FanPost

Off-Season Opinions §1. I.D. Needs

In this post I hope to identify the top needs for the team to address either via free agency or with the 2014 NFL draft in April. I’ve been thinking about this for a while which have led to my opinions. For those of you wanting to understand my rationale for the order of biggest needs, please feel free to read below. Otherwise, here are my top needs for the Bills to address.

In order from greatest need to least: OG, WR, LB, OT, TE, S*, HB, CB, P, QB, & DL. *Note: If the Bills franchise FS Byrd, our secondary should be set which is why I have safety as a lower priority on the list.

Left Guard

Doug Legursky vs. untested, but young backups

#1 WR

Tall WR to support #2 WRs Woods and Johnson

Linebacker

Either SLB or WLB depending where Lawson lines up

Right Tackle

Pears poor, Hairston return in limbo due to injury?

Tight End

Upgrade over free agent (FA) Scott Chandler

Free Safety

Jairus Byrd: franchise/long term deal or in big trouble

#3 Halfback

Ronnie Wingo who? Summers is a free agent FB

CB Depth

Ron Brooks struggled, injuries were killer early on

Punter

Moorman OK, but ranked low in punting average

QB Depth

Kolb could be cap causality, need mentor/depth

D-Line Depth

Carrington FA, maybe another pass rusher OLB too

Offense

There are four things wrong with the offense in general which resulted in a poor pass game and inconsistencies especially in the red zone.

First, we need a tall receiver in the receiving corps, part of the reason why I was shocked we did not bring back David Nelson. The Bills have #2 and slot receivers in spades but they lack a tall, true #1 receiver. Stevie Johnson is great, but lacks the height and reliability to be that player. Sure a better starting tight end that can catch and block (not that Scott Chandler is bad) would help, but when you’re on the goal line, any additional tall receiver helps.

Second we need better linemen. Glenn is solid at left tackle and you don’t mess with success there as is Eric Wood at center. Kraig Urbik is a good right guard but he had his ups and downs this year. Right tackle is a spot that could be addressed this year in the first round of the draft as Erik Pears was overwhelmed at times. This could seriously depend on whether or not Chris Hairston can return to the lineup even in backup duties.

The most troubled area is left guard… Doug Legursky was clearly the weakest spot on the line. Marrone talks of the young backups (Unga, Asper and McClaine) having the potential to start, but then why didn’t they during the year. I’ve been wanting a guard since Levitre left and Marrone being an O-Line guy himself, could finally go for one on Day 2 of the draft.

Thirdly, we need a solid #3 running back for short yardage situation. This goes in hand with needing a better left guard; Legursky was constantly getting pushed back blowing up these plays. Still though, we need a power-back that can take that extra beating to get that one/two yards. Plus we only have 3 running backs on the roster right now.

Finally, we need to stay healthy especially at quarterback. E.J. Manuel’s struggles were partly due to being a rookie, but the other was he had 3 knee injuries this year. E.J. needs to learn and playing smarter to avoid hits will help. Plus he’s young and not being injured much in college will help his recovery. Tying in with this, it’s important to have a veteran signal caller on the bench to assist E.J. with his awareness. The Bills were hoping Kolb could play that role (before landing on the IR) and while I am fine with Thad Lewis playing backup QB, he could be upgraded.

Defense

On defense it comes down to one thing and that thing is getting a linebacker, provided we retain FS Jairus Byrd. The Bills ranked well except for the run game where we had matches in which the Bills got burned several times over. Here’s the breakdown.

Our secondary had problems to start off the year but that’s because 3 of our top DBs were injured. Gilmore has a ton of potential as seen at the end of the year while McKelvin finally made big strides as a starting corner with his 20 passes defended. Nickell Robey has been a great nickel CB as well, one of the best UDFAs we had in a while. Aaron Williams was great at strong safety with the ability to chip in at corner and Byrd is a three time Pro-Bowler. We could add a little depth though given past injuries.

The D-Line meanwhile has 2 Pro-Bowlers in the Williams brothers, a future Pro-Bowl DT in Dareus (he got snubbed this year!), and the upstart pass rusher Jerry Hughes. The Bills went from averaging 27 sacks from 2010-2011 to #2 in the league with 57 this year! Alex Carrington (a free agent) and Alan Branch all do well as run stuffers to fill out the last spot on the D-Line and the Bills have depth here as well.

Again, I state the Bills’ defense needs a quality linebacker to shore up the defense. We have a great, developing MLB with Kiko Alonso, and Manny Lawson is a big LB with good skills. But that last linebacker spot has been the kill-zone for the run game. Moats/Bradham cannot be trusted to close gaps and snuff out plays. The good thing for the Bills is that with their defense, they can be flexible; by that I mean, they could shift Lawson inside with little worry and address a 3-4 OLB spot, or bring in a weakside-linebacker 4-3 OLB/ 3-4 ILB.

Special Teams

I’d bring back Dan Carpenter to have he and rookie Dustin Hopkins battle it out in training camp. Both are good kickers, Carpenter being more reliable, but Hopkins has the bigger leg. LS Sanborn had a few off-snaps, but will likely stay.

Punter; I love Brian Moorman (heck, I have his jersey), but he seems to have lost a few yards and accuracy over the last year and is 37. The Bills signed him for a one year deal, appropriate at his age and while he has a decent net average, a punter with a stronger leg should give him a run for his money this upcoming year.

Special note to needing core special teamers on kick/punt return game. I’m not a fan of Danny Crossman, but we do need a few guys. Aside from Marcus Easley and maybe Hogan, they Bills lacked playmakers here. The kick and punt returners were quiet as well, meaning we would do well to bring in some bigger players that can block to open up lanes for them.

Go Bills!

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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