2020 NFL Offseason: Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills (Last Year: 10-6)

2020 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Taiwan Jones, WR Stefon Diggs, OT Daryl Williams, DE Mario Addison, DT Quinton Jefferson, DT Vernon Butler, LB A.J. Klein, LB Tyler Matakevich, CB Josh Norman.
Draft Picks:
DE A.J. Epenesa, RB Zack Moss, WR Gabriel Davis. Bills Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Frank Gore, DT Jordan Phillips, CB Kevin Johnson.

2020 Buffalo Bills Offense:
Josh Allen was viewed as a 2- or 3-year project when he entered the NFL out of Wyoming. He showed some glimpses in his rookie campaign, but struggled in most games. He took a big leap last year, however. His completion percentage rose six points – 52.8 to 58.8 – and his passing touchdown-to-interception ratio was a solid 20:9, compared to 10:12 in 2018. Of course, Allen maintained his excellent scrambling ability, serving as a potent dual-threat quarterback.

This should be the year Allen emerges as a quarterback capable of winning the Super Bowl, and he’ll certainly have help. The Bills made a big splash when they traded their first-round pick for Stefon Diggs. The Bills already had a solid receiving corps with John Brown and Cole Beasley serving as the top threats last year – not to mention athletic tight end Dawson Knox – but neither was a No. 1 option. Diggs absolutely is, and his presence will really make opposing defenses respect the passing game.

With defenses having to worry about Allen launching deep bombs to Diggs and Brown, it’ll only open things up for Devin Singletary. The second-year back shared the workload with Frank Gore early last year, but took over as the primary back in Week 9. Singletary is a very talented runner, and he’s also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield. With more room to run, he could have a great 2020 campaign.

Speaking of second-year players who need to make a big leap, right tackle Cody Ford did not have the best rookie season. However, he has plenty of upside, so he could improve his play in 2020. If anything, he could move inside to guard, which would allow either Daryl Williams or Ty Nsekhe to slide into his spot. Nsekhe is one of the better backup swing tackles in the NFL, so he could handle the job. Williams, meanwhile, is more talented, but has a very dubious injury history. Either way, Buffalo is set at left tackle with Dion Dawkins.

The Bills could definitely use an upgrade in the interior of their blocking unit, as excellent center Mitch Morse is sandwiched by a pair of mediocre or worse guards, Quinton Spain and Jon Feliciano. There’s a chance the Bills may use the aforementioned Williams at guard, which would be a good plan if he can stay healthy.

2020 Buffalo Bills Defense:
With Buffalo’s offense still a work in progress last year, the defense managed to lead the team to just its second playoff appearance since 1999. The stop unit was excellent, surrendering just 16.5 points per game.

As with the offense, the Bills made some changes that will help the defense. They signed a couple of players for the front line, including Quinton Jefferson, who stuffed the run exceptionally well last year for Seattle, all while getting after the quarterback reasonably well. With the overpriced Star Lotulelei failing to live up to expectations, Jefferson is expected to start next to last year’s first-round pick, Ed Oliver, who is expected to make a big leap in production.

Buffalo also signed Mario Addison in free agency. Addison is on the wrong side of 30 – he turns 33 in September – but he still logged 9.5 sacks with the Panthers this past season. The Bills weren’t done adding to their edge rushers, as they selected A.J. Epenesa with their initial selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Epenesa was seen as a first-round prospect, but mediocre athleticism on his part prompted a fall into Round 2. Epenesa was a great player at Iowa, so he should be a solid presence for the Bills in a rotation with Addison and top edge rushers Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy.

An amazing defensive line is a best friend to the secondary, and it’s not even like the Bills’ defensive backs needed much help from the front. Tre’Davious White is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, while Levi Wallace is a solid second option at the position. The Bills were lacking in depth at the position, so they acquired Josh Norman this offseason. Norman was woeful for the Redskins last year, but perhaps he’ll rebound, thanks to his familiarity in Sean McDermott’s defense.

The Bills also have an excellent pair of safeties. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are both terrific in coverage, so unless there are any injuries to the secondary, it’s going to be very difficult to throw on Buffalo this year.

