The NFL Draft and free agency is in our rearview mirrors. There is very little day to day NFL news aside from random minor transactions across the league and conversations about where/when this star player will be traded. The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing. Baseball is gearing up for a long, hot summer. The dog days of Summer are upon us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look down the line at what else the coming summer months hold for us: Training Camp and the NFL pre-season. Which leads us to a new feature here on The Grueling Truth – The State Of The League. We will be going over all 32 teams, division by division: their offseason player personnel moves, coaching changes, and projected preseason depth charts. Between the beginning of June and the end of July, new team reports will be released every few days. The NFC East is completed, so now we move on to the AFC East, and check in on the Buffalo Bills.

 

Buffalo Bills Pre-Training Camp Projected Depth Chart

Position Starter Backup
QB Josh Allen Mitchell Trubisky
RB1 Zack Moss Matt Breida
RB2 Devin Singletary
FB Reggie Gilliam
WR1 Stefon Diggs Emmanuel Sanders
WR2 Cole Beasley Isaiah Hodgins
WR3 Gabriel Davis Duke Williams
TE Dawson Knox Jacob Hollister
LT Dion Dawkins Tommy Doyle
LG Jon Feliciano Ike Boettger
C Mitch Morse Ryan Bates
RG Cody Ford Forrest Lamp
RT Daryl Williams Spencer Brown
DE Jerry Hughes Gregory Rousseau
DT Vernon Butler Star Lotulelei
DT Ed Oliver Harrison Phillips
DE Mario Addison A.J. Epenesa
OLB Matt Milano Andre Smith
MLB Tremaine Edmunds Tyler Matakevich
OLB A.J. Klein Tyrell Adams
CB1 Tre’Davious White Dane Jackson
CB2 Levi Wallace Siran Neal
CB3 Taron Johnson Rachad Wildgoose
FS Micah Hyde Jaquan Johnson
SS Jordan Poyer Damar Hamlin
K Tyler Bass
P Matt Haack
LS Reid Ferguson
KR Isaiah McKenzie Marquez Stevenson
PR Isaiah McKenzie

*BOLD player name = Rookie*

 

Buffalo Bills 2021 NFL Draft Class

Round 1 (30th overall): DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami

Round 2 (61st): DE Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest

Round 3 (93rd): OT Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa

Round 5 (161st): OT Tommy Doyle, Miami (OH)

Round 6 (203rd): WR Marquez Stevenson, Houston

Round 6 (212th): S Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh

Round 6 (213th): CB Rachad Wildgoose Jr., Wisconsin

Round 7 (236th): G Jack Anderson, Texas Tech

 

Buffalo Bills Free Agent Moves

Expired Contracts
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team
Trent Murphy DE 31 BUF
Josh Norman CB 34 BUF
Matt Barkley QB 31 BUF
T.J. Yeldon RB 28 BUF
E.J. Gaines CB 29 BUF
Arrivals
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team
Matt Haack P 27 MIA BUF
Matt Breida RB 26 MIA BUF
Mitchell Trubisky QB 27 CHI BUF
Efe Obada DE 29 CAR BUF
Emmanuel Sanders WR 34 NO BUF
Jacob Hollister TE 28 SEA BUF
Brandon Powell WR 25 ATL BUF
Tyrell Adams LB 29 HOU BUF
Bobby Hart T/G 27 CIN BUF
Jamil Douglas G 29 TEN BUF
Forrest Lamp G 27 LAC BUF
Treyvon Hester DT 29 PHI BUF
Joe Giles-Harris LB 24 JAX BUF
Departures
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team
Lee Smith TE 34 BUF ATL
John Brown WR 31 BUF LV
Tyler Kroft TE 29 BUF NYJ
Ty Nsekhe RT 36 BUF DAL
Andre Roberts WR 33 BUF HOU
Brian Winters G 30 BUF ARZ
Del’Shawn Phillips LB 25 BUF NYJ
Dean Marlowe SS 29 BUF DET
Quinton Jefferson DT 28 BUF LV
Corey Bojorquez P 25 BUF LAR
Re-Signed
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team
Jon Feliciano G 29 BUF BUF
Daryl Williams RT 29 BUF BUF
Matt Milano OLB 26 BUF BUF
Taiwan Jones RB 33 BUF BUF
Levi Wallace CB 26 BUF BUF
Andre Smith LB 24 BUF BUF
Isaiah McKenzie WR 26 BUF BUF
Ike Boettger G 27 BUF BUF

 

Buffalo Bills Offseason Review

After finally winning the AFC East crown for the first time since 1995 and advancing to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1993, Buffalo has their sights set a little higher this season – the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots’ stranglehold on this division ended in 2020; they won the East 17 times since 2000, including 11 straight. Buffalo has taken a huge step forward, and are legit Super Bowl contenders. The Josh Allen led offense that finished 2nd in scoring and 3rd in passing returns every major contributor, while an already talented defense got deeper this offseason as they look to make the Super Bowl for the first time in almost 30 years. 

