An underdog is defined as a person that is expected to lose a contest or battle. Most love a good underdog story, especially when it comes to sports. This would explain the popularity of films such as Hoosiers, Miracle, Rudy, and The Natural. The thought of a hard-working team or individual overcoming insurmountable odds often appeals to Buffalo Bills fans each year heading into training camp, and 2016 should be no different.
These are my choices that are considered longshots to make the 53-man roster. Will they join the likes of Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson, and Nickell Robey as our favorite underdogs to make an impact in Buffalo? Or, are they more likely to join the likes of Michael Jasper, Da'Rick Rogers, and Alex Tanney - embraced by fans, but failed to make the team?
There is a lot to like about Striker's performance at Oklahoma, who finished his senior season as a 3rd team AP All American. With the injury to Shaq Lawson, Striker could find himself as the player with the most to gain from the unfortunate situation. But the thing that should make Striker a favorite among Bills fans is his speech to his family and friends after going undrafted. If you haven't see the video you can watch it here. You can read Dan Lavoie's scouting report on Striker to absorb more information on the outside linebacker and how he can fit with the Bills.
Gronkowski offers flexibility to the Bills, with the ability to contribute at fullback and tight end. For a player fighting to make the team, the ability to fill multiple roles is seen as an advantage. While his flexibility is a plus, many will keep a close eye on Gronkowski because of his Western New York ties, as Glenn grew up as a Bills fan. And of course being the younger brother to one of the most popular and productive players in the NFL will garner Gronkowski a little extra attention. His signing could help the Bills clear some salary cap space should they elect to have him replace Jerome Felton as a post June 1 cut.
Like many, I had never heard of Justin Zimmer prior to his signing with the Bills. That is not surprising since Zimmer comes to Buffalo from Division II school Ferris State. Dan Lavoie's scouting report on Zimmer was very positive, even referring to him as a great candidate to backup Kyle Williams. The fact that he is coming from a small program will make him a favorite for fans, and his strength and athleticism could help him secure a position on the 53-man roster.
A selection in the sixth round is obviously not guaranteed to make the Bills roster, but Listenbee is an intriguing option. The TCU product has exceptional speed, as was an All American in college as one of the top sprinters in the country. Listenbee could provide the deep speed needed to draw coverage away from the Bills other receivers, and will likely find himself in competition with Marquise Goodwin for a spot on the roster. His speed and big play ability will likely make him a player to watch throughout the preseason, and a fan favorite if he can make the transition to the NFL.
If I am being perfectly honest, I was not going to include Seymour in this list. I assumed he was nothing more than a flyer from a big name school late in the draft. But after reading the profile on Seymour from Tyler Dunne, he became an easy choice to make the list. If you have not read the article yet I encourage you to do so.
While these may be our underdog picks to make the Bills, I would love to read your thoughts and suggestions. Please leave your comments below on your underdog picks to crack the 53-man roster in 2016.