Tomorrow night, the Buffalo Bills will take on the Detroit Lions in each team's preseason finale - and then they'll trim their roster to 53 players on Saturday, by the NFL's 6PM ET deadline. The end of the exhibition season is upon us, and the Bills unfortunately have more questions today than they started with back in July.
This is my latest 53-man roster projection; I'll have one last version bright and early Friday morning, just for the heck of it. The 53 names are in the depth chart below, and there's an FAQ of sorts immediately after. Where did I err? Where do you agree? Let's hear it.
|WR||Stevie Johnson||Robert Woods||Brad Smith|
|LT||Cordy Glenn||Thomas Welch|
|C||Eric Wood||Doug Legursky|
|RT||Erik Pears||Sam Young|
|TE||Scott Chandler||Lee Smith||Chris Gragg|
|WR||T.J. Graham||Marquise Goodwin||Marcus Easley|
|QB||EJ Manuel||Jeff Tuel||
|RB||C.J. Spiller||Fred Jackson||Tashard Choice|
|RE||Mario Williams||Jerry Hughes||Jamie Blatnick|
|DT||Kyle Williams||Jay Ross|
|NT||Marcell Dareus||Alan Branch|
|WLB||Nigel Bradham||Bryan Scott|
|MLB||Kiko Alonso||Arthur Moats|
|SLB||Manny Lawson||Marcus Dowtin|
|RCB||Stephon Gilmore||Crezdon Butler||Justin Rogers|
|FS||Jairus Byrd||Duke Williams|
|SS||Aaron Williams||Da'Norris Searcy||Jonathan Meeks|
|LCB||Leodis McKelvin||Ron Brooks||Nickell Robey|
Four quarterbacks? Kolb is in the midst of a concussion protocol, and while he may be out for a while (and "a while" seems to be the optimistic angle), there have not yet been any clear indications that the team will remove him from the roster, though that's likely if Kolb doesn't respond well to tests this week. The Bills wouldn't keep four quarterbacks all year long, but given their current predicament, it's very possible they'll do so early on in the season - but that exception may only apply to Kolb. If he lands on IR, they'll roll with three and stash an extra body at, say, defensive tackle.
Nos. 5, 6 receivers. The quarterback situation helps Smith's cause, as he'll be the team's emergency option in Week 1 if Manuel can't go (and, really, he's not a bad receiver, either). Out of the team's young receivers, Easley has done more than other names like Chris Hogan at this point, but that door remains wide open. Once the quarterback problem settles down, if the team wants to swap Smith for a guy like Hogan, they'll probably be able to do so with relative ease.
Defensive line. This may be the area of the team that gets shorted due to numbers-related circumstances at quarterback and cornerback. Five linemen probably won't be enough to get through the whole season, but there are enough worthwhile players at the position that the team may feel comfortable trimming down to five and trying to re-sign one of Corbin Bryant, Torell Troup or Jarron Gilbert, hoping at least one of the three will still be available in a week or two.
Defensive backfield. If you were concerned about keeping a whopping 11 defensive backs before, you're probably less so now that Gilmore is sidelined as long as two months. Buffalo needs five options at that position with Gilmore out. At safety, Byrd's still re-assimilating to the team, and it's not clear if the team will throw him back into the fire immediately.