The Buffalo Bills have enough offensive talent to make the playoffs this season. It's been a long time since you could say that about a Bills team heading into training camp.
In his first season at QB, Tyrod Taylor showed enough to think that Buffalo may have their first franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly. The running back position can best be described as an embarrassment of riches. This is one area where the Bills are truly loaded. At wide receiver, Buffalo has a star in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods is a quality receiver and blocker. Watkins and Woods aren't the only receiving threats as Charles Clay gives Buffalo a playmaker at tight end as most linebackers cannot cover him 1-on-1. Last the offensive line has three outstanding players and will be returning the same unit in 2016.
For these reasons alone, Bills fans should feel very optimistic about their chances in 2016. While there's no shortage of starting talent, the depth at most of these positions is concerning. In the opinion of Buffalo Football Report, offensive depth is Buffalo's greatest concern entering training camp.
Here's a breakdown of four offensive depth areas that should concern Bills fans heading into training camp.
Depth behind Tyrod Taylor: EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones
Doug Whaley continues to praises EJ Manuel as one of the NFL's best backups, but anyone who saw Manuel in action last year knows this isn't the case. Whereas the Bills of the early-90's had Frank Reich, Buffalo doesn't have a reliable backup waiting in the wings.
Manuel alone is the reason the Bills lost a game in London to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite some impressive throws and a late game comeback, it was Manuel who gifted the Jaguars with two defensive touchdowns and a second interception led to another score for the Jaguars. He also proved to be in over his head one week before this in a 34-21 loss to the Bengals.
Behind Manuel is rookie Cardale Jones. In time, Jones may develop into a quality backup, or even a potential starting QB, but for now he's a project. He'll realistically need this year and possibly one more season to develop before he should see any live regular season action.
If anything happens to Taylor in 2016, you can kiss the season away.
Depth behind Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods: Dezmin Lewis, Leonard Hankerson, Greg Salas, Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little, Kolby Listenbee, Marquise Goodwin, Marcus Easley, Walter Powell, Gary Chambers Davonte Allen
Buffalo's depth at wide receiver isn't a "Who's Who" it's a "Who's That?" Buffalo doesn't even know who their third wide receiver is heading into camp. Dezmin Lewis drew rave reviews during OTAs, but he's not a lock for the job. Hankerson is probably the most proven receiver of the bunch for third WR, but he's dealt with injuries throughout his career. Greg Salas may have a shot at the third wide receiver job as he picked up the playbook quickly at the end of the season.
Although these three players are the favorites to land the third wide receiver job, we can't say with certainty that this trio even makes the final 53-man roster. There are some options (Anquan Boldin, for one) still on the market who should probably be considered for a roster spot
Buffalo wasn't shy about adding wide receiver this offseason, but they're in trouble if anything happens to their top two receivers.
Depth behind Charles Clay and Jim Dray: Blake Annen, Chris Gragg, Nick O'Leary
Clay missed time at the end of the 2015 season and Buffalo's lack of receiving threats at tight end was apparent. Blake Annen generated some buzz at mandatory minicamp, but he's far from a proven option. Gragg, entering his fourth season with the Bills, had career highs in receptions (12) and yards (150) in 2015, but he doesn't provide the same type of athleticism as Charles Clay. Last, Nick O'Leary is a long-shot to make Buffalo's roster as he really doesn't stand out in any areas.
Buffalo is ready to roll with Clay and Dray, but will need a third option to step up this season.
Depth behind Cordy Glenn and Jordan Mills: Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Marquis Lucas, Chris Martin, Justin Renfrow
Cordy Glenn has been very durable throughout his NFL career, and the Bills will need him to stay healthy this season. There is no option on the roster that can come in and play close to his level if he were to miss time.
Seantrel Henderson is likely to at least start the season as Jordan Mills' backup and he'll look to add weight to his frame after his battle with Crohn's disease. Chris Brown reported that Henderson weighed 306 pounds at minicamp and is looking to weigh 325-330 pounds. If he puts the weight on, he's on par with Mills in terms of quality at right tackle.
Cyrus Kouandjio will be fighting for a roster spot this season, but it's probably time to pull the plug on the former second round pick. He's struggled in his NFL career and was being beaten consistently by I.K. Enemkpali at mandatory minicamp. That's not exactly a way to prove you're worth a roster spot.
Perhaps Lucas, Martin, or Renfrow show that they can handle the fourth offensive tackle spot, but there is no reason to believe that will be the case at this time. Buffalo's lack of depth at tackle is concerning, and it's a bit puzzling that they haven't looked at some veterans on the free agent market. One player that Buffalo Football Report had previously discussed is Louis Vasquez. He has experience at guard and tackle and seems like a good fit for Buffalo's power-blocking scheme.
Staying healthy is crucial for the Bills this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.