1 - What 2018 NFL Draft prospect patterns his game off LeSean McCoy?
Bills running back LeSean McCoy has rushed for over 10,000 yards in his career and has crossed the end zone 81 times. So, it’s no surprise that a 2018 NFL Draft prospect patterns his game off the six-time Pro Bowler.
On NFL Up to the Minute, former Georgia RB Sony Michel spoke with network host Andrew Siciliano. They discussed which player in the league Michel compares most to.
“Guys I look up to, LeSean McCoy,” said Michel. “Guys that make guys miss in open space and make big plays. Those guys are who I try to emulate my game after.”
Michel had a marvelous four-year career (2014-2017) at Georgia. In 47 games, he recorded 590 rushes for 3,613 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also proved his pass-catching ability, registering 64 receptions for 621 yards and six TDs.
Michel managed to have impressive numbers with the Bulldogs despite not having most of the carries. He split time with fellow prospect Nick Chubb and they tallied the most combined rushing yards (8,194) by a pair of RB teammates in FBS history.
The 5-11, 215-pound RB should be one of the first off the board at his position in April’s draft. Like McCoy, there’s a good chance Michel could be a second-round selection. In Mike Mayock’s 2018 NFL Draft position rankings, he has Michel ranked fourth among all RBs.
It’s uncertain where Michel will end up in this year’s draft. But, he’s doing his due diligence to be as ready as possible.
“I’m not sure. I’m hearing all over the place,” said Michel. “I think my job is to do the best I can to prepare for that moment. Whether it’s staying in shape, and just getting ready for that big-time moment. I’m excited.”
Some players are picky with what team they want to be drafted by, but that’s not the case with Michel. He’s keeping an open mind throughout the process.
“The team that’s willing to give me the best opportunity to play,” he said. “I’ll play anywhere.”
2 - ESPN gives Buffalo a B-plus grade in free agency
The Bills have had an eventful free agency so far, adding over 10 new players to the team’s roster. It’s hard to argue the direction the team’s heading in as the 2018 NFL Draft approaches.
ESPN staff writer, Mike Rodak, respectably graded the Bills in free agency. He gave the team an overall grade of a B-plus with the recent moves they’ve made.
From a money standpoint, Buffalo’s biggest signing was defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. It seems like a solid investment, as the Bills interior defensive line struggled a season ago. In 76 career games (75 starts), Lotulelei has tallied 150 tackles, 11.5 sacks, five passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Rodak ruled Lotulelei as the team’s most significant signing and here’s his reason why.
In terms of financial investment, the headline signing of free agency was defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Ranked No. 11 among ESPN’s top 100 free agents … He is expected to fill the run-stuffing role vacated when the Bills traded Marcell Dareus last season.
After about two to three weeks of free agency action, the Bills have added a total of 11 players. Those new additions include: Russell Bodine, Rafael Bush, Kaelin Clay, Vontae Davis, Phillip Gaines, Chris Ivory, Lotulelei, AJ McCarron, Trent Murphy, Marshall Newhouse, and Julian Stanford.
3 - PFF provides a top stat for Chris Ivory
One of the Bills first free signings this year was running back Chris Ivory. At 6-0, 222-pounds, he should complement LeSean McCoy superbly.
Ivory, an eight-year veteran (2010-2017) in the NFL, has played for three different teams. He most recently had a two-year stint (2016-2017) with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ivory backed up Leonard Fournette last season, who rushed for over 1,000 yards and was Jacksonville’s fourth-overall pick in 2017.
As Fournette’s backup, Ivory still managed to tack on 112 carries for 382 yards and a touchdown. He also added 21 catches for 175 yards and a TD.
Pro Football Focus posted one stat to know for every team’s top-graded free agent signing. For the Bills, they honed in on Ivory. Here’s what Mark Chichester of PFF had to say about the team’s newest RB.
Ivory played sparingly in 2017, but he still managed to produce and he ended the year ranked 37th among 53 backs (just one spot behind former teammate Leonard Fournette) with an average of 2.47 yards after contact per carry.
Ivory proved this past season he’s more than capable of bulldozing defenders in the ground game. Additionally, he continued to contribute in the passing game.
In Ivory’s first four seasons in the league, he only recorded five receptions for 42 yards and zero TDs. However, he’s done a complete 180 in his past four seasons, reeling in 89 receptions for 701 yards and three TDs.
Chichester provided another stat about Ivory’s contributions through the air.
More importantly though, Ivory displayed the ability to contribute on passing downs, something that wasn’t a major part of his game in seasons past. All told, on average he forced a missed tackle every 2.1 receptions, which was the highest rate among backs with at least 10 targets, and his receiving grade of 76.6 would have been good for 22nd among players at the position, if he had played enough snaps to qualify for a rank.
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