way. It's also possible that the Bills keep both of these players; running six deep at cornerback would, of course, change their numbers up at other positions.
Any names or positions that you'd like to add to the list?