The worst aspect of the Bills’ defense is their linebacking corps, and it’s not even that bad. Matt Milano missed far too many tackles last year, but he played well in coverage. Tremaine Edmunds was the polar opposite, but he’s young and athletic, so he could make a big jump in the third year of his career. Buffalo also added A.J. Klein and Tyler Matakevich for solid depth.

2020 Buffalo Bills Schedule and Intangibles:
Stephen Hauschka has struggled as the team’s kicker the past two years. He’s gone 22-of-28 each season, and he was just 1-of-5 from 50-plus in 2019.

Punter Corey Bojorquez ranked just 30th in net average this past season. However, he was one of the best punters at placing the opposing team inside the 20.

The Bills had solid special teams otherwise. In fact, they averaged the best starting point off kickoffs in the NFL last year.

Buffalo has a chance to get off to a nice start with matchups against the Jets, Dolphins, Rams and Raiders. Things get harder after that, but a 4-0 surge is possible before games against the Titans, Chiefs, Patriots and Seahawks.

2020 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.

2020 Buffalo Bills Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2020 Buffalo Bills Analysis: For the first time this century, Buffalo is the best team in the AFC East. Combined with the sudden decline of the Patriots and their own amazing offseason, the Bills are fully expected to make a deep playoff run. If Josh Allen can take a big leap in his evolution as an NFL quarterback, Buffalo may even win the Super Bowl.

Projection: 11-5 (Tied 1st in AFC East)

2019 Projection: 9-7. 2019 Actual Result: 10-6.
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 2020 NFL Draft: The Bills don’t have a first-round pick as a result of the Stefon Diggs trade, but based on how many positive transactions they had in March, it could be argued that they don’t even need one. The Bills don’t have many holes on their roster, but they could stand to add some more offensive line help, as well as a new running back to complement Devin Singletary.

2020 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I can’t believe A.J. Epenesa fell to Buffalo at No. 54. Granted, Epenesa isn’t a great athlete, but he still should’ve been chosen in the 22-40 range. The Bills, who had the luxury of selecting the best player available, obtained a prospect some may have projected to them when they once had the No. 22 overall pick!

Epenesa kicked off what appears to be a stellar draft class for the Bills. Five of their seven selections earned a “B” grade or better. This includes Zack Moss, the running back complement I spoke of, as well as Gabriel Davis, who was a great bargain in Round 4.

There are just two things I didn’t like about the Bills’ haul. One was that they drafted a kicker in Round 6, and the second was that they didn’t address the offensive line. These two items, however, won’t prevent me from grading Buffalo very favorably.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

54. A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa – A+ Grade
Back to sanity… The Bills’ terrific offseason continues. A.J. Epenesa isn’t a great athlete, which is why he fell out of Round 1. He could have still been chosen on Thursday, so I love this value. Epenesa doesn’t fill a huge need, but the Bills are great pretty much everywhere, so it makes sense for them to add talent, regardless of the position.

86. Zack Moss, RB, Utah – A- Grade
I had Zack Moss slotted to the Bills at this very spot in many updates of my 2020 NFL Mock Draft because it makes so much sense. Moss projects as a great complement for Devin Singletary. Buffalo needed one with Frank Gore set to move on. Moss could’ve gone a bit earlier than this, so I like this pick quite a bit.

128. Gabriel Davis, WR, Central Florida – B+ Grade
Gabriel Davis has great size (6-3, 212), and I thought he could be chosen in the third round. There’s some question about his ability to separate from coverage, but the potential is certainly there. This doesn’t fill a need, but Davis was one of the better players available.

167. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia – B Grade
Wow, Jake Fromm went to an AFC East team, but it wasn’t the Patriots. The Bills needed competition behind Josh Allen for the No. 2 spot, and Fromm could end up being the backup. Fromm, who was the worst quarterback at the combine except for Shea Patterson, possesses no upside, but he’s smart and has a high floor as a reserve.

188. Tyler Bass, K, Georgia Southern – C Grade
I’m more OK with a kicker in the sixth round, especially when it’s one of the top two players at the “position.” Still, this is meh.

207. Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State – C+ Grade
I don’t know if Isaiah Hodgins can beat NFL coverage, but he’s a huge target at 6-4, 210, and he has nice ball skills. There’s some potential here, so I don’t hate the pick, but Buffalo may have a receiving corps that’s too crowded for Hodgins.

