Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The Bills will let EJ Manuel learn on the job.
The Buffalo Bills have certainly been more low-key than the Dolphins. However, there's still been a lot to like about the way they've been rebuilding.
The key to a quick revival will be the success of the choices they've made at quarterback. Those choices will involve starting a rookie.
It's not easy predicting the makeup of the Bills defense in 2013. New coordinator Mike Pettine has arrived from the Jets and already promised a multiple-front scheme.
What is clear is that imposing tackle tandem Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus will be heavily involved. If Pettine shows some three-man or 46-style looks, they'll be joined by stout nose tackle Alan Branch.
Mario Williams and Mark Anderson can produce a more than credible pressure from the outside, while outside linebacker Manny Lawson gives the Bills a solid pass-rusher at the second level.
The inside linebacker role should be filled by second-round pick Kiko Alonso. He'll step in after the Bills traded Kelvin Sheppard to the Indianapolis Colts.
Nigel Bradham will take the other outside linebacker position. This gives the Bills a stronger-looking front seven.
Stephon Gilmore impressed as a rookie last season and will be Buffalo's premier cornerback. Leodis McKelvin should take the other spot.
Jairus Byrd will continue to be a prolific ball hawk at free safety. Da'Norris Searcy will be the safety playing closer to the line of scrimmage.
DE: Mario Williams, Mark Anderson DT: Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Alan Branch
LB: Nigel Bradham, Kiko Alonso, Manny Lawson S: Jairus Byrd, Da'Norris Searcy
CB: Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Jonathan Meeks
The Bills stunned the league when they drafted EJ Manuel 16th overall. They'll now go one better and start the ex-Florida State star ahead of veteran Kevin Kolb. Manuel's rookie year will be made easier by the dual-rushing threat of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Spiller will get the starting nod because of his game-stretching speed.
New head coach Doug Marrone craves a faster team, according to Jerry Sullivan of The Buffalo News. Spiller's certainly fits that mold.
However, he'll share carries with Jackson in what will likely be a running back-by-committee approach. The same could be true at wide receiver.
Stevie Johnson often flatters to deceive, but remains this team's only marquee wideout. Second-round choice Robert Woods should win the other starting job. He's an intelligent route-runner and technically refined pass-catcher. Just the kind of dependable weapon a rookie passer will need.
T.J. Graham will be a fast-breaking slot receiver, as will third-round pick and one-time Olympian Marquise Goodwin.
There's undoubtedly a lot of youth and uncertainty at wide receiver. However, Manuel will at least be able to rely on competent tight end Scott Chandler. He's one of the most underrated players at his position in the NFL. At 6'7", Chandler will offer Manuel an easy target to aim for.
Keeping the rookie upright might be the toughest challenge the Bills face in 2013. Cordy Glenn is a massive left tackle with considerable skills, but the rest of the line looks dubious.
In the last two seasons the Bills have lost Demetress Bell, Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart. What's left appears shaky.
Chris Hairston is likely to start on the right side. Eric Wood is a more than capable center, but there is some question about who starts either side of him. Converted center David Snow played guard briefly last year. However, Zebrie Sanders seems more skilled, if he can make the transition from tackle.
That would leave Snow to compete with Kraig Urbik for the right guard spot. Urbik would have the edge in that battle, as he will be vital in the running game.
QB: EJ Manuel RB: C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson TE: Scott Chandler
OL: Cordy Glenn, Zebrie Sanders, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Chris Hairston
WR: Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham/Marquise Goodwin
Like the Eagles, it's all change for the Bills on both sides of the ball. Pettine's defense may have to emerge as strong enough to carry the team if Manuel struggles and given the inexperience at receiver.