Earlier this week, the final 53-man roster came out. There are a lot of good players who made this team and will make an impact. The obvious players are Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Tre White among others. But there are some lesser-known players that I believe will have an impact, some potential “unsung heroes”. These players include Justin Zimmer, Tommy Sweeney, and Tyler Matakevich. They aren’t starters at their respective positions, but they will still make important contributions to the 2021 Buffalo Bills.
Justin Zimmer defensive impact
To start, Justin Zimmer is a one tech defensive tackle that makes big plays in the run game and takes up a lot of space. He will make significant contributions in the run game. Even when he is not making tackles or forcing fumbles, he will take up space and blockers will need to try to move him. This allows the linebackers to read the running back and make the tackle. This is all that the Bills need Zimmer to do in the run game.
In the pass game, he has shown the ability to use the bull rush effectively. If he can spend some time with the other pass rushers and develop some other moves, he will become a consistent, reliable option in the pass rush. I believe that Zimmer will record a couple sacks and 30 total tackles on a successful Bills defensive line.
Next is Tommy Sweeney. I have a lot of faith in his ability to run block and be productive in the receiving game. While Knox is the Bills’ “pass catching” tight end, Sweeney has shown versatility in the way he can get open and catch some balls. Expect to see more Sweeney as we move later in the season and expect him to make some big plays. His numbers won’t be huge, but he will put up 20 to 30 catches for around 250 to 300 yards and a couple touchdowns.
Matakevich shows versatility
Finally, we have Tyler Matakevich. Last year, he was productive on special teams and made the roster for that reason alone. In this preseason, he showed that he can also help the Bills on the defensive side of the ball. He made some big plays in the run game and showed the ability to play sideline to sideline. This is an important skill needed to play linebacker in the NFL. These players need to be able to cover the entire middle of the field.
In the pass game, he is still a little raw but we have good pass coverage linebackers in Milano and Edmunds who can help him grow in this area. If they can help him acquire some of those skills, he will be a rotational part of the linebacking core. I believe he will put up 55-60 tackles and one or two sacks on defense alone this season.
These players are the people who I think are sleepers for this Buffalo Bills team and, if given the little push they need, will be big time contributors to this team.