The Buffalo Bills place a huge priority on athleticism when it comes to evaluating linebackers. Perhaps this is obvious, as every team prefers plus athletes at linebacker to the alternative. The two-down thumper at linebacker (think Brandon Spikes) is going the way of the Dodo, as teams would rather have three-down players who can play the run and the pass equally well.
The Bills play a nickel defense so often that it’s essentially their base, so the team spends more time with two linebackers on the field than it does with three. The ability to play either of those two linebacker spots certainly helps one to become more valuable to the defense, especially as a reserve.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss one such player—a reserve who can do it all for the team.
Name: Tyrel Dodson
Height/Weight: 6’ 237 lbs
Age: 24 (25 on 6/25/2022)
Experience/Draft: 3; signed with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft
College: Texas A&M
Acquired: UDFA signing
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Dodson signed a one-year contract extension in February, a pact that totals $895,000 overall. There are no guarantees in the contract.
2021 Recap: Dodson played in 16 games last year, though he was not called on to start any like he was in 2020. He instead spent most of his time on special teams, where he played 277 snaps, or 67% of the team total. On defense, Dodson only played 78 total snaps. He made 15 tackles on the season.
Positional outlook: Dodson is one of ten players listed at linebacker on the roster, though one (Von Miller) is going to be more defensive end than linebacker. With Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano set to take the majority of the starting snaps, Dodson will vie for a reserve role with Baylon Spector, Terrel Bernard, Joe Giles-Harris, Tyler Matakevich, Marquel Lee, and Andre Smith.
2022 Offseason: Dodson is healthy and he has participated in all OTAs to date.
2022 Season outlook: Dodson is almost certainly going to make the team as a reserve, and it’s possible that his role on special teams may even increase early in the year thanks to Andre Smith’s suspension for PED use. He has proven to be a trusted reserve—and without veteran A.J. Klein on the roster, he slots in as the probable third linebacker this season. Dodson isn’t someone you want starting for the long haul but, in a pinch, he’s the kind of player who helps the team maintain solid play while a starter recovers from injury. He’ll be on the team again this year.