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Behind enemy lines: Breaking down the former Carolina Panthers on the Buffalo Bills

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We talk with SBNation.com’s Cat Scratch Reader about the newest Panthers-turned-Bills

When Matt Warren asked me to reach out to rival blogs for insight on the newest Buffalo Bills, I joked that it would be easy to do, since most of Buffalo’s signings came from one place. Yes, the Carolina Panthers connections are strong in Orchard Park, so the majority of our discussion comes from one place.

Our friends over at Cat Scratch Reader were gracious enough to discuss Buffalo’s newest former Panthers—specifically, Vernon Butler, Mario Addison, and Daryl Williams. While they absolutely could have weighed in on A.J. Klein and Josh Norman, we figured that would have led to an undue burden for them.

Here’s what managing editor Bradley Smith and editor Erik Sommers had to say about Buffalo’s new additions.


Vernon Butler:Butler took a step forward last season while being thrust into more duty due to the injury to Kawann Short. While he is still not close to living up to his original first-round pick status, some of the things that made the Panthers salivate over him occasionally flash. He is still fast off the ball, and actually displayed some impressive power to hold the point of attack against the run, even though the Panthers’ defense was a mess in that area on the whole. The major concerns with him are consistency and his injury history, with him generally missing time almost each year since going pro. I would caution against an overreaction to his somewhat impressive sack total of six last season. A lot of that was the Panthers generating excellent edge pressure and the quarterback simply running out of room, but there were a couple of standout plays in that bunch as well.”

Mario Addison:Addison rose from NFL journeyman to premier pass rusher throughout Ron Rivera’s tenure with the Carolina Panthers, and most of that can be credited to his top-notch work ethic. The switch to multiple fronts was not particularly kind to the 32-year-old end, who although managing to maintain his sack total from the year prior, was pretty exposed on many reps. A breakdown of his game log tells a story of feasting on bad teams and disappearing against good ones. Addison is still quick off the edge, but dependent on that speed rush to win. He’s not a guy you’d want as your best rusher, but I think can still be a great complementary option. At 32 years old, the Bills paid a pretty heavy price for him, and I am not sure he will live up to it given his age. That said, the man is a WORKER, and will give you everything he has.”

Daryl Williams: “Don’t play him at left tackle. Just don’t. Let me save you a lot of heartache. Don’t consider him a depth piece there. Nothing. Through his own admission, and through simply watching a game or two, you’ll find that Williams thrives more on the right side than the left. Still, the book on him now is that he is more suited to play guard than tackle at the NFL level, even if you are talking right tackle. A right tackle in the modern NFL is no longer just a road-grader; they need to be able to hold up on their own in one-on-one pass pro as well, and unfortunately, Williams lacks the lateral agility to hang in space with most NFL speed rushers. This was the case even before his major injuries in 2018, regardless of receiving numerous accolades in that 2017 season. Still, he is a very powerful guy, and by moving him to guard you limit the bubble he has to try and cover, which is ideal for his skill set.

As far as fan reaction, my (Smith’s) personal take is that these three losses led to mixed reactions. Fans were kinda upset that Addison left, but understood why a team with a new regime wouldn’t want to pay a 32-year-old defensive end when they can just go with youth. Fans were “meh” on Butler leaving because most fans don’t believe he lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick, and most fans were happy that someone else signed Williams before we did. Like Erik said, whatever you do, don’t play him at left tackle if you value Josh Allen’s well-being.”


Many thanks to Erik and Bradley for their help and insight!