Outside of having direct access to Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan’s inner most thoughts, it’s almost impossible to predict what the roster will look like next week, much less in four months when the regular season kicks off. Injuries, surprise veteran cuts, and possible trades will impact the roster. With that out of the way, let’s jump right in and see how the offensive side of the ball might shake out come September.
(Players are listed as how I believe they should be listed on the depth chart.)
Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones
Don’t expect much of a change here as Tyrod is entrenched as the starter and Cardale was drafted with the thought that he’ll get at least one (and hopefully two) years before he sees any significant playing time. My deepest apologies go out to the very vocal anti-EJ crowd. It just doesn’t make any financial sense to justify cutting him at this point. Your only hope is that Cardale comes in and outplays him from start to finish of training camp, which wouldn’t be all that surprising.
LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Jonathan Williams, Mike Gillislee, Dri Archer
No surprises here, either. While an early season suspension for McCoy isn’t entirely out of the question, he’s still the lead back in the leagues number one rushing offense for good reason. While Karlos Williams and even Mike Gillislee were productive last year, don’t be surprised to see Johnathan Williams steal carries from them as the season goes on. (Our very own Rob Quinn broke down his fit in Greg Roman’s offense. You can check that out here.) Averaging over 25 yards per return last year with the Steelers, Dri Archer gets the nod only because there isn’t a true kick returner on the team.
With Rex always preaching about positional versatility, Jerome Felton becomes my first surprise cut. Once you get past the name itself, Felton doesn’t provide much else to the team besides getting paid too much to make too little of an impact on a game to game basis. As more of a FB/TE tweener, Gronkowski can play multiple positions in a pinch while also contributing on special teams, all things Felton does none of. Fun bonus fact: According to Pro Football Focus, the team can save $1.65 million dollars if they cut him after June 1st. That’s a nice chunk of money that could go towards extensions for a team looking to lock up their own premier young talent.
Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, Chris Gragg, Jim Dray
Raise your hand if you feel comfortable with any tight end currently on the roster whose last name is not Clay. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
If you raised your hand, you’re either lying, or you’re related to one of the other three. Given Greg Roman’s love for multiple tight end sets, this is an under the radar area I could see Doug Whaley scouring the waiver wire for in search of an upgrade. But for now, this is what we’ll go with.
Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Kolby Listenbee, Greg Salas, Marcus Easley, Dez Lewis, Leonard Hankerson
Sammy Watkins is going to make a lot of guys in this group look good simply because of all the attention he’s going to (rightfully) receive. Look for Robert Woods to be more productive after playing through a groin injury for all of last season. Kolby Listenbee is a player who will have a huge impact simply by stepping on the field. Don’t look at the stats and just assume he’s Marquise Goodwin 2.0, either. With his speed, his ability to track down passes in mid air, and Tyrod’s deep ball accuracy, he could quickly become a favorite target for Tyrod. The last two spots in this group could be made up of any number of guys as there are currently 13 receivers on the roster. Lewis makes the cut here simply because he provides the group with some size that they currently lack. Leonard Hankerson, Jarrett Boykin and Greg Little will likely be competing for just one spot, with Hankerson getting the slight edge.
Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Jordan Mills, Seantrel Henderson, Fernando Velasco, Cyrus Kouandjio
If Seantrel Henderson gets a clean bill of health to start the season, that could be bad news for former 2nd round pick Cyrus Kouandjio’s chances of making the opening day roster. If the team has any concerns about Henderson, Cyrus almost assuredly makes the team as the only other tackles on the roster are UDFA’s unlikely to make it through camp. Velasco takes over the role held last year by Kraig Urbik as the guy who can backup any of the three interior positions. If Miller can improve on an inconsistent (that’s being generous) rookie season, this group could become one of the strongest units on the team by the end of the year. After flirting with Matt Slauson, it would seem that the front office will continue looking for another veteran to compete on the right side.
How does that offense look to you? Please let me know in the comments how wrong I probably am and what you would change!