The Buffalo Bills have their 53-man roster (not including Nigel Bradham, who is suspended for the season opener) in place for next week’s kickoff against the Chicago Bears.
While most of the cuts were expected, there were still some players, such as Landon Cohen, Jeff Tuel and T.J. Graham, that were a bit more difficult to predict.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how the 2014 Buffalo Bills roster shakes out… for now.
Offense: 25 Players
EJ Manuel, Kyle Orton
Released: Jeff Tuel
The Bills brought in Kyle Orton at the 11th hour after a miserable performance by recently-signed Jordan Palmer and a poor training camp by Jeff Tuel signaled the release of both. Orton brings veteran experience to the Bills’ quarterback room and is an upgrade over both backups from last season.
Running Backs (4)
C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon, Bryce Brown
No surprises here, as the Bills will go into the 2014 season with arguably the most talented stable of ball-carriers in the NFL.
Released: Evan Rodriguez
The Bills showed a lot of 2-back sets throughout preseason, making Frank Summers, who is a better blocker than Evan Rodriguez, a better fit for the offense.
Wide Receivers (6)
Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley
Released: T.J. Graham, Caleb Holley
The Bills overhauled their receiving corps over the past two seasons, bringing size, athleticism and talent to the position, leaving a few players off the team that will probably get serious looks elsewhere. Watkins, Williams and Woods will be the team’s three primary starters, with Goodwin serving as a “speed” guy. Marcus Easley is a special teams ace, while Chris Hogan is a reserve.
Tight Ends (3)
Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg
Released: Dominique Jones
Buffalo’s tight end group is uninspiring, but Scott Chandler has been a consistent weapon down the seam, while Lee Smith has proven to be an effective blocker. Chris Gragg brings speed and versatility to the position as a developmental project.
Offensive Tackle (4)
Cordy Glenn, Chris Hairston, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio
The Bills selected Cyrus Kouandjio in the 2nd round, with the hopes of the former Alabama product emerging as an immediate starter on the right side of the offensive line. Instead, seventh-round draft pick, Seantrel Henderson has done just that, as the mammoth tackle has been the most consistent rookie on the team. Chris Hairston is a reliable swing tackle that has been tried at guard also.
Offensive Guard (4)
Cyril Richardson, Chris Williams, Erik Pears, Kraig Urbik
Released: Doug Legursky, Antoine McClain
The Bills brought in Chris Williams as a free agent to start at left guard, but fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson has been biting at his ankles. Kraig Urbik was tested throughout camp, as the coaching staff practically begged anybody to beat him out of his job. Erik Pears was moved inside to start at right guard, but Urbik’s consistency and ability to play center made him too valuable to release.
Released: Jared Wheelers
No surprises here, as Eric Wood, the heart and soul of the Bills’ offensive line stays on at center. Urbik can fill in here as a worst-case-scenario.
Defense: 25 Players
Defensive Ends (5)
Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Jarius Wynn, Jacquies Smith
Released: Ike Igbinosun, Bryan Johnson
The Bills have an interesting group here, as starters Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes are the only players with a proven track record of getting after the quarterback. Manny Lawson and Jarius Wynn are better against the run than the pass, while Jacquies Smith has bounced around a bit, but has flashed throughout preseason.
Defensive Tackles (4)
Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Stefan Charles, Corbin Bryant
Released: Landon Cohen
The Bills have two great interior defensive linemen in Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, but Stefan Charles could be a pleasant surprise this season. Corbin Bryant has been effective at the one-technique (shaded nose tackle) in Jim Schwartz’ 4-3 defense. Landon Cohen’s release was a mild surprise, considering the disruption he caused opposing offenses throughout preseason, but it’s hard to justify keeping five defensive tackles.
Brandon Spikes, Nigel Bradham, Keith Rivers, Preston Brown, Randell Johnson, Ty Powell
Released: Jimmy Gaines, Xavius Boyd
The Bills’ linebacker corps is totally different than it was a year or two ago. Brandon Spikes is the only player without position versatility, as he’s cemented as a middle linebacker. Nigel Bradham and Ty Powell are weakside linebackers, Keith Rivers and Randell Johnson are strongside linebackers, and rookie Preston Brown projects well to all three spots. Ty Powell will be a core special teamer.
Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey, Corey Graham, Ron Brooks, Ross Cockrell
Released: Sam Miller, Kamaal McIlwain
Depth has been an issue in the Bills’ secondary over the past few season, but the team is now four-deep with starting caliber cornerbacks. Ron Brooks has looked improved throughout preseason, while fourth-round pick, Ross Cockrell has been working extensively in the slot.
Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks
Released: Deon Broomfield, Kenny Ladler
Aaron Williams and Da’Norris Searcy are the likely starters for week one, but Duke Williams will likely split reps at strong safety. Jonathan Meeks is a free safety with range that shouldn’t see too much playing time unless there’s an injury.
Kenny Ladler was projected by many to make the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent, but he and Deon Broomfield (who outplayed him) were released. Both could be considered for the practice squad.
Special Teams (4)
K Dan Carpenter, P Jordan Gay, P Colton Schmidt, LS Garrison Sanborn
Released: Brian Moorman
The Bills decided after 2 months of training camp that they needed a new punter, so Jordan Gay was brought in a few days ago, while Schmidt was signed this afternoon. One will be cut by week 2, when Nigel Bradham returns to the 53-man roster. Garrison Sanborn and Dan Carpenter are locked into their jobs.