Bills 53-man roster projection: Where do the rookies measure up?

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Buffalo Bills quarterback Matt Barkley
Buffalo Bills quarterback Matt Barkley (11) celebrates with running back Duke Johnson, right, after Johnson scored 2-point conversion in the second half of the team’s preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills won 27-24. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The Bills have one game behind them in the 2022 NFL preseason and some decisions for the 53-man roster are beginning to take shape. 

With NFL teams having to cut down to 85 players today, the whittling down of the roster has begun. Bills players on the roster bubble have another week before five more players need to be released and two weeks until the final roster cuts are made on August 30th. 

Below are our current projections for the 53-man roster ahead of this weekend’s game against the Denver Broncos. 

QUARTERBACK (2): Josh Allen, Case Keenum

Cut: Matt Barkley

We’ve got a tough decision right off the bat. Heading into the game against the Colts, it seemed like a lock that this would be the way the quarterback room looked. After Keenum’s poor performance, it’s possible that Barkley could push him for the backup job or the Bills could decide to keep Barkley as a third quarterback. 

The Bills will undoubtedly want three quarterbacks on the roster, so if they only keep two on the active roster, they’ll need to have one quarterback on the practice squad. Since Barkley is a vested veteran, he won’t have to go to waivers, which means he can choose to sign with the Bills’ practice squad if the wants. The question is just whether or not he’d want to. 


RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK (5): Devin Singletary, James Cook, Zack Moss, Reggie Gilliam, Taiwan Jones

Cut: Duke Johnson, Raheem Blackshear

When the Bills tried to sign JD McKissic and then signed Duke Johnson, many Bills fans thought it was a lock that the Bills would be moving on from Zack Moss. Instead, the Bills drafted James Cook in the second round and then had Zack Moss working with Josh Allen and the starters for much of training camp. 

Even though Moss played on Saturday, he did so sparingly and looked good, gaining 37 yards on three carries. Given that his physical running style is a strong complement to Cook and presume starter Devin Singletary, it seems more likely that Moss makes the team and Duke Johnson gets cut since the Bills will want to keep Taiwan Jones for his special teams prowess.  


WIDE RECEIVER (6): Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Khalil Shakir, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah Hodgins,

Injured reserve: Marquez Stevenson

Cut: Jake Kumerow, Tavon Austin, Tanner Gentry, Neil Pau’u

I know many people have Jake Kumerow making the roster, but I think the Bills will choose to use that last roster spot on another position (more on that later). Kumerow has never really delivered as a receiver but adds special teams value, which the Bills value.

However, Hodgins outplayed Kumerow on Saturday and also played eight special teams snaps as the team looks to see if he can be useful there as well. If he proves he can, I see them moving on from Kumerow. The other five spots seem like a lock. 


TIGHT END (2): Dawson Knox, O.J. Howard

Cut: Tommy Sweeney, Quintin Morris

Sweeney is another player who is on the bubble right now. He’s played pretty well at camp and if the Bills decide to keep a third tight end it will likely be him. Morris made a nice catch on Saturday and has good athleticism, but I think the Bills can slide him onto the practice squad. 


OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Dion Dawkins, Rodger Saffold, Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates, Spencer Brown, David Quessenberry, Greg Mancz, Tommy Doyle, Bobby Hart

PUP: Ike Boettger

Trade/Cut: Cody Ford, Luke Tenuta, Greg Van Roten, Jacob Capra, Alec Anderson, Tanner Owen

The first six names on this list are likely a lock, and Tommy Doyle probably as well. Mancz has the versatility the team loves in their back-up lineman and can play both guard and center, which makes me think he makes the team.

Luke Tenuta figures to get a long look since the team drafted him this year, and he has the raw potential that this front office has liked over the years. However, this is a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and Tenuta didn’t look great on Saturday. If he can’t compete at this level, the Bills could decide to keep Bobby Hart, who is a veteran that can back-up multiple spots on the line. 

I believe Cody Ford’s time in Buffalo is up. I think the team will swap him for a late-round pick after one or two more preseason games. 


DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Von Miller, DaQuan Jones, Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau, Boogie Basham, Tim Settle, Jordan Phillips, A.J. Epenesa, Shaq Lawson

Cut: Eli Ankou, Mike Love, Kingsley Jonathan, Brandin Bryant, Prince Emili, Daniel Joseph, C.J. Brewer

This seems like an open and shut case. I guess it’s possible that Mike Love could beat out Shaq Lawson for the final spot, but it seems unlikely. The team does like Love, and he continues to perform well, but I think they’d rather he be back on the practice squad. If they can get him there. 


LINEBACKER (6): Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard, Tyler Matakevich, Baylon Spector

Reserve/suspended: Andre Smith

Cut: Joe Giles-Harris, Marquel Lee

Before Saturday’s game, I don’t think many people had Spector making the team, but the seventh-round pick looked good against the Colts, showing good instincts and tremendous athleticism. If he keeps performing like that, Buffalo isn’t going to risk losing him on waivers, so they’d likely keep six linebackers since Tyler Matakevich is crucial to their special teams unit. 


CORNERBACK (7): Tre’Davious White, Kaiir Elam, Taron Johnson, Dane Jackson, Christian Benford, Siran Neal, Cam Lewis

Cut: Tim Harris, Jordan Miller, Nick McCloud, Ja’Marcus Ingram

Now we come back to the Jake Kumerow question. With the way that Christian Benford has played, and rumors that opposing GMs are sniffing around about his availability, the first six names on this list are all but locks for this roster. However, given Tre’Davious White’s recovery from his ACL injury, I think the Bills will opt to keep Cam Lewis coming out of camp in order to ensure they have enough healthy depth at the cornerback position. 

If the team doesn’t need Jake Kumerow for special teams then he doesn’t offer the value to the active roster that Cam Lewis does. Lewis played well on Saturday and would almost assuredly get scooped up by another team on waivers, which is a possibility Buffalo would like to avoid. 


SAFETY (4): Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Jaquan Johnson, Damar Hamlin

Cut: Josh Thomas

This is another open-and-shut case. If Jordan Poyer’s injury lingers or is aggravated then perhaps the team keeps Josh Thomas instead of Cam Lewis, but as of now, I can’t see that. 


SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Reid Ferguson, Tyler Bass, Matt Araiza

Cut: Matt Haack

I think Matt Araiza was always going to win the punter battle, but his 82-yard bomb on Saturday and flawless work as a holder on field goals should help to wrap this up. 


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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Jake Kumerow
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke, back left, and safety Julian Blackmon (32) force a fumble on Buffalo wide receiver Jake Kumerow (15), center, during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)