In 2012, the Buffalo Bills fell drastically short of heightened expectations that came after the $100 million free-agent signing of defensive end Mario Williams.
Running back C.J. Spiller emerged as a legitimate superstar, but head coach Chan Gailey illogically failed to utilize the electric runner properly. Ryan Fitzpatrick's play was sporadic, and the defense as a whole significantly disappointed. (photo: Doug Kerr, Flickr)
Big front office/coaching moves: Fired Chan Gailey and rest of staff, hired Syracuse Orange head coach Doug Marrone, who brought in a handful of college assistants, namely offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Marrone also hired a share of New York Jets assistants, namely defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Key free agents: S Jairus Byrd, OG Andy Levitre, DE Kyle Moore, S/LB Bryan Scott, CB Leodis McKelvin, DL Spencer Johnson.
First-round draft position: No. 8.
Number of picks per round: One in each round.
THREE POINTS OF EMPHASIS:
- Ryan Fitzpatrick could be on the 2013 roster (after a contractual restructure), but he is the not quarterback of the future. The Bills have never taken a signal-caller with their first pick in any draft, and this may be the year that changes. After dealing with Fitzpatrick's physical shortcomings for three years, Buffalo desperately needs a young quarterback with upside who possesses premier natural talent. (Draft possibilities: Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley, Zac Dysert, Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon)
- The soon-to-be 32-year-old Nick Barnett is not capable of being an impactful weakside linebacker, and Kelvin Sheppard has been far from effective as the middle linebacker in Buffalo's 4-3 in his two professional seasons. The Bills need a rangy weakside backer who excels in coverage and doesn't get devoured on running plays, and they could potentially look for a inside backer to replace Sheppard—someone with better instincts and ability to consistently shed blockers. (Draft possibilities: Arthur Brown, Khaseem Greene, Alec Ogletree, Kevin Reddick, Kevin Minter, Manti Te'o, Gerald Hodges, Vince Williams)
- Stevie Johnson needs help. He's not a traditional, game-breaking "No. 1 wideout", but he certainly demands the attention of the opposing defense and is productive. The Bills must find an imposing perimeter target with separation ability whose presence would allow Johnson to work his magic from the slot more frequently. (Draft possibilities: Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Terrance Williams, Quinton Patton, Da'Rick Rogers)
Follow Chris @ChrisTrapasso
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily