Expectations are extremely high for the Buffalo Bills heading into the 2022 season. The franchise had a frustrating postseason exit last year due to infuriating NFL overtime rules. The Bills have even larger expectations moving forward and are expected to be among the biggest Super Bowl threats around the NFL. While there weren't too many notable offseason moves, a great deal of the improvement is expected to occur simply from Josh Allen and the rest of the roster continues to develop.
The lofty expectations surrounding the team put a great deal of pressure on the Bills heading into the year. However, the team seems to have their heads straight and remain focused. The roster is fairly set in stone but there were a few surprises that came out in the first depth chart that was released by Sean McDermott.
3 biggest surprises from Sean McDermott's first Bills’ depth chart of 2022
Nick McCloud Playing Safety?
While this likely does not alter the Bills' season very much, it was a surprise to see Nick McCloud listed as a safety on the depth chart. The Notre Dame product is back with Buffalo in his second stint following one season with the Cincinnati Bengals. McCloud played cornerback in college as well as last year with the Bills and Bengals.
During the offseason, the team has experimented with McCloud at safety and it looks like this may stick. The position switch looks to be permanent if the first depth chart is any indication. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are set to serve as the team's starters while Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson will be the team's primary backups. Nick McCloud finds himself next on the depth chart in the third-string line at safety.
This is a positive sign of McCloud's likeliness to stick with the team. The fact he has been given another opportunity and that the team is working with him to change his position has to mean there is some desire for him to stick on the roster. If he can make an impact on special teams and learn how to play safety he could end up sticking with the Bills.
David Quessenberry the starting right tackle?
The injury bug has bit the Buffalo offensive line fairly hard this camp. The team has been forced to shift things around in order to attempt to properly field a unit that can win in the trenches. The line is getting closer to healthy as Roger Saffold and Ryan Bates recently made their returns to the field.
It was surprising to see David Quessenberry listed as the starting right tackle. Quessenberry started his career as a left tackle but made the shift to the right last season where he started every game with the Titans. The expectation seemed to be that he would be the backup behind Spence Brown. The former third-round pick has also battled injuries and been limited during camp. Brown started ten games for the Bills last season and there are still high hopes for him moving forward.
While most of this is likely due to him working his way back from injury, the door seems to be open for Quessenberry to win the starting job. It is unclear exactly what type of injury Brown is battling as it has just been labeled as an “undisclosed procedure” that he is recovering from. Regardless, the offensive line battle could turn out to be a tight competition to watch as the season gets closer.
Running Back Depth Chart
It is no surprise to see Devin Singletary at the top of the running back depth chart. Singletary led the Bills in all rushing categories last season with 188 attempts for 870 yards and seven touchdowns. He also collected 40 receptions for 228 yards which makes it possible for him to serve as an every-down running back. However, it is a surprise to look beyond the starting back.
Looking beyond Singletary, Zack Moss is listed as the number two, James Cook as the third string, and Duke Johnson is the number four back. Zack Moss had a frustrating season last year and took a step back from his rookie season. Moss regressed in just about every statistical category including carries, yards, and yards per attempt. He did have a slight uptick in his receiving numbers but it was an overall discouraging year.
This disappointing year likely played a role in the Bills' drafting of James Cook in the second round. The Georgia product, and brother of Dalvin Cook, impressed greatly in college and reportedly has looked great to start camp. He tallied a total of 1012 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns in his final year of college. The expectation seems to be that Cook will play some sort of role this season so it is a surprise that he is in the third slot. There is still a ton that can change and it is certainly possible (even likely) that all three backs play a role on the Bills this season.