The 2019 OTAs are in full swing, which means we’ve reached one of the slow points of the NFL offseason. It seems to me that there’s no better time to discuss some of the more ‘controversial’ topics regarding our favorite NFL team. Today, we’re going to have a debate about those players who deserve more attention, either locally or nationally. Below are four players, but feel free to discuss additional names in the comments.
DE Jerry Hughes
When NFL fans consider who the best pass rushers are in the league, it’s virtually guaranteed they wouldn’t consider Buffalo’s Jerry Hughes. Why would they? Hughes hasn’t had double-digit sacks since 2014. Sacks aren’t everything, though. According to Pro Football Focus, Hughes’s 74 total pressures on 375 pass-rush snaps last season gave him the best pass-rush productivity rating among all qualifying edge defenders in the league. Hughes has also greatly improved his run defense compared to his first few seasons with the team. It’s no wonder why the team decided to reward him with a recent two-year extension for his pass-rushing efforts.
S Jordan Poyer
Poyer famously had the statistics in 2017 to be voted into the NFL Pro Bowl but wasn’t. What’s crazy is that he had an even more productive season in 2018, with 100 combined tackles, nine tackles-for-loss and four interceptions. Like his teammate Micah Hyde, on the field Poyer is a Swiss-army knife for the defense. The majority of his snaps are at free safety, but he also comes down into the box, blitzes and even plays some snaps as a cornerback. How he and Hyde aren’t considered the best safety tandem in the league is beyond me.
CB Taron Johnson
Buffalo had the number-one pass defense in the league, something Johnson contributed towards in his rookie season. Nursing a shoulder injury for 11 games before he was eventually forced on injured reserve, Johnson demonstrated not just his toughness, but also his physicality as the team’s starting slot corner. Head coach Sean McDermott demands a lot from slot cornerbacks in his defense: they need to be great tacklers as well as great cover men. Johnson’s work against the run should earn him some praise in his coach’s eyes. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do with a full season of games in this defense and a healthy shoulder.
QB Josh Allen
Allen was rushed onto the field much too quickly in 2018. With the notable exception of the game against the Minnesota Vikings, his overall performance in his first six games was severely lacking. However, when he came back from his elbow injury to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, he looked like a different quarterback. Suddenly he was gaining chunks of yards on the ground and throwing for at least 200 yards every game. He demonstrated a rapport with his receivers and put the offense on his back. His season as a whole was not statistically impressive, but he was far from the bust most in the national media were expecting him to be.