The 2009 season wasn't a special one for Bills fans worldwide, given the midseason firing of head coach Dick Jauron, and that his entire coaching staff was fired the day after Week 17th. Now with Buddy Nix as GM, and new Head Coach Chan Gailey holding the reigns, let's preview the 2010 Buffalo Bills
2. Projected Two-Deep Lineup
3. Position Analysis and Grades
The Buffalo Bills missed the playoffs for the 10th straight season, the longest in the teams 50 year existence. Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey, two highly respected football minds, are in charge of the team. The duo quickly announced the change of the defense from the vanilla and boring Tampa 2, to the aggressive 3-4 defensive scheme.
With several draft picks that fit the 3-4 scheme, and a playmaker at the running back position, the Buffalo Bills look to get over the hump and compete in the brutal AFC East division featuring Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez, and Chad Henne.
Projected Two-Deep Lineup
QB—Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB—Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller
WR 1—Lee Evans, Steve Johnson
WR 2—James Hardy, Roscoe Parrish
TE—Shawn Nelson, Derek Schouman
LT—Demetrius Bell, Ed Wang
LG—Andy Levitre, Jamon Meredith
C—Geoff Hangartner, Christian Gaddis
RG—Eric Wood, Nick Hennessey
RT—Cornell Green, Kirk Chambers
LDE—Dwan Edwards, Spencer Johnson
NT—Kyle Williams, Torell Troup
RDE—Marcus Stroud, Alex Carrington
OLB—Aaron Maybin, Nix Harris
ILB—Andra Davis, Kawika Mitchell
ILB—Paul Posluszny, Jon Corto
OLB—Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay
CB 1—Terrence McGee, Ashton Youboty
CB 2—Leodis McKelvin, Drayton Florence
SS—George Wilson, Bryan Scott
FS—Jairus Byrd, Donte Whitner
Round One, Pick 9: C.J. Spiller, RB 5'11", 196, Clemson
C.J. Spiller is a threat in all facets of the game. His speed is dominating and can result in a touchdown at any point in the game. He will be used greatly in Buffalo's rebuilding period to gain yards in both pass and run situations.
Round 2, Pick 41: Torell Troup, NT 6'3", 314, Central Florida
Instead of selecting Alabama's Terrance Cody, the Bills decided on small-school prospect Torell Troup, a hardworking defensive lineman with the prototypical size to command the two blockers necessary to play the nose tackle position. Look for Troup to play on situational downs this season, and emerge as a starter by the 2011 season.
Round 3, Pick: Alex Carrington, DE, 6'5", 283, Arkansas State
The Bills added Alex Carrington instead of opting to improve the offensive line, but Carrington is a widely underrated defensive line prospect, from another small division. However, Carrington has the strength and speed to contribute from day one in situational needs.
Round 4, Pick: Marcus Easley, WR, 6'2", 216, Connecticut
The Buffalo Bills are in great need of a No. 2 receiver to line up opposite starter Lee Evans, and found a project in the perfect spot in Marcus Easley. With Josh Reed gone, Easley can play the slot and gain the necessary 6-10 yards in critical situations.
Round 5, Pick: Ed Wang, OT, 6'5, 314, Virginia Tech
Ed Wang becomes the first Chinese-American to play football in the NFL. Wang played superior Left Tackle at Virginia Tech, and will continue to improve in Buffalo. He will primarily be a backup, but has the skills and potential to emerge as a starter by season's end.
Round 6, Pick: Arthur Moats, ILB, 6'0", 246, James Madison
As a defensive end at James Madison, Moats was a playmaker with a knack for tackling the ball carrier. In Buffalo, he is projected as an inside linebacker, meaning he will play the position in practice, but mainly serve on special teams for his first season or two.
Round 6, Pick: Danny Batten, OLB, 6'3". 254, South Dakota State
Danny Batten is another small school prospect that the Bills thought very highly of. He will also serve on special teams, but he needs work on his tackling and football IQ. Give him a few years before seeing him in situational downs.
Round 7: Pick: Levi Brown, QB, 6'3", 219, Troy
Head Coach Chan Gailey stated that there would be an open four-headed quarterback competition before preseason, but it is highly unlikely that Levi Brown will be considered for a starting job come August. Look for Brown to gain reps with the practice squad before making any moves on the offense.
