2019 NFL Offseason: Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills (Last Year: 6-10)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Frank Gore, WR John Brown, WR Cole Beasley, TE Tyler Kroft, TE Lee Smith, OT Ty Nsekhe, OT LaAdrian Waddle, G John Feliciano, G Quinton Spain, C Mitch Morse, C Spencer Long, OLB Eli Harold, CB Kevin Johnson, CB E.J. Gaines, S Maurice Alexander, KR Andre Roberts.
Draft Picks:
DT Ed Oliver, G/OT Cody Ford, RB Devin Singletary, TE Dawson Knox, TE Vosean Joseph. Bills Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Derek Anderson, TE Charles Clay, TE Logan Thomas, OT Jordan Mills, G John Miller.

2019 Buffalo Bills Offense:
It was written last year that 2018 first-round pick Josh Allen would have a steep learning curve, and that the Buffalo fans would have to be very patient with him. Allen has a massive arm and tremendous mobility, but he was raw coming out of Wyoming, so it would take some time for him to develop. Not only that; the Bills’ supporting cast was incredibly weak, so he wouldn’t be getting much help from his teammates.

Allen ended up throwing for 2,074 yards, 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 12 games, all while completing just 52.8 percent of his passes. He specialized in running the ball, scrambling for 631 yards. Allen was dynamic as a runner, but his passing numbers were predictably weak. However, they should vastly improve in 2019, thanks to his experience, as well as the influx of talent the Bills added at receiver. They signed a couple of players at the position, bringing in John Brown and Cole Beasley. Brown is a potent deep threat who managed to rebound last year after some injury-ridden campaigns. Brown seems like a great fit for Buffalo as a match for Allen’s arm strength. Beasley, on the other hand, will be a reliable weapon for Allen on third down out of the slot. Meanwhile, tight end was also addressed, with Buffalo spending a third-round pick on Ole Miss’ Dawson Knox.

The Bills upgraded their offensive line as well. They had one of the worst blocking units in the NFL last year, but that won’t be the case in 2019. They signed center Mitch Morse to a $44.5 million contract in free agency. Morse has missed 14 games over the past two seasons, but he was a solid player for the Chiefs when he was healthy. He’ll likely be a big upgrade for Buffalo, as will second-round rookie Cody Ford, who was once projected as a top-20 prospect. Ford can play both guard and tackle. It seems as though the current plan for him is to start at right tackle, but he could move inside if he struggles there.

Buffalo will have four new starters on the front. In addition to Morse and Ford, the Bills also acquired Quinton Spain, who was a pedestrian guard for the Titans, as well as guard Jon Feliciano, who struggled with Oakland last year. The lone incumbent is Dion Dawkins, who had a strong 2018 campaign on the blind side.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what the Bills will do with their running back situation. LeSean McCoy is currently projected to be back for another season, but he looked like he was done last year. Buffalo signed even-older Frank Gore to handle some of the workload, then spent a third-round pick on Devin Singletary. The Florida Atlantic product is great at making defenders miss, but slipped to the third frame because of a slow 40-yard dash at the combine.

2019 Buffalo Bills Defense:
Buffalo’s offense has great potential, but is still a work in progress. The defense will have to carry the team if it’s to qualify for the playoffs. Based on the talent the Bills have on this side of the ball, that’s certainly a possibility.

The Bills had the No. 2 defense in efficiency last year, ranking 14th versus the run and second against the pass. They recorded 36 sacks, a number that figures to rise in the wake of what transpired in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Ed Oliver, once a candidate to be chosen first overall, was expected to go No. 3 to the Jets or No. 4 to the Raiders. However, thanks to some circumstances, including the incompetence of three franchises in front of them (Raiders, Giants, Lions), the Bills were able to land Oliver. The Houston product is a dynamic athlete in the mold of an Aaron Donald. He’s going to have a huge impact in Buffalo’s defense, as most quarterbacks hate getting pressured up the middle the most. Oliver will play next to a couple of defensive tackles (Harrison Phillips, Star Lotulelei), who specialize in stopping the run.

