The preseason is over. The Buffalo Bills, along with every other NFL team, must trim its roster to 53 players by a 6:00 PM Saturday deadline. I know all of you are anxious to share your final 53 predictions; this is the post to do so. I'll start my projection by stating that I'm so infinitely glad that I don't have to do another 53-man roster prediction this year. Here's how I broke it down.
25 starters are locks. Including the three specialists, Buffalo has 25 starters. I don't expect any lineup changes with the ones, so these 25 players are on the final roster. That's nearly half of the 53-man roster right out of the chute.
QB Trent Edwards, RB C.J. Spiller, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Lee Evans, WR Steve Johnson, TE Jonathan Stupar, OT Demetrius Bell, OT Cornell Green, OG Andy Levitre, OG Eric Wood, C Geoff Hangartner, DE Dwan Edwards, DE Marcus Stroud, NT Kyle Williams, OLB Chris Kelsay, OLB Reggie Torbor, ILB Andra Davis, ILB Paul Posluszny, CB Terrence McGee, CB Drayton Florence, FS Jairus Byrd, SS Donte Whitner, K Rian Lindell, P Brian Moorman, LS Garrison Sanborn
13 players with defined roles are locks. All of these players have defined roles with the team going forward, and many of them will see significant playing time. I don't think I'll see too many arguments in this section, but then again, we've only covered 72% of the final roster to this point.
RB Fred Jackson, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Roscoe Parrish, OT Jamon Meredith, DE Spencer Johnson, NT Torell Troup, OLB Chris Ellis, OLB Aaron Maybin, ILB Kawika Mitchell, CB Leodis McKelvin, CB Reggie Corner, FS George Wilson, SS Bryan Scott
3 players that absolutely are not going anywhere. Whether it's based on preseason play, draft status, or simple dire need, these three players aren't going anywhere any time soon.
WR David Nelson, WR Chad Jackson, DE Alex Carrington
We're now 41 players deep into my projection. That leaves a dozen spots at which I expect that I'll get the most arguments, and at which we'll see the most differentiation between forthcoming reader predictions. Here's how I handled those last dozen spots.
8 players are "numbers" locks. The Bills have to keep a bare minimum quota of players at each position for simple depth purposes. Without predicting waiver wire acquisitions, here's how I fill out Buffalo's depth chart based on numerical need.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Levi Brown, TE J.P. Foschi, OT Ed Wang, OG Nick Hennessey, DE John McCargo, ILB Arthur Moats, CB Ashton Youboty
Given Trent Edwards' injury history and the state of the offensive line, we absolutely must preserve experience and production at backup quarterback. I also like Levi Brown's raw physical tools best as a developmental quarterback. Foschi stays as a warm body at tight end; he's a capable blocker. Buffalo must keep eight offensive linemen. Wang is a developmental prospect. Hennessey can play tackle or guard, and can also block a little from the tight end spot during Shawn Nelson's suspension. With the Bills using a lot of 4-3 looks, I like McCargo as a seventh lineman. Moats has great upside, and Youboty is about as dependable as you can get as a fifth cornerback.
Those are my rationalizations for those eight numbers locks. I expect most contention with my selections to come in this section of the post. We've still got four more spots to pick, however.
4 "best players available" to fill out the roster. That's Buffalo's draft philosophy, and it should be the way they fill out the back end of their roster, as well. None of these players are indisposable (nor are most of the numbers locks, for that matter), but they're talented and can be useful on game days early in the season.
RB Joique Bell, WR Donald Jones, ILB Keith Ellison, FS Cary Harris
Bell is insurance in the event that Fred Jackson can't play in Week 1, and has played himself onto the roster in any case. Jones is a nice athlete with intriguing potential, and can play special teams. Ellison is a heady player that doesn't make mistakes; coaches will like him for that, and he was the first "BPA" selection I made. Harris offers the team versatility as a depth player, as he can play both corner and safety.
That's it. 53 men. Here are the 20 that didn't make the cut. TE Shawn Nelson goes on reserve/suspended, while SS Jon Corto can start the year on reserve/PUP.
QB Brian Brohm, RB Chad Simpson, RB Andre Anderson, FB Rodney Ferguson, WR James Hardy, WR Naaman Roosevelt, TE Derek Schouman, TE Andrew George, OT Kirk Chambers, OG Cordaro Howard, OG Andre Ramsey, OG Jason Watkins, C Sean Allen, C Christian Gaddis, DE Rashaad Duncan, ILB Donovan Woods, OLB Antonio Coleman, CB Ellis Lankster, CB Lydell Sargeant, SS Dominique Harris
Slap Ferguson, Roosevelt, George, Howard, Allen, Coleman, Sargeant and Harris on the practice squad. Here's the final roster prediction in depth chart form.
|WR||13 - Steve Johnson||86 - David Nelson||19 - Donald Jones|
|LT||77 - Demetrius Bell||69 - Jamon Meredith||71 - Ed Wang|
|LG||67 - Andy Levitre||79 - Nick Hennessey|
|C||63 - Geoff Hangartner|
|RG||70 - Eric Wood|
|RT||74 - Cornell Green|
|TE||88 - Jonathan Stupar||82 - J.P. Foschi|
|WR||83 - Lee Evans||11 - Roscoe Parrish||17 - Chad Jackson|
|QB||5 - Trent Edwards||14 - Ryan Fitzpatrick||10 - Levi Brown|
|RB||21 - C.J. Spiller||22 - Fred Jackson||23 - Marshawn Lynch||35 - Joique Bell|
|FB||38 - Corey McIntyre|
|LE||99 - Marcus Stroud||92 - Alex Carrington|
|NT||95 - Kyle Williams||96 - Torell Troup|
|RE||98 - Dwan Edwards||91 - Spencer Johnson||97 - John McCargo|
|SLB||90 - Chris Kelsay||93 - Chris Ellis|
|MLB||54 - Andra Davis||55 - Kawika Mitchell|
|WLB||51 - Paul Posluszny||56 - Keith Ellison||45 - Arthur Moats|
|JLB||53 - Reggie Torbor||58 - Aaron Maybin|
|LCB||24 - Terrence McGee||27 - Reggie Corner||26 - Ashton Youboty|
|SS||20 - Donte Whitner||43 - Bryan Scott|
|FS||31 - Jairus Byrd||37 - George Wilson||47 - Cary Harris|
|RCB||29 - Drayton Florence||28 - Leodis McKelvin|
|K||9 - Rian Lindell|
|P||8 - Brian Moorman|
|LS||65 - Garrison Sanborn|
Position most likely to be addressed via waiver wire: offensive line. Good gracious, that depth chart is atrocious. If they can find a capable, veteran guard/center on the market, I think they'd be all over it like stink on cheese. Nick Hennessey is a hard worker, but he's just a guy. They need interior line help in a bad way.
The comments section is yours. Your predictions, your questions, and your contentions with this prediction, are most welcome.