Bill Barnwell, a staff writer for the new Bill Simmons project Grantland.com, recently compiled his list of the 25 least valuable players in the NFL. Barnwell took playing time, expectations, and salary into account along with crappy play. Therefore, a highly-paid first round draft bust who sucks has a “higher” spot on the list than an undrafted rookie who only got on the field due to injury or something. It’s a pretty entertaining article, and I recommend you check it out. Sadly, two Bills managed to find their way onto the list.
In what shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve followed the Bills at all in recent years, megabust Aaron Maybin is on the list at #23. Here’s what Barnwell had to say about Maybin.
"The 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Maybin was supposed to be a hybrid pass rusher who could play in a 3-4 or a 4-3. He’s got zero sacks, was a healthy scratch at times in 2010, and the first entry that comes up as an auto-fill when you type his name into Google is “Aaron Maybin bust.”"
Ouch. But that’s all fair. The amazing thing about Maybin is that he’s literally accomplished nothing during his two years in Buffalo. Not one sack, forced fumble, interception, or really anything that can even be construed as “contribution.” How rare is it that a first-round pick contributes absolutely nothing? Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell at least had the occasional positive play. Maybin can’t get on the field for the league’s worst defense. Amazing.
The other player on the list is a bit of a surprise – veteran linebacker Akin Ayodele checks in at #18. Barnwell on Ayodele:
"Signed after injuries beset Buffalo, Ayodele combined with Andra Davis (who also ended up getting hurt) to serve as the slowest group of inside backers in recent memory. Despite playing behind an elite nose tackle in Kyle Wiliams, the Bills still had the league’s worst run defense with Ayodele at the helm."
That’s a (little) bit unfair to Ayodele, who hardly deserves all the blame for last season’s run defense debacle. Buffalo’s linebackers as a whole were pretty bad against the run last season.
The problem with Ayodele isn’t that he completely sucks, it’s just that Buffalo has WAY too many players just like him: average/mediocre veterans with “instincts, savvy, toughness, and character,” but utterly lacking top-tier speed and athleticism. You can have guys like that on your team…but they can’t all be like that. To win in this league, you need to have some elite talent. You need to have some game-changers. The Bills have exactly one guy like that on defense – Kyle Williams. (Maybe Jairus Byrd can reach that level with another good season.)
With the exception of Williams, there’s just not a lot of proven high-level talent on this roster. Take a look at the NFL Top 100 Players list that the players themselves voted on. Not a single Bill on it. (Granted, Williams not being on it is a joke.) Tough to be successful in the NFL with no great players. And until Buffalo can find some more truly great players, the Bills will never contend for a title.