INDIANAPOLIS - The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine winds down this weekend in Indianapolis, with the Bills decision-makers getting a chance to measure, weigh, time, and generally assess the 300-or-more prospects headed to the draft in seven-and-a-half weeks.
Also being assessed: the Bills and every other team as they gear up for the 2020 offseason. And in general, the Bills received positive reviews and interesting advice from NFL observers assembled in Indy this week.
Here's a sample of some of the opinions expressed about Buffalo's fortunes from guests on One Bills Live at the combine:
1. FOCUS ON SCORING POINTS, NOT PREVENTING THEM
The Bills averaged 20-points per game in 2019 and were the league's 24th ranked offense. It's clear most observers think that's where Buffalo can improve the most this offseason through free agency and the draft.
Matt Miller, NFL Draft Scout for Bleacher Report says adding speed should be a priority for the Bills.
"I would focus on offense, "he says. "And let's add speed throughout the offense. Devin Singletary is going to be a good running back in the NFL. But let's add speed at running back and speed at wide receiver, so that those throws that Josh Allen makes can become explosive plays."
Scroll through to view photos of some of the top prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine that some draft analysts have projected the Bills to take in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
2. BILLS HAVE TO IDENTIFY THE "KEEPERS" FIRST
We're two weeks away from the start of free agency. And if they haven't done so already, Field Yates, NFL Analyst at ESPN, says Buffalo first have to identify which of last year's free agent signings should come back.
"There were a lot of investments made on the offensive line last year," Yates told One Bills Live."A lot of them were of a one-year, or short-term in nature. So, you have to figure out which guys are keepers and which guys do you start to budget for the long term."
Yates says the top priority for the Bills, in free agency and the draft, should be finding offensive difference makers.
"This is a simple way of putting it," he continued. "Can we find difference-making players among the skill group. And many of those guys hadsome difference-making moments, but consistent difference-makers from the wide receiver group seems to be one of the highlights of this class."
3. ALL EYES ON ALLEN
Bills quarterback Josh Allen, two years from being under the microscope at the combine, is now the focus of attention for outsiders looking at the Bills. They're looking for continued development from the talented passer.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network analyst, a former scout for the Ravens, Browns and Eagles, identified Allen's strongest assets to us at the combine.
"To me, I always look at the triangle that you have to have to play quarterback—accuracy, decision-making, and poise. Everything funnels through those three things," Jeremiah said. "And I've added a fourth—play-making. Play-making can overcome some of the deficiencies in those other three areas, and that's what Josh does."
Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner is looking for another offseason of improvement from the Bills signal caller.
"The best thing to me is that he's gotten better each year," he said. "We knew he was a little bit of a project coming in. He needed to grow. He grew this year. But his bottom line is consistency. And I think it's two-fold."
"It's consistency A., with his technique," Warner continued. "He's got such a big arm and he's used to getting away with so much…if you allow technique to get away from you…it will come back to bite you. And the second thing is growing in his ability to see and understand how to play the quarterback position. But I love the fact that he's found ways to win."
4. THE JOSH PROJECT IS ALREADY UNDERWAY
One Bills Livetalked with Josh Allen's personal quarterback guru at the combine. Jordan Palmer has several prospects working out in Indy, including expected first-overall pick Joe Burrow.
As for Josh Allen, Palmer has him at his QB Summit Camp in Southern California for the third consecutive offseason. And Palmer says they're spending considerable time on Allen's ability to hit the long ball, with concentration on a mental approach to connecting deep downfield.
"One of the things I do with guys is I use the analogy of you want to drop a pin on Google Maps," Palmer told us. "I want to tell him where to go with this throw."
"What I try to get guys away from is throwing in front of the guy, or leading the guy," he continued. "You are the one who's looking downfield. The receiver is running full speed looking back at you. You're the one that sees the field. Tell him where to go with the ball. Drop a pin—meet me right here. That's not a mechanical thing. That's a psychological thing. So 'Drop a Pin' is a thing this offseason. Just thinking about telling him where to go with the ball."
Based on the last two years, Jordan Palmer is confident Josh Allen will fix this issue and be much better at the long ball in 2020.
"Last offseason, the theme was anticipation—throwing guys open," he said. "I think he took major strides in that area. And now, when I think about Josh Allen throwing the deep ball, I think, 'yeah, he'll solve it.'"
The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Click through to see photos of current Bills players from when they performed at the Combine.
5. DEFENSE REMAINS A STRENGTH FOR THE BILLS
It's a given now, after another finish in the top five in the league defensively—the Bills are built on defense. That's expected to be a strength again in 2020, and former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum, now with ESPN as a 'Front Office Insider,' says that should produce more close games for Buffalo.
"You look at Buffalo this past year, they won a lot of close games," Tannenbaum said. "And the way they're going to play, especially with Coach McDermott, they're going to be in a lot of close games. For them to get over the hump and sustain winning records, they're going to have to win that handful of close games."
Tannenbaum, former GM of the Jets and VP of Football Operations for the Dolphins, says Buffalo's leadership, especially Coach Sean McDermott, make them a tough opponent.
"Coach McDermott is a great leader, and Brandon Beane has done a really good job as well," he said. "But when you think about Sean—it's really hard to play against that Bills defense. You're banging your head. Especially when you go up to Buffalo—it's a hard place to play. It's starting to get an identity."