What does the roster look like now?
Let’s go position by position to see where the Bills’ draft picks slot in. At the back end of the article is our best guess at what the depth chart looks like right now.
Note: Players listed alphabetically. Free-agent signings marked by asterisk(*). Draft picks marked with a plus sign(+). Reported undrafted free-agent signings are not included until they are official.
The Bills have a solid group at quarterback but they could have added a long-term backup option to Josh Allen. They didn’t find the right piece, and will definitely add a UDFA QB at some point soon. Barkley and Keenum are on one-year deals. At this point, it’s unlikely a third QB makes the 53-man roster.
FB: Reggie Gilliam
Singletary came on late last year, but he hasn’t proven to be a game changer, plus he’s entering the final year of his deal, so the Bills added a player who can bust open the offense in pass-catcher James Cook. It probably pushes Duke Johnson off the roster and Zack Moss to a weekly inactive.
The Bills have rolled three-deep at outside wide receiver for several years now, and the selection of slot receiver Khalil Shakir probably means Jamison Crowder will learn all three WR spots. What remains to be seen is how they select from their WR corps come cutdown time.
This was an underrated need for the team heading into the NFL Draft and they didn’t add a player, though there are reports of a priority UDFA signing. Especially if Buffalo wants to run more 2-TE looks under new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, they still have some work to do here. Plus Howard, Knox, and Sweeney all have one year left on their contracts.
General manager Brandon Beane said Tenuta will play offensive tackle even though the team labeled him as an offensive lineman in their draft announcements. The late addition of Quessenberry gave them a solid swing tackle for 2022 and Tenuta or Doyle could grow into that role for the future. One of Tenuta or Doyle likely won’t make the 53-man roster in 2022.
Buffalo doesn’t have an obvious hole for 2022, but Saffold is on a one-year deal and the Bills have consistently plugged in new guards each and every year. I’m a little surprised they didn’t address the position at all, but they’ve had a really good run of finding cheap players to plug into the spot. It’s clearly not a position they highly value.
Buffalo made a significant investment in free agency at the position group and they clearly value the defensive line. With all the new and returning faces, the Bills didn’t find an option they liked enough in the draft.
Another position group that has seen significant investment over the last few offseasons, this position group wasn’t a priority in 2022. They have legit starters in the young Rousseau and vet Miller, but beyond that there are a lot of question marks. Epenesa and Basham are developmental second-round picks who haven’t proven anything. Lawson is a journeyman veteran minimum player and Love has four career games at age 28.
I don’t think any of us went into the draft thinking this was going to be the position group of focus. Following the loss of A.J. Klein, it was a position of need and Bernard fills that depth role along with special teams as a third-round pick. Tremaine Edmunds is in the final year of his rookie deal, but I don’t think Bernard fits that role long-term. They also added a late pick at the position, likely for special teams. We will see how it shakes out.
What I considered the biggest hole going into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bills used their first selection on Elam. Tre White is coming off an injury and may not be ready for the start of the season. Dane Jackson has proven himself capable, but were we really going to put Siran Neal out as a starting cornerback if Tre can’t play Week 1? Finally this was the year they used a draft pick on the spot to cost-control the position as White’s cap hits increase. It could also help smooth the transition as Buffalo inevitably parts ways with safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde over the next several years.
Poyer is entering the final year of his deal while Hyde has two left. Both are on the wrong side of 30. We’ve liked what we have seen from Jaquan Johnson, but he’s also on the final year of his deal. The Bills stood pat, though, choosing not to add any safeties. This position group looks great in 2022, but there are question marks into the future.
P Matt Araiza+
K Tyler Bass
P Matt Haack
LS Reid Ferguson
KR/PR Isaiah McKenzie
KR/PR Khalil Shakir+
KR/PR Marquez Stevenson
PUNT GOD. Haack was a glaring weakness on the team last year, and punter was always a solid bet on Day 3. Enter Matt Araiza and as long as he can figure out how to be a holder, he could be the Bills’ punter for the foreseeable future. (Araiza was also San Diego State’s kicker, so he has never held for extra points or field goals in a game setting.) Shakir has some experience as a returner, but it remains to be seen if the Bills use him in that capacity.
You can see our projected depth chart below.