AFCE Watch: Offseason Rundown – Buffalo Bills

Although the Bills made progress last season at the helm of JP Losman, the team lost a number of established players from both offense and defense to trades and free agency. Although the team did find a number of players in the draft, the free agent losses could spell trouble for the Bills.

Mass Exodus

Matt Bowen, S; Nate Clements, CB (SF); London Fletcher-Baker, LB (WAS); Mike Gandy, OL (ARI); Kelly Holcomb, QB (PHI); Willis McGahee, RB (BAL); Tutan Reyes, G; Takeo Spikes, LB (PHI); Chris Villarrial, G

This is the single biggest storyline for the Bills going into this seaosn. Losing players like Nate Clements, Willis McGahee, London Fletcher-Baker and Takeo Spikes might well have set the team back. Losing three key contributors on defense in Clements, Baker-Fletcher and Spikes could have a drastic impact on the defense in 2007. Clements was a large reason that the team had one of the most efficient pass defenses in the league (6th according to Football Outsiders). While Fletcher-Baker, according to Football Outsiders Individual Defense rankings among linebackers, was ranked alongside names like Lance Briggs and Donnie Edwards. Spikes has had trouble staying on the field in the past two years. In 2006 he played 12 games, and in 2005, only three. All the same, his loss will be felt by the team, but look for Angelo Crowell to step up his game with the loss of Spikes. Like the Jets, the Bills struggled with their defensive line play, and the team made just a few moves to address this.

While Losman emerged at the clear cut starter last season, losing workhorse Willis McGahee could prove tough for the young quarterback. Drafting Lynch could be a big help to Losman, but as of yet, Lynch is unproven, so it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. Knowing what to expect gets even harder due to the team losing three lineman from the roster.

Key Additions

Derrick Dockery, G (WAS); Josh Scobey, RB (SEA); Darwin Walker, DT (PHI); Langston Walker, T (OAK); Jason Whittle, OT (MIN)

To deal with the issues at the line, the Bills brought in Langston Walker from Oakland to play Right Tackle, and paid a lot of money to bring in Derrick Dockery, a Guard from Washington. Dockery signed an enormous seven year $49 million contract with the Bills.

2007 Draft

1(12) Lynch, Marshawn RB 5-11 217 California
2(34) Posluszny, Paul OLB 6-1 237 Penn State
3(92) Edwards, Trent QB 6-3 222 Stanford
4(111) Wright, Dwayne RB 5-11 226 Fresno State
6(184) Wendling, John FS 6-1 222 Wyoming
7(222) Schouman, Derek FB 6-2 247 Boise State
7(239) Ah You, C.J. DE 6-4 274 Oklahoma

Pundits praised the Bills draft, mixing need and best player picking well. Lynch can step in from the start and provides a Marshall Faulk style (didn’t say ability, yet) Running Back who is skilled at carrying or catching the ball. Paul Posluszny seems to be a guy that people can’t decide on whether he was overhyped or whether he is the real deal. Regardless, expect to see him crack the starting spot in short order. What surprised me was watching the Bills draft two more backfield skill players in Dwyane Wright and Derek Schouman. (added two sentences I missed0 Schouman could eventually start for the Bills and Edwards is a talented QB who the Bills can mold as a backup, but gives the Bills depth at QB. Wendling is known for his athleticism (see this video of him jumping a 66″ bar) and ability to play either safety post. Wendling could be a good role player / special teamer for the Bills early in his career, with upside long-term.