The Buffalo Bills dealt with some injuries at linebacker last year so, as a result, some younger players had a chance to make an impact in larger roles than anticipated. The team has stockpiled depth this year at linebacker, which makes the positional group that much more difficult to peg.
While the starting group is clearly defined, just as it was last year, the reserves are a solid mix of talented veterans and exciting young players. In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile one of those young players—a third-year man with a lot to prove.
Name: Tyrel Dodson
Height/Weight: 6’ 237 lbs
Age: 22 (23 on 6/25/2021)
Experience/Draft: 2; signed with Buffalo as undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft
College: Texas A&M
Acquired: Signed as UDFA
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Dodson is in the final year of the contract he signed prior to the 2020 season. For 2021, he’ll carry a cap hit of $782,000 with a $2,000 dead-cap charge if the Bills release him.
2020 Recap: Dodson was thrust into an increased role almost immediately, as he entered the lineup in Week 1 when Tremaine Edmunds suffered a shoulder injury against the New York Jets. In that game, Dodson notched his first career sack to go with four total tackles. The following week, Dodson made his first career start against the Miami Dolphins. He had eight tackles, one tackle for loss, and two pass breakups in that game. Once Edmunds returned to the lineup, Dodson returned to backup duty, and he even missed time in the middle of the season due to a hamstring injury, spending six weeks on injured reserve to heal. Once the playoffs rolled around, Dodson was a healthy scratch each week, as the Bills chose to keep Andre Smith active instead of him. On the year, Dodson had 22 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and two pass breakups.
Positional outlook: Dodson joins a crowded group looking to break in behind a trio of established starters in Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, and A.J. Klein. Andre Smith, Tyler Matakevich, Marquel Lee, Joe Giles-Harris, Mike Bell, and Tyrell Adams are Dodson’s main competition for roster space.
2021 Offseason: Dodson is healthy and attending OTAs. He made news recently by throwing a surprise pizza party at a Salvation Army location in downtown Buffalo. He plans to host a football camp in Williamson County, TN. Dodson attended Centennial High School in Franklin, TN.
2021 Season outlook: Dodson is clearly well-liked by the coaching staff, as they’ve developed him and trusted him over his first two years in the league. However, his spot on this roster is nowhere near guaranteed, as the Bills have added plenty of talent to the depth ranks of the linebacker group. With the top five almost certain to consist of Edmunds, Milano, Klein, Matakevich, and Smith, Dodson is fighting for the last spot in the group.