How things look on paper now may well be how things work in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season (whenever that will be). COVID-19 has changed everything about this offseason and without your typical competitive training camp or preseason, it’s an interesting exercise to rank what position groups on the Buffalo Bills are the strongest and most established compared to where the biggest question marks lie. Thus, I give you the Bills’ position room power ranking.
Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, and Tre’Davious White are three of the team’s four starters (or five starters if you count nickel as a starter). That is one really talented and reliable secondary. Even with question marks at CB2, the Bills’ quality at defensive back is strong.
This isn’t Jeremy Kerley and Andre Holmes anymore, ladies and gentleman. After a career year for John Brown and the addition of Stefon Diggs, the Bills wide receiver room looks awfully competent compared to some receiving corps in the not-too-distant past. Cole Beasley brings a dangerous slot option and although there are questions behind that spot, the cupboard is far from bare with Gabriel Davis, Isaiah Hodgins, Andre Roberts, Isaiah McKenzie, Duke Williams, and Robert Foster all vying for only a few spots. Whoever sticks on the back end of that room is going to beat out more than just your average camp bodies.
Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are studs—point blank period. They make this unit as respected as it is all by themselves. Without Lorenzo Alexander moving forward and veteran A.J. Klein expected to take up typical strong-side duties, the jury is out on what happens beyond the two young starting studs. The depth behind the starters is uncertain, to put it mildly. The room is significantly top heavy and if there is meaningful depth behind Milano and Edmunds it will be new and welcome news to Bills Mafia in 2020.
Fourth (tied): Running Backs
There is a lot of projection here about what Zack Moss will be for the Bills as a rookie. Devin Singletary isn’t explosive but he is shifty as can be and very hard to tackle. This room is all about Singletary and Moss. No offense to T.J. Yeldon, Taiwan Jones, or Patrick DiMarco, but there just isn’t enough ball to go around to care much about what is going to happen behind Singletary and Moss. That being said, it’s hard to have a more versatile combination of backs that the Bills have. Both guys are good enough to do everything and also similar enough to do whatever play offensive coordinator Brian Daboll calls. It’s an exciting prospect to have both players in their prime on rookie deals, and it should lead to reliable production from the position.
Fourth (tied): Defensive Line
Perhaps this unit is under ranked here, however there will be so many new bodies contributing meaningful minutes on the DL in 2020 that it’s hard to know exactly what it’s going to look like without seeing some action. Jerry Hughes and Ed Oliver are probably the most exciting names on the DL but the Bills added second-round pick A.J. Epenesa, veterans Mario Addison and Vernon Butler, plus jack-of-all-trades Quinton Jefferson. Not to mention Harrison Phillips is returning from a knee tear and Trent Murphy is in the final year of his deal. There are a lot of bodies in the defensive line room, many with some level of name recognition. But how the unit mixes and performs is tough to predict in an offseason with little live action.
Sixth: Offensive Line
The Bills’ offensive line is respectable. Dion Dawkins is a fine left tackle, Quinton Spain had a strong 2019, Mitch Morse is one of the best centers in the game, Jon Feliciano ranges from dependable to domineering, and Cody Ford is a young player with room for growth. So why so low on the list? Maybe the fact the Bills made no material improvements to the line is being held against them here. Maybe the “Cody Ford should be at guard” argument is just too potent to ignore. Long story short, for many Bills fans the offensive line needs to go out and prove itself this season. That’s what it comes down to; show that continuity made you better and not complacent. It would be a great problem if this ranking of the OL was far too low in hindsight.
The QB room being last is merely the byproduct of the jury still being out on Josh Allen. Is he “the guy” general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott believe will take them to great heights? Is he good enough to sign to a long-term deal? We think so [insert shrug here], but we don’t know. And no offense meant to Matt Barkley or Jake Fromm but Allen is where this position room starts and stops as far as comparing to other units on the team. Wherever Allen goes is where the team goes. Right now, there are reasons for optimism but it’s not often characterized as a safe bet.