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Bills Today: Phil Savage on what Daboll brings to Buffalo

Posted Jan 18, 2018

Here's the Bills news of note for Jan. 18th.


1 - Phil Savage on what Daboll brings to Buffalo
Just 10 days ago Buffalo’s offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, led Alabama’s offense to a 26-23 victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship. It capped off a remarkable calendar year for Daboll, as he hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy just 11 months prior.

Phil Savage, who’s the color commentator for University of Alabama football, watched Daboll put his coaching skills on display all season. It was Daboll’s first year in the college ranks since 1999, as he spent 2000-2016 in various coaching roles throughout the NFL.

“Well I think Brian first of all comes from a background of where you cater and play to your strengths,” said Savage on the John Murphy Show. “When he got to Tuscaloosa last year, of course it was an adjustment. You go from the NFL to now college players. All told, I thought Brian did a nice job.”

Alabama has built a dynasty in 11 seasons under head coach Nick Saban. It’s no easy task, but Savage shared how Daboll coached under the six-time national champion head coach.

“I saw him at one of the media day events in advance of the Clemson game and I told him to the side that I thought he really done a good job with what he inherited at Alabama,” said Savage. “Look, there are some guard rails in place when you coach offensive football for Nick Saban. I thought he managed through that well.”

Daboll has proven he can win on college football’s biggest stage as an OC. Now, he’s going to try and replicate that with the Buffalo Bills.

He’s taking over an offense that has a lot of buzz around the quarterback position. There has been much media speculation about the Bills starter from 2015-2017, Tyrod Taylor. If he doesn’t stay in Buffalo, the team could look to free agency for a QB. Also, the team has two first-round picks to work with.

Whatever route they take, Daboll will likely factor into it.

“I would think he would lean toward a more pure passer. A guy with quick eyes and a quick arm. Now, is that Tyrod Taylor? I don’t know,” Savage said. “Is that someone else on the roster, like a Nathan Peterman? I don’t know the answer to that. I would suspect, with them changing offensive coordinators, they’re probably going to put everything on the table and try to come up with the best decision in regards to what direction they want to go. Now, Sean McDermott spent time in Carolina. They had Cam Newton. He’s the ultimate dual-threat quarterback. I can see it going both ways.”

2 - Which underclassmen declared for the 2018 NFL Draft?
The top underclassmen from college football had until Jan. 15 to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. There’s a good chance one of those players will be suiting up for the Bills next season.

A total of 114 underclassmen declared for the draft, according to 247sports. That’s an increase from prior years. In 2017, 95 players declared for the draft. In 2016, 96 underclassmen declared. In 2015, a mere 74 players entered the draft. And in 2014, a then record-high 98 prospects elected to enter the draft.

However, it appears this year’s underclassmen surpassed that total in 2014. The official list of early entrants will be released by the league on Jan. 19.

The bulk of talent from this year’s draft class seems to come from the young guns. Some of the notable underclassmen include: Josh Allen, Saquon Barkley, Sam Darnold, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Lamar Jackson, Calvin Ridley, Josh Rosen, and Roquan Smith. Those prospects seem to be locks for the first-round, according to most draftniks.

Of the quarterbacks, many mock drafts project USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen to be the first ones selected. This season, Darnold threw for 4,143 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He also added five rushing TDs. Meanwhile Rosen threw for just over 3,700 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The Bills could potentially go linebacker with one of their first-round picks. Smith of Georgia would be an exceptional pick there, as he’s ranked the best LB in the draft. This year, he tallied 137 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, over six sacks, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble.

Buffalo could look to bolster their wide receiving corps in the draft. Ridley of Alabama is projected to be the first WR taken. In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, he recorded 224 receptions for 2,781 yards and 19 TDs.

The Bills have a lot of ammunition with back-to-back first-round picks. If the team likes one of these players, they likely won’t hesitate to make a move.

3 – Bills offseason grade boosted by ESPN
The new regime of Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott made a lot of noise in their first offseason. Their moves obviously made sense, as it resulted in a long-awaited playoff berth.

At the time, ESPN gave Buffalo an offseason grade of a ‘B .’ However, after finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs, they boosted that grade to an ‘A-.’

The grade rises because rookie draft choices Tre’Davious White and Dion Dawkins were immediate contributors in important spots. Both players look like building blocks for new coach Sean McDermott and new general manager Brandon Beane.

In the 2017 offseason the Bills signed a pair of safeties as free agents. The duo dominated all season, and ESPN explained why.

Safety Micah Hyde was the Bills’ biggest investment in free agency. He started in all 16 games, picked off five passes, earned a Pro Bowl berth and was named second-team All-Pro. The team’s other safety addition, Jordan Poyer, matched Hyde with five interceptions, showing again that McDermott knows how to get production from a position he has coached in the past (Kurt Coleman picked off 11 passes for Carolina in 2015-2016, when McDermott was the Panthers’ defensive coordinator).

The biggest thing that got Bills fans attention in the offseason was a pair of trades. It was perplexing to some at times, but ultimately Beane and McDermott’s plan paid off.

Buffalo traded receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby after our initial grades were published. The moves smelled of tanking, but Buffalo reached the playoffs and added picks. It helped that E.J. Gaines, acquired from the Rams as part of the Watkins trade, became a solid starter when healthy.

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