The Buffalo Bills released their first “unofficial” depth chart yesterday, and they play their first preseason game on Saturday evening, at The Ralph, against the Indianapolis Colts.
Therefore, a 53-man roster projection is in order:
QB (3): Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones
No surprises here.
RB (4): LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Reggie Bush, Jonathan Williams
With Karlos suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, this should be the quartet of running backs the Bills take to Baltimore for Week 1’s game against the Ravens.
FB (1): Jerome Felton
Glenn Gronkowski hasn’t made enough of an impact as a lead-blocker or receiver to jump the highly paid Felton.
WR (6): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas, Dez Lewis, Walt Powell
To the surprise of just about everyone, including myself, Marquise Goodwin looks to be the front-runner to win the No. 3 WR job. It’s really never been a question of Goodwin’s speed or even his ability to produce in the NFL... it’s just that he’s never stayed healthy for a long stretch as a pro. Strong camps from Greg Salas, second-year wideout Dez Lewis and dark horse Walt Powell lead to roster spots as depth pass-catchers. At this point, we aren’t sure what designation the Bills will place on 2016 sixth-round pick Kolby Listenbee, but he’s on NFI right now and has yet to participate in a training-camp practice.
TE (3): Charles Clay, Jim Dray, Chris Gragg
No shocks here, although after an impressive minicamp, there was some chatter about Blake Annen breaking out at St. John Fisher. That has yet to happen. Dray and Gragg will primary be used as blocking tight ends, though the former has displayed adequate receiving ability in the past.
OL (8): Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Jordan Mills, Cyrus Kouandjio, Fernando Velasco, Ryan Groy
No PUP list designation for Cordy Glenn mean’s he’ll be on the final roster come the start of the regular season. Everyone else behind him should be as expected. Velasco will be the “swing” interior offensive lineman. Groy will take on the “utility man” role. Seantrel Henderson remains on the NFI list.
DL (6): Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Adolphus Washington, Leger Douzable, Jerel Worthy
The first four are absolute no-brainers. After that, Douzable’s familiarity with Rex’s system helps him sneak onto the roster and Worthy’s experience is his meal ticket.
LB (9): Jerry Hughes, Preston Brown, Zach Brown, Brandon Spikes, IK Enemkpali, David Hawthorne, Lorenzo Alexander, Randell Johnson, Jamari Lattimore
No Reggie Ragland means Zach Brown will be Buffalo’s weakside inside linebacker this season, a job he’s capable of holding down. Brandon Spikes and Preston Brown will reunite to recreate their formidable run-stopping duo of 2014 on early downs, and David Hawthorne will be the primary backup inside linebacker. Lorenzo Alexander will be kept due to his special teams prowess... and Randell Johnson is simply an athletic specimen project who, if nothing else, can play on the kick and punt coverage teams. Manny Lawson is currently on the Active / Non-Football Injury list and Shaq Lawson is on the PUP list, so neither count toward the 53-man.
CB (6): Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sterling Moore, Corey White, Kevon Seymour
Nickell Robey-Coleman has done a fine job maintaining his stranglehold on the nickel corner position but free-agent adds Sterling Moore and Corey White have value as defensive backs who can cover the slot or jump outside if need be. As a 6’0” rookie 4.39 speed, Kevon Seymour isn’t going anywhere, and a handful of reports have mentioned his impressive camp thus far.
S (4): Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Robert Blanton, Jonathan Meeks
To some, Duke Williams being cut would come as a surprise. I just don’t think he’s ever shown much on the field and, apparently, he’s been outplayed by Jonathan Meeks throughout training camp.
ST (3): Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Garrison Sanborn
Rex may want Jordan Gay on the roster to increase the chances the opposition starts at the 25-yard-line, but I just can’t get behind the idea of using a roster spot on a kickoff specialist.
Reserve/Suspended (1): Karlos Williams
PUP (2): Shaq Lawson, Marcus Easley
NFI (3): Manny Lawson, Seantrel Henderson, Kolby Listenbee
Notable cuts: Duke Williams, Greg Little, Leonard Hankerson, Jarrett Boykin, Jordan Gay