Friday, July 18, 2014
Buffalo Bills' projected roster
By Mike Rodak
Examining the Buffalo Bills' roster:
No surprises here. The Bills will need Manuel to stay healthy after he missed time with three knee injuries last season. If he goes down again, the Bills' playoff hopes could ride on Lewis' shoulders.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
The addition of Brown during the draft may reduce Dixon's role, at least on offense. Still, the Bills are deeper at this position than they were last season. Spiller enters a critical contract year and must stay healthy.
The Bills carried two fullbacks -- Summers and Evan Rodriguez -- at the end of last season but may not have that luxury if they carry four tailbacks this year. Although Rodriguez is more versatile, Summers is a thumping lead blocker who could play a role in the Bills' red zone offense.
No room for T.J. Graham, who slid down the depth chart with the additions of Watkins and Williams this offseason. This is an improved group from last season, but it must stay healthy. Manuel needs continuity with his passing targets, so injuries to any of the top three receivers would cause problems.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Ho-hum here, as the Bills didn't make any additions this offseason. If Moeaki stays healthy, he could be an improvement in the passing game over Chandler. Either way, the Bills need more red zone production out of this unit. Chris Gragg misses the cut.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
The Bills could go in one of several directions at this position. With this lineup, 32-year-old Erik Pears loses his starting job to Kouandjio in training camp and is released. Hairston and Legursky would be active on game days as reserves, while Richardson wouldn't crack the 46-man roster but sticks as a future prospect. Henderson misses the cut in this case.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
There isn't a whole lot of intrigue at this position, other than the possibility of Dareus facing an NFL-imposed suspension for two arrests this offseason. Lawson and Wynn fill out the depth chart at defensive end, while Branch, Charles and Bryant stick as big bodies on the interior.
This group took a big hit from the loss of Kiko Alonso. The Bills will likely fill that gap with a combination of Brown and Bradham, with special-teams contributions from Powell and Johnson.
The Bills have some depth here and might go one player heavier. In this case, Brooks earns the nod. There are questions about how playing time will be distributed between the players at this position, but that's what some would call a "high-class" problem.
The Bills carried as many as six safeties last season, but that was more a product of Mike Pettine's defense, which typically puts more importance on safeties than linebackers. The Bills have three undrafted rookies who could push for a roster spot, but ultimately they would all be better served on the practice squad.
I'll go out on a little bit of a limb here and say that Dombrowski makes the cut over 38-year-old punter Brian Moorman. The Bills can afford to make the move; if Dombrowski struggles early in the season, Moorman (or any other punter) would be on the market and the switching costs would be low. At kicker, Dustin Hopkins doesn't make the cut. He has a stronger leg than Carpenter for kickoffs, but it's tough to see the Bills carrying two players at the position when there are needs elsewhere on the roster.