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9 intriguing observations on the 2020 Bills roster after free agency and the draft

Stefon Diggs (top left), Devin Singletary (top middle), Tyler Kroft (top right), A.J. Epenesa (bottom left), Jake Fromm (bottom middle) and Zack Moss (bottom right).
Stefon Diggs (top left), Devin Singletary (top middle), Tyler Kroft (top right), A.J. Epenesa (bottom left), Jake Fromm (bottom middle) and Zack Moss (bottom right).

Now, we just need the games.

The Bills and the rest of the NFL have finished up their offseason adjustments by now. There may be some early-summer additions to come, but for the most part, the roster is set. And it wasn't easy, with free agents signed without visits, restrictions on travel impacting scouting, and drafting from home.

This year, the Bills weren't looking to overhaul the roster. They were looking to add depth and replace just a few departing starters. Defensive linemen Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, and running back Frank Gore were the significant departures among regulars from 2019.

Returning veterans and key additions have made the Bills a strong contender for another postseason berth. CBS Sports NFL analyst Jason LaCanfora says Buffalo is loaded.

"They have the best roster in this division, and it doesn't appear to be particularly close to me right now," LaCanfora wrote recently. "Even if Josh Allen is more of a project than a solution, as long as he protects the football and does his thing with his legs, they will be in the playoffs again."

'Bleacher Report' praised Buffalo for its talented young roster and acknowledged that this year's draft picks might not have to jump in and play immediately.

"The Bills have a talented young team with few spots realistically up for grabs," wrote Kristopher Knox from Bleacher Report. "This means guys like former Iowa pass-rusher A.J. Epenesa and former Central Florida wideout Gabriel Davis will largely be looking to supplement the current roster in rotational roles."

Below, I breakdown the 88 players on the Bills roster right now, and my opinions on what to expect heading into 2020:


1. A dynamic playmaker offers promise for wide receiver group

Additions: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah Hodgins

Returning: John Brown, Cole Beasley, Andre Roberts, Duke Williams, Isaiah McKenzie, Ray-Ray McCloud, Robert Foster, Nick Easley

Diggs is as big a roster addition as there is in the NFL this season. At age 26, with a manageable contract, and dynamic play-making ability, he's the perfect antidote for a Buffalo passing attack looking to improve in 2020.

Day-three draft picks Gabe Davis and Isaiah Hodgins are expected to challenge Williams, McKenzie, McCloud, Foster and Easley for the final wide receiver spots. This will be one of the most compelling roster battles to watch this preseason.

2. Young guys take over for the old guard in the running back room

Additions: Zack Moss, Antonio Williams, Reggie Gilliam (FB)

Returning: Devin Singletary, T.J. Yeldon, Taiwan Jones, Christian Wade, Pat DiMarco (FB)

Moss is part of a youth movement in the offensive backfield. A year ago, the Bills went with LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, and T.J. Yeldon as their primary running backs threats heading into the preseason. Going into this year, it will be Singletary and Moss along with Yeldon who will be vying for the opportunity to lead the Bills ground attack. Frank Gore carried the ball 166 times in 2019, so there will be plenty of opportunity for players to earn touches in 2020 now that Gore has moved on to the NY Jets.

**Jake Fromm, Georgia**

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) looks for a receiver in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

3. The rookie enters the mix at quarterback

Addition: Jake Fromm

Returning: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Davis Webb

The question is going to how many do the Bills keep on the 53-man roster?

Adding fifth-round pick Jake Fromm to the mix puts him in position to win the backup job this year or next. But will he get enough preseason snaps to challenge for the spot early in the 2020 season? The Bills like Matt Barkley's experience and his close relationship with Allen.

4. All starters return for the offensive line

Additions: Daryl Williams, Evan Boehm, Trey Adams, Marquell Harrell, Brandon Walton

Returning: Mitch Morse, Dion Dawkins, Quinton Spain, Jose Feliciano, Cody Ford, Ty Nsekhe, Spencer Long, Ike Boettger, Ryan Bates, Victor Salako, Garrett McGhin

All five starters return from the 2019 Bills offensive line along with some valuable backups in Nsekhe, Long, Bates.

Veteran free agent signee Daryl Williams, and undrafted rookie Trey Adams are the two additions who may immediately compete for playing time.

5. Who will separate themselves in the tight end room?

Returning: Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney, Jason Croom, Nate Becker

No additions to the tight end group this year, but the Bills are hoping for a bounce-back year from veteran Tyler Kroft, who missed the first five games last year due to injury and finished with only six receptions in the final 11 games last year.


6. The biggest overhaul on the roster takes place in the defensive line room

Additions: Mario Addison, A.J. Epenesa, Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, Bryan Cox, Jr., Jonathan Woodard

Returning: Star Lotulelei, Ed Oliver, Harrison Phillips, Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, Darryl Johnson, Mike Love, Vincent Taylor

The Bills lost two pieces of their defensive line rotation in free agency, Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips. So, they loaded up with defensive linemen in free agency and used their top pick draft pick to add Epenesa.

The result — the biggest overhaul of any position group on the roster. The plan is to preserve a strong rotation up front. Last year, six d-linemen played at least 40 percent of the snaps. They'd like to keep that rotation in 2020.

"When you look at the defense, they have two-deep across the board in that front seven," says CBS Sports NFL Analyst Pete Prisco. "You add [Mario] Addison, [Quinton] Jefferson, [Vernon] Butler, [A.J.] Epenesa in the draft. Across the board you can put those guys in there and rotate them in and out and not really get hurt that much. I think that's a big part of what they want to do on defense," Prisco said in an appearance on One Bills Live.


7. How many snaps will be available at the linebacker spot?

Additions: A.J. Klein, Tyler Matakevich, Mike Bell

Returning: Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Corey Thompson, Vosean Joseph, Tyrell Dodson, Del'Shawn Phillips,

In the modern NFL, how often do teams start three linebackers? Last year, Lorenzo Alexander started less than half of the games (seven starts).

Edmunds and Milano are the keys at this position. Klein and Matakevich will likely see significant minutes this season as well. But most of the playing time for those other than Edmunds and Milano is likely to be on special teams.

Scroll through to view the latest updates on Buffalo's reported additions to the roster through free agency.

8. New veterans add competition in the secondary

Additions: Josh Norman, E.J. Gaines, Dane Jackson, Ike Brown, Garrett Taylor, Josh Thomas

Returning: Tre'Davious White, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, Cam Lewis, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Dean Marlowe, Jaquan Johnson, Siran Neal

The battle for the cornerback spot opposite Tre'Davious White is real, and Josh Norman and E.J. Gaines present veteran competition. But consider this: Levi Wallace has started 23-consecutive games at corner in the last season-and-a-half. He won't give up snaps without a fight.

Norman and Gaines also may compete for nickel corner snaps with Taron Johnson. And young corners like Dane Jackson and Siran Neal also make the defensive backfield a battleground for playing time.

9. How much will we see from the new specialists this preseason?

Additions: K Tyler Bass, P Kaare Vedvik

Returning: K Stephen Hauschka, P Corey Bojorquez, LS Reid Ferguson

In a normal offseason, Bass and Vedvik would present serious challenges to the Bills returners at kicker and punter. Let's hope we have a normal preseason to evaluate their challenges.

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