Lee HightowerFortunately, that’s it for the Bills 2016 preseason. The Bills certainly saved their worst performance for last, getting completely blown away by the Detroit Lions 31-0. From start to finish the second unit of offensive lineman were severely overmatched – Bills QBs were sacked four times and as a team they averaged a measly 2.9 rushing yards per attempt – injuries continued to pile up – likely costing several players a spot on the 53-man roster – and Buffalo was so reluctant to show anything on offense they busted out the old school wishbone formation.

While some players stood out and made their cases for being included on the 53-man roster, others helped clear up some of the more congested position battles, by not showing up. As Rex Ryan said on Tuesday, someone was going to make this roster based on how they performed in this fourth preseason game. Turns out, there may be a few that do, and a few that don’t.

Before we can turn our attention towards meaningful football, it’s decision time for the Bills. Here’s my 53-man roster prediction:

Quarterback (3):

3 – E.J. Manuel

5 – Tyrod Taylor

7 – Cardale Jones

Like the 75-man cutdown, no surprises here. The Bills like where they’re at, at QB. They have their starter, their backup and a young prospect they hope to develop. All three are here to stay.

Fullback (2):

42 – Jerome Felton

48 – Glenn Gronkowski

As uncommon as keeping two FBs in today’s NFL sounds, the Bills are going to do it. Ryan has talked about this being a possibility since camp ended a week and a half ago, he boasted about Gronkowski’s performance again on Thursday, naming him as one of his standouts. All signs point to the rookie making this team and his performance this preseason certainly warrants it. Besides how could Ryan pass up an opportunity to have a Gronk of his own?

Running Back (4):

22 – Reggie Bush

25 – LeSean McCoy

35 – Mike Gillislee

40 – Jonathan Williams

This one is also pretty clear cut. McCoy is your obvious starter, Gillislee slides in as the No. 2 back, followed by Bush and the rookie Williams, who has softened the blow of Karlos Williams’ release with a promising preseason. As much as James Wilder Jr. making the roster would be a tremendous story, there’s no room for him. As for Herron, he looked pretty good in the final two preseason games, but remains on the outside looking in.

Wide Receiver (5):

10 – Robert Woods

11 – Greg Salas

14 – Sammy Watkins

19 – Walter Powell

88 – Marquise Goodwin

With Marcus Easley on the Reserve/PUP list and rookie Kolby Listenbee on the Reserve/Non-football injury list, the Bills have an opportunity to bring back two receivers – following Week 6 – during the season. With that in mind there is no sense in keeping anymore than five receivers at this point. Watkins, Woods, Goodwin and Salas are your top four, without question. That left Walter Powell, Dez Lewis Jarrett Boykin and Kain Colter for the fifth spot, and Powell did the most to stand out over the last month. Lewis had his best effort in Detroit but it’s not quite enough, he’ll be back on the practice squad in 2016. Boykin showed well at times and was non-existent at others. As for Colter, his drop last night ended any shot he had at making this team.

Tight End (3):

82 – Jim Dray

84 – Nick O’Leary

85 – Charles Clay

Clay is obviously the starter of the group and with Chris Gragg done for the season there was a unique opportunity for Nick O’Leary and Blake Annen to make the team as a the third TE. Dray makes this team for his blocking ability alone. O’Leary wins the final spot – for now. The current state of this position behind an injury prone Clay is not pretty for the Bills, though. They’ll surely be keeping their options open in regards to this position and may look to add a tight end via the waiver wire, once other teams make their cuts on Saturday.

Center (2):

70 – Eric Wood

– Patrick Lewis

The Bills just added Lewis on Wednesday, claiming him off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks, which marked the end of Fernando Velasco’s time with the Bills. While Lewis did not play against the Lions he’ll be the No. 2 center behind Wood.

Guard (3):

64 – Richie Incognito

72 – Ryan Groy

76 – John Miller

Groy has been flirting with the bubble over the last few weeks, but did enough to prove he’s at least a formidable backup for Buffalo if needed. He’s also versatile – playing both guard and center throughout the preseason – which aids him in making the 53-man roster as well. Cyril Richardson was exploited badly by the Lions and the Bills move on from him.

