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Ranking Buffalo Bills rookies by potential impact in 2019

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Projecting where rookies will be slotted this upcoming season

We’re into year three of the current regime, and it appears as though Sean McDermott and company have been able to create a strong core of veteran starters. This includes players like Micah Hyde, Jerry Hughes, Mitch Morse and Cole Beasley. But does that mean, unlike last year, that the team is not dependent on a handful of rookies to step up and immediately play a significant amount of snaps? Below, we take a look at which rookies—including key undrafted free agents—should be expected make immediate contributions to the team, and which ones should expect to find themselves firmly planted on the bench.


Immediate Starters

  • DT Ed Oliver
  • T/OG Cody Ford

While Buffalo still has a couple decent defensive tackles in Harrison Phillips and Jordan Phillips, Ed Oliver’s talent is too much to deny. Like Tremaine Edmunds last year, Oliver will quickly breeze into a starting role on defense. Ford will get every chance to claim the starting right tackle position from Ty Nsekhe but even if he doesn’t, he’s athletic enough to easily claim one of the two starting guard positions.

Spot Starters

  • TE Dawson Knox
  • RB Devin Singletary

Tyler Kroft’s nagging foot injury, along with Brian Daboll’s propensity to feature his tight ends, will ensure that Knox sees the field sooner rather than later. Positive early reviews from OTAs also bode well for the rookie. Daboll’s offensive scheme will also benefit Singletary’s chances of seeing the field, thanks to a heavier rotation of running backs than this team has witnessed since the 2014 offense of Nathaniel Hackett.

Backups

  • LB Vosean Joseph
  • S Jaquan Johnson

There’s a slim chance that if Joseph shows enough during training camp and preseason, he can steal some snaps away from the 36-year-old Lorenzo Alexander. That probably shouldn’t be expected though—all signs point to Joseph serving as the backup for both Alexander and Matt Milano. The coaches seem to be attempting to get Siran Neal to replace Rafael Bush as the ‘Big Nickel,’ so Johnson will likely compete to be the primary backup for both Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.

Back of the roster/Practice squad

  • DE Darryl Johnson
  • TE Tommy Sweeney
  • QB Tyree Jackson

Eddie Yarbrough is in a very precarious position as the fourth defensive end on the roster. His poor pass-rushing productivity last year may force the coaches’ hands by bringing in a new face. Johnson’s main competition there will be with Mike Love, who showed off some decent speed around the edge last year. If he can’t beat out either player, he’ll be destined for the practice squad. As with Knox, Sweeney is helped out by Kroft’s injury, but he’s still expected to compete with Lee Smith or Jason Croom for the final tight end roster spot. Jackson has one job this season: convince the coaches that the team can’t risk him being on the waiver wire.