239. Dane Jackson, CB, Pittsburgh – B+ Grade
I’ve constantly had Dane Jackson in the sixth round of my mock draft, so this is a mini-bargain. A team can never have too much cornerback depth, so I like Buffalo’s latest pick.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Bills were perhaps a year ahead of schedule. They were projected to be a playoff team by 2020, but they were able to take advantage of an easy schedule and qualify for the postseason this past year. The team blew a 16-0 lead to the Texans, but the future is certainly bright for Buffalo.

Offseason Moves:
  • Bills sign OT Daryl Williams
  • Bills sign CB E.J. Gaines
  • Bills sign RB Taiwan Jones
  • Bills sign DT Vernon Butler
  • Bills sign DT Quinton Jefferson
  • Bills sign ILB Tyler Matakevich
  • Bills sign DE Mario Addison
  • Bills acquire WR Stefon Diggs from Vikings
  • Bills sign ILB A.J. Klein
  • Bills sign CB Josh Norman

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Guards: Buffalo improved its offensive line last offseason, but upgrades still need to be made. The weak point is guard, as two upgrades are needed. An alternative solution is one guard and a right tackle, which would allow the Bills to move Cody Ford inside, where he probably belongs.

    2. Defensive Tackle: Ed Oliver could end up being a great player, but the Bills don’t have much else at the position. Another interior pass-rusher is needed. Signed Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler

    3. Wide Receiver: John Brown and Cole Beasley made for a nice duo this past season, but the Bills could use one more receiver to add to their group. Traded for Stefon Diggs

    4. Defensive End Depth: Lorenzo Alexander has announced his retirement, so the Bills will need some edge-rushing depth. Signed Mario Addison

    5. Slot Cornerback: Kevin Johnson is an impending free agent, so he’ll need to be replaced if he departs via the open market.

    6. Backup Running Back: Devin Singletary will need a new backup next year if the team doesn’t re-sign Frank Gore.

    7. Backup Quarterback: The Bills could use a better backup quarterback than Matt Barkley.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2020 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Quinton Jefferson, DT, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bills (2 years)

      Quinton Jefferson was one of the biggest surprises for the Seahawks this past season. He emerged as a potent force in the interior of the trenches, stuffing the run well and generating some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

    2. Daryl Williams, OT, Panthers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Bills (1 year)

      Daryl Williams is coming off a disappointing year, but I suppose that should’ve been expected, given that he was coming off a knee injury. Williams should be able to bounce back in 2020, but he comes with lots of risk because of his dubious injury history.

    3. Mario Addison, DE, Panthers. Age: 32.
      Signed with Bills (3 years)

      Mario Addison hasn’t recorded fewer than nine sacks in each of the past four years. However, he turns 33 in early September, so he might be due for some regression.

    4. Josh Norman, CB, Redskins. Age: 32.
      Signed with Bills (1 year)

      Josh Norman was one of the worst cornerbacks in the league last year. He didn’t look like he belonged in the NFL, so it wasn’t a surprise that he was benched. I don’t think it’s impossible for Norman to rebound in 2020, so he’s worth a flier. However, it’s more likely that Norman is completely done.

    5. A.J. Klein, ILB, Saints. Age: 29. — Signed with Bills (3 years, $18 million)
    6. Tyler Matakevich, ILB, Steelers. Age: 27. — Signed with Bills (2 years, $9 million)

    Buffalo Bills Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Kevin Johnson, CB, Bills. Age: 28.
      Signed with Browns (1 year, $3.5 million)

      Kevin Johnson played well in the slot for the Bills this past season. He missed a bit too many tackles, but he covered slot receivers very well.

    2. Quinton Spain, G, Bills. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Bills

      Quinton Spain was sub par as one of Buffalo’s guards this past season, but he has played better in the past.

    3. Frank Gore, RB, Bills. Age: 37.
      Signed with Jets

      Frank Gore is still somehow a steady back at the age of 37. He can’t start anymore, but he’s an excellent backup.

    4. Jordan Phillips, DT, Bills. Age: 27. — Signed with Cardinals (3 years, $30 million)
    5. Kurt Coleman, S, Bills. Age: 32.
    6. LaAdrian Waddle, OT, Bills. Age: 29.
    7. Maurice Alexander, OLB, Bills. Age: 29.
    8. Jeremiah Sirles, OT, Bills. Age: 29.

    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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