Heading into the 2017 season, all the hype for the Buffalo Bills is around the 2017 draft picks and how they will perform. However, only the first chapter is written for the 2016 draft picks, and for two of them, this is their first real look at NFL training camp.
DE Shaq Lawson (Round 1)
Lawson was bugged by a shoulder surgery that didn’t allow him to get on the field until week 7 of the 2016 season and by that time, it was hard to take snaps away from Lorenzo Alexander. During the Week 8 tilt, Lawson recorded his first NFL sack on Tom Brady. Only starting one game, Lawson never found his groove and wasn’t exactly 100 percent throughout the last 10 games.
Rex Ryan had Lawson uncomfortably play as a 3-4 OLB. This year in a 4-3 base, he will be able to put his hand in the dirt, pin his ears back, and get after the quarterback like he did at Clemson. Lawson should be much improved over his performance last year as he participates in his first NFL training camp.
LB Reggie Ragland (Round 2)
Ragland was going to be the anchor of the Bills defense last year until it all came to a screeching halt. After tearing his ACL in training camp, the rehab process started shortly after to get himself ready for the 2017 season.
Although he hasn’t played in a 4-3 system, his football IQ and ability to be around the ball will allow Ragland to be a part of a lot of snaps this year. His unofficial rookie season should be a promising one.
DT Adolphus Washington (Round 3)
With Lawson and Ragland sidelined, Washington started more games than any Bills rookie last year (11). Even though he didn’t overwhelm on the stat sheet, his presence was surely felt. His role on the defensive line might actually decline, as it looks like Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams shouldn’t be missing games. Washington and Jerel Worthy will rotate in on the interior, and that’s probably a good thing.
RB Jonathan Williams (Round 5)
Williams was a value pick for the Bills in the fifth-round last year. If it wasn’t for a foot injury his senior season at Arkansas, he had a good chance of being drafted sooner than he was.
Only getting 27 carries as the Bills third option at running back, he never got his shot to solidify himself as a reliable back. Fumbling twice on those 27 carries didn’t help his case. Penciled in as the number 2 going into training camp, Williams will have medium-sized shoes to fill after the departure of Mike Gillislee and with little else in the way of depth, he had better be ready for a larger role.
WR Kolby Listenbee (Round 6)
Listenbee was released by the team in June. He was never really healthy during his time with the team, recovering from several groin surgeries.
CB Kevon Seymour (Round 6)
If you told me right after the 2016 draft that sixth-round pick Kevon Seymour would be the rookie that brought the most to the table I would have laughed in your face. Turns out, he was and it really wasn’t even close.
Seymour only started 3 games last year but played well in the 15 games in which he appeared. According to Pro Football Focus, Seymour allowed the lowest rate of receptions per coverage snap at a rate of 14.8 coverage snaps per reception.
The rookie cornerback who allowed the lowest rate of receptions per coverage snap might surprise you... pic.twitter.com/SK5nzGHHaY— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 14, 2017
All 5 players who are still with the team will have multiple chances to make a serious impact this year. As most of them are on one side of the ball, the defense looks promising for the future.