Tackle (4):

66 – Seantrel Henderson

71 – Cyrus Kouandjio

77 – Cordy Glenn

79 – Jordan Mills

Keeping nine offensive lineman is somewhat rare, but I could see it happening for the Bills here, at least to begin the season. That’s also assuming Henderson is alright – the 24-year-old missed practice all week. Kouandjio has received a lot of praise for the way he’s played throughout the preseason, particularly at the left tackle spot when he filled in for an injured Glenn. Maybe his potential is starting to show. Either way he’s done enough to make the roster and Buffalo certainly feels good about having him as an option off the bench. Not making the cut are Chris Martin and Marquis Lucas, who both put together lackluster performances on Thursday night.

Defensive line (5):

74 – Leger Douzable

92 – Adolphus Washington

94 – Jerel Worthy

95 – Kyle Williams

97 – Corbin Bryant

With Marcell Dareus serving a four-game suspension to start the season, he’ll be designated to the Reserve/Suspended list, which opens the door for Douzable to make the 53-man roster. He played very well in Detroit and beats out Lavar Edwards. Brandon Deaderick and Casey Walker are also left off. Luckily Worthy avoided a serious injury after what looked like an illegal block by the Lions. He, along with Washington, Williams and Bryant fill out the rest of the depth chart.

Linebacker (9):

– Lerentee McCray

50 – Ramon Humber

51 – Brandon Spikes

52 – Preston Brown

53 – Zach Brown

55 – Jerry Hughes (Rush)

57 – Lorenzo Alexander (Rush)

91 – Manny Lawson (Rush)

Because I believe the Bills are still sorting some things out at the linebacker position, I have the position occupying nine roster spots to start the season. This very well could be another area the Bills reassess once they see who ends up on waivers. The one wildcard of the group is Jamari Lattimore who may have bought himself a little more time with his performance Thursday night. It was the first game he really stood out though so it still may not be enough. I took a chance on him here with so much uncertainty depth wise behind the starters. Guys that are definitely gone are Kroy Biermann, who’s looked overmatched at the line of scrimmage and missed tackles all preseason, Bryson Albright, who made a terrific case for himself for most of camp, and Randell Johnson.

Cornerback (6):

21 – Nickell Robey-Coleman

24 – Stephon Gilmore

28 – Ronald Darby

30 – Corey White

41 – Sterling Moore

45 – Kevon Seymour

No real big surprises here. The rookie, Seymour has been a pleasant surprise throughout training camp and the preseason, up until he tweaked his hamstring in the third preseason game. Robey-Coleman has dealt with a few injuries but he’s the go to nickel CB, while Corey White and Sterling Moore have both put together solid camps. Mario Butler is the weak link and the only cut from this group.

Safety (4):

20 – Corey Graham

23 – Aaron Williams

27 – Duke Williams

36 – Jonathan Meeks

Earlier in the week Ryan told reporters that he’d never kept six safeties on his roster and vaguely remembered keeping five before. It’s unlikely he goes away from those trends now. Once Aaron Williams returns from the concussion protocol – he seems close by the way – he is a solidified starter alongside Graham. At camp, Duke Williams emerged as the go-to guy in either of their absences. That left Jonathan Meeks, Robert Blanton and Colt Anderson. Entering camp many expected Blanton to become the premier backup safety, but it never happened. Ryan was impressed with Meeks performance in the final preseason game and he beats out Blanton to make the roster. Now, Anderson is an interesting case because he should probably make this team for his special teams prowess alone. I didn’t have a roster spot left and Anderson has an injury that will require some monitoring. If it’s serious he’s probably cut anyway, if it’s minor there’s definitely a chance he makes this team. We’ll see.

Punter (1):

6 – Colton Schmidt

Nothing to see here.

Long Snapper (1):

65 – Garrison Sanborn

Reid Ferguson wasn’t ever really going to contest Sanborn for the job. He didn’t even make it through the first round of cuts.

Kicker (1):

2 – Dan Carpenter

By releasing Jordan Gay to add Humber, Ryan has entrusted Carpenter with both the field goal and kickoff duties.

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