In the final installment of Matt Haring‘s 53 Man roster projection, he takes a look at who should and who shouldn’t make the Bills final roster and take the field for Week 1. And it’s your last chance to play GM with our updated interactive roster builder! Check it out below!
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QB: Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel (3)
Reports have been circulating that that Matt Cassel could ultimately be cut be tomorrow at 4pm, but I think Rex Ryan and the coaching staff will win out in this debate and get the veteran backup option that they prefer.
RB: LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Bryce Brown, Boobie Dixon (4)
With the controversial decision to cut ties with Fred Jackson, this position becomes fairly straight forward. The only decision that could throw a wrench into the plans is if the coaching staff decides they only need three running backs. Bryce Brown lives another year on the active roster, hopefully he takes advantage of the opportunity and makes strides with his ball security.
FB: Jerome Felton (1)
There just isn’t room to keep a second fullback in John Conner. So, they’ll press onward with Felton.
WR: Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Marcus Easley, Marcus Thigpen, Deonte Thompson (6)
This was such a difficult section to evaluate. There are so many talented players at the position, and so many cases to be made for each. Dez Lewis performing so well on Thursday just added further fuel to this fire. The problem that the Bills face at this position is that any players they cut will most likely not make it through waivers to be placed on the practice squad. So, what do the Bills value the most? The speed of Marquise Goodwin? The camp performance of Deonte Thompson and Andre Davis? The athleticism and route running of Chris Hogan? The potential of Dez Lewis? Marcus Thigpen’s return ability? I, of course, have no way of knowing this definitively. Knowing what I know about Rex Ryan, he is a man of his word. Depending on how you look at it, this could potentially eliminate Dez Lewis and Chris Hogan from consideration. Thigpen has done too much in the return game not to warrant a roster spot, especially due to Percy Harvin’s health at the moment. Beyond that, they have a decision to make between Goodwin and Thompson. Both players are incredibly fast, but both are injured. I would expect Thompson to get the final roster spot, while Goodwin is placed on the PUP list due to his broken ribs. All of this being said, whoever is awarded the final spot on the roster deserves a tremendous amount of credit, and whoever does not make it should not hang their head. Almost certainly, any receiver who doesn’t make the 53 man roster in Buffalo will catch on elsewhere and continue their career. I would not be shocked by any combination of receivers they plan to take.
TE: Charles Clay, MarQueis Gray, Matthew Mulligan, Chris Gragg (4)
The top three at this position have been almost set in stone for most of the preseason. We know what Clay brings to the table, and despite Gray having some struggles he is still firmly entrenched as the number 2 guy. Mulligan will prove very valuable as a blocker, serving as a 6th offensive lineman of sorts. Gragg wins the final spot at tight end due to his solid camp and preseason. Gragg often found a way to get open, and one could argue he has to best camp of all the TE’s. Nick O’Leary had high expectations for a late round draft pick but didn’t live up to those expectations from day one. He was invisible all summer, and will be cut.
OT: Cordy Glenn, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio (3)
Straight forward decision here. Kouandjio lost out on the right tackle battle, and will serve as the first man off the bench barring injury. The second year man looks improved from last year, but still isn’t at a level where the organization would be fully comfortable with him stepping into a starting role.
OG: Richie Incognito, John Miller, Cyril Richardson (3)
Incognito and Miller have done a very admirable job during the preseason, and will look to help improve a position that plagued the Bills last year. Cyril Richardson is precisely what he thought he was; a great run blocking guard, and a player who struggles in pass protection. This notion was confirmed yet again all preseason. Richardson is a good player in a run heavy scheme like the Bills are expected to run, and he should be the first guard off the bench. William Campbell is a player whom I nearly found a spot for on the roster. He has flashed some great skill, and is in consideration for stealing a roster spot. On such a talented team, however, the odds are not in his favor.
C: Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik (2)
Assuming the Bills elect to keep a backup center, this position is rather cut and dry. Urbik had a rough outing on Thursday, but should still have a roster spot secured.
Edge: Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Alex Carrington (3)
Alex Carrington has looked like a good backup option to Mario Williams all camp but may find himself on the roster bubble despite this. For the defensive front 7 it is going to be a numbers game. Carrington should, however, be safe on the roster due to the release of IK Enemkpali. Look for the Bills to add another pass rusher before opening day, as it is a position of dire need outside of Williams and Hughes.
DL: Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles, Red Bryant (4)
Dareus, of course, does not count towards the opening day roster. Corbin Bryant will more likely than not take his place in the starting lineup, while Charles and Bryant should rotate in off the bench as well. Bryant technically plays a traditional defensive end position, but I view him as more of a down lineman due to his ability to slide inside and stuff the run when needed.
LB: Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, Manny Lawson, Randell Johnson, AJ Tarpley, Kevin Reddick (6)
The first four players on the linebacker list are locks for the roster, and rather impressively. Beyond that there is a very big drop off, and positions that are very much up for grab. Tarpley and Tony Steward had the opportunity to run away with the job freed by Ty Powell’s injury. Neither made incredibly strong impressions, though Steward did get hurt. Tarpley gets the roster spot because of his performance against the Lions, and Rex Ryan’s fondness of Tarpley’s intelligence. Newly acquired Kevin Reddick also made a very favorable impression on the head coach, so he’ll stick around at a position where they’re desperate for depth. Look for the Bills to be on the waiver wire during roster cuts to acquire some additional depth.
CB: Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey, Ron Brooks, Mario Butler (6)
There is no indication that McKelvin will be put on any sort of an inactive list to start the season, at this point. Ron Brooks always does enough to earn a roster spot, and should serve as one of the primary backups at outside corner. Mario Butler has had a very impressive offseason, and has placed himself in a great spot to make the final roster. Rex Ryan has praised Butler’s play making ability, which could be enough to land himself a spot on the roster. Backup nickel corner Merrill Noel has played nicely, but in a numbers game will ultimately not make the final roster.
S: Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo (4)
Williams and Graham will play most snaps on defense, but Ryan loves his safeties and will find plenty of opportunities to use Duke Williams and Rambo in positions where he feels they can contribute. For Williams, this is most likely in run support as he is a very good run pursuit safety. Jonathan Meeks barely misses the cut.
Dan Carpenter, Jordan Gay, Garrison Sanborn, Colton Schmidt (4)
Well, the kicker position isn’t nearly as much of a given as it was a month ago. Carpenter has struggled mightily and Rex Ryan said they will be evaluating all options at the position. Due to lack of a better option, Carpenter and Gay will stick around. Though, if they do make a decision to find a new kicker, it would be safe to assume he will double as a kickoff specialist to try and create a new roster spot in place of Gay.