Share this article

print logo

Jay Skurski's way-too-early 53-man roster projection

The Buffalo Bills have yet to hold even their first "organized team activity" of the spring.

But with the draft now completed, the vast majority of players who will make up the 53-man roster are now on the team. The Bills can take 90 players to training camp, and currently have 89 on their roster. It's fairly easy to predict which half of them will be on the team in September.

But that leaves about 45 players competing for eight or so jobs. With that in mind, here is The Buffalo News' first projection of the 2016 season, with more to follow as the offseason progresses:

Quarterbacks (3): Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones.

Analysis: This is the easiest position on the roster to forecast. It's hard to see any way this changes between now and September.

Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Jonathan Williams.

Analysis: Mike Gillislee did some nice things as the team's third running back last season, but his spot on the team became tenuous when Jonathan Williams was added in the fifth round of the draft. Their battle should be one of the better ones at training camp, and it's not out of the question that both players make the team.

Fullback (1): Jerome Felton.

Analysis: We'll give the nod to Felton in May, but expect Amherst native Glenn Gronkowski to push him in training camp. Baby Gronk will have to show he can equal Felton as a blocker – no easy task – while offering more as a receiver and contributor on special teams.

Wide receivers (7): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Leonard Hankerson, Greg Salas, Walter Powell, Kolby Listenbee, Marcus Easley.

Analysis: This looks to be the hardest position on the roster to sort out. After Watkins and Woods, jobs appear to be wide open, so we're taking the easy way out by keeping seven for now. Powell and Easley make it primarily for special teams – Powell as a returner and Easley as a gunner. Listenbee's speed and draft status should earn him a spot, while Hankerson and Salas have had flashes of good play in the league before.

Tight ends (3): Charles Clay, Jim Dray, Chris Gragg.

Analysis: Tight ends were expected to play a bigger part in offensive coordinator Greg Roman's scheme last season, but that never really materialized. Clay is the do-everything option, while Dray was signed to be a blocker. Greg and Nick O'Leary should compete for the final spot at the position.

Offensive tackles (4): Cordy Glenn, Jordan Mills, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio.

Analysis: Henderson's health is a big question. That uncertainty paves the way for 2014 second-round draft pick Cyrus Kouandjio to crack the roster again.

Guards/centers (5): Eric Wood, Richie Incognito, John Miller, Fernando Velasco, Ryan Groy.

Analysis: Groy's primary challenger for what should be one of the last few spots on the roster will be holdover Cyril Richardson and undrafted free agent Jamison Lalk.

Defensive tackles (5): Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Adolphus Washington, Jerel Worthy.

Analysis: Coach Rex Ryan has mentioned Worthy this offseason as a player who could contribute in 2016, so we'll give him the nod over the massive T.J. Barnes. If the Bills want to go with a true nose tackle, however, Barnes could get the nod.

Defensive ends/outside linebackers (5): Shaq Lawson, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Lorenzo Alexander, Randell Johnson.

Analysis: Ryan's pet project, IK Enemkpali, did nothing to distinguish himself last season.

Inside linebackers (4): Preston Brown, Reggie Ragland, Zach Brown, Eric Striker.

Analysis: Striker becomes the team's only undrafted free agent to make the roster in this projection – beating out Kevin Reddick for a spot.

Cornerbacks (6): Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey, Corey White, Sterling Moore, Mario Butler.

Analysis: Sixth-round draft pick Kevon Seymour is the only player drafted this year not to crack the 53-man roster in this projection. Javier Arenas also is on the outside looking in, but could change that by earning a return job on special teams.

Safeties (4): Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Robert Blanton, Colt Anderson.

Analysis: Blanton has been mentioned by General Manager Doug Whaley as a player with starting potential, while Anderson figures to be a key contributor on special teams. The most noteworthy cut here would be Duke Williams, who seemed to fall out of favor last season with the current coaching staff.

Specialists (3): Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Garrison Sanborn.

Analysis: Carpenter could be pushed by undrafted free agent Marhall Morgan, but he's the favorite for now. With touchbacks moving to the 25-yard line this season, teams may choose to cover kicks instead of trying to put it through the end zone, which could spell trouble for kickoff specialist Jordan Gay. Schmidt and Sanborn are two of the best in the league at punter and long snapper, respectively.

There are no comments - be the first to comment