2014 Depth Chart: Buffalo Bills

A look at the depth and quality of each position on the roster for the 2014 Buffalo Bills.

| 1 year ago

2014 Depth Chart: Buffalo Bills

2014 dpeth update BUF

[Chart last updated: 6/30/14… See update notes from 6/30/14]


•  We like C.J. Spiller a lot so perhaps you need to excuse us for giving him something of a mulligan on his most recent, injury-plagued, season. It doesn’t take a lot of recall to bring back many of the 66 missed tackles he forced both running and receiving in 2012.

•  In one of the few instances you’ll see in this series we have a higher-graded Evan Rodriguez behind Frank Summers at fullback. The problem with the ex-Bear fourth-rounder isn’t what he does on the field but how he behaves off it. If he can get his life in order he has the skills to be one of the better players at his position in the league.

•  The Bills have done a lot right recently but don’t count us as Buffalo sycophants. The move getting Chris Williams to fill the void at left guard (and more particularly, the guaranteed $5.5M) left us slack-jawed. He does have OK games, so maybe in the days of subset scouting they saw his Weeks 2, 5, 8 and 13 games which netted him a +6.7 grade and not the Weeks 1, 9, 14 and 17 outings which amassed a ridiculous -22.1 mark.

•  There’s no question Jerry Hughes had a sensational year in 2013 (grabbing our Pass Rushing Productivity title in the process) so why an average grade? Well, his role was situational and we’ve seen many such players decline markedly in a full-time role. When you add in his lack of impact in Indianapolis it’s not unreasonable to ask for another year of quality production before we go higher.

•  We debated the Kyle Williams “elite” grade for a few minutes but realized pretty quickly what an outstanding football player he is. Barring his injury-wrecked 2011 season he’s never been out of the Top-3-ranked players at his position (whatever that may have been) and has a fantastic balance of run defense and pass rush ability. In our view, one of the most underrated players of the last few years.

Roster Battles

1.  Right Tackle

Erik Pears isn’t the worst tackle in the league but his average pass protection isn’t enough to make up for his consistently lesser ability as a run blocker. Given E.J. Manuel is hardly the complete quarterback, an upgraded running game would be helpful and Buffalo has a lot of pieces with which to try and make it happen. Based on his second round draft status, Cyrus Kouandjio is the favourite, but don’t count out decent (but oft injured) Chris Hairston or, indeed, seventh-rounder Seantrel Henderson.

2.  Slot Cornerback

It was a little strange given just how well Nickell Robey played in his rookie season that Buffalo should target Corey Graham in free agency. That said, looking at it logically, it’s hard to criticize. Graham is a fine player in his own right and maybe only three games over the last 37 away from a higher grade, but can you ever have too many good corners? He can play outside too, so maybe it’s the team’s simmering dissatisfaction with Leodis McKelvin that’s more in play here. McKelvin also had a fine year so it’s hoped they can get them all enough snaps to make it pay.

3.  Kicker

When you expend a draft pick on a kicker (even in the sixth round as here) you usually expect them to play and that’s what was anticipated when rookie Dustin Hopkins won the starting job over Rian Lindell in training camp last year. However, a groin injury then materialized and Dan Carpenter was signed to kick. He did a good job on field goals missing only two 50+ yarders and a 42-yard attempt (all wide right as it would happen). In a fair world that’s at least good enough to get a shot this year but his lacklustre kickoffs may weigh against him given Hopkins’ stronger leg.


Click here to see all of the depth charts we’ve covered.


Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil

  • Jaaaames

    Corey Graham seems to be a favorite to play free safety, which would mean Robey keeps his gig, Also, i think the K job is Carpenter’s to lose after last season. He couldn’t have done much better. I don’t disagree with a single grade of yours though, nice work.

  • Justin Barker

    I’m curious as to why you listed EJ Manuel, a second year QB who was more than decent when he was healthy last year, as a poor starter. There was also no explanation as to why you graded him as such. I mean, I too think the Bills reached on him but the jury is definitely still out.

    • CJ

      I agree. EJ Manuel should have an inconclusive (Not Enough Information) grade instead of poor starter. CJ Spiller gets a High Quality grade, to which I agree, but CB Stephon Gilmore doesn’t get the same benefit of the doubt to be a good starter after an injure marred season. No mention of that either. Eric Wood has been a good starter as well.

    • PFF_Neil

      We disagree. There were very few redeeming features in Manuel’s performances. Unlike Geno Smith, there was no progression, he showed the worst thing I think you can see in a rookie, a poor short game and even graded negatively when not under pressure.
      Now does this mean he can’t improve? Of course not but you have to be an optimist to predict better than this on anything other than faith.