With Oliver on the front, teams are not going to be able to focus on blocking Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson and the other edge rushers. Hughes led the Bills with seven sacks last year, so that figure will likely grow. Lawson, meanwhile, is a former first-round pick who has produced just 10 sacks through three seasons. Oliver could help bring Lawson along as more than just a stout run defender. If not, perhaps Trent Murphy will live up to expectations; Murphy signed a $21 million contract last offseason, but didn’t do much in his first season in Buffalo. However, Murphy was just a year removed from a torn ACL, so perhaps he’ll do better now that he’s had more recovery time.

Oliver’s presence will strengthen the secondary, which, again, was highly ranked last season. The strength of the group was the two safeties, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, both of whom performed on a high level. Both players are still in their 20s, so it would be a surprise if their production declined.

One player who will have to improve from a down year is cornerback Tre’Davious White. The 2017 first-round pick had a tremendous rookie campaign, but his play declined this past season because of an ankle injury that lingered for too long. If White is fully healthy, he should be able to rebound and become a top corner once again. It remains to be seen who will start across from White. The current favorite is Levi Wallace, who was stellar down the stretch this past season. Wallace will have competition from newly signed Kevin Johnson, a former first-round pick, and E.J. Gaines, who played well for Buffalo a couple of seasons ago.

While it seems almost certain that White will bounce back, it remains to be seen if another young player, Tremaine Edmunds, will improve. Edmunds, chosen in the first round last April, did not fare well as a rookie, as he looked lost in coverage. He should be better with some experience, but he was seen as raw coming out of college. Lorenzo Alexander and Matt Milano were far better at the position. Milano, in particular, was excellent in coverage.

2019 Buffalo Bills Schedule and Intangibles:
Stephen Hauschka had a great first season with the Bills in 2017, but struggled last year, going just 22-of-28.

Punter Corey Bojorquez ranked just 21st in net average this past season.

The Bills struggled on special teams otherwise, as they were outgained on both punt and kickoff returns.

Buffalo has a chance to get off to a nice start with matchups against the Jets, Giants, Bengals, Titans and Dolphins in four of their first five games. Their schedule doesn’t get much more difficult after that.

2019 Buffalo Bills Rookies:
Go here for the Bills Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2019 Buffalo Bills Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Buffalo Bills Analysis: The Bills have a chance to make the playoffs for the second time in three years, thanks to their great defense and improved offense. Whether they reach the postseason or not depends on Josh Allen’s development. If he progresses quicker than expected, Buffalo could definitely be playing into January. Regardless, the Bills will be very competitive in most of their games, and a losing record would be disappointing.

Projection: 9-7 (3rd in AFC East)

2018 Projection: 3-13. 2018 Actual Result: 6-10.
2017 Projection: 5-11. 2017 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 8-8. 2016 Actual Result: 7-9.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: Josh Allen doesn’t have nearly enough talent around him. The Bills signed a couple of receivers in free agency, but that’s not enough. They need help at receiver, tight end, running back and the offensive line. The defense is almost an afterthought at this rate, though Buffalo must find a replacement for the newly retired Kyle Williams.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Bills discussed trading up as high as No. 3 overall to obtain Ed Oliver. It turns out that was completely unnecessary, as Oliver dropped to them, thanks to the sheer incompetence of two teams in front of them. Buffalo won’t complain, as it obtained a top-three prospect in this class with the eighth-overall selection. Luck had a factor in this, but credit the Bills for not panicking and having faith that they could obtain their man.

Amazingly, the Bills landed another steal with their next selection. It was shocking that Cody Ford fell to them early in the second round. Ford, who could’ve gone as high as No. 14 without any criticism, was grand larceny at the 38th pick. He’ll provide a much-needed massive upgrade on the offensive line.

These two picks set the tone for how Buffalo’s draft would go. The Bills ended up with one of the top hauls in the entire 2019 NFL Draft. All of their picks in the top 180 earned a B+ or higher. None of their selections overall was marked as worse than a “B.” The Bills filled needs with great value selections, which is why they’re getting a well-deserved A+.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

9. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston A+ Grade
It took an unreasonable agent, a reach on a quarterback and a mediocre top-eight pick used on a tight end, but the Bills won the draft. Congrats, Buffalo! Oliver could end up being the best player from this entire class. He’s drawn Aaron Donald comparisons for a reason, and he’ll be a great replacement for Kyle Williams. Buffalo wanted to trade up for Oliver, yet didn’t have to at all. This is an easy A+ grade.

38. Cody Ford, G/OT, Oklahoma A+ Grade
The Bills moved up two spots to ensure that they’d land Cody Ford. Well done. For the second time in two picks, they obtained an absolute steal. Ford is someone who could’ve been drafted at No. 14 overall without any sort of criticism. I currently don’t know why Ford fell into Round 2 – if there’s even a reason – but the Bills are clearly able to take advantage of this situation, finding themselves a much-needed upgrade for Josh Allen.

74. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic A- Grade
The Bills have their running back of the future for when LeSean McCoy retires or becomes a film critic who spoils all of the major plot lines. Devin Singletary is a very talented running back who could have been chosen in the second round, so I like the value with this choice. The only problem is that Lane Kiffin ran Singletary into the ground, so Singletary might have a shorter career than expected.

96. Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss B+ Grade
The Bills could’ve chosen a tight end earlier than this, but they’re potentially filling that need at the end of Day 2. It’s a solid pick, as Dawson Knox has good athleticism and upside. He wasn’t productive at Ole Miss, but that can be blamed on the program being a complete mess lately. It’s worth taking a risk on Knox at this juncture.

147. Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida A- Grade
Charlie Campbell reported that Vosean Joseph would fall into Day 3, and here we are. Still, I think this is a great bargain for the Bills, as Joseph is a very instinctive linebacker who can blitz well. There are some concerns with his ability in coverage, but he could end up being a contributor in Buffalo’s defense at some point.

181. Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami B Grade
I had Jaquan Johnson being selected in the sixth round, so the range makes sense. Johnson would’ve been drafted much earlier than this if his testing numbers were better, but he’s sadly a small (5-10, 191) and slow safety. Johnson was a highly productive team captain in Miami, but may have to be relegated to special teams in the NFL. I could see him developing into a special-teams ace.

225. Darryl Johnson, DE/OLB, North Carolina A&T B Grade
Darryl Johnson didn’t face much competition at North Carolina A&T, which is a concern, as is his lack of strength, which needs to be developed. The one promising thing here is that Johnson posted a solid 3-cone time, which translates well. Johnson is a project, but perhaps the Bills will be able to make something out of him.

228. Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College B Grade
Tommy Sweeney was highly productive at Boston College, both as a receiver and a blocker. He’s a solid player, but doesn’t have much upside because of sub-par athleticism. Still, he’s good at what he does, so he could stick as a backup tight end in the NFL.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Bills took a step back last season after making the playoffs in 2017. This, however, was a necessary move in order to take a leap forward. That is possible with Josh Allen, who has unlimited upside. The Bills must surround him with talent.

Offseason Moves:
  • Bills sign OLB Eli Harold
  • Bills sign G Quinton Spain
  • Bills cut RB Chris Ivory
  • Bills sign CB E.J. Gaines
  • Bills sign S Maurice Alexander
  • Bills sign OT LaAdrian Waddle
  • Bills sign KR Andre Roberts
  • Bills sign G Jon Feliciano
  • Bills sign OT Ty Nsekhe
  • Bills sign WR John Brown
  • Bills sign WR Cole Beasley
  • Bills sign TE Tyler Kroft
  • Bills sign RB Frank Gore
  • Bills sign CB Kevin Johnson
  • Bills sign C Spencer Long
  • Bills sign C Mitch Morse

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Guards: Josh Allen needs help. The Bills must give him support this offseason, and that includes bolstering the offensive line. The interior is the weakest part of the blocking unit, and two guards are needed. Signed Jon Feliciano and Quinton Spain

    2. Center: Every single position in the interior of the offensive line must be bolstered. That includes center as well. Russell Bodine has to be upgraded. Signed Mitch Morse and Spencer Long

    3. Right Tackle: And finally, right tackle. The only spot on the offensive line that is secure is left tackle Dion Dawkins. As you can see, Buffalo had one of the worst offensive lines in 2018. That needs to change. Signed Ty Nsekhe and LaAdrian Waddle

    4. Wide Receiver: Zay Jones and Robert Foster had some nice performances down the stretch, but neither can be a viable No. 1 target. The Bills need to find an elite, top-notch play-maker for Allen. Signed Cole Beasley and John Brown

    5. Tight End: The Bills need a play-maker at tight end as well, as Charles Clay has been a big disappointment for them. Signed Tyler Kroft

    6. Defensive Tackle: Kyle Williams has retired, while Star Lotulelei was an overpaid signing. The Bills might have something in young interior lineman Harrison Phillips, but that’s about it. They could spend an early pick on a defensive tackle.

