The Buffalo Bills unveiled their initial 53-man roster last week, drawing widespread acclaim for assembling one of the NFL's premier squads. In addition to their considerable talent, Buffalo boasts the highest number of returning players from their 2022 depth chart, maintaining a level of experience that places them among the league's elite.
Yet, despite this remarkable roster construction orchestrated by Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott since 2017, a few lingering uncertainties loom as they approach Week 1. Several positions demand stability and raise reasonable concerns as the regular season nears. Here are four positions of concern as the Bills' sights are set on the New York Jets.
4 positions of concern on Buffalo Bills roster as Week 1 approaches
The departure of Tremaine Edmunds, who inked a substantial free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears, left a noticeable void in Buffalo's defensive core. Edmunds, known for his athleticism, size, youth, and versatility, played a pivotal role, covering ground, making open-field tackles, and quarterbacking the defense. While the Bills have capable replacements like Terrel Bernard and Tyrel Dodson, the transition may entail a dropoff in defensive prowess.
Drafted in Round 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft, Terrel Bernard appeared to be Edmunds' replacement. In training camp, he has been dealing with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for much of the summer. His elite blitzing and sure tackling would be a welcomed addition to Buffalo's defense, but it could be a lot to ask a second-year player to quarterback the defense.
Tyrel Dodson made his case for becoming Buffalo's starter through training camp. In Week 3 of the preseason, however, he played the entire first half while the rest of the projected starters were on the field for just a few drives. Dodson started last season in place of Edmunds due to injury in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns but has spent most of his tenure with the Bills on Special Teams.
Linebacker Christian Kirksey was added after training camp. His addition to the roster highlights the front office's concern at the position. Kirksey is also coming off a hamstring injury that caused him to miss all of the Houston Texans preseason. He is known for being a tackling machine, piling up 124 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. If he can learn Buffalo's defense quickly, he may be the answer at middle linebacker.
It's not uncommon for NFL teams to face challenges like this when key players depart, and they often adapt by making strategic moves to maintain or improve their overall team performance. It will be interesting to see how Buffalo masks the void left by Edmunds. Three players could fill in, but with Edmunds's skillset, the drop-off could be felt across the defense. The challenge of filling Edmunds' raises concern.