The Buffalo Bills front office did well to address several offseason needs through free agency. Last season’s receiving corps was dismal, and it provided very few viable options for rookie quarterback Josh Allen when he was given the starting nod. A glaring need at wide receiver was addressed through the signings of John Brown and Cole Beasley. Brown, the former Raven, brings speed and the ability to spread the field by drawing the attention of opposing cornerbacks and safeties downfield. Cole Beasley comes to Buffalo from Dallas where he proved to be a reliable slot receiver with a knack for getting open underneath. Beasley’s prototype is what every developing NFL quarterback needs.
The Bills also addressed their offensive line through free agency by adding names including center Mitch Morse from Kansas City and tackle Ty Nsekhe. The team has made it clear that surrounding Josh Allen with talent is a key priority – as it should be with any rookie quarterback in the passing league of today’s NFL. The team also added tight end Tyler Kroft and veteran running back Frank Gore to the mix. Kroft should help in the passing game, and Gore should still have some gas left in the tank to bolster the running game behind projected starter LeSean McCoy. The Bills also added depth at cornerback via free agency.
On the whole, the offensive side of the ball was the primary focus in free agency, and this opened the door for the team’s first round pick, Ed Oliver, who filled an immediate need on the defensive line following the retirement of the career-Bill Kyle Williams.
Round 1 – Pick 9: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
- Some questionable top 10 picks (we are looking at you NY Giants) led the Bills to their man
- Speed guy more than he is a size guy
- 3-technique DT meaning that he lines up on the outside shoulder of the opposing guard – more difficult to double team and increased mobility to disturb each play
Round 2 – Pick 6: Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma
- Bills moved up to get him
- Able to play both guard and tackle
- Strong, physical lineman
Round 3 – Pick 11: Devin Singletary, RB, FAU
- Undersized, shifty RB
- Draws comparisons to LeSean McCoy
- Adds to a crowded backfield this season with the recent Yeldon signing
- Possible successor to McCoy
Round 3 – Pick 33: Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss
- Athletic tight-end and former walk-on
- Beane said he saw a stark drop-off in TEs after Knox
- More of a long-term project who could flourish with development
Round 5 – Pick 9: Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida
- Led the Gators in tackles during his final season
- Brings depth to the position
Round 6 – Pick 8: Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
- Earned high praise from Miami’s defensive coordinator
- Not necessarily a need for the Bills, but someone they saw as a late-round bargain
Round 7 – Pick 11: Darryl Johnson Jr., OLB, North Carolina A&T
- Posted impressive stats after a breakout sophomore season
- Brings good size at 6-6 253lbs
Round 7 – Pick 14: Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College
- Will compete to be a blocking TE
Additions during free agency and the draft have helped the Bills to quietly overhaul their entire offensive line. There will be competition during camp, but there is no doubt that the group coming into camp brings more talent than that of last season – this should be an improved group. Ed Oliver projects to have an immediate impact on a defense that is returning several starters from last season. Limited roster turnover on this side of the ball should help a group that finished 2nd in team defense last season.
Despite adding several undrafted wide receivers, and in lieu of the free agent signings at the position, the Bills did not take a wide receiver during the draft. They had opportunities to do so, but chose to address other areas of need. The team still lacks a true number one receiver whom the team can develop and build around. Surely, the Patriots have managed without a true number one over the years, but Josh Allen is not Tom Brady. The receiving group is improved from a year ago, but it is certainly an area that many thought they would address through the draft. For those who contend that the game is primarily won in the trenches, the Bills have bolstered their lines on both sides of the ball.
Overall, Brandon Beane and company have done well to bring depth to each position group across the roster. When the team breaks for training camp, there will be many, highly contested battles at different position groups. This front office continues to prove unwavering in their vision to build a high-character group around their franchise quarterback. As it stands today, Josh Allen’s supporting cast is much better on paper than it was one year ago. Allen, who drew the ire of critics throughout his draft process, proved that he has potential during his rookie season – his mobility and arm strength are amongst the best in the league. For an organization that has failed to successfully address the quarterback position since the Jim Kelly era, the 2019 Buffalo Bills are putting the pieces in place that they believe will bring a winning franchise back to One Bills Drive.