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Buffalo Bills 53-man roster projection: OTA edition

The first week of OTAs is in the books. Here’s a ridiculously early roster prediction.

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills held their first practices as a team this week in their initial push toward the 2018 season. We learned some things, like Josh Allen is the third string quarterback for now, but other position battles are way up in the air. Let’s begin to organize our thoughts with a way-too-early roster projection.

Quarterback (3)

Josh Allen
AJ McCarron
Nathan Peterman

Running back (4)

Patrick DiMarco
Chris Ivory
Taiwan Jones
LeSean McCoy

Wide receiver (6)

Kelvin Benjamin
Andre Holmes
Zay Jones
Jeremy Kerley
Jeremy Maclin
Ray-Ray McCloud

Tight end (3)

Charles Clay
Nick O’Leary
Logan Thomas

Offensive line (9)

Russell Bodine
Dion Dawkins
Vlad Ducasse
Ryan Groy
Conor McDermott
John Miller
Jordan Mills
Marshall Newhouse
Wyatt Teller

Defensive tackle (5)

Star Lotulelei
Tenny Palepoi
Harrison Phillips
Adolphus Washington
Kyle Williams

Defensive end (5)

Terrence Fede
Jerry Hughes
Shaq Lawson
Trent Murphy
Eddie Yarbrough

Linebacker (6)

Lorenzo Alexander
Tremaine Edmunds
Ramon Humber
Matt Milano
Julian Stanford
Tanner Vallejo

Cornerback (5)

Breon Borders
Vontae Davis
Phillip Gaines
Taron Johnson
Tre’Davious White

Safeties (4)

Rafael Bush
Micah Hyde
Siran Neal
Jordan Poyer

Specialists (3)

Reid Ferguson
Stephen Hauschka
Colton Schmidt

Notable cuts: RB Travaris Cadet, WR Austin Proehl, WR Brandon Reilly, WR Rod Streater, TE Khari Lee, DE Marquevious Lewis, LB Deon Lacey, CB Lafayette Pitts

Last player in: Terrence Fede
Last player out: Khari Lee

The wide receiver position is so up in the air. If you remember last offseason, I predicted the Bills would sign Anquan Boldin on my training camp 53-man roster projection. He did sign, but didn’t make the roster, instead choosing to retire. For this early roster projection, I added free agent Jeremy Maclin to the mix mainly due to Zay Jones’s knee surgery. He’ll be limited this offseason and with a lack of firepower at the position, Buffalo should look for outside help. Maclin came in for a visit last offseason and adds some speed to the lineup so he seems like a good fit.

Last year, the Bills kept six running backs on their initial roster including their fullback(s), but Jonathan Williams was released the next day bringing the number to five. I only keep four here, so if you’re looking for a spot where I short-changed the roster, Travaris Cadet is definitely a candidate. Jones beats out Cadet based on returner experience on special teams.

At tight end, it’s the same three that made the initial roster a year ago with Khari Lee hopping on and off the roster the rest of the way.

Nine offensive linemen is a lot, but it’s the number they ran with last year after adding McDermott following the initial roster cutdown. Ideally, he won’t need another redshirt year and Buffalo will be able to release Marshall Newhouse or Jordan Mills. They kept five interior linemen last year and four tackles, so I mirrored that number, but if they want to keep Lee it could be at the expense of that last lineman.

The defensive line rotation is important to McDermott, and he kept nine last year. Terrence Fede was the last guy on my roster and could easily be removed to match the numbers from a year ago. You also might see a trade of Shaq Lawson at some point this offseason if the other players step up. Tenny Palepoi’s spot is also precarious.

At linebacker, I’m not 100% you’ll see Lorenzo Alexander on the final roster, though it would be great to balance the youth of Tremaine Edmunds with Alexander’s experience. Can Deon Lacy break onto the back end of the roster?

Lafayette Pitts is the odd man out at cornerback, though we haven’t seen Breon Borders on the field in a Bills uniform. Solid depth at the safety position with only four players would be nice. Injuries forced shuffling there last year.

If you’re going to disagree with a cut in the comments, at least make sure you say who you’d remove instead.

53-man roster projection: OTA edition

Position Starter Backup Reserve
Position Starter Backup Reserve
QB AJ McCarron Nathan Peterman Josh Allen
RB LeSean McCoy Chris Ivory Taiwan Jones
FB Patrick DiMarco
WR1 Kelvin Benjamin Andre Holmes
WR2 Zay Jones Jeremy Kerley
WR3 Jeremy Maclin Ray-Ray McCloud
TE Charles Clay Nick O'Leary Logan Thomas
LT Dion Dawkins Conor McDermott
LG Vlad Ducasse Wyatt Teller
C Russell Bodine Ryan Groy
RG John Miller
RT Jordan Mills Marshall Newhouse
LE Jerry Hughes Terrence Fede
NT Star Lotulelei Harrison Phillps
DT Kyle Williams Adolphus Washington Tenny Palepoi
RE Trent Murphy Shaq Lawson Eddie Yarbrough
SLB Lorenzo Alexander Tanner Vallejo
MLB Tremaine Edmunds Julian Stanford
WLB Matt Mliano Ramon Humber
CB Tre'Davious White
FS Jordan Poyer Siran Neal
SS Micah Hyde Rafael Bush
NB Phillip Gaines Taron Johnson
CB Vontae Davis Breon Borders
K Stephen Hauschka
P Colton Schmidt
LS Reid Ferguson
KR/PR Jeremy Kerley Ray-Ray McLoud Taiwan Jones