1. What Buffalo needs to make a Super Bowl run next season
This past season, the Bills came very close to making their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994. Head coach Sean McDermott said at his final press conference of the season that now they have to start from scratch to try and achieve their goal of winning a Super Bowl. That starts with the free agency period and trying to keep as much of the team intact as possible. With a cap number that is currently unknown but projected to drop due to the pandemic, it will be a tougher task than in past seasons. ESPN insider Field Yates was on One Bills Live and spoke to Chris Brown and Steve Tasker about the offseason and Yates said that the Bills are ready to compete for the Super Bowl trophy in 2021.
"I think for the Bills, the challenge for them is the challenge that goes league-wide," Yates stated. "And that is this roster was so good this year and now how do you find a way to retain, not all but most of it. You're going to have to make some difficult business decisions and you got players like Matt Milano amongst others that are scheduled for free agency. How do you thread that needle if you're Brandon Beane and his staff of prioritizing the players that we have to keep but also understanding that not everybody can be kept? The Bills aren't that far off, I really do believe that. I think just a little bit more defensive reinforcements, it felt like the defense was less consistent this past year than it was in 2019. This team could be right there, ready to compete for the Super Bowl as soon as next season."
2. Top three needs for the Bills this offseason
There's a saying that NFL games are won and lost in the trenches and this offseason five out of the nine offensive linemen on the Bills roster are scheduled to be free agents. PFF ranked the Bills as having the 10th best offensive line for the 2020 season and it will be a challenge to retain all of their guys. PFF's lead fantasy analyst Ian Hartitz broke down the top three needs for all 32 NFL teams. For the Bills, two of the three needs were positions along the offensive line.
Team Needs: Guard, Tackle, Cornerback
Guards Ike Boettger, Brian Winters and Jon Feliciano are all free agents. The one weak spot on this offense was some inconsistency with running the ball; the Bills' average of 1.3 yards before contact per carry ranked just 21st last season. Their status as the 21st-ranked unit in pressure rate is more due to Josh Allen's tendency to hold the ball for a good bit of time, but either way continuing to invest in protecting Allen should be a priority.
RT Daryl Williams (PFF's 21st-highest graded tackle) is a free agent. All in all, only the Panthers, Dolphins and Seahawks have fewer 2021 dollars devoted to the offensive line. This front office has only drafted three total offensive linemen in the last five drafts.
Corners Levi Wallace and Josh Norman are free agents. Tre'Davious White is brilliant, but the Bills were more hesitant to use him in shadow coverage in 2020 compared to past years.Improving the supporting cast around him might coax them back into letting White attempt to blanket the opposition's No. 1 WR more weeks than not.
3. NFL.com gives the Bills rookie class this grade
The Bills were able to get a lot of production out of their class of rookies this season despite not having a first-round selection. NFL.com editor Gennaro Filice graded the AFC East's draft classes, and he had the Bills third in the division with a B- grade. He gave both the Patriots and Jets a B, and gave the Dolphins a C. Here's what Filice had to say about the Bills 2020 draft class:
Lacking a first-round pick due to the Stefon Diggs trade -- which worked out swimmingly for Buffalo, as the wideout led the NFL in catches (127) and receiving yards (1,535) -- Brandon Beane and Co. actually made their best picks on Day 3 of the draft. Midway through the fourth round, Buffalo took Davis as the 17th WR off the board. Despite joining a loaded receiving corps, the rookie carved out a significant role as a big-bodied downfield threat, averaging a robust 17.1 yards per catch while scoring seven touchdowns. And what a wizard he is along the sidelines, producing numerous works of toe-tapping art in Year 1, including two a few seconds apart in his first playoff game.
Sixty picks after the Davis selection, Buffalo hooked Bass. The rookie kicker struggled in his NFL debut -- missing field goal attempts of 34 and 38 yards -- but he bounced back and enjoyed a solid regular season ... before missing a pair of kicks in the narrow Super Wild Card Weekend win over Indianapolis. Still, Sean McDermott digs his style. "What I love about him is, he's got the one piece of eye black underneath the eye, he's got a little bit of swagger, he gives the flex after he has a big kick," the head coach recently said on the Pat McAfee Show.
Jackson, a cornerback selected in the back half of the seventh round, gained some fans of his own with a playmaking style. While he only saw significant action in three games, Jackson made enough of an impression on Beane that the general manager recently mentioned him as a candidate to fill the perennial CB hole opposite Tre'Davious White.
So, what about the top two picks in this class? Epenesa was everyone's draft steal when Buffalo scooped him up midway through Round 2, but minimal production has Bills fans hoping for a lot more in Year 2. Moss flashed the physicality and versatility that had some touting him as a dark-horse Rookie of the Year candidate before the season kicked off ...