With preseason in the books, it’s time to focus on what the Buffalo Bills roster will look like moving forward. Throughout the season, I’ll be doing a “risers and fallers” column in reaction to each weeks games. This week, however, it seems more prudent to go over each position group and predict who we think will make it through the final round of cuts. Let’s dig in…
One of the most cut and dried position groups on the roster, MVP candidate Josh Allen will be looking to build off of an incredible playoff run to help propel the Bills to their first Super Bowl appearance in decades. Case Keenum will be the understudy, and having a veteran who has had some level of success around the league as a backup and starter will help Allen continue to grow as a player. Think about how helpful it was to have Derek Anderson his rookie year, and Matt Barkley the two years after that. Having someone with a wealth of experience to lean on is never a bad thing. Speaking of Matt Barkley, expect him to be stashed on the practice squad as both Allen and the organization have a high level of comfort with him as both a person and player.
Running Back (4)
Another group where I don’t expect any surprises is in the running back room. Devin Singletary came on very strong at the end of 2021, and should be the lead back once again. Zack Moss looks to be truly healthy for the first time since 2020 and should provide some pop in the short yardage game. Rookie James Cook brings an element of speed and receiving ability not seen in Buffalo since the exit of Shady McCoy. He will be an exciting change of pace back and home run threat every time he touches the ball. Taiwan Jones rounds out the group as an exceptional special teams player. Raheem Blackshear had an electric preseason, and I’m sure the Bills would love to get him onto the practice squad. But don’t be shocked if he’s wearing a different jersey sooner than later.
Tight End (4)
Dawson Knox, 2022’s leading scorer among tight ends, returns to lead a group bolstered by the signing of OJ Howard and the continued development of Tommy Sweeney. Reggie Gilliam will make the roster as well, and fill his usual fullback/tight end hybrid role. Expect Quintin Morris to be stashed on the Bills practice squad.
Wide Receiver (7)
Stefon Diggs headlines a tremendous group of playmakers at one of the deepest groups on the Buffalo Bills roster. Gabriel Davis, one of Allen’s favorite targets, will become a bonafide number two. Isaiah McKenzie will take over slot duties and, by all accounts, has been a nightmare to cover throughout camp. Steady veteran Jamison Crowder and fifth round rookie Khalil Shakir provide top end depth. Jake Kumerow will reprise his role as a special teams ace and boundary receiver depth. Finally, Isaiah Hodgins makes the roster for the first time, on the back of a truly impressive camp and preseason. If they absolutely must trim to six, expect to either lose Hodgins or see Crowder moved for a late round pick.
Offensive Line (9)
The trade of Cody Ford to Arizona loosens up the logjam on the line and makes this group easier to call. Expect an opening day starting five of Dion Dawkins, Rodger Saffold, Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates, and David Quessenberry. Spencer Brown is still rounding into form after offseason surgery and should supplant Quessenberry at some point. Tommy Doyle is dealing with his own nagging injuries, but will still provide adequate tackle depth. Greg Van Roten and the surprising Bobby Hart round out the interior, with Ike Boettger starting the season on the PUP list.
Defensive Line (9)
The addition of future Hall of Famer Von Miller makes this Bills defensive line a truly exciting group. His ability to get after the quarterback will pair well with Greg Rousseaus ability to set the edge as the starting defensive ends, while DaQuan Jones and Ed Oliver will pressure the pocket from the middle while eating up inside rushes. Boogie Basham, AJ Epenesa, and the returning Shaq Lawson round out the depth at end, while newly signed Tim Settle and Jordan Phillips will provide reinforcements along the interior.
The dynamic duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are back and slotted into the team’s base nickel defense. After very strong camps and preseasons, I would expect rookies Terrel Bernard and Baylon Spector to make the final cuts as well, with Tyler Matakevich providing his usual elite special teams play. It appeared that the rookies outplayed Tyrel Dodson through most of preseason and, while I have him making the final roster, his spot on the Bills depth chart may have taken a hit.
Tre’Davious White is the clear top dog in a position room that has undergone a renovation this off-season. Steady veteran Levi Wallace is gone, and rookies Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford are in. Expect those two, along with Dane Jackson, Siran Neal, and Taron Johnson to make up the group for at least the first month while White works his way back from last season’s ACL tear on the PUP list.
The exact same group as last year will be making up the last line of the Buffalo Bills defense. The elite pairing of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer both return, along with backups Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin. Easy to pick, and always exciting to watch.
Tyler Bass and Reid Ferguson return at kicker and long snapper. Both are among the leagues best at their positions, and should be tremendous all year. The only unknown at the moment is punter. After the disturbing allegations against Matt Araiza and his subsequent release by the team, the position is an unknown. The Buffalo Bills have worked out some punters and, as a Super Bowl favorite, should be a front runner for any established punters cut by other teams.
Featured Image: Rich Barnes/AP Photo