With the Bills entering summer break, Buffalobills.com has gathered various national media reports that review the team's 2016 offseason and rank the team's running backs among the best position groups in the league.
Buffalo Bills: B
Key additions: DE Shaq Lawson, LB Reggie Ragland, DT Adolphus Washington
The Bills were quiet in free agency in pursuing other teams' players, but they made sure to lock up the left side of their offensive line by re-signing Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito. Moving on from Mario Williams also was necessary. Lawson's injury news is a bummer, as they planned to have all those three rookies start and play key roles in Week 1. There were no real glaring negatives here, thus the above-average grade.
11. Buffalo Bills: Despite a dearth of cap space, they retained starting O-linemen Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito for the league's No. 1 rushing attack. Coach Rex Ryan and GM Doug Whaley then reloaded a disappointing defense with promising prospects like OLB/DE Shaq Lawson and ILB Reggie Ragland. The question that remains is whether Buffalo will extend QB Tyrod Taylor, who's now looking over his shoulder at fourth rounder Cardale Jones.
WR: Dezmin Lewis, Bills — "For my money, Dez Lewis is the guy that stood out," says Rex Ryan.
LB: Preston Brown, Bills — "Gonna be a star," says Bills assistant coach Rob Ryan.
4. Buffalo Bills
When Rex Ryan signed on with the Bills last offseason, he was expected to bring his ground-and-pound mentality to Buffalo. Well, he did. The Bills led the NFL with 2,432 rushing yards as a team, 150 more than any other team. Unfortunately, that style of offense wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs, but you can rest assured that offensive coordinator Greg Roman will be running the ball consistently again in 2016. LeSean McCoy had a rough first season in Buffalo, dealing with injuries on an all-too-frequent basis. Still, he rushed for 895 yards in just 12 games, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Karlos Williams played well in spot duty with McCoy injured and could very well see his role increased in his second year. A three-headed monster of McCoy, Williams and quarterback Tyrod Taylor will give defenses fits week in and week out, putting them amongst the best rushing attacks in the league.
10. Buffalo Bills running backs
Under offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Bills are going to continue to be a run-heavy offense. The team is well-stocked in the backfield, led by LeSean McCoy. He's slippery and elusive -- few players have better change-of-direction skills -- and is an outstanding pass-catcher, too. McCoy is backed up by Karlos Williams, a 2015 rookie whose north-south approach complements McCoy's shiftiness. Williams was a touchdown-maker last season, while Mike Gillislee was a solid mid-season find. He showed explosive skills with a run of at least 30 yards in three of his five games in Buffalo.
Enough with the constant search for NFL talent. Gil Brandt is going to try something different over the next few weeks: building the perfect player at five key positions by combining the traits of some of the top players in the league today. The series continues with the perfect running back below.
The perfect running back would have ... the elusiveness of LeSean McCoy.
This is the kind of guy who can make a guy miss even when the defender is right in his face, almost like a magician, largely by changing direction. We used to say an elusive runner has some trout in him, in that he can zig-zag and run with a loosey-goosey, hard-to-track style. One defensive coach I talked to said he made his linebackers prepare to face McCoy by doing a drill that involved them keeping their arms behind their backs; this was, in his words, meant to help them refrain from "taking the cheese" -- that is, biting on the first move made by the Bills back.
Buffalo Bills: Bruce Smith, defensive end.
I second-guessed myself for not ranking Bruce Smith among the 10 greatest defenders of all time a few months ago. Already had a couple defensive ends on the list -- Reggie White and Deacon Jones -- and fair or not fair, three felt like too many. That said, you can make an argument for Smith being top five -- and not solely because he is the all-time sacks leader with 200. The man who wore the Bills uni for 15 years was named first-team All-Pro a staggering eight times because he also could play the run and routinely caused disruptive, game-changing plays. Smith forced 43 fumbles to go along with two interceptions and a pair of safeties -- and that's not including the sack of Jeff Hostetler for another safety in Super Bowl XXV. Smith is the top overall player in Buffalo's history -- period.
2. Buffalo Bills (8-8)
Rex Ryan figures to get much better defensive results with more personnel to his liking but a lot has to come together fast. An air of uncertainty remains over an offense that battled through injury and inconsistency last season. That lines up with another .500 season.