The 2012 Buffalo Bills 53-Man Roster: A (Very Early) Guess

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Chan Gailey has some tough choices to make at the end of the preseason. (Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE)

Back in 2010, I remember looking at Buffalo’s training camp roster and thinking, “Man, I’m not sure there’s 40 NFL-quality players here, let alone the 53 you need.” And it was true: Chan Gailey inherited a pretty awful roster in his first season. It wasn’t a huge surprise when that team started 0-8.

That won’t be a problem in 2012.

Yes, the Bills will enter training camp this season with 90 athletes, and for once the vast majority of those players will look and perform like NFL players. There’s at least 70-80 guys who are probably good enough to play in the NFL. Chan Gailey and his staff are going to have a tough time cutting this roster down to 53. Some good players are going to be shown the door.

It’s way too early for this, but I’ll take a stab at what the 53-man roster will look like headed into Buffalo’s seasoning opening tilt in New Jersey against the Jets:

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Vince Young, Brad Smith

There’s no way the Bills keep four QBs. Fitz is obviously a lock, and Smith is just too versatile and interesting for Gailey to give up on after one not-so-great season. The real competition will be between Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen for the #2 job. I’d definitely give the edge to Young just based on his history of success in the NFL, but Thigpen will get a fair shot and shouldn’t be counted out.

Running back: Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Tashard Choice

Jackson and Spiller will split 99% of the work on offense, but the Bills will carry three backs. Gailey seems to love Choice for whatever reason, so he’ll probably beat out Johnny White for the #3 role. White has a chance thanks to his value on special teams, however.

Fullback: Dorin Dickerson

Sorry, Corey McIntyre. The Bills just don’t use the traditonal fullback enough to justify McIntyre’s roster spot, and Dickerson can also line up at tight end. McIntyre’s an excellent special teams player, but that might not be enough to save him.

Wide Receiver: Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, T.J. Graham, Donald Jones, Marcus Easley

A brutal decision to make here, as there’s going to be 9-10 NFL-quality guys in camp. I would rather have Derek Hagan than Jones, but Jones has undeniable physical ability and the coaches like him. It wouldn’t shock me if the Bills carried six receivers, but that’s a lot of roster spots (especially when Brad Smith and C.J. Spiller have shown they can play WR in a pinch). It’s possible the Bills keep six if the rookie speedster Graham turns out to really not be ready for NFL action.

Tight End: Scott Chandler, Lee Smith

Chandler of course, and Smith gets the nod as the backup (over Mike Caussin and Kevin Brock) thanks to his blocking ability. Dickerson will also line up at TE as needed.

Offensive Line: Andy Levitre, Eric Wood, Erik Pears, Kraig Urbik, Cordy Glenn, Zerbie Sanders, Chris Hairston, Chad Rinehart, Michael Jasper

The starters outside of LT are pretty set, and it seems like Cordy Glenn impressed the coaching staff enough during OTAs that he’ll enter camp as the starter at LT. Rinehart is probably safe as the main backup guard. The rookie Sanders would need to be a disaster in camp not to make the team. If Hairston loses out to Glenn as the starter at LT, he’ll likely make the team anyway, as there’s really no other LT on the roster. Would the Bills keep anyone else? If they deciede to go with nine O-linemen, the enormous Jasper would have a shot as a backup guard. Or they could keep Colin Brown to make sure there’s a true backup center on the roster. Keeping 10 guys here isn’t out of the question with so much unproven depth.

See Page 2 for the defense!

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  • Chris Trapasso

    Solid prediction, Brad. I see them keeping six DB’s, so Leo’s making the team. 

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  • dominiccxdaniels

    I think 6 receivers will make the squad this year so Hagan is in.  (Sorry Jasper).  Also I agree with Chris regarding Leo.  Nesbitt (due to Scotts ability to play safety) or Heard could be on the cut list.

  • Zac_Walters

    I think your guesses look pretty solid with 2 guys. I think Merriman is a virtual lock. The surgery he had is the same procedure Suggs had a couple months ago and could put him in a position to play this year. Living in Maryland being UMD alum and the same age a Shawne, I hear a lot about him from folks close to his situation and by all accounts dude is back. I think his recovery might be underplayed as a strategy, when he hits the field week one folks won’t know what hit them.
    The other is Arthur Moats who I see as another virtual lock. While I have no personal knowledge of his situation his special teams play is undeniable and his ability to stay in this defense as versatile, quiet but consistent back-up role has all of the signs of a coach favorite. Also, watching him in practice whether it be in Bills Round-up or during camp at St. John-Fisher; this guy comes to play every time he puts on a helmet.

  • Zac_Walters

    *With the exception of 2 guys* -My bad.

  • Brad Andrews

     @dominiccxdaniels Six CBs wouldn’t be a surprise at all. But I’m wondering if Gailey and the rest of the staff have lost patience with Leo. I think he’s going to need a  strong preseason or he’s gone.

  • dominiccxdaniels

     @Zac_Walters  , I’m a fan of Moats.  I’m interested in what he will do with a full camp.  He has the desire and I feel that some good coaching will go a long way for him.

  • jpitzonka

    McKelvin should make the team – he is good enough to be the #5 or 6 CB and his return abilities can’t be overlooked. I expect 6 WRs on the roster as well - Hagan for special teams and they also seem to love David Clowney (Easly could be cut if they keep those two). Those spots could come at the expense of the 9th LB spot (Batten) and the 4th safety spot (Nesbitt).

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  • BuffNut13

    You only kept 23 players on offense and 27 players on defense.  There’s no way they have that kind of imbalance.  They usually keep it even with 25 and 25 on both sides of the ball plus the three special teams spots.  They’ll most likely keep 6 WR’s and 3 TE’s.  There’s really no point in keeping 9 LB’s.  Especially since they’ll be in their nickel package the majority with only 2 LB’s on the field.  Just something to consider.

  • MuranoPlace

    I know its a great kind of training…Its a very traditional kind of drafts hope that all all  players will like to join here…Great   total  package.