5 things we learned about the Bills' initial 53-man roster

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (40) is one of eight rookies to make the Bills initial roster. Photo by Bill Wippert
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary (40) is one of eight rookies to make the Bills initial roster. Photo by Bill Wippert

1. 2019 draft class to have significant roles

Seeing veteran LeSean McCoy released from the roster,  Bills’ third-round pick Devin Singletary is expected to have a sizable role in Buffalo’s offense as a rookie. But he won’t be the only member of the 2019 draft class in a position to make an early impact this season.

Top draft choice Ed Oliver is expected to man one of the two starting defensive tackle roles on Buffalo’s defensive line. And second-round pick Cody Ford is expected to hold down a starting role on the club’s offensive line whether it’s guard or tackle.

The other members of Buffalo’s 2019 draft class who made the roster include sixth-round pick Jaquan Johnson and seventh-round picks Tommy Sweeney and Darryl Johnson.

Sweeney and Johnson figure to play rotational roles at tight end and defensive end respectively. Jaquan Johnson could figure into a sub-package role on defense and is expected to play on special teams.

Scroll through to view photos and get to know Buffalo Bills players. Meet the 2019 Buffalo Bills is presented by WNY Dental.

2. Isaiah McKenzie wins fierce receiver battle

It was largely a three-horse race for the sixth and final receiver spot on Buffalo’s roster. Ray-Ray McCloud, Isaiah McKenzie and Duke Williams were all battling for what was perceived to be the sixth and final receiver role as the preseason wound down.

Though McCloud and Williams each made compelling cases, McKenzie was the preferred option in the end.

McKenzie demonstrated big-play and run-after-catch ability as he led the team in receiving yards per game (33.0) in the preseason. He also had a touchdown on a jet sweep running play in the preseason game against Detroit.

Buffalo chose to carry six receivers on their roster, which includes 2018 Pro Bowl return man Andre Roberts.

3. A regular roster spot for Tyler Kroft

The Bills were hoping for good news concerning TE Tyler Kroft’s rehabilitation from foot surgery this past spring.

Seeing Kroft on Buffalo’s initial 53-man roster is an encouraging sign after the tight end missed almost the entire spring, training camp and the preseason. Full medical clearance to resume practicing can’t be far away if the club gave him a regular roster spot.

Kroft was one of the Bills’ key free agent additions for their passing game on offense.

Tyler Kroft - Buffalo Bills, April 30, 2019. 
Photo by Sara Schmidle
Tyler Kroft - Buffalo Bills, April 30, 2019. Photo by Sara Schmidle

4. Heavy turnover on the offensive line

It was largely anticipated based on how many linemen were added via free agency that the Bills starting offensive line would be mostly new. But Buffalo’s offensive line as a whole is largely made up of new players.

Seven of the 10 linemen on the team’s 2019 roster were not on the roster a year ago.

Jon Feliciano, Spencer Long, Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe and Quinton Spain were added as free agents. Cody Ford was a draft choice and Ryan Bates was acquired via trade.

The only holdovers from 2018 are Ike Boettger, Dion Dawkins and Conor McDermott.

Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Cody Ford (70) Buffalo Bills vs Indianapolis Colts at New Era Field, August 8, 2019. 
  Photo by Bill Wippert
Buffalo's new-look offensive line includes - Ty Nsekhe (77), Cody Ford (70), Jon Feliciano (76) and Quinton Spain (67).

5. Youth dominates

Buffalo’s roster is especially young this season. Just about half the roster is made up of players entering their third NFL season or less.

A total of 25 players have two or fewer years of NFL experience entering the 2019 campaign. Seven players on the roster are rookies. Ten players are entering their second season and eight more are entering their third season as a pro.   

Conversely, only four players on Buffalo’s roster are entering their 10th NFL year or more, Jerry Hughes (10), Stephen Hauschka (12), Lorenzo Alexander (13) and Frank Gore (15).

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