The Buffalo Bills have made their initial moves to get the roster to fit within the restrictions of the National Football League, leaving only 53 players on the active roster. So, who were the surprises that made it on the team, and what might the Bills target heading into the waiver period of the weekend?
A position-by-position analysis of the 2017 Bills:
Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman, T.J. Yates
- The only surprising thing here is that the Bills elected to keep third-string quarterback T.J. Yates on the 53-man roster to start the season. Perhaps they see value in him to help mentor Nathan Peterman through the 2017 season, as opposed to just putting it all on the rookie in the event that he needs to play a substantial amount due to injury or whatever other reason.
Running Back (6)
LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, Taiwan Jones, Joe Banyard, Patrick DiMarco
- The Bills keeping a total of six running backs was the biggest upset of the day. I thought it would have come down to one spot between Taiwan Jones and Joe Banyard, and at least through the initial cuts, there was room for both. Each player brings their own ability to special teams, and Jones showed a little bit of ability on offense in the preseason finale as well. If the Bills make waiver claims on Sunday, one of Jones or Banyard might not be around by the start of the work week.
Wide Receiver (6)
Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, Brandon Tate, Philly Brown, Kaelin Clay
- The Bills could not have been happy to see Rod Streater go down with an injury during the preseason because he likely would have made the 53-man roster if it wasn’t for that. So, that paved the way for Philly Brown to make the roster, despite him being outplayed by a pair of undrafted free agents that the Bills seemed to desire on their practice squad above anything (see: Brandon Reilly and Daikiel Shorts). To help the wide receiver group, the Bills acquired wide receiver Kaelin Clay through a trade, but with waivers looming, there could be even more moves on the horizon. Stay tuned.
Reserve/Suspended: Walt Powell
Tight End (3)
Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, Logan Thomas
- This trio seemed to be the way it was heading all along. Logan Thomas showed enough promise and potential in the summer to warrant being the third tight end on the roster, while Charles Clay and Nick O’Leary both took steps forward in their respective roles. No arguments here.
Offensive Tackle (3)
Cordy Glenn, Jordan Mills, Dion Dawkins
- The Bills had to be happy to see Cordy Glenn play a little bit on Thursday night against the Detroit Lions — a step forward to him being ready for Week One against the New York Jets. With him nearing a return, the Bills didn’t have a need — or a person worthy — to keep more than three offensive tackles. Also, don’t look know, but Dion Dawkins has been quietly having a much better end to the preseason than his start. I could see him pushing Jordan Mills sooner than later in the regular season — as long as Glenn stays healthy.
Reserve/Suspended: Seantrel Henderson
Interior Offensive Line (5)
Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Vladimir Ducasse, Ryan Groy
- Much to the chagrin of some fans, Vladimir Ducasse finds himself safely nestled on the 53-man roster… for now. Will Ducasse, Andre Holmes, and Ryan Davis will be in Buffalo after Week 10 of the season? That’s another question entirely, as the chase for the third round compensatory selection will continue through the first two-and-a-half months of the season. We’ll see who gets the start at right guard between Ducasse, John Miller, and maybe even Ryan Groy. Jordan Mudge was close, but no cigar this time around. He seems like a good practice squad player.
Defensive End (4)
Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, Ryan Davis, Eddie Yarbrough
- What a story Eddie Yarbrough has been this summer, and there is not a better poster example of hard work and doing things the right way to show the rest of the locker room. Yarbrough started as an afterthought, and now might just be a core rotational player during the regular season. Thanks to the play of both Yarbrough and Ryan Davis during the preseason, this has turned into a fairly strong group, after it faced a lot of questions throughout the offseason.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Jerel Worthy, Adolphus Washington, Deandre Coleman
- The injury to Jerel Worthy in the preseason finale likely necessitated the Bills in keeping an additional defensive tackle, just in case the backup could not play in Week One. Of the three options, Coleman played the best and warranted a look on to the 53-man roster. Worthy and Adolphus Washington both proved to be fine backup options to the stout starting duo of Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams.
Preston Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, Ramon Humber, Gerald Hodges, Matt Milano, Tanner Vallejo
- There weren’t any surprises with this group. The trio of starters have been and will continue to be Preston Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, and Ramon Humber. Gerald Hodges will be the main backup, with the two rookie draft picks Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo offering as depth players that chip in on special teams. The only question that ever existed at linebacker would be what the Bills would do with Reggie Ragland, and that was answered days ago.
Tre’Davious White, Shareece Wright, EJ Gaines, Leonard Johnson, Greg Mabin
- This group rounded into shape after the initial roster moves were made, but the big surprise move was made to send Kevon Seymour packing via trade on Saturday. However, Seymour’s role was undefined, and he seemed buried on the depth chart behind all the others. Tre’Davious White will start, and then Shareece Wright and EJ Gaines will likely both get opportunities to play alongside him on the outside. Leonard Johnson won the job as the starting nickel corner, and Greg Mabin earned a roster spot after a strong preseason. Along with wide receiver, and the next position, I believe cornerback is a strong bet for a position that the Bills target on the waiver wire.
Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Trae Elston, Colt Anderson
- Speaking of positions that are needed, safety might just top the list. Trae Elston played his way on to the roster this summer with outstanding plays during the preseason. However, with Colt Anderson, the big story is that he’s been injured for all but just a handful of practices. And even there, he is more of a special teams asset than a defensive contributor. The Bills need a fourth player at safety to add to the team, that much is certain. Furthermore, they might not even have to release a player to do so. Depending on Anderson’s injury status, they can place him on injured reserve and choose to use one of their two return designations for the 2017 season. However, no matter what, the Bills need another safety heading into 2017.