The Bills and Bears will make a giant leap forward: After not making the postseason in 2014, both teams have new coaches with proven success and pieces in place to win. Rex Ryan and John Fox both can make instant impacts with their teams.
No. 44 - Mario Williams
Remember when the Buffalo Bills broke the bank with a contract to Mario Williams? So far, Super Mario has been everything they hoped the former No. 1 overall pick would be.
Williams registered 14.5 sacks this past season, helping the Bills lead the NFL with 54 sacks. He has started all 48 games since signing with Buffalo, and he's registered 38 sacks in those three years. The only other NFL player to pull off that accomplishment is J.J. Watt, whom you will see later in this list.
Notable Potential UFAs
DE Jerry Hughes
G Erik Pears
ILB Brandon Spikes
FS Da'Norris Searcy
DE Jarius Wynn
2015 Draft Choices (6)Round (Pick)
5 (129, 147)
Analysis and Predictions
The Buffalo Bills, who finished 9-7 this past year, come off their first winning season since 2004.
However, out is Doug Marrone after two seasons, and in is new Bills head coach Rex Ryan, the team's sixth different sideline leader since 2004.
Shortly after the season ended, quarterback Kyle Orton announced his retirement from the NFL. Does that mean the team and new offensive coordinator Greg Roman are sold that they can develop EJ Manuel?
SI.com, Chris Burke – Grades for 2015 coaching hires
Rex Ryan, Buffalo BillsGrade: B
With Marrone opting out of his Buffalo contract on New Year's Eve and Jim Harbaugh off to Michigan, the number of appealing options for Buffalo in its coaching search were limited.
Rex Ryan had to be atop the list. Not only does he know this division well -- his matchups against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been nothing short of tantalizing -- but he meshes well with the current Buffalo roster. It has been five years, however, since Ryan produced an above-.500 record, a dismal streak catalyzed by his inability to churn out a consistent offense.
The Bills team awaiting Ryan's arrival resembles his former Jets roster -- that is, the Jets' roster from 2009-10, which Ryan took to those back-to-back conference championship games. There are far fewer trouble spots in Buffalo than there were, and still are, back in New York.
There are no farm systems in the NFL the way there are in Major League Baseball, but knowing which teams have the best collections of young talent can still be very instructive in predicting future success.
That's what we're attempting to do with these rankings of all 32 teams based on their 25-and-under talent. Here you have it: Every NFL team ranked according to its 25-and-under talent.
No. 11. Buffalo Bills
Sammy Watkins, WR (21):He didn't put up the same numbers as some of the rookie receivers drafted after him, but make no mistake: He is still a supreme prospect. He has great speed and ball skills, but what some might overlook with him is his strength. Every aspect of his game exudes power, from his running style to his aggressiveness attacking the football.
Marcell Dareus, DT (24): The Bills' excellent defensive line is the foundation of their defense, and Dareus is the anchor in the middle. He dominates in the running game and continues to improve as an every-down player who can get to the quarterback as well.
Cordy Glenn, LT (25): Not the prototypical light-footed left tackle, Glenn uses his great size and wingspan to protect the blind side. He is a top-10 tackle in this league.
Stephon Gilmore, CB (24): Gilmore excels in both man and zone coverage. With Rex Ryan taking over as Buffalo's head coach, Gilmore should see a ton of one-on-one coverage against the opponent's top receiver. He's up to the task.
Kiko Alonso, LB (25): He missed all of 2014 due to an injury, but he along with Brandon Spikes and Preston Brown gives Buffalo one of the best linebacker groups in football.
*Others of note: Nigel Bradham, EJ Manuel, Aaron Williams, Duke Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Cyril Richardson, Bryce Brown, Nickell Robey, Seantrel Henderson, Robert Woods, Preston Brown, Cyrus Kouandjio.*
- Buffalo—T/G Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State
With no quarterback worthy of the pick, the Bills look at their next biggest hole—offensive guard.
17. Buffalo—TE Clive Walford, Miami (Fla.)
1. Buffalo—QB Sean Mannion, Oregon St
19. Buffalo—DT Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
18. Buffalo—WR George Farmer, USC
17. Buffalo—FB Connor Neighbors, LSU
FOX Sports – Power rankings
A dominant defensive line will return in full as long as the Bills use some of their salary cap space (about $24M) to re-sign Jerry Hughes. In order for this team to take the next step, new coach Rex Ryan will need to find a quarterback who can accentuate Sammy Watkins' game.
Just like the Jets: great coaching hire in Rex Ryan, a defense that's going to be fantastic, and not a lot of hope at quarterback.
The Bills are going to their third defense in three years, but head coach Rex Ryan should be able to improve (or at least maintain) the unit. Getting stud linebacker Kiko Alonso back from injury is only going to help in that regard. That said, the Bills will continue to be mediocre if Ryan can't figure out how to coach the offensive side of the ball or at least hire people who can.
We're already wondering - will Rex Ryan bring about a reunion with old buddy Mark Sanchez in quarterback-depleted Buffalo?