In regards to the word ‘Potential’, Bill Parcells probably said it best a few years back: “Potential means you haven’t done anything in this league yet”.
So true it hurts. And for Bills fans it seems we always hear that word being tossed around as a means to appease us when we fail to make the playoffs year after year.
But perhaps after years of suffering, 2009 just might be the year when ‘Potential’ actually creates tangible results on the football field for this franchise. Here are my nine Bills poised to break out in 2009:
If the Bills are primed to end their decade long playoff drought, it will be on the shoulders of Edwards. This third round steal has proven to be the best QB of the 2007 draft class thus far showing flashes of greatness since entering the starting lineup just three games into his rookie season.
Most expert analysts and scouting gurus felt he had all the tools to become a franchise QB after a few years of seasoning. Well not only has Trent been seasoned, he’s been marinated and grilled.
The only remaining concern is long term durability, but if he can stay healthy for 16+ games in 2009 I expect big things from this offense behind number five.
2) Steve Johnson
Many felt that Johnson was a steal in the seventh round last year, and as a rookie he came on strong in the second half of the season. He has the size, speed, hands and all the other intangible talent that starting NFL wide receivers are born with.
And on a very deep WR depth chart in Buffalo, he will be heard from in 2009 even if his role is limited. And even if TO is nothing more than a one year transition player for this team, the future looks very bright with a talent like Johnson tucked away on the depth chart.
3) Marshawn Lynch
The biggest question at this point with Lynch isn’t his play on the field, but his play off the field. There are no questions about his talent, and even if his three game suspension is upheld, “Beastmode” is still primed to explode for 1200+ yards in 2009.
What is truly scary is that he’s not even close to realizing his true potential as a receiver out of the backfield yet either. His blocking seems to have improved each year as well. Look for an angry Lynch to run over defenders when he enters the starting lineup sometime late September.
4) John McCargo
Just about everybody has written him off, but sometimes the best trades are the ones that never happen. If Big John is truly in shape and motivated by new defensive line coach Bob Sanders, we could see him emerge as the starter this franchise envisioned alongside the wily veteran Stroud.
And if everything works out I have to believe he'll be wreaking havoc in opposing backfields because the talent is definitely there and we saw flashes of greatness in 2007. If McCargo realizes his true potential in 2009, it could impact the entire defense for the better, especially the run defense.
5) Derek Fine
One of those ‘Who?’ picks from last years draft, Fine missed a lot of time to injury in his rookie campaign, but saw extended playing time later in the year upon his return.
It sounds like he has been outstanding so far this offseason and he could be the perfect compliment to Shaun Nelson as a pure blocking TE that can make the key short yardage receptions as well.
Also anybody else get the feeling he could be one of our 'secret weapons' in the red zone in 2009? We may be just ‘fine’ after all with our current TE depth chart.
6) Fred ‘Action’ Jackson
Jackson might be the best back up RB in the league and some may argue that he is the best overall RB on this roster. He was locked up this off season with a new contract and as a result I look for motivated Jackson to be a matchup nightmare for defenses in 2009.
And based on reports about him lining up as a receiver, I believe Jackson will be a major weapon and focal point in the passing game this year but we do know he can pound it as well. After Lynch returns from suspension, don’t be shocked if Jackson is used in many two back and multiple receiver sets.
7) Leodis McKelvin
I know he's been hurt most of the OTA's, but if one player was truly flying under the radar this off season it's McKelvin. I do believe he will solidify himself as the top return man in 2009 (if he's not there already) and I think he's also going to emerge as a pro bowl, shutdown corner as well.
We have been lacking a superstar on the defensive side of the football for years now and I believe we finally may have hit the jackpot with this one. As the 2009 season gets closer, I keep seeing him picking off Brady's first pass and taking it to the house for a TD on MNF. Let’s hope this premonition becomes reality.
8) Reggie Corner
Another potential draft steal that seems to be getting a lot attention so far this off season and he definitely came on late last year especially in the Broncos game. As a former DB himself, Jauron believes we are definitely locked at loaded in the defensive backfield.
And if all of the talk about Corner taking a big step in year two is true, don’t be surprised if he finds his way in the starting lineup by the end of year replacing another former fourth-round pick who will likely depart via FA next year anyway. Yes, I do believe he is that good and at worst he should be a top nickel back in this league.
9) Demetrius Bell
There was a method behind the madness in Orchard Park when two time ‘pro bowl’ LT Jason Peters was traded to the Eagles. And despite all of the expert opinions regarding the gaping hole we now have at LT, I do believe that Bell will be a factor there before the 2009 season comes to a close.
I think Walker is a solid veteran that will do an adequate job at LT, but don’t be surprised one bit if Bell replaces him at some point simply because he may be too talented to ride the bench.
He has the natural pedigree, after all he is the son of the greatest power forward to ever play in the NBA, and he is still an unfinished product with barrels of upside yet to be tapped into.