With less than one week until the Buffalo Bills begin training camp, I figured it was time to submit my final roster predictions. I have gone through each position group to preview the players in the rooms and the camp battles that are set to take place. Now it’s time to put pen to paper with my final predictions before I get any clues from training camp.
Last year, the Buffalo Bills kept three Quarterbacks. It’s tough to tell if that’s what they wanted to do or if that was just a COVID insurance policy. Jake Fromm was on the roster last year but never practiced with the team or suited up for game day.
Obviously, the Buffalo Bills will be keeping Josh Allen and recently acquired backup Mitchell Trubisky. The question then comes down to if they are okay with just keeping two quarterbacks active and stashing one on the practice squad. My assumption is that they will keep three again this year. Therefore, the final battle will come down to Fromm against Davis Webb. As of right now, I believe Fromm has the slight edge because he was recently drafted and Trubisky is only under contract this year. Moving forward, Fromm could be a cheap backup to Josh Allen once Trubisky has moved on.
As I stated in my roster locks article, I believe Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are locks for the final roster. Similar to the Quarterback position, it will come down to the numbers game. Do the Bills want to keep three or four running backs in 2021?
I think they will want to keep four Running Backs, but the fourth will either be a primary special teams contributor or a healthy scratch on game day. Although Taiwan Jones is a great gunner and primary special teams contributor, I think the Bills want more from their running backs on offense rather than special teams. Therefore, I am predicting Antonio Williams and Matt Breida to make the final roster. Furthermore, I think both will have the chance to be solid Running Backs with added contributions on special teams.
The story of the offseason going into training camp has been the battle among the Wide Receivers. It’s assumed that Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis are locked to make the final roster. However, from there the question is centered around if the Bills want to keep six or seven receivers.
The next three guys up for consideration are Isaiah McKenzie, Isaiah Hodgins, and Marquez Stevenson. Brandon Beane loves to roster his recent draft picks, but I can’t predict he does that this time around with the receiver room. Hodgins himself is a recent draft pick and McKenzie is coming off an extremely efficient season. I’d love to see Stevenson make the final roster. But at this point, I think it’s more likely he finds himself on the practice squad. With that being said, I think the final spot will come down to who can win the return specialist role. So my prediction is McKenzie wins the job and Stevenson ends up on the practice squad.
My roster locks for the Tight End position are Dawson Knox and Jacob Hollister. I think we can all admit we want a little bit more from the tight end position this season. With that being said, improvements in efficiency will hinge on Knox’s development and Daboll’s schematic use of the position.
Therefore, I believe the Buffalo Bills will elect to keep only three Tight Ends as opposed to four. The final spot will will come down to a bevy of guys: Reggie Gilliam, Tommy Sweeney, Nate Becker, and Quintin Morris. I predict that Gilliam will come out on top and win the battle for TE3. Gilliam has plenty of versatility as a blocker, pass catcher, and special teams contributor.
Despite not including Cody Ford as a roster lock, I still think he will make the final roster. There’s just a small part of me that thinks he could be traded by the start of the regular season. With that being said, I think the starting Offensive Line from left to right is Dion Dawkins, Ford, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano, and Daryl Williams.
I also think recent third round pick Spencer Brown is also a lock to make the final roster. The real trouble spot for the OL is the interior, so it’s important to have quality depth behind the starters. That is why I believe Ike Boettger and Forrest Lamp will make the final roster even if they can’t win starting roles in training camp.
In my opinion, the last spot will be up for grabs between Tommy Doyle and Ryan Bates. I give Bates the slight edge right now because of his versatility to play almost every position on the line. Furthermore, I have a hunch the Bills are higher on Doyle than most NFL teams. Perhaps, they think they could sneak him onto the practice squad.
The Defensive Line is perhaps the toughest group to predict because there are so many players worthy of making the final roster. I have A.J. Epenesa, Gregory Rousseau, and Carlos Basham as my edge rusher locks. However, I strongly believe that Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison both make the final roster.
I know some people think that Hughes could be cut because of cap savings. Similarly, I know some people think that Addison could be cut because of the disparity between his play on the field and his salary cap figure. With that being said, I think their vast professional experience will help the younger players (Epenesa, Rousseau, and Basham) develop.
