Less than a week away from the 2021 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills likely have a plan for the direction they will take on Thursday night. However, there’s a lot of uncertainty involved with the draft. Especially this year without regulated combine testing numbers. Although the Bills have a plan for what they think will happen, draft night is all about the unexpected. Who’s most prepared and, if need be, who is the best decision-maker under pressure.
So far, Buffalo Bills fans have no reason to doubt what Brandon Beane is doing. Year after year he has found talent in the draft. Yes, there’s always room for improvement, but his vision for sustainable success is what drives this fan base’s confidence. Although I may have some opposing preferences on certain decisions, Beane has yet to disappoint. Considering the way he set himself up for the draft this year, it’s going to be tough to get upset.
After the year the Buffalo Bills just had on offense, people seemingly want more production. Even with Josh Allen in the midst of the MVP conversation, people want more from the offense. It’s understandable to want to improve wherever it’s possible. However, there are only so many areas to improve on offense.
Early on in the pre-draft process, it was very possible for the Bills to invest high draft capital in the running back position. While that’s still a possibility, it seems less likely after the addition of Matt Breida to the Running Back room. Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and Breida form a complete Running Back room where each back brings something different to the table. It’s obvious the Buffalo Bills need to be more efficient in the running game. However, was the lack of an efficient running game really the reason the Bills lost to the Chiefs?
Furthermore, there are parts of Bills Mafia that would like to invest in the Tight End or Wide Receiver position early in the draft. The jury’s still out on Dawson Knox, and beyond 2021, the wide receiver group is rather thin. The offense did struggle in the AFC Championship, but that was not the reason for the loss. While I wouldn’t be upset allocating early draft capital into either of these positions, that would not be my preference.
The bottom line is, the Buffalo Bills need to get better on defense if they want to build the best model for sustainable success. Josh Allen had a great season, but too much of last year’s success was reliant on great quarterback play. As much as I believe he can replicate last season, it’s foolish not to improve areas of the teams that are independent of him. It’s better for a team to be built to win in spite of bad quarterback play. Obviously, we don’t expect Allen to play bad games, but it happens. Yes, upgrading the Running Back position or generally improving the offense around Allen, is another way to relieve him of some pressure. However, having a better defense would holistically complete this team.
There are three obvious areas to improve on defense: covering passes over the middle of the field, getting more stout against the run, and getting pressure on the Quarterback. This is easier said than done, but improving just two of those three areas would go a long way for the Buffalo Bills. By upgrading the secondary, opposing Quarterbacks may be forced to hold onto the ball longer. Therefore, creating more opportunities for sacks and even turnovers. Upgrading the pass rush can cause opposing Quarterbacks to play with less composure. Therefore, creating more errant throws and opportunities for interceptions.
To be fair, the Buffalo Bills defense did improve as the year progressed. They did win some games in spite of lesser offensive performances. For instance, Week 7 against the Jets, Week 12 against the Chargers, Week 14 against the Steelers, and the playoff game against the Ravens. On the other hand, that’s only four games out of the fifteen the Buffalo Bills won last year. In each of the three games that the Bills lost in the regular season, Allen had below-average performances. This tells me that defensive improvements via the draft will impact team success more than offensive improvements.
Yesterday on The Air Raid Hour, we talked about various defensive prospects and draft philosophies. We covered the possibility of drafting a Linebacker in the first round and how that could change the defense. If it’s worth it for the Buffalo Bills to draft Caleb Farley at 30 despite his medical history. How the Bills value the “Buffalo Nickel” position given Beane’s recent comments. A prospect that could be the potential 1-tech Defensive Tackle solution we’re all looking for. Then as always, we did a mock draft, but the stipulation for this one was that we could only draft one offensive prospect. If you want more draft content, or want to see how we did in our mock draft, check out this most recent episode of The Air Raid Hour linked and embedded above.