In full disclosure, I had a difficult time including Chris Hogan as part of this Buffalo Bills bubble watch series. A personal favorite of mine, Hogan's rise to the NFL is something that could be turned into a script for a classic Hollywood underdog story. But taking my personal preferences out of the equation, the Bills have stiff competition at wide receiver this season, and Hogan could end up on the outside looking in.
Successful 2014 campaign
Last season saw Hogan make the leap from underdog hopeful to a regular game-day contributor. Hogan initially stole a healthy chunk of training camp reps from Robert Woods, in what became an early controversy in the preseason. Hogan's contributions on offense came over the last 12 weeks of the season, with a solid 41 catches for 426 yards. He reached the end zone four times, and also delivered this highlight-reel catch to set up a victory over Minnesota in Week 7. Consider the fact that Hogan did not begin playing football until he finished up his lacrosse career at Penn State, and one can argue that he still has room to grow as a receiver.
Special teams contributor
A question for many players on the bubble could be their ability to contribute on special teams for the Bills. Hogan played a major role for Danny Crossman last season, logging 230 special teams snaps. The fact that Crossman was retained by Rex Ryan should serve as a positive for Hogan leading up to final cuts during training camp. The competition at receiver should be intense during camp, and Hogan's abilities on special teams will serve as a positive when it comes to selecting the final roster.
Increased competition at wideout
The big addition at receiver this offseason was the talented Percy Harvin, who could be slated to start opposite of Sammy Watkins, moving Woods into the slot, and Hogan (with a number of other receivers) looking to secure a reserve spot. Marcus Easley is the team's top special teams player, and is expected by many to make the cut based on these abilities.
Ryan has raved about Marquise Goodwin early on, and it will be interesting to see if the third-year project from Texas can produce with a new coaching staff. Should the Bills only decide to keep five receivers, it would be difficult to see the team letting one of the aforementioned players walk away. Players such as Dezmin Lewis, Marcus Thigpen, and Deonte Thompson could prove to be wildcards in the competition, as well.
Despite the increase in competition, I would be surprised to see Hogan left off of the 53-man roster. With a 2015 cap hit of only $585,000, he provides great value to the team on offense and special teams. Share your thoughts below if you think that Hogan should be on the roster bubble, or if his spot should be considered secure heading into training camp.