A Look at the Offseason moves for the Buffalo Bills
WR Tyler Lockett
This was the big splash for the Bills in free agency and came as bit of a surprise. The Bills receiving core was probably the strongest position group they had in 2021, boasting 3 receivers including their TE with over 1,200 yards receiving. Rookie 6th round draft pick in 2021 Elijah Cooks also came on strong in the playoffs as the 3rd receiver, amassing over 300 receiving yards through 4 playoff games. Lockett was just too good to pass up, and the Bills Head Coach spoke about the team’s desire to get Diggs back on the outside and find a new slot receiver to fill that spot, Lockett is just that. Not only is Lockett a dynamic and explosive weapon for the offense, but he’ll also help keep teams from focusing on Diggs which should open up Diggs to many more favorable matchups throughout the season.
DE Sam Hubbard
With Jerry Hughes opting to retire after a 14.5 sack season in 2021, the Bills knew they had big shoes to fill on the defensive line. Enter Sam Hubbard, a 28 year old superstar DE that can effectively rush from the edge or the interior, giving the Bills a dynamic and versatile piece to their defense. With superstars Ed Oliver, Kwity Paye, and Sam Hubbard on the defensive line, this defense will be able to truly wreck havoc on opposing offenses while taking pressure off of the secondary.
RB Tevin Coleman
Lamar Miller was the unsung hero of the Bills 2021 super bowl run. He didn’t start until week 13 of the season, and then had 6 100+ yard rushing performances in his 8 starts including the playoffs. His back to back 100 yard rushing performances against the 14-2 Patriots and the 14-2 Chargers in the playoffs really was the primary reason the Bills made the super bowl. However, he declined steadily during the offseason and the Bills chose not to pay a 31 year old RB. This made the signing of Tevin Coleman very important and may be the biggest impact signing in the offseason throughout the league. Coleman will bring his 93 speed into the best passing offense in the league which is sure to allow Coleman to see many light boxes that he should be able to exploit for big plays and consistent yards. Coleman will never be the top priority of defense’s gameplans thanks to Josh Allen and his elite core of passing weapons, and that’s precisely the reason Coleman should easily find himself among the top 10 rushers by the end of the season if he stays healthy.
SS Rudy Ford
This Bills defense is all about sub packages and diverse looks. They want to show the offense new things on every drive and attack from all angles, which is why Ford will be a weapon on defense this year in the secondary. At over 200 lbs with 93 speed, and a good balance of man, zone, and tackle ratings, there isn’t much Ford can’t do. He will add great speed in the backend of a secondary that is looking for ways to better defend a Chargers offense that scored over 50 points against them in the AFC Championship game.
TE Robert Tonyan
Tonyan will be coming into the Bills training camp penciled in as the #2 TE. That’s a great position to be in with the Bills offense that had their feature TE Dawson Knox lead the NFL in receptions and yards in 2021 among TEs. Tonyan is another dynamic receiving threat for the Bills offense, with 86 speed, 89 acceleration, and good receiving attributes.
CB Justin Hardee Sr
As good of a signing as Hardee seems to be, the even bigger plus here is the fact they got Hardee instead of the CB that the Bills were in a bidding war for with the Patriots. CB Tory McTyer ended up getting a $14mil per year contract for 5 years from the Patriots because of his 94 speed and good man coverage ability, yet he is still 27 years old and only rated 74 overall. The Bills pulled out of the bidding war at the last moment and went after Hardee, grabbing him for 1.3mil per year. At 6’1 with 93 speed and good enough man coverage, he should be able to plug into this defense nicely in a nickel or Dime role and be able to provide the size to cover TEs, the speed to run with fast slots, and the quickness to provide immediate pressure blitzing off the edge.
OLB Antjaun Simmons
Simmons will be a good role player in this defense and provide depth in case of injury for sub packages. He is only 216 pounds at LB, but he has good speed and great change of direction to go along with a high zone rating as a LB. These tools should allow Simmons to fit into nickel and dime packages in passing situations to give the Bills defense a good inside zone presence. He also has the speed to cover kicks and punts.
