Monday, May 12, 2014
Bills post-draft roster breakdown
By Mike Rodak
The 2014 NFL draft is in the books. Training camp is just over two months away. The Buffalo Bills' roster is taking shape.
Before any undrafted free-agent signings become official, the Bills have 82 players under contract. That allows them to sign eight more players, as the NFL's offseason roster limit is 90 players.
Here's a position-by-position breakdown of the roster:
Quarterback (4): EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel, Dennis Dixon
Quick hit: Doug Whaley said Saturday that the Bills have no plans to add another quarterback. Lewis went 2-3 for the Bills last season but let's make no mistake here: it's Manuel or bust this season.
Running back (6): Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon, Ronnie Wingo, Anthony Allen
Quick hit: The Bills have long coveted Brown, who gives them depth and insurance in case Spiller or Jackson departs through free agency next offseason. Dixon can also play fullback.
Fullback (2): Frank Summers, Evan Rodriguez
Quick hit: This is the same group as last season. With Dixon in the fold, it's doubtful that both can make the final roster. There may not even be a spot for either if the Bills keep four running backs.
Wide receiver (12): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham, Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, Kevin Elliott, Ramses Barden, Cordell Roberson, Brandon Kaufman, Chris Summers
Quick hit: There will be no shortage of bodies at this position in camp. Kaufman's best shot at making the roster may be at tight end. Graham could be on the outside looking in.
Tight end (5): Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Tony Moeaki, Chris Gragg, Mike Caussin
Quick hit: The Bills didn't address this position in the draft and it remains one of the weaker on the roster. Chandler doesn't give the Bills much playmaking ability, while we're in wait-and-see mode if Moeaki can return to his old form.
Offensive tackle (6): Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears, Cyrus Kouandjio, Seantrel Henderson, Chris Hairston, Edawn Coughman
Quick hit: Kouandjio and Henderson give the Bills some options but both have question marks. If Kouandjio pans out early, he can replace Pears as the starter as early as this preseason. Hairston's roster spot is in jeopardy.
Guard/center (10): Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Chris Williams, Doug Legursky, Cyril Richardson, J.J. Unga, Antoine McClain, Mark Asper, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Randy Colling
Quick hit: After the cupboards were pretty thin last season, the Bills have built some depth here. Williams will have to prove he should be the starter at left guard. If he can, then Legursky and Richardson make for a solid backup combo.
Defensive end (6): Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Jarius Wynn, Jacquies Smith, Ikponmwosa Igbinosun
Quick hit: This position will have different responsibilities in Jim Schwartz's scheme. Player personnel director Jim Monos said Hughes will "get the first crack at it at defensive end," so pencil him as the starter across from Williams. Meanwhile, Lawson will have to prove he can hold up against the run if he is to get playing time.
Defensive tackle (5): Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Alan Branch, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles
Quick hit: Dareus' status is uncertain after he was arrested on felony drug charges last week. If Dareus is suspended, Branch provides a capable fill-in option. The Bills could probably use another big body or two here for camp.
Linebacker (8): Kiko Alonso, Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers, Preston Brown, Ty Powell, Nigel Bradham, Randell Johnson, Nathan Williams
Quick hit: Brown becomes the top reserve option after being selected in the third round. The Bills still need to find an athletic 'backer to pair with Alonso on passing downs; Bradham could be the closest match.
Cornerback (8): Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Corey Graham, Nickell Robey, Ross Cockrell, Ron Brooks, Brandon Smith, Mario Butler
Quick hit: Doug Marrone said Graham's primary position is cornerback, so that's where we'll put him for now. Graham could move to safety, but if he doesn't, this is a crowded group. Playing time between Graham, Robey, and Cockrell will come at a premium and could be limited to sub packages.
Safety (5): Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks, JaJuan Harley
Quick hit: The Bills didn't address this position in the draft. When Whaley last commented about this position, he said Searcy, Duke Williams, and Meeks would compete for the starting job vacated by Jairus Byrd. Graham could see time at safety but there's no guarantee that swap would work. There are question marks here.
Special teams (5): K Dan Carpenter, K Dustin Hopkins, P Brian Moorman, P Jake Dombrowski, LS Garrison Sanborn
Quick hit: Teams would like to avoid keeping two kickers if they can avoid it, but the Bills may retain both Carpenter and Hopkins, as Carpenter is stronger on field goals and Hopkins on kickoffs. There could be an under-the-radar battle at punter if Dombrowski has a strong camp. The Bills' punt unit was statistically poor last season.