The Buffalo Bills have loaded up this offseason. From Von Miller to Neil Pau’u, it’s been a crazy last two months for GM Brandon Beane and the Super Bowl 57 favorite Bills. As we’re a week and a half removed from the NFL Draft and the main undrafted free agent signing period, here is a look at where things stand on the offensive side of the ball.
Buffalo Bills Depth Chart
|WR||Stefon Diggs||Khalil Shakir||Isaiah Hodgins|
|WR||Gabe Davis||Jake Kumerow||Tanner Gentry||Neil Pau’u|
|SWR||Jamison Crowder||Isaiah McKenzie||Marquez Stevenson||Malik Williams|
|LT||Dion Dawkins||David Quessenberry||Luke Tenuta|
|LG||Roger Saffold||Ike Boettger||Jacob Capra|
|C||Mitch Morse||Greg Mancz|
|RG||Ryan Bates||Cody Ford||Derek Kerstetter|
|RT||Spencer Brown||Tommy Doyle||Bobby Hart||Alec Anderson|
|TE||Dawson Knox||O.J. Howard||Tommy Sweeney||Quinton Morris||Jalen Wydermyer|
|QB||Josh Allen||Case Keenum||Matt Barkley|
|RB||Devin Singletary||James Cook||Duke Johnson||Zack Moss||Taiwan Jones||Raheem Blackshear|
This is going to be quite the camp battle to see who will win the QB1 job… Ha, yeah right. With Case Keenum being the presumed backup quarterback, I could see Matt Barkley filling the Davis Webb role. By this, I mean the Buffalo Bills put him on the practice squad and keep him around to be another veteran voice in the room and an emergency option if something happens to Allen and/or Keenum.
Devin Singletary proved he can be RB1 towards the end of last season as he ran 76 times for 323 yards (4.3 ypc) and 6 total TDs in Weeks 15-18. However, the running game was still not where the Bills wanted it to be. As a result, they drafted the speedy, pass-catching James Cook in round two to add another element to the offense. Singletary and Cook are almost locks to make the roster, and I would say Taiwan Jones will likely make it as well for his special teams abilities and leadership. The Buffalo Bills will not keep five running backs on their active roster, so that leaves Duke Johnson, Zack Moss and Raheem Blackshear battling it out for that fourth and final spot. (Although they’d be RB3, Jones would be RB4.)
I don’t want to immediately write off Blackshear, but he seems to be a camp body (and a likely cut/practice squad candidate). So, if it’s between Johnson and Moss, who do you keep? Johnson is basically an older version of Cook; the 28-year old has 2,870 career receiving yards and 12 TD compared to 2,261 rushing yards and 11 TD since he came into the league in 2015. Meanwhile, Moss is the only true north-south back on the roster. He is supposed to be the guy that can pick up the tough two or three yards when it’s third and short. But Josh Allen is so good in those short-yardage situations, Moss becomes expendable.
Moss is coming off a down season in which he only rushed for 345 yards and 4 TD on 96 attempts (3.6 ypc). The Bills really like him for pass protection though, as he’s not afraid to lower the shoulders on the big edge rushers. He may have the benefit of the doubt, considering his left ankle never totally healed after his injury against the Colts in the 2021 playoffs, making it harder for him to make his cuts last year. So, it would seem Moss has the edge over Johnson, especially if they want to limit the amount of hits Allen takes going forward. Plus, Moss was their third-round pick just three years ago, so I’m not sure they’re ready to give up on him just yet.
But the Bills did sign Johnson for a reason, regardless of Cook’s presence. If they want to focus on speed and YAC, Johnson is the guy to keep over Moss. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see who has the better training camp and who wants it more.
I would say Reggie Gilliam is taking up a roster spot, as fullbacks are more for the olden days of football. However, since the Buffalo Bills want to improve their running game, I think Gilliam sticks around. The Bills also use him in the passing game; not to mention, he can also line up as a tight end.
After drafting Khalil Shakir last week, the wide receiver room seems pretty set. The Bills could always sign a veteran to add yet another weapon to their offense, but I think they’re fine with what they have. Especially considering they still have young guys like Isaiah Hodgins who have barely touched the field.