    7. Running Back: LeSean McCoy isn’t going to last much longer. Buffalo will need to find a successor. Signed Frank Gore

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Mitch Morse, C, Chiefs. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bills

      Mitch Morse is a very talented center, especially in pass protection. He’s also just 27 (in April), so he has a bright future ahead of him. The one issue is that he hasn’t stayed healthy; he’s missed 12 total games in the past two years. If it weren’t for his durability, he’d be rated as a four-star player.

    2. John Brown, WR, Ravens. Age: 29.
      Signed with Bills (3 years, $27 million)

      John Brown showed some explosive play-making ability for the first time in years when he was paired with Joe Flacco. His stats diminished with Lamar Jackson at the helm, however. Still, Brown is a solid receiver, though he has a lengthy injury history.

    3. Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys. Age: 30.
      Signed with Bills (4 years, $29 million)

      Cole Beasley has been a reliable slot receiver for the Cowboys over the years. He caught 65 passes for 672 yards in 2018 after a slow start. Beasley turns 30 in April, but should still be effective over the next 2-3 years.

    4. E.J. Gaines, CB, Browns. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bills (1 year, $3.6 million)

      E.J. Gaines would be rated higher than this if he didn’t have a bad history of injuries and concussions. It’s a shame, but his career could be cut short.

    5. Ty Nsekhe, OT, Redskins. Age: 33.
      Signed with Bills (2 years, $14.5 million; $7.7 million guaranteed

      Ty Nsekhe has done a good job as Washington’s swing tackle over the past couple of seasons, playing well whenever Trent Williams went down. Unfortunately, he turns 34 in October.

    6. Kevin Johnson, CB, Texans. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bills

      Kevin Johnson has missed 29 games in the past three years. He’s a former first-round pick and has some potential, but he just can’t stay healthy.

    7. Frank Gore, RB, Dolphins. Age: 36.
      Signed with Bills (1 year, $2 million)

      Frank Gore somehow was able to fend off Kenyan Drake as the starting running back, averaging 4.6 yards per carry behind an offensive line that wasn’t very good. He plans to return for 2019 despite turning 36 in May.

    8. Tyler Kroft, TE, Bengals. Age: 26. — Signed with Bills (3 years, $18.75 million)
    9. Quinton Spain, G, Titans. Age: 28. — Signed with Bills
    10. Jon Feliciano, G, Raiders. Age: 27. — Signed with Bills (2 years)
    11. Eli Harold, DE/OLB, Lions. Age: 25. — Signed with Bills (1 year)
    12. LaAdrian Waddle, OT, Patriots. Age: 28. — Signed with Bills
    13. Maurice Alexander, S, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Signed with Bills (1 year)

    Buffalo Bills Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Lorenzo Alexander, LB, Bills. Age: 36.
      Re-signed with Bills (1 year)

      Lorenzo Alexander is coming off a great season, thriving in all facets. He covered well in space, dominated in run support and collected 6.5 sacks. Unfortunately, he turns 36 in May.

    2. Eddie Yarbrough (RFA), DE/OLB, Bills. Age: 26.
      Tendered by Bills

      Eddie Yarbrough had a spectacular training camp in the summer of 2017, but that hasn’t translated to live action. Still, Yarbrough is just 26, so he has plenty of potential.

    3. John Miller, G, Bills. Age: 26. — Signed with Bengals (3 years, $16.5 million)
    4. Charles Clay, TE, Bills. Age: 30. — Signed with Cardinals
    5. Jordan Mills, OT, Bills. Age: 28.
    6. Logan Thomas, TE, Bills. Age: 28. — Signed with Lions
    7. Jordan Phillips, DT, Bills. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Bills (1 year)
    8. Chris Ivory, RB, Bills. Age: 31.
    9. Ryan Groy, C/G, Bills. Age: 28.
    10. Jeremiah Sirles, OT, Bills. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Bills (1 year)
    11. Ramon Humber, OLB, Bills. Age: 32.
    12. Deonte Thompson, WR, Bills. Age: 30. — Signed with Jets
    13. Lafayette Pitts, CB, Bills. Age: 26.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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