With three days before the Buffalo Bills begin their month-long summer vacation, it's a good time to step back and examine the roster as the team prepares for training camp.
Today, we'll begin a series called "Bubble Watch" that we ran last year and in 2012. Here's the exercise: We slice the roster into three parts. The first group is players that are locks or near-locks to make the roster. The second group is players "on the bubble," or who have a realistic shot of either making the roster out of training camp or getting cut. The final group is "longshots," or players who will be hard-pressed to make the squad.
We've already divided the roster and came up with 34 players who we'll consider "on the bubble." From there, we'll assign a percentage chance of that player making the team. It's not scientific, and if you add the percentages up at the end of the series, they'll likely lean towards more than 53 players making the team to account for injuries.
We'll analyze two players Tuesday and then continue with one player per day through July 18, the day players report to training camp.
Let's get it started:
Name: Nigel Bradham
2013 stats: 16 games (two starts), 51 tackles, one pass defensed
Chance of making 53-man roster: 50 percent
Why he should make it: Bradham has more speed than his counterparts at linebacker. The Bills signed a pair of free agents this offseason -- Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers -- but neither is a natural fit in sub packages. Third-round pick Preston Brown could emerge as a nickel 'backer next to Kiko Alonso if he continues to pick up the system well, but if there are hiccups, Bradham could get a shot at a sub package role. That's his best chance of making the 53-man roster.
Why he shouldn't make it: This could hinge on whether the Bills want to keep five or six linebackers. They carried six through the first part of last season, but two of those -- Marcus Dowtin and Jamaal Westerman -- were almost exclusively special teams players. Braham would fall either fifth or six on the linebacker depth chart, meaning his contributions on special teams would have to surpass those of seventh-round pick Randell Johnson or a carryover from last season, Ty Powell. If he can't match up on special teams, Bradham could get cut.
Closest competition: Johnson, Powell, LB Nate Williams