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Buffalo Bills to sign FB Patrick DiMarco

The Bills will soon have the NFL’s best blocking fullback on their roster.

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Patrick DiMarco will soon be the newest member of the Buffalo Bills, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The soon-to-be 28-year-old fullback spent the past four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of South Florida in 2011.

Former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone-running scheme is basically identical to what Rick Dennison will run in Buffalo, making this an absolutely ideal fit for the Bills. Though power running schemes like Greg Roman’s are known for the smash-mouth fullbacks they incorporate, zone-blocking offenses can use them, too. In Denver last season, the Broncos — with Dennison as the offensive coordinator — utilized fullback Andy Janovich on nearly 22 percent of the snaps.

At 6’1” and 234 pounds, DiMarco isn’t the league’s biggest fullback, but his quickness and speed come in handy when lead blocking for the patented stretch run plays in a zone-blocking running offense. The Falcons used him on 31 percent of the snaps in 2016 and had the fifth-highest yards-per-carry average in the NFL (4.6).

In 2015, Pro Football Focus named him the First-Team All-Pro fullback, and wrote this about this play:

“It should tell you how much better DiMarco was than the rest of the competition that he rendered the need for a second team fullback redundant. He was far and away our top-graded player in a year that did nothing to say the position is back in fashion.”

He was also named a Second-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press in 2015.

This year, here’s what PFF wrote about DiMarco in their Falcons’ season review:

“Patrick DiMarco ran away with our top grade as a fullback, as he had a breakout season in terms of run-blocking.”

Despite his stellar run-blocking in a zone scheme, DiMarco wasn’t used as a receiving threat. He saw 10 targets in 2016 and made seven grabs for 52 yards with one touchdown.

(This is the fullback I “signed” for the Bills in my free-agency plan. I probably won’t get any other signings correct, so I wanted to reiterate this.)