There are no shortage of opinion at the NFL Combine, particularly in the Media Area before the actual workouts begin. And ESPN.com Senior NFL Writer John Clayton has some strong opinions of the 2015 Buffalo Bills.
Clayton thinks the Bills are a bona fide playoff contender this year. And he thinks it's mostly because the team has drafted well in the last few years.
"A contender for a Wild Card—yes," Clayton said in an appearance on The John Murphy Show at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"I think Doug Marrone did a very good job coaching this team and making it better," Clayton says. "But you can argue that maybe getting Rex Ryan is a little bit of an upgrade. That's encouraging too."
Clayton told host John Murphy the Bills success in the draft the last few years is the reason they're playoff contenders.
"When you look at the Bills draft the last couple of years, that's all been solid," he said. "The key to the NFL since 2011 is getting two and three starters out of each draft. This team has been doing that. This team has been able to get good defensive players, starting with Marcel Dareus in 2011. With Aaron Williams. With Stephon Gilmore and guys like that. You look at the talent base and it's there. That defense didn't finish as high as it did because it was just lucky. It was good."
Clayton also outlined a blueprint for the 2015 Bills to take the next step to the postseason. "Work has to be done on the offensive line," he said. "I think there are enough wide receivers, particularly now that Sammy Watkins is there with some others. The quarterback position is a void. And there have to be some decisions made at the running back position. But it's the best running back draft since 2008 so they can fix some things there."
Bills fans know about the quarterback void, with the franchise decision makers repeating their plan to bring in competition for EJ Manuel during the offseason. They'll have to attack the problem this year without benefit of a first round draft pick, due to last year's draft day trade that sent the 2015 1st rounder to the Browns, so the Bills could select Sammy Watkins. And according to ESPN's Clayton that trade may work out—and it didn't cost the Bills a shot at a franchise QB in this year's draft.
"I know Sammy Watkins didn't have one thousand yards, but you can see he's a number one receiver. But, hey, Atlanta picked up Julio Jones as a number one draft pick and he's lived up to every bit of his reputation, but it cost them four additional draft choices and starters. It didn't cost the Bills one of these two top quarterbacks, so that's good. As long as they can make up the difference and fill in some of these voids, they'll be fine. "
"With a nine win season, it didn't cost them these two quarterbacks, giving up that first round pick in 2015," Clayton continued. "But can they make up the difference? That's going to be up to Doug Whaley to figure out."
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