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91 players in 91 days: Fullback Reggie Gilliam

Can the UDFA upend Buffalo’s incumbent fullback?

NCAA Football: Toledo at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills are one of an ever-shrinking number of teams that continue to employ a fullback. While the Bills still have one on the roster, he doesn’t play very many snaps on offense. Patrick DiMarco, the team’s veteran fullback for each of the past three seasons, only appeared on 166 offensive snaps last year. For comparison’s sake, that number put him right in between Zay Jones, who only played five games for the Bills before being traded, and T.J. Yeldon, who was only active for six games.

While the fullback may be a position that continues to be de-emphasized, that hasn’t stopped the Bills from using one when necessary. With DiMarco entering the last year of his contract, Buffalo has signed an intriguing undrafted rookie to compete for the future of the position.

Today, we profile that rookie in our latest installment of “91 players in 91 days.”

Name: Reggie Gilliam
Number: 41
Position: FB
Height/Weight: 6’, 244 lbs.
Age: 22 (birthdate unknown, so I don’t know when he’ll be 23)
Experience/Draft: R; undrafted in 2020 NFL Draft
College: Toledo
Acquired: Signed with Bills on 4/25/2020

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Gilliam’s contract is the standard pact for an undrafted free agent in 2020—it’s three years in length at a total of $2.305 million. $20,000 of that, though, is guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. If he makes the 53-man roster this year, he will count $616,000 against the salary cap.

2019 Recap: Gilliam made 12 starts at tight end for the Rockets during his senior season, marking the first time that he had started all of his team’s games in his college career. He set a career high in receptions last year, making nine catches for 52 yards. He finished his college career with 18 receptions, 153 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.

Positional outlook: While Gilliam played tight end in college, the Bills list him as a fullback only, so he’ll compete directly with veteran Patrick DiMarco for one roster spot. Perhaps that versatility in his background will give him a leg up, but the Bills have a full house at tight end, so the best pathway to the roster for Gilliam is almost certainly as a fullback or a special teams player. He really excels as a specialist, as he blocked six kicks in his collegiate career (two during his sophomore year and four during his junior year).

2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report.

2020 Season outlook: Gilliam’s case in an interesting one. He’s clearly a solid athlete, as he played running back and linebacker in high school before playing fullback and tight end in college. He’s obviously a dangerous player on special teams, and while he was more of a blocking tight end than he was a receiver, he possesses some untapped potential in the passing game, as well. DiMarco is a valuable leader on Buffalo’s special teams unit, and head coach Sean McDermott has prioritized leadership in the past with his “veteran in every room” philosophy. I expect Gilliam to be one of those “darlings” of the preseason among Bills fans and media types, and I could see him making a strong case to push DiMarco off the roster. Ultimately, I think that the Toledo rookie finds himself on Buffalo’s practice squad come September.