This upcoming offseason for the Buffalo Bills is one of the most important in recent memory. For the first time in a while, the Bills seem committed to building a legitimate contender and have a chance in this years NFL Draft and a deep pool of free agents. They have the pieces in place with a great defense, and a smash mouth running game. The question now is, what more do they need? Although the Bills have talent on both sides of the ball, there's still some improvements they need to make to head to the next level. With a pretty deep draft, and more then serviceable players in free agency, the Bills need to continue building a winner. With that being said, what will they need to finally leave the cellar of the A.F.C East.
NFL Free AgencyThe Kevin Kolb experiment didn't work out..
Last year, the Bills didn't make a Mario Williams splash like they did the year previous. They let go of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and brought in Kevin Kolb, not much of an improvement, considering Kolb didn't even play. The most important thing about the Bills last experience in free agency was how they lost Andy Levitre to the Titans, more on that later. This year is a different year, and with that, different players and needs. I can't fully commit to EJ Manuel being the Bills next franchise quarterback, I haven't seen enough to say that just yet, but that still doesn't mean he deserves another year as the teams starter. The Kevin Kolb experiment didn't work out, and with no reliable backup in place, the offense struggled. The first area that needs to be addressed is just that, the team needs a veteran whose ready to come in when needed, and help to continue the evolution of Manuel. The man I would try to bring in would be Josh Mccown. Mccown played so well last year when Cutler went down, that some even questioned if he should be the starter. If the Bears let him walk, he is the best option for the Bills when looking at the other talent available. Mccown, 34, has a lot of experience he could bring to help Manuel continue to mature. He provides that safety net that the team lacked, and is a must if available. Moving on, the next position needed to be addressed, is the wide receiver. I am a huge fan of Stevie Johnson, I really am, but he isn't a true number one in today's N.F.L. Now, I'm not saying that the Bills need to go out and sign one, but they need more help on the outside. Tj Graham has yet to prove anything, and the rest of the reviving core is too young and inexperienced. Eric Decker is the prize of the wide receivers for this years free agent class, but what the Bills need is a big psychical wide out. Look no further then Hakeem Nicks. Once upon a time, Hakeem Nicks was the go to guy for Eli Manning for the Giants. Since then, he has taken a backseat to Victor Cruz, and has been the regulated number two. It doesn't help that Nicks has been the victim of the injury bug, but when he lives up to his potential, he is a true number one. Bring him in and you can slide Stevie back into the slot where he is most comfortable, and add another weapon for Manuel, which definitely wouldn't hurt anyone.
The NFL Draft
Once again, the Bills find themselves with yet another top ten pick. It has been very refreshing to see the team draft well in recent years, so lets see if that trend continues this year. The Bills hold the number 9 pick in the draft, and wont have to travel far for who they should draft. The Bills will probably be faced with a tough decision on which player to take. For me, it came down to either Khalil Mack, from UB, or CJ Mosley, from Alabama. You heard new defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, say that the team would attack, and play psychical. With those words being said, look no further then Mack. Khalil Mack is a top ten pick, and should fall right into the Bills lap. He is a hybrid linebacker who could blitz the quarterback, drop back in coverage, and make a big stop in the run game. He would fit great with Kiko Alonzo, and Manny Lawson, and add another weapon to an already loaded defense. Remember how I mentioned the Bills lost Andy Levitre to free agency last year? Yea, not the smartest idea as the Bills had no replacement for him, and juggled between two guards last year. The guard talent in this years draft doesn't compare to last years, but that doesn't mean the Bills cant find their guy. Who is their guy you ask? Well. lets meet Cyril Richardson. Richardson is from Baylor University, and is 6'5, 304lbs, and a 2013 unanimous section for the All-American team. Richardson, also won the Jim Parker award, as the nations top offensive lineman. It would be a solid pick, as he has a great upside, and could help back a punch for years to come next to Cordy Glenn on the left side.
This could be a huge year for the Bills, and it all starts with how they perform in free agency, and the draft. They have a coach that they finally play hard for, and great young players who will only continue to get better. With the addition of a few more pieces, it could finally be the year the team returns to playoffs, somewhere they haven't been since 1999.