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NFL – Bills’ Season Review – Part 4

23 Jan

The fourth and final entry of our Bills’ 2017 season review takes a look at positions of need for the team going into next season, and some possible avenues, through trades, free agency and the draft, that they can address those needs:

 

Quarterback

 

There is almost no chance the Bills bring back Tyrod Taylor as their starting QB in 2018. He will be cut or possibly traded if they can find a willing partner. With third stringer Joe Webb III being unsigned, the only signal caller under contract is rookie Nathan Peterman. Peterman is still a project at this point, and although he still could be a future starter, management has to bring in a different, and hopefully better option than Taylor, to be a bridge QB until Peterman or any rookie they draft, is ready. The possibilities include a free agent, like Sam Bradford or Josh McCown. I don’t see them breaking the bank on a high-priced vet like Kirk Cousins. Most likely, they’ll use a draft choice on a QB, either by packaging some of their draft capital and/or players to move up in the draft, or staying put and nabbing a player they like with their own picks. Possibilities there include Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Western Kentucky’s Mike White or Luke Falk of Washington State.

 

Running Back

 

LeSean McCoy is the heart and soul of Buffalo’s offense, but the team needs to find him some help in the form of a capable backup who can lessen his workload. Late season signee Marcus Murphy showed some promise but depth is needed here badly. In the free agent market, Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon would be an option. Rookie Dalvin Cook will return from injury next season so the Vikings may not put a priority on signing McKinnon. Other free agents include Cleveland’s Isaiah Crowell and Rex Burkhead of the running back-loaded Patriots. Sometimes gems can be found in the middle to late rounds of the draft at running back. There are a few possible diamonds in the rough there – Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, L.J. Scott from Michigan State and Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb.

 

Receiver

 

The Bills could go high in the draft for a receiver, since they could use a sure-handed deep threat to add to this unit. A lot of mock drafts have them plucking Oklahoma State’s James Washington with one of their first round picks. His teammate, Marcell Ateman is also rated high. In the middle rounds, a sleeper could be L.S.U.’s D.J. Chark. An intriguing free agent prospect is John Brown of the Arizona Cardinals, who has played in Larry Fitzgerald’s shadow but could blossom if given an opportunity to be a featured receiver.

 

Defensive Line

 

One of the Bills’ most pressing needs is a run-stuffing defensive tackle, followed by a consistent edge rusher who can improve the pass rush. A top draftee who may interest the Bills is Michigan DT Maurice Hurst, a projected first rounder. In the middle rounds, Kentavius Street of North Carolina State is a possibility. Marcus Davenport of Texas-San Antonio is a top rated edge rusher who would fit nicely in the Bills’ D-line rotation. In free agency, the Bills management’s fascination with Carolina Panther players could lead them to pursue D-tackle Star Lotulelei, while a much-sought after pair of pass-rushing ends will be Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence and Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah. Could the Bills persuade either of them to sign here?

 

Linebackers

 

This is another area of great need for the Bills. They have to add youth, speed and toughness to their linebacking corps. Demario Davis of the Jets stands out among a weak class of free agents, so linebacker looks to be a need the team will address in the draft. Georgia’s Roquan Smith is a standout inside backer who would be a good fit if he drops to one of the Bills’ first round spots. In the middle rounds, Josey Jewell of Iowa is a classic over-achiever who might surprise in the pros. Middle round outside linebacker draft prospects include Jeff Holland of Auburn, Miami’s Chad Thomas and Tegray Scales of Indiana.

 
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