Brandon Beane said at the Town Hall last week that he sees Shakir being WR4, meaning he is the first backup to come off the bench as either a slot receiver or an outside receiver. He has the versatility, athleticism and explosiveness to give the Bills that option. So the starters would be Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis on the outside as WRs 1&2 and Jamison Crowder in the slot as WR3. After Shakir, Isaiah McKenzie and his speed will fill WR5, rounding out the top five receivers. (Top seven if you count the tight ends – Dawson Knox and O.J. Howard.)
The Buffalo Bills have kept seven wide receivers on their team the last few years. So, assuming they do that again, there are two roster spots open. Again, this could change based on how the rest of the offseason and training camp pan out, but as of now, I have Jake Kumerow as WR6, Marquez Stevenson as WR7, Hodgins and Tanner Gentry going back on the practice squad, and the undrafted free agents either cut or put on the practice squad. I will say that Malik Williams could be competition for Marquez Stevenson as the returner and third-string slot receiver, but I don’t think the Bills will give up on Stevenson just yet. He may have had some ball security issues last year, but he also didn’t make his NFL debut until Thanksgiving after suffering a foot injury during the preseason.
I think the Buffalo Bills may have one of the top tight end duos in the league now in Dawson Knox and O.J. Howard. However, with Howard on just a one-year deal and after seeing the offense miss a step after Knox broke his hand last year, that third tight end becomes that much more important. The question is, who will be that third tight end behind Knox and Howard? (They could keep four, but I think three is more likely.)
Tommy Sweeney is another guy, like Moss, who has not taken that next step in the league. It’s a bit of a different circumstance as Sweeney was drafted in the seventh round out of Boston College but, when Knox missed time last year, the Bills’ lack of depth at the position showed. Sweeney finished last season with 9 receptions for 44 yards and 1 TD in 13 games (three starts).
Quinton Morris is going into his second season in the NFL after signing with the Bills as an undrafted free agent, then as a practice squad player. The 6’2”, 252 pound tight end had 125 receptions for 1,529 yards and 13 TD over his four-year college career at Bowling Green. It is too early to tell, but I see Morris as more of a practice squad candidate.
A guy that I think fits the TE3 role better is Jalen Wydermyer. Signing with the Bills as an undrafted free agent this year, I saw Wydermyer getting mocked to go as high as the second round as the second best tight end in this draft. However, his Pro Day results were rather poor, as his RAS (relative athletic score) was just over one (out of 10). At 6’4”, 255 pounds, Wydermyer still has enough athleticism and strength to be an effective run blocker and pass catcher.
He may not be the most explosive player, but he can still make plays. In three years at Texas A&M, he hauled in 118 receptions for 1,468 yards and 16 TD. As more of a developmental NFL prospect, the Bills could be the perfect fit for a guy like Wydermyer, who can sit behind and learn from Knox and Howard for a year. Plus, with the Bills’ spread offense, that should open things up for Wydermyer, making his transition into the NFL that much smoother.
Rounding out the offensive depth chart, the offensive line is another position that the Bills have heavily addressed. The starters seem set, and the Bills are continuing to round out the backups. The one thing that did surprise me was that they drafted Luke Tenuta as their fifth tackle rather than drafting a guard and bringing in more competition on the interior. They did however sign former Texas Longhorn Derek Kerstetter as an undrafted free agent. Kerstetter has played all over the offensive line, racking up many accolades in the Big 12. For now, I have him giving Cody Ford competition at right guard.
I could see the Bills signing more IOL help as we move forward. Chargers free agent Michael Schofield would be a nice addition. He reminds me of Ike Boettger in that he’s a guard who can give you some reliable snaps/games, whether it’s as a starter or a backup. In 907 snaps last year, Schofield gave up two sacks and had three penalties called against him while recording a 66.8 PFF grade. (For reference, Boettger gave up one sack and had two penalties called against him while recording a 59.8 PFF grade in 636 snaps.) Whether the Bills sign another offensive lineman or not, the good news is that they currently have 15 on their roster who offer a lot of flexibility.
Stay tuned for next week’s article as I will take a look at the defensive and special teams depth charts.