1. Bills linebackers rank No. 1 and No. 2 among AFC East counterparts
There’s no surprise the Bills would receive some love from media outlets after the season the defense put together this year. Pro Football Focus continued to spread the love, despite it being after Valentine’s day, and graded Bills linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Matt Milano as the two best in the AFC East.
Alexander was the fourth-highest graded linebacker by PFF. Bobby Wagner (91.8), Luke Kuechly (90.7) and Zach Brown (89.2) were the only players ranked higher at the position.
Unfortunately, rookie Tremaine Edmunds did not receive the same support from PFF’s grading scale and finished with a 57.4. But, his stats could argue for a higher grade. Edmunds was the only player in the NFL to finish with 120 plus tackles, over 12 passes defended, over two sacks, over two interceptions and over two forced fumbles. He anchored a defense that ranked second in yards allowed per game this season at 294.1.
Alexander’s grade remained no surprise as he ranked among the best in every part of the game this past season by PFF.
2. Backups provide value according to PFF
While it wasn’t a banner year for the run game, however Chris Ivory still fared well by Pro Football Focus. Ivory finished as the third-highest rusher on the team with 115 attempts for 385 yards and one touchdown.
The Bills struggled to find consistency utilizing a four-headed attack of LeSean McCoy, Ivory, Marcus Murphy and Josh Allen, who took full advantage of unsuspecting defenses. Ivory finished as the third-highest graded running back in the AFC East behind the immortal Frank Gore and Patriots rookie Sony Michel.
Ivory’s grade of 74.2 did put him ahead of Jets back Isaiah Crowell and the Patriots’ James White. Ivory also added one of his best pass catching seasons with 13 receptions for 205 yards, an average of 15.8 yards per catch.
3. How did the Bills fare in the CBS Sports re-draft?
The Bills went all-in on turning the franchise around with this year’s draft class. They moved up several spots to take Josh Allen and took the youngest player in the NFL draft Tremaine Edmunds with the 16th pick. Buffalo grabbed serious talent on each side of the ball and in a redraft done by Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports even more Bills players went in the first round.
Buffalo definitely found itself diamonds in the rough. Cornerback Levi Wallace and wide receiver Robert Foster both went undrafted and then were later signed by the Bills. As soon as Wallace was up it was clear he earned a spot in the league. Foster finished the season as the top ranked wide receiver on the roster by Pro Football Focus and the second-best rookie receiver in the NFL.
The only bad thing for this redraft is that the Bills did not end up with any of Allen, Wallace or Foster. Instead, Buffalo remained at number 12 and grabbed Josh Rosen and at 22 grabbed offensive tackle/guard Braden Smith.
Allen went third overall to the Jets while Wallace went up to 20th overall and Foster at 26.
_Wallace didn't get the call-up from the Bills practice squad until November. After that, he proved he should've been Buffalo's No. 2 cornerback all season. The undrafted free agent, who walked on at Alabama, defended three passes and had 37 tackles in seven games down the stretch for the Bills and was consistently glued to receivers on the outside. _
Both Foster and Wallace were dropped from the Bills roster before getting a second chance to crack the NFL. Foster blew up down the stretch run for 27 receptions and 541 yards after getting released mid-way through the year.
From undrafted to first round Buffalo showed a lot of promise in finding talent at any point in the draft.