ROSTER ANALYSIS
Bills Digest|October 2020
Stacked roster has Bills in a position to contend in a year like no other
MARK LUDWICZAK

With the Bills on track to be a potential contender in 2020, there weren’t any massive surprises when cutdown day came around. Most of the players released ultimately ended up on the team’s extended practice squad as a result of COVID-related practice squad changes for the season. There are still plenty of interesting talking points, however, when you analyze the roster from top to bottom.

Without any further ado, here’s our annual look at how the Bills roster stacked up to open 2020 along with our analysis.

QUARTERBACKS

(3): Josh Allen (3rd season), Matt Barkley (8th season), Jake Fromm (1st season)

Josh Allen is entrenched as Buffalo’s starting quarter back and Matt Barkley was clearly going to stick around as the primary backup. Having a veteran backup ready to step in at a moment’s notice may prove to be more critical this year than any other due to the coronavirus. Fifth-round pick Jake Fromm didn’t show a whole lot at training camp but will get more time to prove himself after a limited and shortened offseason; general manager Brandon Beane said it wouldn’t have been fair to Fromm to close that door so early given the limited reps (and no preseason games) he saw this summer.

“So quarterback is probably the most valuable position in sports, definitely in football. And we invested in Jake in the fifth round,” Beane said. “Unfortunately no offseason for him, he didn’t get any reps in May and June and then now you come into a condensed preseason with no games and Matt Barkley, him and Davis Webb, none of those guys got the reps that they would normally get even in training camp, much less zero reps in the spring. I think one of the things Jake did well was in 11 vs. 11. He did move the ball for us when he got some opportunities. He got better. Still a lot to show for him, he’s a young guy, but you don’t want to give up on that position this early. I’d hate to release him and never have seen him play in a game for us, I think he’s earned that opportunity and again now he’ll have to turn his attention to being ready not only due to the injuries that could happen but the COVID stuff. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him but I think he’s up for the task.”

RUNNING BACKS

(4): Devin Singletary (2nd season), Zack Moss (1st season), Taiwan Jones (10th season), T.J. Yeldon (6th season)

The noteworthy change here was the exit of fullback Patrick DiMarco. DiMarco was one of Buffalo’s first free-agent additions under Beane and Sean McDermott but didn’t have much of an impact on offense in his time with the Bills. He was set to make $1.9 million this year in the final year of his four-year deal. DiMarco was initially placed on injured reserve before being released with an injury settlement.

Taiwan Jones will be a key special teamer for Buffalo, while veteran T.J. Yeldon will hope for more of a role on offense after being used sparingly in 2019. Of course with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss the Bills have one of the most promising young backfields in the league.

WIDE RECEIVERS

(6): Stefon Diggs (6th season), John Brown (7th season), Cole Beasley (9th season), Gabriel Davis (1st season), Andre Roberts (11th season), Isaiah McKenzie (4th season)

The final cuts at wide receiver may have been the most difficult decisions on the entire roster given the level of talent and depth the Bills boast at the position (it’s quite the contrast to Buffalo’s meager receiving corps from a few years ago). Duke Williams and Robert Foster found themselves on the outside looking in, while Isaiah McKenzie was able to beat them out for the sixth and final receiver. McKenzie brings a different skill-set to the table compared to most traditional receivers (such as the ability to produce and be a threat on end-arounds and jet sweeps), which helped his case. Foster’s stock has fallen dramatically in recent years; Foster had a poor preseason one year ago after a few breakout performances back in 2018. He hasn’t been able to recapture that form since. Williams remains an intriguing option due to his size and physicality (and has since joined the practice squad), but the Bills appear to have a better option in that area in rookie Gabriel Davis. The fourth-round pick was the talk of training camp, impressing day each and every day on the practice field. If the early returns are any indication, the Bills may have found themselves a steal.

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