Coming off a 10-6 season and a second playoff berth in three years, general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott seemed to be the perfect match and brought Buffalo out of a rebuild quicker than many may have expected. After a heartbreaking loss in the Wild Card round against the Houston Texans, Brandon Beane began his search to get the roster to the next level. In his postseason press conference, he said he believed this team wasn’t “just one player away,” so once free agency opened up, he brought in eight new players to bridge the gap.
In a free-agent group that included Josh Norman, A.J. Klein, Mario Addison, Taiwan Jones, Daryl Williams, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler and Tyler Matakevich; Brandon Beane made sure to do his due diligence on every position group.
The blockbuster move of the offseason and most impactful trade, was the acquisition of Stefon Diggs. The Bills also had an extremely successful draft in 2020, bringing in seven new players, in which five saw significant playing time during the season. So who provided the most impact to Buffalo as a free agent, and who did so as a rookie?
Most impactful free agent
Right Tackle Daryl Williams seemed to be the most impactful of all, from the free-agent group. Matching up against players like Joey Bosa, T.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney throughout the 16 games he started, Williams only allowed three sacks. Mario Addison posted five sacks in 15 games with the Bills after four straight seasons of nine or more sacks. Josh Norman was hopeful to rekindle his 2015 All-Pro season with Sean McDermott, but struggled to stay on the field. A.J. Klein went on a rollercoaster ride of emotions for Bills fans after struggling out of the gate, then becoming the hero in the win over Seattle and then fading out as the Bills’ defense focused more on nickel and dime packages, making Klein the odd man out.
Most impactful draft pick
Stefon Diggs was the most impactful use of a draft pick after the Bills traded their first-round pick in exchange for him, but he was not the only guy who flourished in their first year with the Bills. After just one full season, the 2020 draft looks to be one of the more successful during Brandon Beane’s tenure. This appears to be the case by drafting a possible first-round talent in A.J. Epenesa in the second round and a great complement runner in Zack Moss in the third round. Possibly the most impactful and unexpected rookie, was the big-leg kicker out of Georgia Southern, Tyler Bass. Bass set a new single-season scoring record, passing Steve Christie with 141 points. Bass also surpassed Scott Norwood as the new single-season leader in made PATs. It’s hard to talk about this draft and not discuss the seven touchdowns scored by wide receiver Gabriel Davis, or the encouraging signs from the seventh-round pick, Dane Jackson. Brandon Beane may have found some diamonds in the rough in the 2020 draft for the Bills’ future.