There are going to be a lot of additions on the offensive line this offseason, but the Buffalo Bills are also going to be looking to find their long-term running back. Stanford’s Bryce Love appears to be somebody the Bills are highly interested in.
During the 2018 season rumors swirled about the possibility of the Buffalo Bills trading star running back LeSean McCoy. Those trade rumors never resulted in anything tangible. However, McCoy had his worst statistical season of his career.
The reasons for the poor performances in 2018 are easily linked to poor offensive line play, which is expected to be heavily addressed in free agency and the draft. Regardless of improvements made, McCoy is entering the final year of his contract, and while physically he looks like he has much more in the tank, the Bills are looking for his long-term replacement.
Free agency can offer some role players at the position, similar to the production Chris Ivory provided last year. The draft is the best forum to strike rich and find the multi-year lead back that will eventually replace McCoy and pair with Josh Allen for years to come.
For those of you that haven’t begun to dive into the draft pool at running back, it’s safe to say that there isn’t going to be a running back selected in the top 10. With the Bills picking at No. 9, a first-round selection at running back will be a low possibility. Therefore to find the future, they will be looking at the middle rounds of the draft.
NFL running backs can easily be found after the first round. Examples include Devonta Freeman, Kareem Hunt, Le’Veon Bell, Alvin Kamara, David Johnson and McCoy. This year’s draft crop will include some names from big schools that you will hear such as Benny Snell, Mike Weber, Trayveon Williams, Damien Harris, and Myles Gaskin.
On Friday the story broke that the Bills had met with Stanford RB Bryce Love. Love is a very interesting prospect, and one that makes sense for the Bills to be aggressive players in his drafting.
Who is Bryce Love? Love is a fourth-year senior who set Stanford records as a junior by rushing for over 2,100 yards and 19 TDs. That year he was a Heisman finalist who boasted a 8.1 yards per carry, and while he would have definitely been a first-round pick had he entered the draft, he returned for his senior year.
The gamble didn’t pay off, as injuries slowed down his production and ended his season with an ACL tear. Love will not be participating in pre-draft workouts beyond medicals and interviews.
When healthy, Love can do all three key elements of what is required of being an NFL running back: Run, catch, and block. He also checks the boxes that the Bills value in his character, and fitting the fourth-year senior check box as well.
The question is how high do you draft Love? He says he will be ready by training camp, but coming off an ACL means teams don’t expect much of an impact during his rookie season. This fact is where the Bills are very intriguing.
They have McCoy and Ivory under contract for one more year. There is no rush to get Love on the field, and if you truly believe that when healthy he is a first-round talent, then selecting him in the second or third round will be a steal after his first season.
The Bills have the ability to draft and stash a player of Love’s talent because of the impact Shady still has with the offense. McCoy is one of the few true veterans left on the starting offense, and trading him without veteran replacements could hamper the development of Josh Allen.
There is an easy formula for the Bills to spend many of their assets to address the offensive line, but take a chance on Love and let him ease into the NFL. If he emerges from his rookie year fully healthy and with a few game reps, you have potentially a QB/RB duo that can be with the Bills for four more years. This is something Brandon Beane wants in building a winner for the long haul, not just the short-term.
Love was even asked about possibly playing with a LeSean McCoy should the Bills select him, and he seems up for the idea, via NFL.com:
"“I mean, you’re talking about a legend. In my mind, having the opportunity to play in the NFL is a blessing in itself,” Love said. “Getting that opportunity is going to mean a lot to me and hearing your name called is going to be huge for me. At the end of the day, it’s LeSean McCoy. It’s Shady. That would be exciting. I’d love to learn from him and just develop behind him.”"
The match appears to be a good one.
With all the stars aligning for the Bills to be interested in Love, and their interviewing of Love as a sign they are considering him, the question is how in love with Love are the Buffalo Bills?