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90 Players in 90 Days: Buffalo Bills LB Matt Milano

The fifth-round pick is competing with another rookie for a roster spot

It’s not at all uncommon for a team to draft two players from the same position in the later parts of a draft, such as the Buffalo Bills did at linebacker this offseason. There is always a need for competition, back-end roster spots, and priority practice squad signings. One of the Bills linebackers is likely to make the final roster this year, while the other is likely practice-squad bound. Let’s take a look at the Bills’ fifth-round pick this year, the guy they selected with the pick they received from the New England Patriots after declining to match Milke Gillislee’s restricted free agency contract.

Name: Matt Milano
# 58
Position: LB
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 223 lbs.
Experience: R
College: Boston College
Draft: Round 5, Pick 163 by the Buffalo Bills (2017)

Financial Situation (per Spotrac): Milano’s four-year rookie deal carries an entirely manageable cap figure, starting at $530,376 this year and trising to $800,378 in the final year of the deal. The dead cap figure starts at $261,506 this year before dropping to $65,378 in 2020.

2016 Recap: Milano started 13 games for the 7-6 Eagles last year. In all, he recorded 59 tackles (42 solo), 12 of which were for a loss, and added on 6 12 sacks. He also recorded the first interception of his career, a 19-yard pick-six during a 30-0 win over Connecticut in November.

Positional Outlook: Milano’s closes competition for a roster spot right now is another Bills draftee, sixth-round pick Tanner Vallejo. Both players were in the mid-teens in snaps last week while seeing plenty of special teams work, a role that whoever makes the roster should get used to.

2017 Offseason: After being drafted, Milano’s biggest contributions have been on special teams, a role that coordinator Danny Crossman noted Milano had been performing well at in camp. Milano saw a ton of playing time (38 defensive snaps) in the preseason-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings, largely due to an injury to Vallejo early in his performance. The number dropped to 12 last week in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite all the playing time, Milano has only one tackle to his credit this preseason.

2017 Season Outlook: At this point, Milano is likely sitting behind Vallejo in the line for the 53. It would take a set of very strong performances in the final two games (along with some struggles or an injury to Vallejo) in order for Milano to crack the final roster. He’s a solid bet for the practice squad right now.