1 - Who are some underrated players on the Bills roster?
Brandon Beane said it last week. Everyone, especially people on the outside look for names when dissecting a roster. The names that can make an impact on the field and that will help a team win games. But what can be really dangerous is having players that fly under the radar, but still make a difference when it counts.
USA Today's Bills Wire gave four examples of players that people may be sleeping on when it comes to the Bills 2018 campaign.
Phillip Gaines CB Gaines will most likely compete with rookie Taron Johnson for the starting nickel cornerback spot, but his length, experience and versatility make him a viable option to play outside when needed. Spending his first four years in Kansas City, Gaines comes to an entirely new team with a new scheme. Much how Leonard Johnson benefited a season ago, Gaines could see a significant increase in his role in a system better suited for his skill set.
Chris Ivory RB Last season, the offense and LeSean McCoy received little relief from its stable of running backs in the rushing department.…
Chris Ivory was sensational in 2015 with the Jets, rushing for more than 1,000 yards on 247 attempts. He won't get that many touches in Buffalo, but he is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, averaging almost nine yards a reception the past two seasons in Jacksonville. Ivory, with his contrasting style of running, could provide a solid one-two punch to spearhead Brian Daboll's ground game.
Brandon Reilly WR A player who just fell short of making the 53-man roster a season ago is poised to make the most of his opportunity this season. With a litany of unproven wide receivers in the fold, Reilly has a year under his belt in the program and a leg up on many of the rookies and undrafted free agents in the group.…
Reilly showed last year he belonged in the conversation and should secure a spot to continue toward contributing in big ways on Sundays.
Siran Neal S Siran Neal faces stiff competition to make the roster from the safeties and hybrid linebackers. After Poyer and Hyde, Rafael Bush seems like a lock as the third safety… Neal may take some time before he bursts on the scene, but his upside is promising and he could make a bigger impact than anticipated.
2 - McDermott makes a big leap in Sporting News's head coach rankings
Taking over the Bills last season, Sean McDermott knew he had an uphill battle ahead of him when it came to changing a losing culture. So did The Sporting News.
Last year before the season, The Sporting News released a ranking of all 32 NFL head coaches. The, at the time, first-year head coach was ranked 27th overall, purely by pedigree from his time with the Eagles and Panthers. One year later, McDermott has worked his way up the list.
McDermott has moved up the list nine spots to 18th. When looking at the coaches in front of McDermott, and behind, you realize the accomplishment that is. Of all the second-year head coaches, McDermott is second on the list, with only the Rams' Sean McVay ahead of him.
This is what Sporting News says about the Bills' sideline boss.
All McDermott did in his first season was break a playoff drought that extended back to 1999. He has created unbridled excitement in Buffalo heading into Year 2, especially if first-round pick Josh Allen turns out to be the answer at quarterback. McDermott, a career defensive coordinator before taking the Bills head coaching job, figures to have his approach balanced.
3 - Dawkins scored in the top five of run blocking tackles
Dion Dawkins more than lived up to the next man up mentality last season. In his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills, Dawkins filled in for the injured Cordy Glenn and made a name for himself in Western New York.
Pro Football Focus found the run-block success percentage of all the offensive lineman in the NFL last season and Dawkins was one of the best among all the leagues tackles.
An offensive lineman's run-block success percentage represent the plays he is positively graded when run-blocking as a percentage of total run-block snaps in a given sample size (i.e. drive, game, season).
With a success percentage of 13.3 percent, the second-year tackle ranked fourth among all other tackles in the NFL.
Representing the 2017 draft class by himself, Dawkins is the only rookie, regardless of position, to rank inside the top-five in run-bock success percentage – a good sign for the future of the Bills' offensive line.…
While Dawkins merely filled in for the oft-injured Cordy Glenn in 2017, he will surely take all of the first-team reps at left tackle this offseason and into 2018 with Glenn now off the roster.
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