Here’s the Bills news of note for May 17th.
1 - Taylor makes NFLPA “2017 Rising 50”
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), via its marketing and licensing arm NFL Players Inc. unveiled their 2017 Rising 50. The annual list identifies players poised to break out and rank among next season’s top-sellers of all officially licensed merchandise.
Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson secured the top spot on the list this year.
The rankings were put together by evaluating on-field performances during the 2016 season, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors and licensees, as well as new faces in strong markets. To be considered for inclusion, players must not have appeared in any previous quarterly or year-end list of the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales.
Here’s the top 20, which obviously includes Taylor.
1 - David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
2 - Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
3 - Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
4 - Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
5 - Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6 - Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
7 - Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
8 - Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
9 - Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
10 - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
11 - Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins
12 - Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
13 - Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
14 - Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
15 - Tyrann Mathieu, S, Arizona Cardinals
16 - Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
17 - Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
18 - Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
19 - T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
20 - Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
2 - Schoen to be Beane’s right-hand man
Bills Assistant GM Joe Schoen is going to be GM Brandon Beane’s right-hand man in every sense of the phrase.
“He’s going to have an all-encompassing role,” Beane said of Schoen. “He’s going to be involved in about 90 percent of anything I’m involved in. But he’ll be a scout, he’ll be writing reports, he’ll be doing it all. It’s as close to being a GM as you can be. He’ll help me with employee contracts. Anything I need.”
The attractiveness of the job for Schoen was he’d have the opportunity to broaden his career profile knowing he’ll be involved in everything from contract negotiations to Monday morning medical meetings after games to discuss injury situations.
Beane confirmed that next week Schoen will be headed to the BLESTO scouting meetings where the BLESTO service provides a head start on the upcoming college senior class for the 2018 NFL draft.
“I talked to (Pittsburgh GM) Kevin Colbert and I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it because I’m hiring this staff. Joe has my blessing as to what we need,’” Beane told Buffalobills.com. “He knows if he’s not sure he can call me. There are some GM meetings and stuff like that down there. This is going to be a chance for Joe to add some stuff (to his expertise). He’s never had the chance to do contract stuff. He’s going to be great at it, he just needs experience. That’s my job (to give him that opportunity).”
3 - UB product Johnson settling in
“It was good. I got to learn a lot,” Johnson said in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. “You see the change from college to the NFL game is faster, but that’s also because there are a lot of things you’re trying to get down mentally. It was good.”
With the vets joining the fray this week in OTA sessions, Johnson knows the tempo of practice will pick up. The rookie running back has been trying to perform at top speed every play anyway.
“Practices now are just like games. You have to give 100 percent because every day might be your last day,” he said. “So you’ve got to give it your all.”
Johnson knows it’s a stacked depth chart at running back for the Bills despite the free agent loss of Mike Gillislee. He’s choosing to focus on his game and not who might be ahead of him in the rotation.
“I can’t pay attention to the depth chart,” he said. “I’ve just got to prove myself every day just to get on the field, whether it’s a backup, third string, special teams. I just want to contribute wherever I can.”