So what if Zeke is a rookie? And they didn't draft him #4 overall, given that he's a prototype 3-down back, to have him in a timeshare with Morris or McFadden. Behind that line, coupled with his skills as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker, there's no way he should fall past the first round.
OT Cornell Green, DE/DT Dwan Edwards, ILB Andra Davis, ILB Reggie Torbor.
RB C.J. Spiller, NT Torell Troup, DE/DT Alex Carrington, WR Marcus Easley, OT Ed Wang, DE/OLB Arthur Moats, DE/OLB Danny Batten, QB Levi Brown, OT Kyle Calloway.
WR Terrell Owens, WR Josh Reed, TE Derek Fine, OT Jonathan Scott, G Richie Incognito, DE Aaron Schobel, DE Ryan Denney, SS John Wendling.
2010 Buffalo Bills Offense:
Buffalo's front office really should thank the Rams and Seahawks. Those two teams will likely save the Bills from ranking last in total offense this year. Unfortunately, this near-last offensive ranking is something the franchise knows all too well; in the past five years, Buffalo has finished 30th, 25th, 30th, 30th and 28th in offense (based on total yardage).
What changed since 2004 was the lack of a legitimate starting quarterback. It's been half a decade since the last time the Bills possessed one (Drew Bledsoe). Since then, they've gone with crap like Kelly Holcomb, J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm. It's plain and simple - they won't win consistently until they have a franchise quarterback.
Buffalo's options this year are Edwards, Fitzpatrick, Brohm and seventh-round rookie Levi Brown. Edwards, aptly nicknamed "Captain Checkdown" by the fans, was able to complete 60.1 percent of his passes last year, thanks to all of his short throws (6.4 YPA). Fitzpatrick has better deep accuracy than Edwards, but lacks an NFL arm. Fitzpatrick connected on just 55.9 percent of his attempts. Brohm started one game in 2009, going 17-of-29 for 146 yards, no touchdowns and two picks. The Bills might as well start Brohm or Brown the entire season to see what they have, but it's highly doubtful that they'll be successful with either of those two at the helm.
As if the quarterback dilemma was bad enough, the starting signal-caller has to somehow play well despite having a putrid offensive line and only one good target in the receiving corps. Beginning with the former, Buffalo's front surrendered 46 sacks in 2009. Inept general manager Buddy Nix talked about how quarterbacks can't succeed if they're always under pressure this offseason, yet he failed to upgrade the line until the middle rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft. Common sense would suggest that the Bills would have learned their lesson after passing on Michael Oher in the 2009 NFL Draft, but sadly that's not the case.
The Bills have no legitimate options at left tackle. Candidate No. 1 is Demetrius Bell. Not only is Bell terrible; he's coming off a torn ACL. Candidate No. 2 is Jamon Meredith, a second-year mid-round project who has started only one career game at the position. Candidate No. 3 is fifth-round rookie Ed Wang.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get any better elsewhere. Right tackle Cornell Green is a Raiders reject who was whistled for 12 penalties in 2009. Guards Andy Levitre and Eric Wood struggled tremendously as rookies last year; Wood is even coming off a compound leg break. Center Geoff Hangartner was probably Buffalo's best offensive lineman last season, which is sad because he was pathetic as well.
As for the receiving corps, it's Lee Evans and not much else. Evans took a backseat to Terrell Owens last year, catching just 44 passes for 612 yards and seven touchdowns. Owens is gone, so second-round bust James Hardy, Steve Johnson and rookie Marcus Easley will compete for the right to start across from Evans. It'll be an underwhelming training camp battle to say the least.
Buffalo's offensive strength is at running back, which would be great if this were the 80s or 90s. Fred Jackson took over as the starting running back in 2009, thanks to Marshawn Lynch's lethargy. Jackson totaled 1,062 rushing yards, 46 receptions and 371 receiving yards. This, however, didn't stop the Bills from spending the No. 9 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on yet another running back. C.J. Spiller is a dynamic talent with home-run threat ability, but likely cannot be an every-down runner. Multiple reports have indicated that Spiller will play in the slot, which makes the selection even more puzzling.
2010 Buffalo Bills Defense:
If the Bills had a below-average defense, they easily could have finished 0-16 last year. Instead, they finished an impressive second versus the pass. In fact, they limited six of their final seven opponents to 19 points or fewer.
