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Buffalo Bills training camp 2023: Thoughts following release of initial depth chart

Some surprises revealed with the team’s first depth chart of camp

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Buffalo Bills are preparing to host the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday in their first and only home game of the 2023 NFL Preseason. Throughout training camp at St. John Fisher University in Rochester, NY, there have been plenty of battles for a chance at the top of several positions on the team’s roster.

Let’s take a dive into the team’s latest depth chart to see what stands out. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this article. As ESPN Bills reporter Alaina Getzenberg reminds us, “don’t overthink it.” But that’s exactly what we’re all here for, right? As such, some thoughts follow below.

Buffalo Bills Offensive Depth Chart (as of 2023/08/09)


Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
WR Gabe Davis Justin Shorter (R) Marcell Ateman Dezmon Patmon / Tyrell Shavers
LT Dion Dawkins Tommy Doyle Ryan Van demark Richard Gouraige (R)
LG Connor McGovern David Edwards Ike Boettger
C Mitch Morse Greg Mancz Alec Anderson
RG Ryan Bates O’Cyrus Torrence (R) Nick Broeker (R)
RT Spencer Brown Brandon Shell David Quessenberry
QB Josh Allen Kyle Allen Matt Barkley
RB James Cook Damien Harris Latavius Murray Darrynton Evans / Jordan Mims (R)
TE Dawson Knox Dalton Kincaid (R) Quintin Morris Jace Sternberger / Joel Wilson
FB Reggie Gilliam
SWR Deonte Harty / Khalil Shakir
WR Stefon Diggs Trent Sherfield KeeSean Johnson Andy Isabella / Isaiah Coulter / Bryan Thompson

There aren’t too many surprises on offense, as one would expect with a roster as talented and loaded up front as the Bills field. Where most people are likely to focus is at the wide receiver position — that is everyone after Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. For all the talk that Davis wasn’t a solid WR2 last season, he’s put together a fantastic camp and appears more than ready to reprise his role in 2023.

Interestingly, immediately behind Davis is rookie wide receiver Justin Shorter. Trent Sherfield is Diggs’ primary backup at WR1.

The really curiosity remains at slot receiver, where Deonte Harty and Khalil Shakir remain embattled in trying to win the starting WR3 role. Since his arrival, Harty has impressed and his winning the job, if it came to be, shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The monkey wrench in the system is of course the tight end room. Currently, Dawson Knox is listed as TE1, with rookie Dalton Kincaid directly behind him. That may simply be procedural in publishing a list. The belief remains that Kincaid will be featured frequently on offense, perhaps even as a jumbo slot receiver — in the mold of a nightmare-matchup variety Cole Beasley. Given the potential for the Bills to more prominently feature tight ends on offense, don’t be surprised to see them roster more players at the position compared to previous seasons.

I could write a novella about the battles taking place along the offensive line. I’ll save you the time and simply point out that, at this point, it appears the rookies are still very much trying to earn their opportunities.

Buffalo Bills defensive depth chart as of 2023/08/09


Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Position 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
DE Greg Rousseau Leonard Floyd Boogie Basham Shane Ray / Kameron Cline
DT Ed Oliver Jordan Phillips Kendal Vickers Cortez Broughton
DT DaQuan Jones Tim Settle Poona Ford Eli Ankou / DJ Dale (R)
DE Von Miller A.J. Epenesa Shaq Lawson Kingsley Jonathan
LB Matt Milano Dorian Williams (R) Travin Howard
LB Terrel Bernard / Tyrel Dodson Baylon Spector A.J. Klein Tyler Matakevich
NCB Taron Johnson Cam Lewis Siran Neal
CB Tre’Davious White Ja’Marcus Ingram Alex Austin (R) Kyron Brown
CB Christian Benford / Kaiir Elam / Dane Jackson
S Jordan Poyer Taylor Rapp Dean Marlowe Zayne Anderson
S Micah Hyde Damar Hamlin / Cam Lewis Jared Mayden

Chief among those battles has been the competition within the linebacker room, and also at outside cornerback opposite Tre’Davious White. After linebacker Matt Milano, the Bills have a lot of question marks in determining the next MLB, and potential defensive QB. There’s some solid veteran depth (A.J. Klein), but the real battle at the position appears between Terrel Bernard and Tyrel Dodson. Rookie linebacker Dorian Williams has, to this point, operated at WLB, behind Milano. It’s safe to say things are still very much up in the air at linebacker. Preseason games should help clear the fog.

We still don’t know if McDermott will run multiple linebacker formations, sometimes featuring just Milano and several safeties, occasionally running with three linebackers, or sticking with the now-common Nickel look D that utilizes two linebackers in tandem with ace nickel cornerback Taron Johnson. At this point, expect anything and everything.

As for the battle at CB2, the three-headed force of Christian Benford, Kaiir Elam, and Dane Jackson continues to confuse those paying attention. Much of the attention rightfully remains on Elam, who was selected in the first round during the 2022 NFL Draft. To this point, it appears the Bills have three cornerbacks who all do different things well; though none seem to be dominant in all phases required of the CB2 role in head coach Sean McDermott’s defense. Benford is adept in zone, while Elam is best in press-man. Jackson, meanwhile, seems to be the jack of all trades, capable in both zone and man. Should anyone other than Elam win the job, there will be much to discuss — even if it just means the Bills have created great competition and depth at the position. To this point, it appears we’ll continue to see a platoon of Benford/Elam/Jackson at CB2, depending on what opposing offenses dictate.

For now, it appears defensive tackle Poona Ford is playing catch-up with the rest of the room, evidenced by his placement behind both DaQuan Jones and Tim Settle. Ford is as unique as they come at DT, and most expect him to have a huge impact on the defensive line in 2023. Notably, this week Jordan Phillips was taken off the PUP list.

Even though he remains on the PUP list, Von Miller is listed as a starter at edge rusher. Miller hopes to get in some work during camp, but don’t be surprised if the Bills protect him until the start of the regular season or longer.

Buffalo Bills Special Teams Depth Chart (as of 2023/08/09)


Position 1st 2nd 3rd
Position 1st 2nd 3rd
K Tyler Bass
P Sam Martin
H Sam Martin
PR Deonte Harty Khalil Shakir Andy Isabella
KR Deonte Harty Khalil Shakir Andy Isabella
LS Reid Ferguson

There’s not much to note here; it’s business as usual for the bulk of Buffalo’s special teams players. Interestingly, wide receiver Deonte Harty is listed as the primary punt and kick returner. With the season-ending ACL injury to running back Nyheim Hines, a competition opened up for his role as kick returner. Soon after Hines was lost, the Bills signed wide receiver Andy Isabella. With his 4.31 40-yard dash time, one would believe Isabella presents an intriguing option as a returner. To this point, he’s still getting up to speed with the team, and remains last in line in both return games.

Linebacker Tyler Matakevich remains on the team’s PUP list.

There you have it, folks. We finally have a still-unofficial depth chart for this year’s Buffalo Bills team. What do you think — what stands out most to you, and where are your concerns? Sound off in the comments below!