Offseason grades have been trickling in over the last few weeks as teams start rookie minicamps and OTAs and for the Buffalo Bills, most of them have been positive. One notable exception is at ESPN, where the Insiders have given the Bills a "C-minus." I know, you're shocked.
The largest real estate in the article goes to the loss of Chris Hogan to the New England Patriots. Hogan has been cut from four teams in his NFL career but Bill Polian had this to say:
"The loss of Hogan was big," Polian said. "Who emerges now that Watkins is on the shelf for a while? Is it Marquise Goodwin? Is it Greg Salas? The loss of Hogan was tough and then to lose him to a division rival was even tougher. Other than that, they are in pretty good shape."
By not mentioning the big-money addition of Charles Clay a year ago, Polian isn't serving the readers very well. In an ideal Bills offense, Clay and even LeSean McCoy would see more targets than Hogan. And they fail to discuss Robert Woods at all, who has had more receptions than Hogan in every season both have been in the league.
While Polian focused on the current roster, Louis Riddick focused on the draft and panned the Bills pick of Shaq Lawson, but not just for injury concerns.
"The Lawson pick, I was never very fired up over it because what happened with his shoulder was exactly what people feared would happen," Riddick said. "He was a one-year wonder with injury concerns who is hurt, and it's not a surprise. That sets them behind. I do love the Reggie Ragland pick in the second round. Kolby Listenbee is one of my favorite players in the draft; he could be better than Devin Smith of the Jets."
It would have been tough for Lawson to make much of an impact before 2015 with a deep defensive line at Clemson. (Something noted by Sports Illustrated when the Bills made the pick.) Also, it's worth noting that by all accounts this surgery will end the injury concerns with Lawson and his shoulder. Yes, his rookie year will be short but it won't significantly impact his career on the whole.
The Bills also get dinged for not more aggressively pursuing a contract extension with Tyrod Taylor, but it's noted that they focused on re-signing the offensive line first and that was successful. Injuries also concerned the panel, but inMay it's hard to get too worked up about that when only Lawson is expected to miss any regular season time.
In all, Buffalo didn't have the 30th-worst offseason in the NFL like the Insiders voted. (Only Miami and Cleveland were worse according to the list.) With lots of grades considerably higher from other outlets, it's hard to agree with the gloom and doom here.