Following minicamp, projecting the Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster


Staff member

The Buffalo Bills are officially on summer vacation.

The team wrapped up its three-day, mandatory minicamp Thursday and won’t reconvene until training camp at St. John Fisher University begins in late July.

With voluntary spring practices and now minicamp complete, here is The Buffalo News’ first look at what the team’s 53-man roster might look like heading into the season opener Sept. 8 against Arizona.

Quarterbacks (2): Josh Allen, Mitch Trubisky.
Cut (1): Shane Buechele.

Analysis: The Bills have made a habit of keeping two quarterbacks on the active roster under head coach Sean McDermott, and there is no intrigue over who the two will be this year. Trubisky is back with the Bills after two years in Pittsburgh. He proved to be a good fit as Allen’s backup during the 2021 season in Buffalo. If Buechele clears waivers, he will be the practice squad quarterback.

Running backs (3): James Cook, Ty Johnson, Ray Davis.
Cuts (2): Darryton Evans, Frank Gore Jr.

Analysis: Another position with a pretty firm depth chart heading into camp. Cook took a big step in his second professional season and should be a Pro Bowl-level player again. Johnson emerged as a nice No. 2 runner last season. It seemed like good things happened when he touched the ball. The Bills took Davis in the fourth round. He’s got a lot of mileage on the tread in college, but the team believes that experience can be a good thing. He should have a role on game days. Evans might be in the mix as a returner, which would be his best path to a roster spot, while Gore would do well to make it to the practice squad.

Wide receivers (6): Khalil Shakir, Curtis Samuel, Keon Coleman, Marques Valdez-Scantling, Mack Hollins, Chase Claypool.
Cuts (7): Andy Isabella, K.J. Hamler, Xavier Johnson, Lawrence Keys, Justin Shorter, Tyrell Shavers, Bryan Thompson.

Analysis: The top three of Shakir, Samuel and Coleman feel pretty much set. Valdez-Scantling falls just short of being considered a “lock,” but it would be quite a surprise if he failed to make the team. Hollins emerged as a leader of the wide receiver room in the spring, and is expected to be a key contributor on special teams. Claypool made a nice move in the spring. He impressed during the practices that were open to the media and said all the right things about his past troubles. If he hits, it is found money for General Manager Brandon Beane. Shorter, a fifth-round pick in 2023, missed all of last season on injured reserve. If the Bills want more depth at slot receiver, Isabella or Hamler would have a better chance.

Bills tight end Dalton Kincaid goes up for the ball over cornerback Taron Johnson. Both are locks to make the team’s 53-man roster, but who else will join them? Harry Scull Jr., Buffalo News

Tight ends/fullbacks (4): Dalton Kincaid, Dawson Knox, Quintin Morris, Reggie Gilliam.
Cuts (2): Tre’ McKitty, Zach Davidson.

Analysis: The Bills have invested and developed their top three tight ends and starting fullback for multiple years, so these are two more positions with not much intrigue. It’s worth noting, however, that Davidson seemed to make at least one big play at every practice the media observed in the spring. If he can continue that in the summer, he should at least earn a spot on the practice squad.

Offensive line (10): Dion Dawkins, David Edwards, Connor McGovern, O’Cyrus Torrence, Spencer Brown, Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, Alec Anderson, Ryan Van Demark, La’El Collins, Tylan Grable.
Cuts (7): Richard Gouraige, Travis Clayton, Kevin Jarvis, Mike Edwards, Will Clapp, Gunner Britton, Keaton Bills.

Analysis: The starting jobs seem basically set, with the possible exception of Edwards at left guard. Maybe he gets pushed by Collins, who can play either guard or tackle. The Bills have plenty of depth at tackle, including Anderson, Van Demark and Grable. A veteran guard could be a consideration during training camp, or perhaps Clapp pushes for a reserve spot. He also can play center. Van Pran-Granger was drafted as a center. It will be interesting to see if the Bills use him at guard in the preseason. They like to cross-train as many offensive linemen as they can at different positions to increase their roster flexibility.

Defensive line (10): A.J. Epenesa, Greg Rousseau, Von Miller, Dawuane Smoot, Casey Toohill, DeWayne Carter, Austin Johnson, DaQuan Jones, Ed Oliver, DeShawn Williams.
Cuts (8): Rondell Bothroyd, Kameron Cline, Kingsley Jonathan, David Ugwoegbu, Eli Ankou, Branson Deen, Gable Steveson, Javon Solomon.

Analysis: The Bills will have a couple tough decisions to make along the defensive line. In this scenario, releasing Solomon – a fifth-round pick – qualifies as that. The Bills also have developed Jonathan, and it would be tough to lose him, too. Those moves speak to the depth that the team has at edge rusher, as the veteran additions of Smoot and Toohill give the team options behind the projected top three edge rushers – Rousseau, Epenesa and Miller. It is a little easier to project at defensive tackle. Carter, as a third-round pick, is basically a lock, as are Jones, Oliver and Johnson. Williams may not be quite a lock, but it would be a surprise if he didn’t make it.

Linebackers (5): Matt Milano, Terrel Bernard, Dorian Williams, Nicholas Morrow, Edefuan Ulofoshio.
Cuts (4): Joe Andreessen, Deion Jones, Baylon Spector, Shayne Simon.

Analysis: Injuries during the spring have made getting a proper read on the depth chart at this position all but impossible. Milano, Ulofoshio, Morrow, Spector and Williams were held out of team drills during minicamp. Because of that, this position is wide open heading to training camp. Milano and Bernard are the every-down starters, but behind them, the competition is pretty wide open.

Defensive backs (10): Cole Bishop, Taylor Rapp, Mike Edwards, Damar Hamlin, Cam Lewis, Rasul Douglas, Christian Benford, Taron Johnson, Kaiir Elam, Daequan Hardy.
Cuts (6): Keni-H Lovely, Kyron Brown, Ja’Marcus Ingram, Kendall Williamson, Dee Delaney, Te’Cory Couch.

Analysis: The one concern here is depth at boundary cornerback. Elam is pretty much it behind Douglas and Benford. Elam’s struggles as a former first-round pick have been well documented. If the Bills feel like they need another outside cornerback, perhaps they swap out Hardy for Ingram. Hardy, though, has a good chance to win a return job on special teams, which increases his roster value.

Specialists (3): Sam Martin, Reid Ferguson, Tyler Bass.
Cut (1): Jack Browning.

Analysis: The Bills will hold a legitimate punting competition between Martin and Browning, but for now, the veteran has to be considered the favorite. Browning will have a chance during training camp and the preseason to change that.
More interested in if Bass will do kick offs. I hope not. He would be monster liability in the return coverage with the new rules.
More interested in if Bass will do kick offs. I hope not. He would be monster liability in the return coverage with the new rules.
It's insane that he's only still here because of the cap hit