The Buffalo Bills have great potential to turn into a playoff contender next season; the only obstacle in their way is finding the right pieces to fit their needs. The greatest positional needs facing the Bills are offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, and linebacker. After researching potential free agents who will be available this offseason, as well as the players leaving the Bills roster via free agency, I came to the following conclusion: Buffalo needs to move up in the draft.
The Buffalo Bills don’t need to draft an offensive lineman early; they have plenty of options in the free agency market, including offensive tackles Ryan Clady from Denver and Eugene Monroe from Jacksonville. Both are quality players at their position, allowing them to step right in and make an impact for this Buffalo offense. Jon Asamoah and Kevin Boothe are two free agent guards that could easily fill the replaceable Doug Legursky and Kraig Urbik; it would be more beneficial for the Bills financially to invest in fixing the holes within the offensive line with solid veterans now, it will help the offense get into a rhythm. If things go south, the Bills can simply get rid of them as compared to a rookie, with which you have to practice patience and sign them to a somewhat expensive contract.
Luckily for the Buffalo Bills, wide receivers are also deep in the free agency as well; Eric Decker, Hakeem Nicks, Anquan Boldin, Emmanuel Sanders, and James Jones top the list of quality receivers. Now this is not to say the Bills don’t need a wide receiver in the draft. However, if they pick up an experienced veteran wide receiver who can perform like Boldin, James, Sanders, and Nicks, it would leave Buffalo with enough leverage to trade up to the first round. It should also be noted that Jimmy Graham will also be a free agent in the tight end position as well as Brandon Pettigrew, Graham should get resigned but Pettigrew could be a good fit in Chandler’s position as he too becomes a free agent this year.
In terms of draft depth, the Buffalo Bills are lucky; a number of big, physical wide receivers will be available later than the first round. Brandon Coleman, Paul Richardson, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are just a handful of wideouts who could be available. The first pick really comes down to who is the best available at their relative position, but in reality the Buffalo Bills should trade up to draft Eric Ebron from UNC. He is a big, physical athlete with great hands and speed; Ebron brings the biggest upgrade to his position for the Bills. Jace Amaro and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, the top tight ends in their class along with Ebron, are not worth drafting over the top linebackers or wide receivers in this class in this particular situation. When or If Ebron is taken, the Bills need to quickly draft linebacker Anthony Barr from UCLA. This kid came to college as a running back and they switched him to outside linebacker two years ago; he should be able to play especially well inside or outside in Pettine’s hybrid defense. Barr is athletic enough to cover any tight end the Bills will face next season while adding speed and explosiveness to an already solid pass rush. Not to mention he is a hard hitter and relentless defender, the Bills cannot pass up a player of this caliber. Both Ebron & Barr look to be gone early, therefore considering the options via free agency, Buffalo should trade up to acquire both these players as they will become instant playmakers. Khalil Mack is also a good pickup for the Buffalo Bills, but I don’t think he is as talented as Barr. And you can’t coach talent.
All things considered, the Buffalo Bills have to focus on one thing this offseason: moving up in the first round. And hopefully by next postseason, the Bills will finally have a piece of the pie.
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