Bills Mafia Poll: Which Position Group will be the most Intriguing come Training Camp
The Buffalo Bills along with the rest of the NFL have begun their OTA’s, and while people run around on Twitter talking about who hasn’t shown up and who is or is not vaccinated, I wanted to talk and inquire about something that truly deals with football. There are many cut-and-dry position battles in Buffalo this year: QB, OT, LB, and S are all locks in terms of starters and depth. There are four positions, however, in which there are little to no answers in terms of what the depth chart could look like come week one of the NFL season. Those position groups, in my eyes, are defensive line, cornerback, running back, and guard. So, I went to the community via Twitter to ask Bills Mafia which one of these position groups could be the most intriguing down the line, dealing with position battles, surprise cuts, FA signings, etc. Here are the results.
Many of the members of Bills Mafia were drooling come draft night, as at each top-end pick, there was an outside corner available. Beane & Co. decided to go heavy in the trenches, and we are now looking at a position core of Tre White, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, Dane Jackson, and 6th round pick Rachad Wildgoose. Two UDFAs in Olaijah Griffin and Nick McCloud were brought in as well. Tre White goes without mentioning in this article. He is a two-time Pro-Bowler who has 15 picks in his four years since going at the end of the first round to Buffalo in 2017. He is our #1 lock-his-ass-up guy who will have assignments such as AJ Brown, Tyreek Hill, Terry McLaurin, Michael Thomas, and wherever the hell Julio ends up.
However, the entire offseason has been about the No. 2 corner. Levi Wallace has started for us for two years now, but after watching both the Indianapolis game and the Kansas City game, it is safe to assume that Buffalo will be looking to improve the other outside spot. Taron Johnson will never have to purchase a beer in Buffalo following his big-play ability, and he played amazing in the slot and nickel throughout the season. That being said, there is no chance he will play a boundary position. He excels in the slot and lacks the speed to play outside. That leaves us with Wallace, Dane Jackson, and Rachad Wildgoose for the final corner spot, as one and three are already set in stone. Time for my Dane Jackson gospel moment. Jackson, who barely played last year, has the body and measurables to be a dominant outside guy. So far in OTA’s, he’s already picked off Josh Allen and throughout the back end of the year last year, after every practice, coaches were raving about Jackson’s ability, grit, and intensity in practice. After being a 7th round pick in 2019 and not having a training camp, Jackson will now have the opportunity to compete for that outside corner gig and potentially win it. Shoutout Pierre Kingpin real quick for being high on Jackson like me.
Other than Jackson, the Bills have looked elsewhere for their final corner spot. Steven Nelson has been rumored to Buffalo and would fit in nicely. Also, I will continue to speak this into the universe: Richard Sherman is still a free agent and would make our defense a top-10 unit in the league.
Shout-Out the people who voted for guard here, not the sexiest position but probably the most likely “Best Man Wins” situation come training camp. It’s pretty clear to me what Beane is doing, particularly due to the fact that Cody Ford has yet to live up to his hype (not saying he’s a bust, he just hasn’t bloomed yet), and that is bringing in a bunch of hogs to snuff it out and truly compete for a starting gig. On both sides as well. Right now, OurLads has Feliciano and Ford starting with guys like Forrest Lamp, Ike Boettger, and Jack Anderson behind them. With the talent and history that a lot of these guys have, I could see every potential grouping of two being the starting guards come week one. Forrest Lamp started the past two years for the Chargers and was pretty efficient, especially as a pass-blocker. Ike Boettger silently became one of my favorite players last year, as he always finished past the whistle and improved greatly in things such as downfield blocking, run blocking as a whole, and footwork. Feliciano has been great in Buffalo and was newly signed to a three-year deal to stay in Western New York. He is also really good buds with Josh Allen. I’m excited to see which pair of guards ultimately win this position battle. My personal pick would be Feliciano and Lamp, as of right now.
The running-back committee has been a hot topic in the past two months. After Singletary “struggled” and Zack Moss got hurt, there were tons of calls for Buffalo to target one of Najee Harris or Travis Etienne at pick 30. Both were gone by then, and Buffalo walked away from the NFL Draft without a new running-back. The current group is Singletary, Moss, newly signed speedster Matt Breida, UDFA Antonio Williams, and English superstar, Christian Wade. There is loads of talent here, and each of these backs seems to have a subset of fans on Twitter, each wanting their back to take the starting role.
I want to make this clear because some people don’t seem to agree. There is no No. 1 back in Buffalo. This is a run-by-committee team, with different backs that can attack you in different ways. Singletary is your every-down back, Moss is a great red-zone guy and pass-blocker, Matt Breida will excel in dump-offs and pitches, Williams seems to be a power guy (We only saw him in one game.), and who doesn’t love Christian Wade? I can get behind the 17.6% of you who voted for running-back, as there are a ton of questions as to who of the five will get cut. I don’t think any of them will. They all bring different things to a team that needs versatility to beat the likes of Tennessee, Baltimore, and most importantly Kansas City. All-in-all, running-back isn’t as bad as people on Twitter make it out to be, and with Daboll at command, I am excited to see what Buffalo’s run game will look like come next year. Also, I’m team Christian Wade as kick returner.
The core of defensive lineman blew this poll out of the water. Nearly half of the votes went to pass-rush. Beane & Co. made crazy moves all off-season to try and bolster this group, so we don’t see a game like the Wild Card in which Phillip Rivers had roughly 11 minutes to throw the ball every snap. The first two picks by the Bills in the NFL Draft were Greg Rousseau out of Miami, followed by Boogie Basham out of Wake Forest. Two athletic freaks at edge-rusher. They will now compete with Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, and AJ Epenesa come training camp for snaps. With the amount of depth that the Bills now have at edge-rusher, I am extremely excited to see blitz packages next year, with four out of five of the previously mentioned tearing through O-lines and causing a ruckus. On the interior, the Bills are getting big Star Lotulelei back to pair with Ed Oliver. There is great depth at DT as well, as guys like Harrison Phillips and Justin Zimmer will more than likely rotate in on run plays. There are so many different looks, different schemes, and different points of attack that the Bills now possess on the D-Line. Expect both sacks and TFLs to skyrocket next year, and come training camp, make sure to keep an eye out for who Frazier puts on the field. The most likely starting four on the D-Line is Hughes/Star/Oliver/Epenesa with the rookies rotating in for pass-rush, and Zimmer and Phillips rotating in for Star to bring some speed.
Also, with news today that the cap is opening up a bit, don’t be surprised if Buffalo targets Jurrell Casey after June 1st, as adding him would horrify other offenses, and complete the rebuilding of the Cold Front.
Thanks again for the feedback on this week’s poll Mafia! Let me know on Twitter (@SemiAverageRigs) what you think and be sure to follow to be a part of next week’s polling process.