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Buffalo Bills 53-man roster projection: pre-training camp edition

Before training camp starts, this is how we think the roster will shake out.

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 have their first practice of training camp today in their initial push toward the 2018 season. With several starters and roster battles still up in the air, today it a day to reset our thinking as we go into St. John Fisher College.

Let’s begin to organize our thoughts with an early roster projection.

Quarterback (3)

Josh Allen
AJ McCarron
Nathan Peterman

It’s difficult to see the team releasing any one of these players right now and heading into the season with two quarterbacks. If Josh Allen plays well this preseason, that could change. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Running back (5)

Patrick DiMarco
Chris Ivory
Taiwan Jones
LeSean McCoy
Marcus Murphy

With the uncertainty surrounding McCoy, I added a running back to this list. I think Jones is ahead of the rest of the depth options because he’s the one they rolled with last year, but Murphy can definitely play his way up the chart.

Wide receiver (5)

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

It is still surprising that the Bills haven’t added a body, especially with Jones on the NF-I list as camp opens. I added Jeremy Maclin to my projection at OTAs as I assumed Buffalo would address the lackluster depth. (He’s still available.) Adding a running back made me leave off a sixth receiver. If Jones’ injury lingers, that could change. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Tight end (3)

Charles Clay
Nick O’Leary
Logan Thomas

Keith Towbridge is a name to watch at this position. They kept him on injured reserve all last season when they could have released him with an injury settlement. If he can sneak past Logan Thomas, it is about the only question mark at the position. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Offensive line (9)

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

Last year, the Bills kept eight offensive linemen plus Seantrel Henderson on the suspended list. They added McDermott later that week and rolled with nine for the rest of the season. It’s unclear how the depth chart is going to shake out, but three OTs, four interior linemen plus the cross-training Newhouse and the draft pick Teller makes sense. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview of the interior line and the offensive tackles.)

Defensive tackle (4)

Star Lotulelei
Harrison Phillips
Adolphus Washington
Kyle Williams

They kept five defensive tackles last year, and Ricky Hatley stands a chance of sneaking onto the back end of the roster, but I added depth at other positions instead. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Defensive end (5)

Terrence Fede
Jerry Hughes
Shaq Lawson
Trent Murphy
Eddie Yarbrough

If Murphy is healthy, this group seems locked in. I’m not ready to cut bait on Lawson yet, though Brandon Beane might as he didn’t draft him. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Linebacker (6)

Lorenzo Alexander
Tremaine Edmunds
Ramon Humber
Matt Milano
Keenan Robinson
Julian Stanford

Robinson replaces Tanner Vallejo on here, as I kept special teamers in the RB and CB position groups. Humber and Robinson can both be better backup linebackers than Vallejo and I think the timing of the signing of Robinson expresses that concern. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Cornerback (5)

Vontae Davis
Phillip Gaines
Taron Johnson
Levi Wallace
Tre’Davious White

Wallace makes the team as an UDFA and Breon Borders barely misses with Lafayette Pitts. This will certainly be a position group to watch, but I kept an extra safety. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Safeties (5)

Rafael Bush
Micah Hyde
Dean Marlowe
Siran Neal
Jordan Poyer

Marlowe is a new addition based on his play in OTAs. He stands a shot at being the Big Nickel for Sean McDermott. This is a place I’d expect to see a player inactive on Sundays, be it the rookie Neal or Marlowe. (Read our State of the Bills roster preview.)

Specialists (3)

Reid Ferguson
Stephen Hauschka
Colton Schmidt

Set in stone. (Read our state of the Bills roster preview.)

Notable cuts: RB Travaris Cadet, WR Austin Proehl, WR Brandon Reilly, WR Rod Streater, TE Khari Lee, TE Keith Towbridge, DT Ricky Hatley, DE Marquevious Lewis, LB Tanner Vallejo, LB Deon Lacey, CB Breon Borders, CB Lafayette Pitts

Last player in: Dean Marlowe
Last player out: Ricky Hatley

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