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Bills Today: Taylor receives unsung hero honors


Here's the Bills news of note for Jan. 26th.

1 - Taylor receives unsung hero honorsAs the Bills decide their next steps at the quarterback position going forward, Tyrod Taylor is still receiving praise for his 2016 campaign.

Conor Orr of chose Taylor as Buffalo’s unsung hero of the season.

Orr admits that Taylor may not have been the most popular choice from the Bills roster, but laid out his reasoning for choosing the 27-year-old.

"He was named a Pro Bowl alternate for a second consecutive season after putting up numbers remarkably similar to his production in 2015 -- only three fewer passing touchdowns and 12 fewer passing yards -- while still completing 62 percent of his passes," Orr wrote. "Taylor is above average for the position and played well despite some startling performances from his offensive line. He was sacked a career- and league-high 42 times this season, but according to Pro Football Reference, had a higher approximate value than he did last season."

In addition to his 17 passing touchdowns in 15 starts, Taylor also ran for six more. His 580 rushing yards were the most among any quarterbacks in the NFL and the most in franchise history.

Taylor again showed his ability to protect the football with only six interceptions. Through 816 pass attempts with the Bills, he has only thrown 12 interceptions—the lowest interception percentage in franchise history.

The Bills were ranked 30th in the NFL in passing offense, but Taylor was missing his top weapons of Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy for large chunks of the season.

Buffalo added Taylor's former quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison to be offensive coordinator, and have until March to pick up his option and fully commit to Taylor being the quarterback of the future.

2 - Senior Bowl big at safety
One of the biggest weaknesses for the Bills in 2016 was the safety position. Buffalo placed six safeties on injured reserve, released others during the season, and at one point had to play cornerback Corey White at the revolving door position.

Now, the Bills are determined to better prepare themselves going forward. With the future of Aaron Williams still uncertain, Doug Whaley and his scouts are keeping an eye on the defensive backfield at the 2017 Senior Bowl.

One of the safeties gaining attention is Obi Melifonwu. The 6-4, 219-pound redshirt senior from UConn is projected to be a mid-round prospect, but could see his stock increase if he puts together a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.

With an already strong safety class, Melifonwu has to prove that for a man of his size, he can make the transition to the NFL and cover a much more talented crop of wide receivers and tight ends.

So far he's taken advantage of the stage to showcase exactly what he can do for scouts.

"Someone with my frame they look at me and they don't think I can bend as well or I can move laterally, or stay low, but it's fun being able to showcase my talent, show I can move side to side, break on balls, high point the ball, so it's definitely a great experience," he said.

It goes without saying that Melifonwu can help teams against jump balls and fades in the red zone, but the goal this week is showing teams, like the Bills, that they will be getting the full package if they draft him.

"I'm definitely an asset for any team that I'm on because of the tall tight ends and tall receivers, but I can also show that I can cover in the slot against a quick guy," Melifonwu said. "So I definitely think I'm versatile and I have a lot to offer teams."

Melifonwu started the most games as a defensive back in UConn history, and became the 15th Husky—and first non-linebacker—to record over 300 tackles.

The UCONN product isn't the only safety prospect offering size. Nebraska's Nate Gerry (6-2, 214), Miami's Rayshawn Jenkins (6-1, 220) and Minnesota's Damarius Travis (6-2, 215) all offer good measurables for the position.

3 - Alexander giving back, expanding career scopeWith Lorenzo Alexander's selection to the Pro Bowl as well as being voted second team All-Pro, his career season on the field has been well-recognized.

But what the 33-year-old is doing away from the gridiron may be equally as impressive.

NFL Player Engagement Insider Lisa Zimmerman profiled Alexander's improbable journey in the league and how he has stayed humble through it all.

In 2008, while he was with Washington, Alexander founded the ACES Foundation. The foundation stands for Accountability, Community, Education and Sports, and helps provide programs for children that encourages them to live by the foundation's principles.

"I grew up in a single parent home, but my mom's brother took the time out and away from his family to help raise me," Alexander told Zimmerman. "I had coaches who helped me create a solid foundation. There's a lot of gang violence and I had all these people pouring in me to stay successful. So, when I was able to give back, I wanted to provide that same stability and support to other young kids. Information, access and some sort of mentorship to not just tell them, but show them and connect with them."

Alexander's next event with his foundation is a bowling benefit in his hometown of Oakland.

In addition to giving back, Alexander is also looking forward to his future after the NFL.

He took part in the NFL's Sports Journalism and Radio boot camp in 2016 and has been active with various media outlets around Buffalo. He learned that there is more to broadcasting than meets the eye, and you that you have to know more than just football x's and o's.

"A lot of guys don't know what it takes so I wanted to put myself around people in the business," he said. "I'm just dabbling right now. The writing piece, most guys don't write so to be able to be thrown into that fire was awesome."

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