There has been an awful lot of chatter among fans of the Buffalo Bills as to what to do at running back this offseason. It’s been made worse by NFL Draft enthusiasts mocking so many running backs to the Buffalo Bills in order to fix the run game problem.
On Thursday, we looked at all the angles from players on the roster to free agency to the NFL Draft. Now, after reading all of our excerpted articles, you get to make the call. Click the links in the article and vote in the poll below!
Zack Moss was not a liability. When given help from his team, there were a lot of things to like in his game. The pass protection was a big plus, especially for a rookie, and when there’s some space he used it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see him make a sophomore jump as he adjusts to the game. What I’m getting at is that there are other problem areas to be worked on that would yield dividends.
Could the Bills find a better running back? Probably. Could they also tweak what they’re doing to make things more effective for Devin Singletary? Oh yes. I do wonder about what Singletary is asked to do, specifically if he’s given the liberty to freestyle a bit. If he is allowed that freedom then I wonder about his decision making on some plays.
Still though, I like his actual field vision and agility. Despite a perfectly average yards-per-carry rate, I came away feeling like that stat would be worse if Singletary didn’t have those positive traits.
If you wanted one player who could be an emergency starter, third-down back, and special teams player wrapped up in one, that’s Burkhead. He’s never been a focal point in the offense, but he averaged 76 touches for 412 yards and 3.5 touchdowns over the last six seasons. He’s also been a significant part of the kick and punt units in his whole career.
In the last two years, Hill has carved out a role as a backup running back for the Atlanta Falcons. He saw career highs for carries and targets in 2020, with 125 touches for 664 yards and a touchdown. He’s also been playing on special teams his whole career, although he’s closer to eight snaps per game than the 16 or so that a “core” specialist would see.
For six seasons from 2013 to 2018, Miller was a starting-caliber running back who was selected to one Pro Bowl. He averaged 217 carries for 935 yards (4.31 YPA) and five touchdowns, and 34 catches for 253 yards and a receiving touchdown in each year over that span. In the 2019 preseason, 28-year-old Miller tore his ACL. If healthy, Miller deserves to be a key player in a running back rotation. That said, his 2020 season didn’t inspire confidence. He also can’t provide any value on special teams.
McKinnon had a modestly successful career as a versatile running back with receiving upside, until a torn ACL took him out of not just the 2018 season, but the 2019 season as well. He returned to action in 2020, scoring six touchdowns and netting 572 yards from scrimmage, but fell out of favor with the San Francisco 49ers as the season went on.
The former second-round pick never really caught on as an offensive weapon—his career average of 4.5 yards per touch can attest to that. But he’s been an important special teams player for the past two seasons, and is an experienced kick returner. As another player who would sign a low-cost contract, that’s not a bad deal.
Perine is another low-cost option who could play both on offense and on special teams for the Bills. In 2020, he had 63 carries for 301 yards and three touchdowns. He also played 18 snaps per game on special teams for the Cincinnati Bengals, which ranked fifth on that team.
Najee Harris (Alabama)
Javonte Williams (UNC)
Travis Etienne (Clemson)
An elite runner with both speed and vision, Harris shouldn’t be pigeonholed as just a big back, despite a playing weight of 230 lbs. He has decent enough speed to be a threat to run past defenders as much as bowl them over, and his agility is off the charts, especially for a player at that weight. Like Harris, Williams has some of the more amazing game tape to watch, mostly thanks to his relentless contact balance. The Tar Heel has a nasty juke step at first, then can just as easily break defenders’ tackles. He doesn’t have many weaknesses, outside of a lack of long speed. That’s not a problem at all for Etienne, whose greatest strength is his ability to operate in space and completely speed by defenders. There are questions about his over-reliance on that speed and his ability to hold up against bigger NFL defenders though.
Michael Carter (UNC)
Jermar Jefferson (Oregon State)
Kenneth Gainwell (Memphis)
Jaret Patterson (Buffalo)
Trey Sermon (Oklahoma)
Demetric Felton (UCLA)
Kylin Hill (Mississippi State)
Javian Hawkins (Louisville)
A 2021 Bills backfield consisting of Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Antonio Williams is fine by me. If the team feels the need to add a special teams gunner to replace Taiwan Jones and/or bring in an undrafted free agent or two to add to the camp bodies (which will need to be done for numbers purposes), so be it.
Now typically in these opinion pieces I give a multiple part process for addressing a particular position. “Nothing” is really only one step, so in the interest of making sure this piece is actually worth your time investment, I’ll explain the “why” behind my curt response to the idea of meaningful running back additions.
Now it’s your turn to vote. What should the Bills do at running back this offseason?
What should the Bills do at running back this offseason?
This poll is closed
Nothing. Moss/Singletary are your two featured backs
Sign a veteran backup to Moss/Singletary
Draft a high-value complement to Moss/Singletary in the first round