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State Of The League: Buffalo Bills

A first look at the 2021 Buffalo Bills!

The NFL Draft and free agency is in our rearview mirrors. There is very little day to day NFL news aside from random minor transactions across the league and conversations about where/when this star player will be traded. The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing. Baseball is gearing up for a long, hot summer. The dog days of Summer are upon us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look down the line at what else the coming summer months hold for us: Training Camp and the NFL pre-season. Which leads us to a new feature here on The Grueling Truth – The State Of The League. We will be going over all 32 teams, division by division: their offseason player personnel moves, coaching changes, and projected preseason depth charts. Between the beginning of June and the end of July, new team reports will be released every few days. The NFC East is completed, so now we move on to the AFC East, and check in on the Buffalo Bills.

 

Buffalo Bills Pre-Training Camp Projected Depth Chart

PositionStarterBackup
QBJosh AllenMitchell Trubisky
RB1Zack MossMatt Breida
RB2Devin Singletary
FBReggie Gilliam
WR1Stefon DiggsEmmanuel Sanders
WR2Cole BeasleyIsaiah Hodgins
WR3Gabriel DavisDuke Williams
TEDawson KnoxJacob Hollister
LTDion DawkinsTommy Doyle
LGJon FelicianoIke Boettger
CMitch MorseRyan Bates
RGCody FordForrest Lamp
RTDaryl WilliamsSpencer Brown
DEJerry HughesGregory Rousseau
DTVernon ButlerStar Lotulelei
DTEd OliverHarrison Phillips
DEMario AddisonA.J. Epenesa
OLBMatt MilanoAndre Smith
MLBTremaine EdmundsTyler Matakevich
OLBA.J. KleinTyrell Adams
CB1Tre’Davious WhiteDane Jackson
CB2Levi WallaceSiran Neal
CB3Taron JohnsonRachad Wildgoose
FSMicah HydeJaquan Johnson
SSJordan PoyerDamar Hamlin
KTyler Bass
PMatt Haack
LSReid Ferguson
KRIsaiah McKenzieMarquez Stevenson
PRIsaiah McKenzie

*BOLD player name = Rookie*

 

Buffalo Bills 2021 NFL Draft Class

Round 1 (30th overall): DE Gregory Rousseau, Miami

Round 2 (61st): DE Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest

Round 3 (93rd): OT Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa

Round 5 (161st): OT Tommy Doyle, Miami (OH)

Round 6 (203rd): WR Marquez Stevenson, Houston

Round 6 (212th): S Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh

Round 6 (213th): CB Rachad Wildgoose Jr., Wisconsin

Round 7 (236th): G Jack Anderson, Texas Tech

 

Buffalo Bills Free Agent Moves

Expired Contracts
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 Team
Trent MurphyDE31BUF
Josh NormanCB34BUF
Matt BarkleyQB31BUF
T.J. YeldonRB28BUF
E.J. GainesCB29BUF
Arrivals
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 Team
Matt HaackP27MIABUF
Matt BreidaRB26MIABUF
Mitchell TrubiskyQB27CHIBUF
Efe ObadaDE29CARBUF
Emmanuel SandersWR34NOBUF
Jacob HollisterTE28SEABUF
Brandon PowellWR25ATLBUF
Tyrell AdamsLB29HOUBUF
Bobby HartT/G27CINBUF
Jamil DouglasG29TENBUF
Forrest LampG27LACBUF
Treyvon HesterDT29PHIBUF
Joe Giles-HarrisLB24JAXBUF
Departures
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 Team
Lee SmithTE34BUFATL
John BrownWR31BUFLV
Tyler KroftTE29BUFNYJ
Ty NsekheRT36BUFDAL
Andre RobertsWR33BUFHOU
Brian WintersG30BUFARZ
Del’Shawn PhillipsLB25BUFNYJ
Dean MarloweSS29BUFDET
Quinton JeffersonDT28BUFLV
Corey BojorquezP25BUFLAR
Re-Signed
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 Team
Jon FelicianoG29BUFBUF
Daryl WilliamsRT29BUFBUF
Matt MilanoOLB26BUFBUF
Taiwan JonesRB33BUFBUF
Levi WallaceCB26BUFBUF
Andre SmithLB24BUFBUF
Isaiah McKenzieWR26BUFBUF
Ike BoettgerG27BUFBUF

 

Buffalo Bills Offseason Review

After finally winning the AFC East crown for the first time since 1995 and advancing to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1993, Buffalo has their sights set a little higher this season – the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots’ stranglehold on this division ended in 2020; they won the East 17 times since 2000, including 11 straight. Buffalo has taken a huge step forward, and are legit Super Bowl contenders. The Josh Allen led offense that finished 2nd in scoring and 3rd in passing returns every major contributor, while an already talented defense got deeper this offseason as they look to make the Super Bowl for the first time in almost 30 years. 

