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Bills camp battle: Tyrel Dodson leading the depth linebacker competition

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

Traditionally, the Buffalo Bills under head coach Sean McDermott have kept six linebackers with the understanding that the final three are also key special teams contributors. So with Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, and A.J. Klein locked into the top three spots and Tyler Matakevich as a special teams ace, that left just two spots on the roster for depth linebackers.

A clear front-runner has emerged as the fourth linebacker according to the recently released depth chart from the team. Undrafted in 2019, Tyrel Dodson was listed as the fourth linebacker on that depth chart. Dodson was on the 53-man roster in 2020 as the fourth linebacker, as well, playing ten games with two starts.

This offseason, the Bills brought in several players at the position with NFL experience. Tyrell Adams had a great season for the Houston Texans a year ago with 125 tackles and a host of other stats better than Dodson’s 2020 numbers. Marquel Lee was the Oakland Raiders’ starter in 2017 before injuries knocked him from the lineup. Joe Giles-Harris was another player with NFL experience they added this offseason after trading for Carolina Panthers linebacker Andre Smith just before the 2020 season.

Dodson has emerged at the top of the heap for now. In 2020, he played a lot of special teams snaps, too, meaning his role would be clearly defined on game days in addition to his depth role on the defense. With a strong showing in the preseason, he’s in the driver’s seat for a roster spot.