NFL – Buffalo Bills’ Season Review – Part 4

30 Jan

Part 4 of our annual Bills’ season review is always my favorite. It’s where I get to play pretend general manager, and give my thoughts on how the team can improve going into the following season. I’ll take into account that Brandon Beane can’t afford any high-priced free agents and will have to work some salary cap magic again, but try to best fill the team’s needs using both free agency and the draft. The positions listed are where I think they need help.

Let’s get on with this yearly exercise:


Running Back


James Cook is established as the Bills’ top back, and they would be wise to re-sign Ty Johnson to back him up, but there is still a need for another runner, preferably a bigger, hard-running short yardage back. The running back market has been undervalued recently, but even so, the prize runner in this year’s class is Derrick Henry. He is not in Buffalo’s price range, and there aren’t any bigger backs in the free agent bargain bin, so the draft, probably in the later rounds, is where the team will have to find the type they want. Braelon Allen of Wisconsin is a mid-round prospect who fits the bill. at 6’2 and 235 lbs. he has the size, and his draft profile describes him as a “violent” runner. He played safety in high school so he isn’t afraid of contact for sure. Another power back slated to be drafted late day 2 or early day 3 is Ohio State’s Miyan Williams. He’s tough to bring down, but his draft profile also claims he has “subtle shiftiness”.


Wide Receiver


This is the biggest offensive area of need for GM Beane to address this offseason. He brought in a couple of bargain FAs last year in Trent Sherfield and Deonte Harty, but they’ll need to upgrade from them going into next season. There are some big name free agents hitting the market – Tee Higgins, Mike Evans, Tyler Boyd – I don’t see any of them signing here. A couple of lower cost possibilities are Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Darnell Mooney, but in my opinion they would be better off trying to re-sign one of their own, Gabe Davis. He has been inconsistent but at least he’s a known commodity that Josh Allen has familiarity and has had success with. The Bills pick 28th in the first round of the college draft and most observers see them using that pick, and probably another on day 2, on adding to the receiver corps. Two intriguing names fall into that range on various “mock drafts”. Brian Thomas Jr. from LSU is a big wideout at 6’4 and 205 lbs. who is a mismatch for smaller cornerbacks. He has tremendous speed, a great catch radius and is a big play threat on long throws. The other name is Oregon’s Troy Franklin. He has good size at 6’2 and may be the fastest player in this draft. He excels on double moves and is definitely a deep threat, who also possesses great hands. Looking at day 2 of the draft, where the Bills have pick 60 and a compensatory pick that figures to be 99 or 100, there are some other receivers who project to be solid pros. Texas’ Xavier Worthy is a natural playmaker who also has elite speed, and a knack for setting up defenders, and can play both outside and in the slot. Johnny Wilson from Florida State is an interesting player. He is massive for a wideout at 6’7 and 240 lbs., which is basically tight end size. Of course that gives him a wide wingspan and great catch radius who high-points the ball exceptionally well. His long strides make him a deep threat also, with running back yards after the catch ability. There are other names to watch in this range, including Jalen McMillan of Washington, Louisville’s Jamari Thrash, Malachi Corley of Western Kentucky, Michigan’s Roman Wilson and Luke McCaffrey from Rice, who has great NFL bloodlines.


Defensive Tackle


With Ed Oliver being the only interior defensive lineman signed for 2024, Buffalo will have to add players at that spot. Again, one of their own – DaQuan Jones – should be a top priority to get re-signed. After big-ticket players like Chris Jones and Christian Wilkins, the free agent pickings are slim. With glaring needs at other positions it’s unlikely the Bills would use a high draft choice on the D-line, but if a prospect like Texas nose tackle T’Vondre Sweat fell to them in the second round, they would have to consider it. At 6’4 and 346 lbs. he is a massive space eater who would immediately upgrade the run defense. They will more than likely target later round players like Tyler Davis of Clemson, Jordan Jefferson from LSU and North Carolina’s Myles Murphy.




With both Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer starting to age out (Hyde is also a free agent) and Taylor Rapp hitting free agency, safety is another hot spot for Buffalo. Like running back, the safety position was undervalued in last year’s free agency period. If that happens again, Beane should look at 3 top players on the market. They are Antoine Winfield Jr., whose father played for the Bills, Jeremy Chinn of the Panthers and New England’s Kyle Dugger. All 3 figure to be coveted but if their asking price is within the Bills’ cap range they should be aggressive. In the draft, the Bills could easily use a high day 2 pick on a safety, maybe even their first rounder if the receiver group dries up. Players worth picking in the second round are USC’s Calen Bullock and Utah’s Cole Bishop. Bullock has good size and leaping ability, and is perfectly capable of covering speedy wide receivers. Like Bullock, Bishop has good size, is athletic and has the ball skills to create turnovers. He’s also a willing tackler in run support.




There aren’t any corners worth paying on the free agent market, so the Bills may look to add depth here in the later rounds of the draft. They’re not totally lacking in talent at CB but Tre White’s injury uncertainty and the fact that Dane Jackson is a free agent means some bodies will need to be added to the training camp roster. In the third day rounds, some possibilities include Cam Hart of Notre Dame, Auburn’s Nehemiah Pritchett, Elijah Jones of Boston College, and an interesting name, Louisville’s Storm Duck.


Special Teams


I lumped this all into a single category since I think the Bills should add competition at punter, placekicker and kickoff/punt returner. There’s always the possibility they bring back former draft choice Matt Araiza to compete for the punting job, now that he is clear of any criminal charges. Any other punter or kicker brought into camp will be an unknown undrafted guy so we won’t bother naming players. As for return specialists, Texas WR Worthy adds punt return ability to his resume, as does Texas A&M’s Ainias Smith. Penn State cornerback Daequan Hardy returned 17 punts for an almost 15 yard average, with 2 touchdowns.

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