Buffalo is in a good place that most championship contenders don’t often find themselves in – their roster didn’t get raided this offseason, and they didn’t lose any major contributors. Maintaining continuity on the offensive line is important, and a top priority was re-signing starting guard Jon Feliciano (3 years, $14.4M) and right tackle Daryl Williams (3 years, $24M). Offensive linemen Bobby Hart, Jamil Douglas, and Forrest Lamp – signed as free agents – offer starting experience and depth as well. They will likely fight for backup spots along the line with a few youthful holdovers, and rookies Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle. Brown is the likely favorite to win the swing tackle job out of camp partially due to his draft position, but Doyle will compete for playing time as well. Both are solid, athletic developmental pieces for the future. The rest of the offensive additions were short-term deals to improve depth while shoring up different parts of the offense.

John Brown was a nice outside weapon for them, but he only played in 9 games due to injury last season. Losing him to the Raiders won’t have a huge impact, as they have solid/young in-house options in Davis and Hodgins, and they signed veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders as a free agent. Sanders was up and down for the Saints last season when he stepped in for the injured Mike Thomas as the de facto top wide receiver, but he brings another steady veteran presence to the receiver room and can help the young bucks in their development. Davis had a very solid rookie season (35 receptions, 599 yards, 7 touchdowns), and he could be the biggest beneficiary of Brown’s departure. Buffalo hopes he has a breakout sophomore season.

Trubisky was the “big” name signing and will hold down the all-important backup quarterback spot. His starting experience in Chicago and his style of play make him a good fit in Buffalo. Breida struggled during his time in Miami, but he is still only 25 years old and averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in each of his last two seasons in San Francisco just a couple of years ago. He has the pass-catching chops and breakaway speed to be a rotational back for the Bills. Tight end Jacob Hollister was brought over from Seattle, and he has some familiarity with Allen from their days at Wyoming. Dawson Knox is currently slated to start at tight end and is talented, but inconsistent. The Bills are hoping Hollister can push Knox and provide quality depth behind him or even replace him if he continues to fail to live up to his potential. Buffalo may still be in the hunt for an upgrade at tight end – rumors continue to swirl around their potential interest in acquiring Zach Ertz from Philadelphia. 

Re-signing their key free agents was important to Buffalo, and bringing back linebacker Matt Milano (4 years, $41.5M) was the top priority on defense. Despite missing six games last season, he has developed into a quality all-around linebacker and is an important piece to the puzzle. Andre Smith was also retained, and the team added a few other veteran backup types in free agency. The secondary didn’t see much change this offseason – Buffalo re-signed cornerback Levi Wallace to likely start opposite Tre’Davious White. Signing another veteran cornerback might still be in the cards. Both starting safeties Hyde and Poyer return, and 6th rounders Rachad Wildgoose Jr. and Damar Hamlin are likely headed for backup/special teams roles in their rookie season.

The biggest additions to the team might have been the Bills’ top two picks in the NFL Draft. Buffalo already boasted a talented and versatile defensive line, but they made it a point to inject more youth and versatility to the unit when they selected Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. Rousseau was one of the more polarizing prospects in this year’s NFL Draft circuit. He has all the length/size and physical tools (6’7’’, 266 lbs) one would look for in the prototype defensive end, but he only has one year of starting experience (2019) and he opted out of the 2020 season. Rousseau has top 10 pick physical traits, and the versatility to play inside and outside on the defensive line, but he will need more refinement overall if he is to realize that massive potential. Rousseau is very raw and looked better as an inside rusher than as a pure edge rusher on tape. Basham, on the other hand, was a three-year starter in college and isn’t the size/length freak Rousseau is. He is, however, more technically sound than most prospects in this class, and flashes athleticism on tape. Basham had a very good Senior Bowl week where he displayed inside/outside rushing ability and power that boosted his stock. Hughes/Addison is a nice veteran edge-rushing duo, but both Rousseau and Basham – along with 2020 2nd round pick A.J. Epenesa – are the future on the D-line for Buffalo. 

All in all, the Bills should feel good about where they stand going into training camp and the pre-season. Josh Allen finishing 2nd in MVP voting and leading this team to the AFC Championship in 2020 was a great accomplishment, but taking that next step is going to be tough. The AFC looks as good as it has been in some time, and they will still have to go through Kansas City as long as Mahomes is healthy. Buffalo has the coaching staff, quarterback, depth, and defense to make a push deep into the playoffs.

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