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NFL Roster Cuts: Predicting Buffalo's Final 53

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.

Pos. Starter Backup Reserve Reserve
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.