With the draft beginning this Thursday, the “Scouting Spotlight” will serve as a highlight of five individual players from possible positions of need that the Buffalo Bills could look to address over the course of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The 2020 NFL Free Agency waves have come and gone. The Bills made a multitude of moves to shore up their offensive and defensive lines to go with cornerback as well. We must not forget the blockbuster trade for star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. General manager Brandon Beane has looked to address every hole on the roster. The last hole that still appears to be glaring is a complementary running back to pair with Devin Singletary. Could Maryland RB Anthony McFarland Jr. fill that role and more?
Anthony McFarland spent three years at Maryland after enrolling in 2017. He came to Maryland after missing his senior season in high school due to injury. McFarland redshirted in 2017 and only in 2018 and 2019 did he see playing time. He finished the 2018 season with 1,034 yards rushing on 7.9 yards per carry. He followed that up in 2019 with 614 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on just 114 carries. McFarland was hampered by an ankle injury for much of the 2019 season.
- Gets to his top speed in a hurry
- Bursts through holes with reckless abandon
- Shows ability to get skinny through small seams
- Has burst to beat linebackers and safeties to the edge
- Elite speed in the open field as a straight-line runner
- Shows ability to stack cuts in the backfield to find holes/elude defenders
- Shows flashes of lateral explosion
- Runs through arm tackles consistently
- Has good receiving upside for the next level with combination of soft hands and speed
- Low amount of tread with just 245 carries over the span of his college career
- Lacks any sort of patience to wait for blocks to develop
- Slow to see cutback lanes when the first hole is plugged
- Slow processor to make proper cuts to find seams outside the tackles
- Had a lot of big holes to run through with tons of space to work with
- Lacks significant creativity for such a speedy player
- Needs gather steps more times than not to change direction
- Took some big-time hits
- Pass protection is a liability with lack of effort and ability due to a small frame
McFarland offers the potential of a perfect change up to a starting-caliber running back at the next level. He is likely never to be an RB1 in the NFL but certainly possesses plenty of traits for RB2 ability. There have been recent reports from an “anonymous scout” questioning McFarland’s “absolutely atrocious” football character, which brings about a potential red flag. McFarland offers the ability to be a home-run hitter for an offense with the ability to be an upper-tier receiving back. He is capable between or outside the tackles. If given a seam, McFarland could shed an arm tackle and take it to the house at any moment.
Draft Projection: Round 5 - Round 7
Why he fits the Bills
McFarland fits the Bills for the sole reason that he can hit the home run. If the Bills truly feel they could complete their backfield with McFarland playing second fiddle to Devin Singletary, adding an element Singletary does not possess, he makes a ton of sense. Singletary and McFarland are very different as backs with similar size profiles. If the Bills want to make a splash later on in Day 3 to fill the RB2 role (and feel comfortable with that character), McFarland could be their guy.
Editor’s note: While they share a name, and this Anthony McFarland is a junior, he’s not related to ESPN analyst Booger McFarland.