Round 7: Pick: Kyle Calloway, OT, 6'7", 323, Iowa
Instead of selecting Bryan Bulaga in the first round, the Bills selected his counterpart in the seventh. Calloway has great versatility and upside as he can play both tackle and guard. Unless some crazy injuries occur like last season, don't expect to see too much of Calloway this season until he improves his development.
Overall Draft Analysis
The Bills had countless needs to fill this offseason, and although they didn't sign any big-name free agents, they filled holes that needed to be filled on both the offensive and defensive fronts. If the draft picks pan out, the Bills are on the way to becoming contenders
Overall Draft Grade: B-
The Buffalo Bills tried desperately before the draft to acquire Donovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles, and decided against selecting Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen in the second round, a slot much lower than his projected top 10 placement. Trent Edwards is the front runner for the 2010 Bills, as he hasn't had a consistent offense to work with, and is apparently showing great improvement since his past concussions. Brian Brohm was signed from the Green Bay Packers squad last year in the middle of the season, and is also in good position to compete for the starting job. Brohm was a highly ranked quarterback coming out of Louisville three years ago, and Coach Gailey has stated he is impressed with his development. Ryan Fitzpatrick handled most of the Bills play calling last season, but his skill set doesn't seem to fit what Coach Gailey has done in the past.
The Bills are now deep at the running back position, as Fred Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for the team last season, while Marshawn Lynch couldn't seem to find a rhythm. The addition of Clemson standout C.J. Spiller adds a major threat due to his agility and speed. Coach Gailey will utilize all three running backs, but Jackson will most likely be the starter for Week One, with Spiller used in versatile roles.
Buffalo has tried for quite some time to add another vertical threat to line up opposite Lee Evans, however the addition of Terrell Owens last season seemed to be negated by the constant nuisance of injury that plagued the entire squad. 2007 second round selection James Hardy is entering a make-or-break year as the 6'5" Indiana playmaker is entering his third season. His first two were plagued by injury and an inconsistent offensive scheme. Steve Johnson is another fan favorite who is slated for a breakout year. Roscoe Parrish was put in the doghouse for most of Dick Jauron's tenure, so it will be interesting to see how he produces in the new coaching scheme.
Last season was atrocious for the young Buffalo offensive line, but hopefully it gave the youngsters a rude awakening into the NFL. The Bills featured multiple offensive fronts throughout the season, and were signing in players off the street on a Wednesday, only to be starting on a Sunday. Jamon Meredith was one of those and he has shown promise in his limited snaps. They also brought in veteran Cornell Green from the Raiders, as well as drafting Chinese-American Ed Wang, and Iowa's Kyle Calloway for depth.
The Bills added a number of bodies to the defensive line, adding to the men they already have. Dwan Edwards was a Baltimore Raven who is well versed in playing the 3-4 defensive end, and Marcus Stroud has lost weight to make a smooth transition. The Bills drafted Central Florida's Torell Troup to man the Nose Tackle position with Kyle Williams, but the Nose position will be a tough to fill.The Bills are now deep in the defensive line, but it will be interesting to see how the career 4-3 linemen adjust.
Buffalo is also very deep at linebacker as they added veteran inside linebacker Andra Davis, from the Denver Broncos. Dominating Penn State pass rusher Aaron Maybin will be making the move from defensive end to outside linebacker, where he will be able to make an impact. Paul Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell, Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay, Nic Harris, and Keith Ellison will be played in rotation as well.
The AFC East is filled with dominating cornerbacks of the likes of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Sean Smith, and Vontae Davis, but the Buffalo tandem of Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin is vastly overlooked. McGee can be a shutdown corner, and McKelvin was showing major upside before suffering an injury early in the season. Backups Drayton Florence, Reggie Corner, and Ashton Youboty all contribute in the nickel as well.
Jairus Byrd was the only excitement we were able to watch last year, as the Oregon rookie snagged nine interceptions in addition to batting down 11 passes. He will be the starter at free safety, where he has a knack for hawking balls. George Wilson emerged as an elite talent as well last season, racking up over 100 tackles and making his presence known on every down. Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott will have a tough time getting reps if Byrd and Wilson keep up the play from last season.
Brian Moorman is the best punter in the NFL, and Rian Lindell is a great kicker, considering the elements he plays in. The return game will be explosive with Leodis McKelvin and C.J. Spiller returning kicks and punts.
I have the Bills finishing 5-11 for the 2010 season, as they have to play very tough divisions in the AFC and NFC North, in addition to the much improved AFC East. Buffalo will have another top 10 draft pick for 2011, where they can select a franchise quarterback or a franchise left tackle.