Under first-year head coach Sean McDermott, the Buffalo Bills far exceeded expectations in 2017, snapping the franchise’s embarrassing 17-year playoff drought while posting a 9-7 record. The Bills earned the No. 6 seed in the AFC and gave the Jacksonville Jaguars all they could handle in the AFC Wild Card round before falling 10-3.
Rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White, safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde,and running back LeSean McCoy excelled on the field in 2017, and their steady play earned them spots on Pro Football Focus’ top 101 players from this past season.
This list is based solely on on-field performance from 2017, and adheres to the belief that all positions are created equal.
White burst onto the scene with a terrific rookie campaign, compiling 69 tackles with 18 passes defensed and four interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus, White was the 21st-best player in the league and was named their Rookie of the Year after allowing just 50.6 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught in the regular season. His overall grade of 92.0 was the highest by a rookie cornerback since the 2006 season.
Poyer and Hyde both signed as free agents, helped solidify a Buffalo secondary that lost all four starters from the 2016 season. Poyer was ranked 95th and had an overall grade of 87.6 after making 95 tackles with five interceptions and six pass break-ups. Poyer, who picked off Tom Brady for a 19-yard pick-six in Week 16, was twice named to Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week. Poyer missed only four tackles on 572 snaps in pass coverage in 2017.
Hyde ranked 97th, earning a coverage rating of 89.8, the fourth-best rating among safeties in the league. Hyde tied Poyer for the team lead in interceptions with five and finished with 82 tackles, fourth-most on the team. He also had five pass breakups and allowed only 80 yards after the catch, eighth-fewest among safeties with 500 or more cover snaps.
McCoy earned his sixth Pro Bowl nod (and scored a touchdown in the Pro Bowl) during a season where he eclipsed 10,000 career rushing yards. McCoy ranked 99th after rushing for 1,138 yards (his sixth 1,000-yard season) with six rushing touchdowns. He was a threat out of the backfield, too, catching a team-high 59 passes for 448 yards with two touchdowns. McCoy earned an overall grade of 82.3, ranking second among running backs with 16 explosive runs, considered runs of 15 or more yards. His resilient running style led to 33 broken tackles on his 287 carries.