So, why mess with success? Buffalo refused to retain defensive coordinator/interim head coach Perry Fewell, opting to bring in a new coaching staff that plans on running a 3-4. This would be fine, except the team lacks a proven nose tackle. The starter at that position figures to be second-round rookie Torrell Troup because Kyle Williams is way too small (6-1, 306).
Elsewhere on the defensive line, Marcus Stroud just celebrated his 32nd birthday. He had a very poor 2009 campaign, and there's no reason to believe that he won't struggle going forward. The other starter up front is Dwan Edwards, who actually has experience in the 3-4. Edwards played well with the Ravens last year.
Buffalo's biggest issue will be getting pressure on the quarterback. The team had 32 sacks last year, but the only player who had more than five (Aaron Schobel, 10) may not be back. Schobel has repeatedly expressed his frustration regarding the Bills organization this offseason (perhaps not drafting a running back in the first round every three years would help?), prompting the Buffalo News to opine that it would be a "big surprise" if Schobel returned to the team.
Without Schobel, the starting rush linebackers would be Aaron Maybin and Chris Kelsay. Maybin, selected No. 11 in the 2009 NFL Draft, failed to record a single sack last year. However, the 3-4 should suit Maybin's strengths and mask his weaknesses. Kelsay, on the other hand, probably won't transition as well, though he wasn't any good to begin with.
In the middle, the talented Paul Posluszny will be Buffalo's every-down linebacker. Either Andra Davis or Kawika Mitchell will play next to him on two downs, which isn't very good news. Davis struggled toward the end of the 2009 campaign, while Mitchell barely played last season because of leg injuries. Mitchell still hasn't recovered; he's been limited in minicamps.
The secondary is what really saved this defense from ranking among the league's worst last year, which is remarkable considering the Bills didn't have top cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin or Terrence McGee for most of the season. McKelvin will be back in the lineup, but McGee is a question mark; he underwent offseason shoulder surgery and may miss training camp.
Last year's safety play was amazing. Rookie Jairus Byrd terrorized quarterbacks with nine interceptions. George Wilson, who performed well as a replacement for the injured and ineffective Donte Whitner, had four picks himself. Wilson should be the starter, but Buffalo's new regime has other more intelligent plans.
2010 Buffalo Bills Schedule and Intangibles:
It was puzzling that the Bills let Perry Fewell go because he did a solid job as the interim head coach in the wake of Dick Jauron's firing. It was even more confusing when they decided to hire Chan Gailey to replace Fewell. Gailey barely has any NFL head coaching experience (two seasons with the Cowboys). Even more damning, in six seasons at Georgia Tech, he was able to win more than seven games only once.
No surprise that Buffalo's ownership is once again screwing the fans out of a home game. For the third year in a row, the Bills will play a "home game" in Toronto. They'll "host" the Bears on Nov. 7 in front of about a couple thousand observers.
If ESPN didn't kill its best show, the original NFL Primetime, Chris Berman would say, "Bills... special... teams. No, wait! Bills special teams!" C.J. Spiller, a dynamic return specialist at Clemson, will take over those duties in Buffalo. The Bills also didn't allow the opposition to score last year in this department.
Rian Lindell bounced back from a poor 2008 campaign to go 28-of-33 on field goal attempts last season. However, he's just 2-of-6 from 50-plus the past two seasons.
Brian Moorman maintained a great punting average of 46.6 with 25-of-90 boots inside the 20.
The Bills have a few winnable games against the Jaguars (home, Week 5), Chiefs (road, Week 8), Lions (home, Week 10) and Browns (home, Week 14).
2010 Buffalo Bills Analysis: The Bills are a poorly coached team with barely any talent. Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and a skilled secondary will save the team from going 0-16, but a win will be a rare commodity for Buffalo in 2010.
Devoted fans can only hope that the front office doesn't screw up the 2011 NFL Draft by passing on yet another franchise quarterback or highly regarded left tackle.
The Bills have no plan. And it's sad, really. This loyal fan base deserves better.
What in the world is Buffalo planning to do at quarterback? Go back to Trent Edwards or Ryan Fitzpatrick? Move forward with the inept Brian Brohm? How can the front office sell this crap to its fans? If I were a Bills fan, I'd protest and not go to any games.
C.J. Spiller is exciting, but you don't spend the No. 9 pick on a running back unless it's a once-in-a-decade prospect like Adrian Peterson. Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson and Frank Gore are three of the better backs in the NFL, and yet they didn't make the playoffs last year. Why is that? Because the NFL is now a passing league. If this were 1980, I'd give Buffalo a good grade for taking Spiller. Unfortunately, this franchise is living in the past.
