1 - Which AFC East awards did Buffalo earn?
ESPN just came out with their AFC East awards and the Bills were on that list more than any other team. Of the four awards, Buffalo took home three of them.
The Bills had recipients for Coach of the Year, Defensive MVP, and Rookie of the Year. The Patriots claimed the remaining award, as Tom Brady was the Offensive MVP.
For Coach of the Year, clearly head coach Sean McDermott takes the cake on this one. Here's why ESPN chose the first-year HC. !(https://goo.gl/qiMD1M)
He squeezed nine wins out of a team that was projected by most to win between five and seven. He dealt with the loss of talent (Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Stephon Gilmore and Marcell Dareus) but managed to get the most out of his players by focusing on the daily process of what it takes to win in the NFL.
There's a solid argument to be made for who was most worthy of Defensive MVP. A lot of players contributed to Buffalo's defense that proved to be dominant at times. However, Micah Hyde was elected MVP, as he was Buffalo's only defender selected to the Pro Bowl. Here's why they picked the Bills safety.
*Hyde was the biggest splash for McDermott in free agency in last offseason. Hyde's five-year, $30.5 million deal was a gamble given he was not always a full-time starter for Green Bay over his first four NFL seasons. Yet unlike previous big-ticket signings for the Bills, Hyde proved his worth … Hyde was voted to the first Pro Bowl of his career, which was partly the result of his five interceptions. That was tied for fifth in the NFL, and tied for third among safeties. *
Last but certainly not least, the AFC East Rookie of the Year was given to Tre'Davious White. This shouldn't be a shock, considering White was recognized as the NFL's Rookie of the Year by Pro Football Focus. Here's why ESPN elected White as the division's top rookie.
White played 1,052 snaps, the second most in the NFL and about 99 percent of the Bills' defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus graded him as the third-best cornerback in the NFL after the Chargers' Casey Hayward and the Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey. White had four interceptions, tied for 12th among all players and tied for second among rookies after the Saints' Marshon Lattimore… He forced one fumble and returned another for a 52-yard touchdown in a Week Four win against the Atlanta Falcons.
These three awards just go to show how impactful last year's offseason was. Hyde, McDermott, and White weren't in Buffalo last season, but they made their mark in the trio's first year.
2 – Kiper doubles down on 'D' for Bills in first mock
ESPN's draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., released his 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 on Thursday. Seventeen defenders were taken in the first-round, and two of them went to the Buffalo Bills.
It's widely known by now, but the team's first-round picks are 21st and 22nd overall.
With the Bills first of back-to-back picks, they're projected to take cornerback Mike Hughes out of Central Florida. This season, Hughes had 49 tackles, 11 pass breakups, four interceptions, and one defensive touchdown. He also had two kick return TDs and one punt return TD.
Buffalo took cornerback Tre'Davious White in the first-round last year, so that may not be an area they address immediately. However, E.J. Gaines and Leonard Johnson are free agents. If that duo doesn't return, the team will be thin at CB.
Here's why Kiper Jr. has Hughes going to Buffalo in his first mock of the year.
*Buffalo got a great rookie season out of first-round pick Tre'Davious White, but there's a hole on the other side because E.J. Gaines, who was part of the Sammy Watkins trade, is a free agent. The Bills could bring back Gaines, but they could also target another corner on Day 1. The arrow is pointing way up on Hughes, who emerged as a shutdown corner in 2017. He could also help on special teams as a returner. *
Right after Hughes, at 22nd overall, Kiper Jr. has the Bills drafting defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. out of Michigan. This makes sense, as Buffalo's anchor at DT, Kyle Williams, is uncertain if he'll play in 2018.
In his senior season, Hurst posted career-highs across the board. He tallied 59 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, over five sacks, and one forced fumble. Here's why Kiper Jr. thinks he'll fit in Buffalo's 4-3 defense.
Hurst is a 3-technique penetrator who gets into the backfield and gets after quarterbacks. He's a perfect fit for a 4-3 team, and the Bills need pass-rushers. They only had 27 sacks in 2017, which ranked 29th in the league.
Buffalo's defense was a big reason they made it to the playoffs, so using both first-round picks on defenders may not be completely realistic.
3 - Bills fans propel others to pay it forwardAfter Cincinnati's last-minute touchdown helped Buffalo get into the playoffs, Bills fans bombarded the Andy and Jordan Dalton foundation with well over $300,000 in donations. The NFL community took notice, and fans throughout the league are paying it forward with similar donations.
The Bengals were the first team to return the favor. Their season is done, so they had a more humorous approach to their donations. They're giving to the foundation of Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, as his team just knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs. Pittsburgh is Cincinnati's most hated division rival.
As of Thursday morning, the Blake Bortles Foundation received over $11,000 from over 500 donors. He took to Twitter thanking the fans for their generosity.
Fans are also paying it forward to Saints punter Thomas Morstead. He injured his ribs on the team's first punt of the game as he was making a tackle. After their loss, Morstead told reporters about the extent of his injury.
"The whole first half was a grind," Morstead told reporters. "I couldn't breathe and was just panting, short, shallow breaths the whole first half. I sounded like a dying dog."
The Saints lost in heartbreaking fashion, as the Vikings scored a touchdown with no time remaining. The Saints went to the locker room following the loss, but league rules forced the opposing team to kick the extra point. As New Orleans' season was all but over, Morstead, nursing his painful injury, led his team back on the field.
Vikings fans applauded the act of sportsmanship, as donations have surpassed $150,000. Morstead's been all over Twitter actively updating the amount of donations raised.
Job well done Bills fans. Your generosity has spread throughout the league. SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY