We’re heading into the third weekend of preseason games, and the regular season is drawing closer. Training camp and preseason so far, has been very interesting for the Buffalo Bills. Rookies from all different rounds are impressing the coaching staff and fans. Players that have been around a while too are impressing, and making cases to make the final roster. With that said, let’s create a final 53-man roster prediction for the Buffalo Bills.
Josh Allen, Case Keenum
This one is simple and self-explanatory. The Bills will keep only two quarterbacks on the roster like last season, to open another spot up elsewhere. Matt Barkley will head to the practice squad. Despite not playing well in his first preseason game, Keenum is the Bills number two option.
Running Back (5):
Devin Singletary, James Cook, Zack Moss, Tawain Jones, Reggie Gilliam
Devin Singletary is the Bills number one option out of the backfield right now. That will likely stay true after his top tier performance down the stretch last season. James Cook is the enticing rookie everyone is fired up about and he brings pass catching ability. Zack Moss has rebounded with a nice training camp and looks good. He is the Buffalo Bills’ power back who will likely get the goal-line carries.
Tawain Jones is one of the best gunners in the league on special teams who the Bills love, he makes the team again. Reggie Gilliam is a fullback, but he has made the team the past two seasons and just signed a two-year contract extension. Also, he could provide tight end depth in a pinch.
Wide Receiver (6):
Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Khalil Shakir, Jamison Crowder, Jake Kumerow
The first two are obvious and Isaiah McKenzie seems to have the starting slot job locked down after a top-notch training camp. Khalil Shakir is a rookie who has not only impressed but is making a case that he needs to be involved in the offense. Jamison Crowder, who hasn’t done much, is a proven veteran who the Bills like. He is a backup slot option; he will get his touches too.
The last spot is a dog fight between Jake Kumerow and Isaiah Hodgins. Kumerow has proven in the past he can get it done at receiver and is a huge piece of the special teams unit. Hodgins has stuck around on the practice squad for a few years and dealt with injuries. He is impressing big time this summer and had a big game against the Colts. He provides more upside as a receiver than Kumerow, but Kumerow offers special teams. If Hodgins can prove he can handle a special teams workload then the roster spot is his. Right now, though, Kumerow still has the edge.
Tight End (3):
Dawson Knox, O.J. Howard, Tommy Sweeney
Knox had his breakout season last year and is looking to build on that this season in a contract year. O.J. Howard is the tight end two option the team was after and provides really nice upside. Another player with something to prove after things went sideways in Tampa Bay. Now, the Bills definitely could opt to go with just Knox and Howard. However, Sweeney has reportedly had a really good training camp and has stuck around for the past few seasons.
The Bills seem to be ready to run more two tight end sets under Ken Dorsey. Depth will be important at tight end this year and Sweeney should find his way onto the 53-man again.
Offensive Line (9):
Dion Dawkins, Rodger Saffold, Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates, Spencer Brown, Tommy Doyle, David Quessenberry, Greg Mancz, Bobby Hart
The presumed starting O-line when fully healthy is Dawkins, Saffold, Morse, Bates, and Spencer Brown. Tommy Doyle seems to be the number one fill in option at tackle. Quessenberry has gotten a lot of reps and looked good. Mancz has gotten his fair share of reps too. I thought Cody Ford would make the team, but the Bills traded him last week. It seems likely Bobby Hart makes it after a good summer and high praise from the coaching staff.
Defensive Line (9):
Von Miller, Greg Rousseau, Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips, Boogie Basham, A.J. Epenesa, Tim Settle, Daquan Jones, Shaq Lawson
The Bills did a miniature rebuild on their D-line this off-season, with both old and new faces. They have promising young guys and proven veterans like Miller. This defensive line is going to give opposing teams headaches and really help elevate the team.
Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard, Tyler Matakevich, Baylon Spector
The first two are obviously no brainers. Tyrel Dodson the team likes a lot, and he is gunning for the number three linebacker spot now that Aj Klein isn’t in town. Bernard is a promising rookie who’s looked good, and the coaching staff loves him. He is versatile and can cover. Matakevich is a special teams mainstay.
Spector came out of nowhere and had a huge game against the colts. In this I gave him Andre Smith’s spot who is suspended the first six games because of PEDS anyway. Another strong game and Spector can slide right onto the official roster.
Tre White, Dane Jackson, Kaiir Elam, Taron Johnson, Christian Benford, Siran Neal
All-Pro Tre ’Davious White, does not look like he will be ready for the beginning of the season. No one knows how long he’ll be out but the Bills don’t want to rush him. Dane Jackson and Kaiir Elam will handle duties while he recovers. Taron Johnson is the starting nickel cornerback and one of the best in the league.
Benford is a rookie who is killing it this camp and showcased what he can do versus the Colts. Siran Neal looks good at corner and is one of the best special teams gunners in the league. I do think Cam Lewis will find his way onto the roster here as well. But, when a spot opens somewhere else on the roster, or Tre gets placed on an injured list if necessary.
Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, Jaquan Johnson, Damar Hamlin
The Bills have the best safety duo in the league, in Poyer and Hyde. Jaquan Johnson is a good backup and plays well on special teams. Hamlin, as a rookie impressed last year to earn the other backup spot. He too contributes on special teams.
Special Teams (3):
Tyler Bass, Reid Ferguson, Matt Araiza
NOTE: This section was written prior to the recent allegations and subsequent release of Matt Araiza.
The Bills’ did not draft Araiza (punter) to cut him. He has a monster leg and had an 82-yard punt last weekend.