Some quality late-round selections save this from being an F, but to completely neglect the quarterback position and the offensive line until Round 5 is completely irresponsible.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: D
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
9. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
"We need a quarterback, left tackle and nose tackle! We don't need a running back! Let's take a running back!" This is why the Bills continue to pick in the top 12 every year. C.J. Spiller should be a dynamic talent in the NFL, but wow. I'm disgusted. (Pick Grade: F)
41. Torell Troup, NT, Central Florida
This fills a need, but Torell Troup is more of a third-round prospect. Still, maybe they just didn't like Terrence Cody, Cam Thomas or Linval Joseph. They had to find a nose tackle. (Pick Grade: C)
72. Alex Carrington, DE/DT, Arkansas State
The Bills needed to find some pieces for their new 3-4 defense. Alex Carrington is a skilled prospect who fits the range. (Pick Grade: A)
107. Marcus Easley, WR, Connecticut
The Bills needed a receiver. Marcus Easley is physically gifted and has a ton of upside. He's raw, but he presents solid value in Round 4. (Pick Grade: B)
140. Ed Wang, OT, Virginia Tech
You don't see too many Wangs that are 6-foot-5. (Zing.) Ed Wang is a Round 3-4 offensive tackle prospect who finally fills Buffalo's No. 2 need (quarterback being first). (Pick Grade: A)
178. Arthur Moats, DE/OLB, James Madison
Another piece for their new 3-4 defense, Arthur Moats projects as a decent pass-rusher. (Pick Grade: B)
192. Danny Batten, DE/OLB, South Dakota State
The Bills double dip at pass-rusher - a smart move if Aaron Schobel retires. Danny Batten fits this range as a late-round prospect. (Pick Grade: B)
209. Levi Brown, QB, Troy
The Bills have their quarterback! Levi Brown needs a lot of work moving over to an NFL offense, but he definitely has upside. (Pick Grade: A)
216. Kyle Calloway, OT, Iowa
Kyle Calloway is a right tackle only, but the Bills needed one. Calloway is a mid-round prospect, so Buffalo is getting great value in Round 7. (Pick Grade: A)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
Joique Bell, RB, Wayne State
Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn
Naaman Roosevelt, WR, Buffalo
Say what you want about the Bills, but at least they're consistent. Just check out their win totals the past eight years: 6, 7, 7, 7, 5, 9, 6, 8. This obviously needs to change. Buffalo fans deserve to see a playoff appearance - which would be the franchise's first since 1999.
Bills announce retirement of DE Aaron Schobel
Bills cut DE Aaron Schobel
Bengals sign WR Terrell Owens
Chargers sign WR Josh Reed
Bills sign ILB Reggie Torbor
Bills announce retirement of QB Gibran Hamdan
Bills cut DT Marlon Favorite
Bills sign RB/KR Chad Simpson
Bills re-sign TE Derek Schouman
Bills re-sign CB Ashton Youboty
Bills re-sign S George Wilson
Bills re-sign OLB Keith Ellison
Dolphins sign G Richie Incognito
Bills sign DE/DT Dwan Edwards
Bills sign ILB Andra Davis
Bills re-sign TE Joe Klopfenstein
Bills sign OT Cornell Green
Steelers sign OT Jonathan Scott
Bills re-sign OLB/S Bryan Scott
Bills announce retirement of OT Brad Butler
Rams claim TE Derek Fine
Bills waive TE Derek Fine
Bills cut WR Justin Jenkins
Bills cut S John Wendling
Bills cut DT Marcus Smith
Bills cut LB Ashlee Palmer
Bills cut C Marvin Philip
Quarterback: The Bills need a franchise quarterback if they want to ever emerge as a playoff contender. Unfortunately, they'll need to trade up in the 2010 NFL Draft to land one because so many other teams will be desperate to draft Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford. Drafted Levi Brown
Left Tackle: Demetrius Bell was given the chance to start at left tackle in 2009, but didn't perform very well. Making matters worse, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in November. The Bills will likely spend the No. 9 selection on Anthony Davis or Bruce Campbell. Drafted Ed Wang
Nose Tackle: It looks like the Bills will be transitioning to the 3-4. They'll need a few things for that scheme, including a dominant nose tackle to help stop the run. Cam Thomas had a great Senior Bowl and has propelled himself up to Round 2 consideration. Drafted Torell Troup
Rush Linebacker: Buffalo will need a long-term pass-rusher across from Aaron Maybin. Aaron Schobel has hinted toward retirement. And by the way, if you take away Schobel's 10 sacks, the team had just 22 in 2009. A Round 2-5 pick will be used on this position. Drafted Arthur Moats and Danny Batten
Wide Receiver: Terrell Owens is a free agent. If the 36-year-old diva isn't retained, the Bills will be hurting across from Lee Evans.
