The NFL Scouting Combine is the focal point of the league right now, because all 32 teams get a chance to examine, measure, and test the more than 335 candidates for this April’s draft.
But it’s much more than that. It’s also a league-wide convention where teams, the league, and the football media take stock of the 2018 NFL season, and try to forecast what lies ahead.
One Bills Live spent three days at the combine in Indy, talking to several football media experts about the Bills, Josh Allen, what Buffalo has and what the Bills need in the upcoming offseason.
Here are some of the highlights:
1. JOSH ALLEN - AS ADVERTISED A YEAR AGO
Forecasting the draft can be tricky, but most of the experts interviewed on One Bills Live thought Buffalo’s first round pick, QB Josh Allen, produced what they expected to see in his rookie year.
“I thought Josh was terrific in what he was asked to do,” NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks told the show. “Is he a finished product? No. But he had success. And they allowed him to play the way he needed to play to win games. I think you have to surround him with guys that can help him and maybe mask some of his deficiencies.”
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah says he wound up giving this year’s top quarterback prospect, Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, the exact same grade he gave Josh Allen last year.
“Actually, I had the same exact grade on Josh Allen,” Jeremiah told the show. “They’re both wild cards. There’s different packaging with those two players, but unique skill sets.”
2. WHAT’S NEXT FOR JOSH AND THE BILLS?
With free agency and the draft looming ahead, the NFL pundits interviewed on One Bills Live have plenty of ideas for the Bills this offseason.
“The first step is to make sure you keep some bubble wrap around Josh Allen,” Charles Davis of the NFL Network said. “He really did a nice job last year. To me, he showed a lot of toughness. Not just his ability to run the football. We evaluated him as a good runner, but I don’t think anybody saw this.”
Jeremiah says adding talent and speed at wide receiver should be the Bills priority.
“I think Brandon Beane and that organization is going to be able to go out there and surround him with the talent he needs, that fits what he does well,” says Jeremiah. “In my opinion, that’s getting a track team. Some speed out there. You can run the ball, run the ball, and then with his arm he’ll get big chunks. You don’t need to have 12-14 play drives with Josh Allen—you can eat the same with one bite.”
And Brooks, a former WR drafted in the second round by the Bills in 1994, has an idea of what kind of receiver the Bills should find.
“I would like to see a big-bodied guy who has some speed who could be a chain-mover,” he says. “I like Robert Foster being the deep threat, but maybe add another guy.
“The best thing that Josh Allen does is he can throw the ball down the field. You have to find a guy who can be a vertical threat down the field and also be a chain mover.”
Photos of some of the top draft prospects from around the country at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Click through to see how they performed.
3. WIDE RECEIVER CANDIDATES IN THE DRAFT FOR BUFFALO
With 10 picks in the draft, the Bills should be able to find receiving help. Jeremiah mentioned some WR candidates expected to go early in the draft who would fit in Buffalo.
“There’s a couple of guys there in the first round if they want to go that way. D.K. Metcalf from Ole Miss, who’s just a hulking presence who can fly. Marquise Brown (Oklahoma) I know has the Lis Franc foot injury, but it looks like he should be OK for the start of training camp. Those would be the two first round guys. Beyond that, Parris Campbell from Ohio State is probably in that second- round range.”
4. MAYBE DRAFT A RUNNING BACK?
When Bucky Brooks assessed the Bills draft needs on One Bills Live, he did not focus solely on the passing attack.
“They have to enhance the running game,” Brooks said. “I love Shady McCoy, but Shady McCoy is 30-years old. They’ve got to get a young back that can be a feature back, so they can grind it out.”
Brooks believes Coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane have a template in mind for how they want the Bills to look.
“I believe the Buffalo Bills will eventually look like a version of the Carolina Panthers offense when Cam Newton is there.” he said. “Run it. Big pass catchers, solid tight ends. Control the game and fortify the defense.”
5. SHOULD THE BILLS MOVE DOWN FROM 9TH OVERALL?
Draft strategy also was a topic when One Bills Live interviewed the top draft experts in the media. The recent emergence of Kyler Murray as a top draft pick may mean Buffalo’s ninth overall selection may not be in demand.
"It’s interesting where they’re located,” Brooks told the show. “I would say two weeks ago you’d be in a spot where people might be coming up for one of the quarterbacks. As happens every year, those quarterbacks keep going up higher, and higher. They might be gone, those two top quarterbacks (Murray and Haskins) might be gone at that time. So, I don’t know if they’re going to have those options. I do like how their needs, the offensive line and receiver specifically, marry up with where they’re selecting. I think they’re going to have good options.”
6. STRENGTH OF THE BILLS RIGHT NOW? DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD
Matt Bowen played one year at safety for the Bills. Now he’s a draft expert and NFL analyst for ESPN’s NFL Matchup. And while he surveys the Bills needs and options in the draft, he’s clear about one thing—he thinks the Bills have one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL.
“I love the secondary,” Bowen told the show. “Micah Hyde’s versatility, his leadership, his professionalism off the field, Micah Hyde is a true pro. I think it’s the best compliment you can get, outside of being tough, and Micah Hyde is tough as well.”
“Tre’Davious White--I remember watching him at the Senior Bowl,’ Bowen continues. “He didn’t have the hype of some of the top cornerbacks, but if you watch Tre’Davious White in some drills you say this man has been coached extremely well, and that makes sense coming from LSU, because of his technique, but his competitiveness-and that’s the first thing I look for.”
Bowen has high praise also for undrafted rookie CB Levi Wallace, who came out of nowhere to start the final seven games last year for the Bills.
“I remember watching film on Levi (Wallace) because he was targeted a lot. But he made a lot of plays. He was always around the football. Now, he doesn’t have the elite measurables, but that’s who he is. Can he get bigger? Yes, he’ll get bigger. He was targeted a lot (in college) and he was put in adverse situations, and he responded.