OL Teven Jenkins
Teven Jenkins is only 24 and rated 69 overall, which is great for an offensive linemen and the Bills got him on a long term cheap contract. There won’t be many expectations for Jenkins this year, but with 3 starting offensive linemen on the final year of their contracts, it won’t be surprising to see the Bills focus on grooming Jenkins into a starting offensive linemen for next season in order to get out of paying big money to an old and regressing OL.
OL Joe Dahl
This signing isn’t pretty, but Dahl isn’t too old and he has shown a history of reliable and smart play on the OL when he has been called upon. The Bills got him for cheap and he is expected to provide good depth to this OL for the 2022 season.
OL Rick Wagner
Wagner was a late free agency signing after the draft but that doesn’t make him any less important. Wagner is currently looking to become the starting Center as the Bills look to transition their pro bowl center Mitch Morse to LT to protect Josh Allen’s blindside.
QB Will Grier
After the Bills failed to take a rookie QB in the draft that could provide a quality backup to Allen, Buffalo had to look to the free agency market after the draft to get themselves a suitable emergency QB. Grier has good mobility and a strong enough arm to make all the throws. Hopefully we don’t see too much of him this season because I’m not sure if he can take the Bills to the promise land if Allen goes down for an extended period of time.
FS Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame (Round 1 Pick 21)
Reigning out of Notre Dame, the school that currently boasts the most NFL Hall of Famers, Hamilton is expected to become an early superstar in this league to replace the aging superstar FS Micah Hyde that enters the final year of his contract in 2022. Hamilton is 6’3 and has 92 speed which gives him great size and range to scare QBs from throwing the ball deep down the field this season.
An unexpected draft choice here due to the Lockett free agency signing, but Bills have been very adamant in the media about increasing their team speed. Nothing says that louder than drafting the WR that ran the fast 40 time among WRs in the draft. The 5’11 speedster out of Penn State will look to learn behind Stefon Diggs and Tyler Lockett to hopefully one day showcase his playmaking ability as a starter in this dynamic passing offense.
CB Noah Daniels, TCU (Round 3 Pick 8)
With all 3 starting CBs returning for the Buffalo Bills turning 27 before the season starts, the front office felt it was time to start planning for the future in the secondary. Daniels is a tough and physical CB that held his own in man and zone coverage in the pass happy Big 12 conference. He should have time to learn under White, Witherspoon, and Wallace before being asked to lock up an NFL wideout on an island.
CB Shaun Jolly, Appalachian State (Round 3 Pick 32)
Jolly was a shutdown CB for the top 15 ranked Appalachian State Mountaineers. Despite coming from a relatively smaller D1 school, Jolly performed well on the big stage against their power 5 conference matchups and in their bowl game. Like Daniels, Jolly will have time to learn and develop before he is tasked with becoming a starting NFL CB.
Edge Terrell Bernard, Baylor (Round 5 Pick 32)
Terrell Bernard might be undersized, but he is lightning quick off the edge and carries a high motor with him. The Bills didn’t sign a replacement for pro bowl edge rusher Jerry Hughes, so look for this 5th round pick out of Baylor to get plenty of preseason opportunities to prove he can be a day 1 starter.
WR Jake Smith, Texas (Round 6 Pick 32)
Smith has a tremendous career in the slot in Austin, Texas. The Bills showed last year that they don’t care what round a player is drafted in, as they had a 6th round rookie Receiver last season starting in the super bowl. Smith will get opportunities in the preseason to prove he can belong in this high powered receiver room in Buffalo.
P Reeves Mundachau, Oklahoma (Round 7 Pick 32)
Mr irrelevant is slated to become the first last-pick of the draft to start all 16 games of their rookie season. However, he is also looking to be the most irrelevant punter in the league as he joins a team that set an NFL record for only 13 punts in the entire 2021 regular season which is less than once per game. Somebody find Mr. Irrelevant here a nice comfortable hat to wear on the sidelines because he is likely going to have the easiest job in the league.