2015 Buffalo Bills training camp began on July 31. That week, we published our first 53-man roster projection of the new year. Now, nine practices into training camp, we've learned quite a bit about certain position battles on the roster, and next to nothing about others. With the Bills' first preseason game of the year looming at the end of this week, it's time to update our 53-man roster projection. Let's dive right in.
QB (3): Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel
No changes from first projection. Even if Manuel comes in third behind Cassel and Taylor (which he might not), I would still be mildly surprised if they outright released him, given the $5.3 million in dead money it would create. They've basically already paid the guy; they don't have to simply give up on him if he can't make more waves in the competition from this point forward.
RB (4): LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon, Karlos Williams
No changes from first projection. Williams has already crept past Bryce Brown on the depth chart. Jackson probably isn't going anywhere, and Dixon is far too valuable as a special teams performer to release.
FB (1): Jerome Felton
No changes from first projection. John Conner has been injured, and therefore unable to compete for a spot.
WR (6): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Marcus Easley, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan
Goodwin did not appear on the initial projection published last month, but by most accounts he has had a very solid camp thus far. Hogan, meanwhile, has not looked as impressive as he did last training camp, or as productive as when Kyle Orton was under center. Despite his being something of a fan favorite, and possessing special teams acumen, Hogan should be considered on the roster bubble.
TE (4): Charles Clay, Matthew Mulligan, MarQueis Gray, Nick O'Leary
No changes from first projection. The backup tight end position is a free-for-all right now. Chris Gragg has made some strides in the competition, but right now I'll prioritize Mulligan's blocking, Gray's ability on special teams, and O'Leary's draft status over Gragg. Really, though, anything could happen here.
OL (8): Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Kraig Urbik, Cyril Richardson
No changes from first projection, other than the projected starting right tackle, as Henderson has definitively taken a lead over Kouandjio in that battle. Right now, the Bills' starting line appears set, with only Kouandjio possessing an opportunity to change that with improved play.
DL (5): Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles, Alex Carrington, Jarius Wynn
The only change here is to take Marcell Dareus out of the listing, as he'll likely begin the year on the Reserve/Suspended list for Week 1. There may be a change brewing in the pecking order, however, as Carrington has had a fairly quiet camp, while Bryant has repeatedly been praised by those watching the sessions.
ER (5): Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Michael Buchanan, Randell Johnson
No changes from first projection. Lawson is going to have a significant role in the team's base defense, and Buchanan and Johnson are the type of athletic, versatile linebacker reserves with rush ability that Ryan prefers.
LB (3): Preston Brown, Nigel Bradham, Ty Powell
No changes from first projection. Tony Steward and A.J. Tarpley (especially the latter) have had their names show up positively in print through the first week-plus of practices, so keep an eye on them. For now, however, their special teams upside pales in comparison to the versatility and athleticism of Buchanan and Johnson.
CB (6): Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey, Ron Brooks, Mario Butler
One change from the first projection: Butler swapping in for Ross Cockrell, who has not impressed at all in his second NFL training camp. Butler, however, has been the subject of praise from Ryan for his playmaking ability. McKelvin's injury situation necessitates that the team keep at least six corners heading into the regular season, and right now, Butler is that sixth corner.
S (4): Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks
No changes from first projection. All four of these safeties have seen time with the first-team defense, which is only surprising for the little-discussed Meeks, who has quickly re-inserted himself ahead of Bacarri Rambo on the depth chart.
ST (4): Dan Carpenter, Jordan Gay, Colton Schmidt, Garrison Sanborn
No changes from first projection. Carpenter's injury has allowed Gay to kick every attempted field goal at camp thus far. He has not been great. But if injury concerns linger for Carpenter, Gay's job status is much better off.
Reserve/Suspended (1): Marcell Dareus
For the record, the last player in on this 53-man projection with Dareus out of the picture was Hogan. I even almost went with Marcus Thigpen over Hogan for his punt return ability - McKelvin is hurt, after all - but I didn't want to be yelled at all afternoon by y'all. Either way, Dareus has to take somebody's roster spot in Week 2, and the receiver position is among those most likely to be affected.
Cuts (36): QB Matt Simms, RB Bryce Brown, RB Bronson Hill, FB John Conner, WR Marcus Thigpen, WR Deonte Thompson, WR Dezmin Lewis, WR Andre Davis, WR Caleb Holley, WR Tobais Palmer, TE Chris Gragg, TE Clay Burton, TE Chris Manhertz, OT Tyson Chandler, OT Terren Jones, OG William Campbell, OG Darryl Johnson, OG D.J. Morrell, C Alex Kupper, DL Andre Fluellen, DL Jordan Towns, DL Justin Hamilton, ER Cedric Reed, ER Andrew Hudson, ER B.J. Larsen, ER Erik Williams, LB Tony Steward, LB A.J. Tarpley, LB Jimmy Gaines, CB Ross Cockrell, CB Rod Sweeting, CB Merrill Noel, CB Cam Thomas, S Kenny Ladler, S Bacarri Rambo, S Wes Miller
Here is the full 54-man depth chart for this projection (53 active players for Week 1, plus Dareus). Where do you disagree?
|FL||10||Robert Woods||18||Percy Harvin||88||Marquise Goodwin|
|TE||85||Charles Clay||49||Matthew Mulligan||48||MarQueis Gray||84||Nick O'Leary|
|LG||64||Richie Incognito||68||Cyril Richardson|
|C||70||Eric Wood||60||Kraig Urbik|
|RT||66||Seantrel Henderson||71||Cyrus Kouandjio|
|SE||14||Sammy Watkins||81||Marcus Easley||15||Chris Hogan|
|QB||16||Matt Cassel||5||Tyrod Taylor||3||EJ Manuel|
|RB||25||LeSean McCoy||22||Fred Jackson||26||Boobie Dixon||40||Karlos Williams|
|ER||55||Jerry Hughes||91||Manny Lawson||51||Michael Buchanan||58||Randell Johnson|
|DT||95||Kyle Williams||97||Corbin Bryant||98||Alex Carrington|
|NT||99||Marcell Dareus||96||Stefan Charles|
|DE||94||Mario Williams||92||Jarius Wynn|
|MLB||52||Preston Brown||57||Ty Powell|
|CB||21||Leodis McKelvin||28||Ronald Darby|
|NB||37||Nickell Robey||33||Ron Brooks|
|S||23||Aaron Williams||27||Duke Williams|
|S||20||Corey Graham||36||Jonathan Meeks|
|CB||24||Stephon Gilmore||39||Mario Butler|
|K||2||Dan Carpenter||4||Jordan Gay|