The Buffalo Bills roster is currently the 10th-youngest in the National Football League, with an average age of 25.7. Just two years ago, the team was the 7th-oldest in the league, so it’s clear that Doug Whaley has made an effort to not only turn over the Bills’ roster, but to get younger in doing so.
The Bills selected their initial 53-man roster for the 2014 season on Saturday, so here at the BillsMafia.com blog, I decided to look at how this team was built.
Note: Kiko Alonso, LB, 2014, 2nd, Oregon, not included on 2014 roster
For any NFL franchise to be successful, they must not only draft well, but they must retain key players when contracts expire. As it stands today, 26 players on the 53-man roster were drafted by the Bills, with 13 of those players being selected in the past two drafts.
While most fans will argue that the Bills don’t retain their talent, noting departures of players like Jairus Byrd and Andy Levitre, it’s important to note that 10 players on the 2014 roster are on their second or third contracts with the team.
Draft Picks (26)
|EJ Manuel||QB||2013||1||Florida State|
|Stephon Gilmore||CB||2012||1||South Carolina|
|Robert Woods||WR||2013||2||Southern California|
|Nigel Bradham||LB||2012||4||Florida State|
|Ron Brooks||CB||2012||4||Louisiana State|
|Da’Norris Searcy||S||2011||4||North Carolina|
|Kyle Williams||DT||2006||5||Louisiana State|
|Randell Johnson||LB||2014||7||Florida Atlantic|
Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (3)
The Bills haven’t been very good at finding “diamonds in the rough” as only three undrafted free agents brought in by the team are on the 53-man roster. For comparison, 12 undrafted free agents made the New Orleans Saints’ roster.
|Nickell Robey||CB||2013||Southern California|
|Garrison Sanborn||LS||2009||Florida State|
|Fred Jackson||RB||2006||Coe College|
Veteran Free Agents (10)
Each March, hundreds of players receive big contracts as unrestricted free agents on the open market, but very few of the record-breaking deals result in a big change in record. The Bills made Mario Williams the highest paid defender in the league in the 2012 offseason, but other than that, the team has been wise by acquiring role players at a relatively low cost.
|Anthony Dixon||RB||2014||San Francisco|
|Brandon Spikes||LB||2014||New England|
|Chris Williams||OG||2014||St. Louis|
|Keith Rivers||LB||2014||New York Giants|
Street Free Agents (non-Vested) (4)
|Colton Schmidt||P||2014||San Francisco|
|Jacquies Smith||DE||2013||New York Jets|
Frank Summers is the only player in this category to play a regular season snap for the Bills, but there aren’t many tryout players that make a huge impact in the league.
Claimed Off Waivers (5)
|Dan Carpenter||K||2013||New York Jets|
|Lee Smith||TE||2011||New England|
The Bills’ pro scouting department has done a good job scouring the waiver wire for talent, as the Bills acquired two starters on offense (Urbik/Chandler), a reliable role player (Smith) and one of the top kickers in the league (Carpenter). It’s not often that teams are able to find quality players on the waiver wire, so I have to give the Bills credit in this area.
Acquired via Trade (3)
|Mike Williams||WR||2014||Tampa Bay|
The Buffalo Bills struck gold when they acquired edge rusher Jerry Hughes from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for Kelvin Sheppard. Hughes recorded 10 sacks last season and will start on the Bills’ defensive line, while Sheppard was released by the Colts last week.
This offseason, the Bills traded a sixth round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for wide receiver Mike Williams, a big, physical wideout that brings size and toughness to a group filled with smaller YAC players.
They also swung a fourth-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Bryce Brown, a young, talented back that has low mileage. If the Bills can get half of the return on investment they got in the Hughes trade, I’d say they lucked out in these relatively inexpensive deals.
Claimed off Practice Squad (2)
|Ty Powell||LB||2013||New York Giants|
Stefan Charles and Ty Powell are two promising young prospects that have had a tough road to the National Football League. Both are tremendous athletes that have carved out roles on the 53-man roster.
- 16 of the Bills’ 26 draft picks on the 53-man roster played college ball in the ACC or SEC
- Just 5 of the Bills’ 18 draft picks in 2010 and 2011 remain with the team
- 7 of the Bills’ 22 projected starters are 23-years old or younger.
- Erik Pears, Kyle Williams are the Bills’ only starters over the age of 30.
- 5 draft picks selected prior to 2011 are on the roster.
- 32 of the 53 players on the Bills’ roster have been on the team for one season or less.
- Only 17 players from the Bills’ 2012 roster remain on the team