Buffalo is in a good place that most championship contenders don’t often find themselves in – their roster didn’t get raided this offseason, and they didn’t lose any major contributors. Maintaining continuity on the offensive line is important, and a top priority was re-signing starting guard Jon Feliciano (3 years, $14.4M) and right tackle Daryl Williams (3 years, $24M). Offensive linemen Bobby Hart, Jamil Douglas, and Forrest Lamp – signed as free agents – offer starting experience and depth as well. They will likely fight for backup spots along the line with a few youthful holdovers, and rookies Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle. Brown is the likely favorite to win the swing tackle job out of camp partially due to his draft position, but Doyle will compete for playing time as well. Both are solid, athletic developmental pieces for the future. The rest of the offensive additions were short-term deals to improve depth while shoring up different parts of the offense.

John Brown was a nice outside weapon for them, but he only played in 9 games due to injury last season. Losing him to the Raiders won’t have a huge impact, as they have solid/young in-house options in Davis and Hodgins, and they signed veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders as a free agent. Sanders was up and down for the Saints last season when he stepped in for the injured Mike Thomas as the de facto top wide receiver, but he brings another steady veteran presence to the receiver room and can help the young bucks in their development. Davis had a very solid rookie season (35 receptions, 599 yards, 7 touchdowns), and he could be the biggest beneficiary of Brown’s departure. Buffalo hopes he has a breakout sophomore season.

Trubisky was the “big” name signing and will hold down the all-important backup quarterback spot. His starting experience in Chicago and his style of play make him a good fit in Buffalo. Breida struggled during his time in Miami, but he is still only 25 years old and averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in each of his last two seasons in San Francisco just a couple of years ago. He has the pass-catching chops and breakaway speed to be a rotational back for the Bills. Tight end Jacob Hollister was brought over from Seattle, and he has some familiarity with Allen from their days at Wyoming. Dawson Knox is currently slated to start at tight end and is talented, but inconsistent. The Bills are hoping Hollister can push Knox and provide quality depth behind him or even replace him if he continues to fail to live up to his potential. Buffalo may still be in the hunt for an upgrade at tight end – rumors continue to swirl around their potential interest in acquiring Zach Ertz from Philadelphia. 

Re-signing their key free agents was important to Buffalo, and bringing back linebacker Matt Milano (4 years, $41.5M) was the top priority on defense. Despite missing six games last season, he has developed into a quality all-around linebacker and is an important piece to the puzzle. Andre Smith was also retained, and the team added a few other veteran backup types in free agency. The secondary didn’t see much change this offseason – Buffalo re-signed cornerback Levi Wallace to likely start opposite Tre’Davious White. Signing another veteran cornerback might still be in the cards. Both starting safeties Hyde and Poyer return, and 6th rounders Rachad Wildgoose Jr. and Damar Hamlin are likely headed for backup/special teams roles in their rookie season.

The biggest additions to the team might have been the Bills’ top two picks in the NFL Draft. Buffalo already boasted a talented and versatile defensive line, but they made it a point to inject more youth and versatility to the unit when they selected Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. Rousseau was one of the more polarizing prospects in this year’s NFL Draft circuit. He has all the length/size and physical tools (6’7’’, 266 lbs) one would look for in the prototype defensive end, but he only has one year of starting experience (2019) and he opted out of the 2020 season. Rousseau has top 10 pick physical traits, and the versatility to play inside and outside on the defensive line, but he will need more refinement overall if he is to realize that massive potential. Rousseau is very raw and looked better as an inside rusher than as a pure edge rusher on tape. Basham, on the other hand, was a three-year starter in college and isn’t the size/length freak Rousseau is. He is, however, more technically sound than most prospects in this class, and flashes athleticism on tape. Basham had a very good Senior Bowl week where he displayed inside/outside rushing ability and power that boosted his stock. Hughes/Addison is a nice veteran edge-rushing duo, but both Rousseau and Basham – along with 2020 2nd round pick A.J. Epenesa – are the future on the D-line for Buffalo. 

All in all, the Bills should feel good about where they stand going into training camp and the pre-season. Josh Allen finishing 2nd in MVP voting and leading this team to the AFC Championship in 2020 was a great accomplishment, but taking that next step is going to be tough. The AFC looks as good as it has been in some time, and they will still have to go through Kansas City as long as Mahomes is healthy. Buffalo has the coaching staff, quarterback, depth, and defense to make a push deep into the playoffs.

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