Lastly, I think the Bills will keep six Defensive Ends because of their heavy rotation. That sixth spot will likely be up for grabs between recently signed free agent Efe Obada and special teams ace Darryl Johnson. As of right now, I think Obada has the slight edge because of his 3-tech/edge versatility.
The only locks I have for the Defensive Tackle position are Star Lotulelei and Ed Oliver. I know some people don’t like the cap hit attached to Star, but he is a valuable player in this defense. Although he doesn’t stuff the stat sheet, he does create opportunities for others on the defense to make plays.
If the Bills keep six DEs, as I think they will, it would be more likely that they keep only four Defensive Tackles. For those final two spots, I think the main battle is between Harrison Phillips, Justin Zimmer, and Vernon Butler. To this point in his career, Butler has been a disappointment. He had one good season in 2019, which got him paid by Buffalo in the 2020 offseason. In my opinion, he did not live up to that price tag last season, and that is why the Bills negotiated a pay cut with him this past offseason. He does have some dead cap attached to him if he gets cut, but that’s my prediction. I think Phillips and Zimmer will outplay him this preseason.
The obvious locks for the Buffalo Bills at the Linebacker position are Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Beyond them, A.J. Klein is a lock because his 2021 dead cap hit is $5.2 million. Although he struggle at times last year, he did get better as the season progressed. He still may not be worth his cap hit this year, but he is quality depth at the position for a defense that primarily utilizes the nickel package.
Similarly, Tyler Matakevich has a a cap hit of $1.1 million after he agreed to a pay cut this offseason. I wouldn’t say this makes him uncuttable, but he’s a strong special teams contributor so I think he will make the final roster. I think the Buffalo Bills will keep two more linebackers, Tyrel Dodson and Tyrell Adams. Dodson was a UDFA signing from a couple years back that has been developing nicely. Adams on the other hand is coming off his best season. He finished 12th in combined tackles with 125. Additionally, both Dodson and Adams are proven special teams contributors.
The most obvious lock at the Cornerback position is Tre’Davious White. Then after him, it feels pretty safe to assume that Levi Wallace, Dane Jackson, and Taron Johnson will make the final roster.
There are plenty of UDFAs and/or late round draft picks that the Bills have fighting for depth roles at Cornerback. Guys like Nick McCloud, Olaijah Griffin, Cam Lewis, and Rachad Wildgoose. However, I think most of those guys are destined for the practice squad. I think that Siran Neal will be the final CB to make the roster because of his ability as a gunner on punt coverage. Neal hasn’t done much to write home about as a defensive back to this point in his career, but he has definitely found a solid niche on special teams.
I think it’s safe to say that Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde will be making the final roster. Hopefully this is the year that Poyer and Hyde get the proper national recognition that they deserve. Beyond those two, I think Damar Hamlin will make the final roster and get a solid amount of snaps as a rookie.
Perhaps my boldest prediction comes as the last man to make the Safety room and he’s a UDFA. I firmly believe that Tariq Thompson will make the final roster by outperforming Jaquan Johnson and Josh Thomas during training camp. I really like Thompson’s game on various levels. He’s listed as a safety, but he also has the ability to play nickel corner.
Without much competition around them, the special teams roles are locked in pretty tight. Second year kicker Tyler Bass will look to build off of his finish to his rookie season. He started off shaky but really found a groove down the stretch. At punter, the Buffalo Bills replaced Corey Bojorquez with former Dolphins punter Matt Haack. Haack will have to prove that he has enough accuracy to coffin corner teams within the 20 yard line like Bojorquez failed to do consistently. Lastly, Reid Ferguson will be returning as the Buffalo Bills Long Snapper for his fifth year in that role.
Air Raid Hour recap
If you enjoyed my final roster predictions, then you will definitely enjoy the most recent episode of the Air Raid Hour. Judge and Tilt go through each position, as I did, and share their predictions for who will make the final roster. If you missed it live, you can catch this episode of the Air Raid Hour linked and embedded above.
As always, Go Bills!