Defensive End: Kyle Williams is a good player in the 4-3, but I don't see how he's going to fit into Buffalo's new 3-4. Look for the Bills to spend a mid-round pick on some competition for Williams (unless they think Williams can actually play the 3-4). Signed Dwan Edwards
Inside Linebacker Depth: As with any team making the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4, Buffalo will need to get deeper at linebacker. Signed Andra Davis and Reggie Torbor
Return Specialist: Now at 28, Roscoe Parrish appears to have lost a lot of his explosion; he really struggled on punt returns last year. Also, I doubt the Bills want Fred Jackson taking back kicks much longer now that he's the featured back.
Right Tackle: Brad Butler tore his ACL in September, so it's unclear if he, Jamon Meredith, Demetrius Bell or Kirk Chambers can be effective at right tackle. Some competition could be added, but the Bills may hold off for another year. Drafted Kyle Calloway; signed Cornell Green
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Dwan Edwards, DE/DT, Ravens. Age: 29. Signed with Bills (4 years, $18 million)
Dwan Edwards took over the starting job over Trevor Pryce is November and never looked back. He's a force against the run.
Andra Davis, ILB, Broncos. Age: 31. Signed with Bills (2 years)
Andra Davis is a liability in coverage, but he can start in a 3-4 and play well against the run.
Reggie Torbor, ILB, Dolphins. Age: 29. -- Signed with Bills (2 years)
Cornell Green, OT, Raiders. Age: 34. -- Signed with Bills (3 years, $9 million)
Buffalo Bills Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 14): No cap.
Aaron Schobel, DE, Bills. Age: 33. Announced retirement
Leave it to the Bills to screw this up. They've inexplicably dumped Aaron Schobel, who can still get to the quarterback at age 33, as evidenced by his 10-sack campaign in 2009. Schobel is currently favored to go to Houston, where he and Mario Williams would wreak havoc upon opposing passers.
George Wilson (RFA), S, Bills. Age: 29. Re-signed with Bills (1 year, $1.7 million)
George Wilson started 12 games because of injuries to other players, and Buffalo's defense didn't suffer at all. Wilson, who will play behind Donte Whitner and Jairus Byrd in 2010, could start for numerous other teams.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bills. Age: 36. Signed with Bengals (1 year, $2 million)
Terrell Owens had only one 100-yard game in 2009. His pedestrian quarterbacks didn't help, but neither did Owens' declining skill set. At 36, he's not worth the trouble anymore.
Bryan Scott moved from safety to weakside linebacker after Keith Ellison was placed on injured reserve. Scott actually played relatively well, but the Bills need to upgrade this area; you're not going to be good against the run with a 220-pound starting linebacker.
Sometimes life isn't fair. Derek Schouman was having the game of his life (6 catches, 62 yards) in Week 2, but suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Richie Incognito (RFA), G, Bills. Age: 27. Signed with Dolphins (1 year)
Featured in a story that sounds like it came right out of the Emmitt on the Brink, Richie Incognito was criticized for sitting out a 2008 game for a fake illness. Jim Haslett was so frustrated that he actually slapped a candy bar out of Incognito's hands on the sideline. If Incognito can't find a job, perhaps he and JaMarcus Russell can start the Eating on the Sidelines Appreciation Society.
Keith Ellison, (RFA), OLB, Bills. Age: 26. Re-signed with Bills (1 year, $1.1 million)
A solid reserve at best, the Bills cannot go through another season with Keith Ellison as their starting weakside linebacker.
Ryan Denney, DE, Bills. Age: 33.
Jonathan Scott, OT, Bills. Age: 27. -- Signed with Steelers
Divisional Rival History: Miami Dolphins: Tony Sparano is 3-1 against the Bills, but that one loss was the last meeting between Buffalo and Miami. New England Patriots: Poor Bills. The Patriots have beaten them in 18 of the last 19 meetings, including the previous 13. New York Jets: The Jets have defeated Buffalo in three of the past four battles.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)