  • http://batman-news.com Jason H

    Couple corrections:

    Lawson will be a DE this year, so it should be Hughes and Lawson splitting time opposite Mario Williams

    Keith Rivers is a Strong Side LB, so it’ll likely be Rivers and Bradham on the strong side. Kiko on the weak side (not sure who is backing him up).

  • mike

    How the fuck is Mario Williams simply a good starter? He is an elite game changing pro bowl d end

    • Graham Barfield

      Have to agree. 23.5 sacks in the last two seasons isn’t at least “high quality”? He was a little inconsistent last year and had one game with 5 sacks against Carolina, but still, he’s better than just a “good starter.”

    • Ben

      He has a tendency to disappear in huge stretches per game. Remember PFF scores every play, not just the big plays each player makes.

      He’s probably somewhere between Good starter and High Quality for me too, def not elite. Elite players dont disappear like he does.

      • Jeff

        Exactly! Sometimes its the flashy stats like “sacks” that people notice. He’s a good/great player… but elite? If any Bills fan had to choose one player missing the season between Kyle and Mario… it would be Mario. I am not a Bills fan, but Kyle is the complete package!

  • Jeff

    Only 14 below-average & poor starters on the Bills. This team looks to be primed to take a step forward, the only thing that make this team from below .500 to possible playoff contender is the progression of EJ Manuel. He has shown to be capable at times, shame that nagging injuries slowed down a fast start.

    I still think that losing Mike Pettine is a big loss, no matter how much you like Jim Schwartz he is still a downgrade. Plus those Lions defenses in his tenure have been quite careless. Expect the defense to regress to the mean this year. Though the offense should be moving up for sure

  • Joe

    Kiko Alonso move to Elite

  • DavStarr

    Dear PFF. Like the TEs being labeled as H & Y, would it be possible to label (even before training camp) the WRs as X, Z & Slot instead of 1, 2 & 3?

    • PFF_Neil

      Not every team uses those designations so we decided against it. That said I did come close with slot and have tried, within reason to keep those as WR 3.

  • Ken

    Lol Kiko gets voted one of the top 100 players in the league by the NFL Network, and he’s only a “good starter” on this list.

    • Wyzel

      NFL top 100 is fun to watch but there rankings are terrible. Kiko is awesome to watch and next year he could easily be great and close to elite.

  • Thomas James

    Thad Lewis is ranked higher than EJ Manuel? I need an explanation there.

    • Thomas James

      I will infer from the answer to Justin’s comment down there that Thad’s performances were graded better than Manuel’s last year, thus warranting a higher ranking for the former. Thanks PFF guys! :)

  • Facebook User

    I don’t like the grading. CJ, Fred, Eric, Glenn are all elite players on offense. On defense Mario, Dareus, Kyle, Gilmore, Aaron, Kiko, spikes are all elite players.

  • http://swamphermit.wordpress.com/ Karmi

    One good year – out of four years – from Spiller and he’s given a High Quality status. He can’t beat out a 33 yo RB and the Bills are clearly making plans that don’t seem to include him (for the three bad years, I guess?). I’ll agree w/ McCoy here…Bryce is going to be the Bill’s starter.

    • PFF_Neil

      You make a good point regarding Spiller and maybe we have been a bit generous.
      That said, if he’s not injured (and we try not to take that into account in the grades) he’s as dangerous as any back in the league.

      • http://swamphermit.wordpress.com/ Karmi

        Agreed. Seems Spiller has been talking/complaining too much (maybe in a ‘DeSeanish’ Jackson fashion), which may have upset the Bills, but Spiller’s long-term value with them is certainly pointed down. Also, Spiller has a “Player Option” to opt out of his contract in 2015, so his short-term value is probably high (which is the time your article is covering, i.e. 2014).

  • http://sellaholics.com/ Todd Kron

    Mario has multiple probowls and 13 sacks to finish 4rth in the NFL and hes just good? Kiki Alonso has 4ints and 2nd most tackles in the NFL a ILB’s job. and hes just good. And Eric Wood is just average at Center? Name me 10 better centers. Or even 6. I think the #2 rushing offense in the league starts at the Center position. And last defend this. Chandler finishes 13th in receptions and 12th in yards among tight ends playing with 3 different QB’s on a rushing team. So top 13 is below average? BUT yes Thad is better than EJ. Ill give you that one.

  • ian duncan

    Someone explain how C.J Spiller is a High Quality HB and Andrew Luck is a Average Starting QB?