Buffalo Bills analysis by position
Much has been debated after the draft with how much the Bills improved. How do they look going into the 2018 season? Which positions still lack strength?
For the first time in a number of years, quarterback does not look to be a position the Bills should be worried about. With the young and unpredictable Nathan Peterman, the Bills still do not know what to expect, although he doesn’t look like the future of the franchise. A.J. McCarron has yet to prove himself in the NFL, but only because he was sat behind a top quarterback in Cincinnati for the last few years. Finally, with Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen being taken with the 7th pick in the draft, the Bills have a reason to be hopeful once again. Allen has the opportunity to finally be the answer to the quarterback position which the organisation has not been happy with since the days of Jim Kelly.
With the Bills leading the rushing yardage in 2016 and being 6th in 2017, their rushing attack is not huge focus for improvement. With one of the sport’s elite running backs in LeSean McCoy and the acquisition of veteran Chris Ivory in free agency, the backfield is not an area the team has to worry about.
Wide receiver is the first big issue that we across. The Bills have no depth at the position, with the starters not being great targets for a rookie quarterback anyway. Although two receivers were taken in the later rounds of the draft, neither one inspires much hope for the position. The Bills are still lacking in this position. With Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones being the only promising players in the position, any injuries could spell trouble for the organisation. This could be a worry as Benjamin has a history of getting injured frequently.
With only Charles Clay standing out in the tight end position, the field here is a little thin. Nick O’Leary and Logan Thomas present capable, if unremarkable backups. The additional acquisitions of Khari Lee and Jason Croom are little to get excited about.
With the retirements of important members of the offensive line, the Bills were in need of a revamp at the position. Guard Richie Incognito decided to retire, while centre Eric Wood did not have a choice in his retirement, having to step away from the game due to chronic neck issue. Centre remains a priority, with one of the guards likely stepping in to assume the position. There’s a good amount of depth in this position, with Ryan Groy one of the most likely to fill the position vacated by Eric Wood. The addition of guard Wyatt Teller in the 5th round of the draft adds depth in a position which has few standout talents. Dion Dawkins looks to be a good young talent to take the position left by Glenn, who was traded to Cincinnati to acquire the pick which was eventually traded to acquire Josh Allen.
The Bills look quite solid across the defensive line. After losing Marcell Dareus midway through last season, the Bills strengthened their defensive line in free agency. They acquired former Panther Star Lotulelei and former Redskin Trent Murphy. Murphy is a question mark, having a strong 2016 season with 9 sacks before being sidelined for the entire 2017 season with injury. Long time Bills player Kyle Williams not retiring is a big boost for the team, as is picking up Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips in the 3rd round of the draft. With a strong defensive line, this is one position which the Bills won’t have any immediate worry about. In the short term, players like Jerry Hughes, Lotulelei and Williams provide stability at the position. The future at the position looks positive too through young players such as Phillips, Shaq Lawson and Adolphus Washington.
After losing Preston Brown to free agency, linebacker was a need for the Bills. Luckily, the Bills addressed it immediately in the first round of the draft. With 19 year old Hokie Tremaine Edmunds being taken with the 16th pick overall, the Bills look to have acquired a young, athletic player who could really make a difference at the linebacker position left weakened by the loss of Preston Brown. Buffalo veteran Lorenzo Alexander is likely to wind down his career soon, a position which Edmunds could also fit into in the future. With young players like Edmunds and last year’s draft pick Matt Milano, the position looks secure for the future.
After losing corner E.J. Gaines to the Browns after his contract expired, the Bills were thin at this position. The Bills wasted no time in strengthening the position with the acquisitions of Vontae Davis and Phillip Gaines. The organisation recognised this as a need in the draft, adding two corners in the 4th and 5th rounds. In last year’s draft, the Bills picked up one of the standouts of last season, Tre’Davious White. With the addition of depth through through this year’s draft and free agency, the position looks good for the future. The two corners picked up in this year’s draft, Taron Johnson (4th round) and Siran Neal (5th round) are young and relative unknowns and although they add depth, how they strengthen the position remains to be seen.
With Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, safety is a position that the Bills have a bit of reliability in. Both of these players had solid 2017 seasons. The position lacked depth, which the Bills addressed in free agency by picking up former Saints safety Rafael Bush. The position is not one which needs further addressing. Other than the need for depth, the position is certainly a strength for the organisation.
Too often are kicker and punter forgotten in an organisation. It’s these positions you don’t pay attention to, unless they make a mistake in some way. Although the organisation currently has two kickers and two punters as part of the offseason, this will change by the start of the season. Kicker Stephen Hauschka and punter Colton Schmidt are likely to be the men in those positions at the start of the season, as they were last year.
Bear in mind, however, that the team is likely to look very different Week 1 of the regular season.