Buffalo Bills: Top free agency, NFL draft needs for 2017

By The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 21, 2017 at 10:29 AM
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As they wade through free agency and prepare to evaluate draft prospects at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine (March 1-6), the Buffalo Bills must decide which players to keep and seek to improve their 7-9 record from last season.

The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com evaluated the Bills' roster and created a shopping list to use in free agency and reference during the combine.

Perhaps the biggest question of the offseason is tied to the future of quarterback Tyrod Taylor and whether the new coaching staff wants him back as the starter. In addition, EJ Manuel is a free agent.

There is also pending free agency for wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin to go with the frequent injuries experienced by Sammy Watkins.

New head coach Sean McDermott has a lot of work ahead.

THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 3rd in AFC East (7-9)

2016 STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 354.1 (16th)

RUSHING: 164.4 (1st)

PASSING: 189.8 (30th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 357.0 (19th)

RUSHING: 133.1 (26th)

PASSING: 223.9 (6th)

NEEDS, SHOPPING LIST

TOP THREE NEEDS

QUARTERBACK

The Bills believe Cardale Jones has a chance to compete for the starting job, but if Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel leave in free agency, the Bills have big problems here.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

Kirk Cousins, Washington (29 in August, $19.95M)

Tony Romo, Dallas (expected to be released; 37 in April, $18M)

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay (28 in December, $776K)

Brian Hoyer, Chicago (32 in October, $2M)

*Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo (28 in August, $18M)

*Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (30 in November, $19M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., Proj. Rd.)

1/12 Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina, 6-3, 220, 4.74, 1 (underclassman)

2/20 DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame, 6-4, 230, 4.76, 1 (underclassman)

3/29 Deshaun Watson, Clemson, 6-2, 215, 4.64, 1-2 (underclassman)

4/70 Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech, 6-2, 229, 4.84, 2-3 (underclassman)

5/99 Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL), 6-4, 210, 4.84, 3 (underclassman)

WIDE RECEIVER

With the likely departure of free agents Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, a major overhaul is needed to help Sammy Watkins.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

DeSean Jackson, Washington (31 in December, $6M)

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago (27, $14.6M)

Pierre Garcon, Washington (31 in August, $8.5M)

Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland (28 in June, $1.67M)

Anquan Boldin, Detroit (37 in October, $2.75M)

Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota (26 in March, $1.8M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht, Wt., Proj. Rd.)

1/8 Mike Williams, Clemson, 6-3, 225, 1 (underclassman)

2/1 Corey Davis, Western Michigan, 6-3, 213, 1

3/19 John Ross, Washington, 5-11, 190, 1 (underclassman)

4/37 Curtis Samuel, Ohio State, 5-11, 200, 1-2 (underclassman)

5/42 Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma, 5-11, 175, 2

SAFETY

Aaron Williams' neck injuries may force him to retire, and Corey Graham is average. There is a crying need for one starting safety, possibly two.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)

Eric Berry, Kansas City (29 in December, $10.8M)

Barry Church, Dallas (29, $2.2M)

T.J. McDonald, L.A. Rams (26, $732K)

Chris Conte, Tampa Bay (28, $3M)

Quintin Demps, Houston (32 in June, $1.5M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht, Wt., Proj. Rd.)

1/4 Malik Hooker, Ohio State, 6-2, 205, 4.47, 1 (underclassman)

2/6 Jamal Adams (SS), LSU, 6-0, 211, 4.54, 1 (underclassman)

3/13 Jabrill Peppers (SS), Michigan, 6-0, 205, 4.52, 1 (underclassman)

4/43 Budda Baker, Washington, 5-10, 192, 4.52, 2 (underclassman)

5/55 Obi Melifonwu (SS), Connecticut, 6-4, 219, 4.58, 2

UFA KEEPERS

CB Stephon Gilmore (27 in September, $3.02M)

LB Lorenzo Alexander (34 in May, $885K)

WR Robert Woods (25 in April, $1.22M)

ROSTER REVIEW

MAJOR COACHING CHANGES

--Sean McDermott was hired as head coach.

--Rick Dennison will be the OC.

--Leslie Frazier will be the DC.

DEPTH CHART

Starters and backups are listed according to their status at the end of the season, but players who were starters before being injured are included.

* Indicates player who ended 2016 season on reserve.

& Indicates player released since the Super Bowl.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Tyrod Taylor. Backups -- EJ Manuel (UFA), Cardale Jones.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- LeSean McCoy, FB Jerome Felton (UFA). Backups -- Mike Gillislee, Jonathan Williams, Reggie Bush (UFA).

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Charles Clay. Backups -- Nick O'Leary, Gerald Christian, Logan Thomas, *Blake Annen, *Chris Gragg (UFA).

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods (UFA). Backups -- Marquise Goodwin (UFA), Justin Hunter (UFA), Brandon Tate (UFA), Dezmin Lewis, *Marcus Easley, *Greg Salas, *Kolby Listenbee, *Walter Powell, *Percy Harvin (UFA).

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Cordy Glenn, LG Richie Incognito, C Eric Wood, RG John Miller, RT Jordan Mills (UFA). Backups -- T Cyrus Kouandjio, T *Seantrel Henderson, C-G Ryan Groy, OT Michael Ola, C-G Patrick Lewis.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DT Kyle Williams, NT Marcell Dareus, DT Adolphus Washington. Backups -- DT Leger Douzable (UFA), NT DeAndre Coleman, DT Jerel Worthy, *DT Corbin Bryant (UFA).

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- OLB Jerry Hughes, OLB Lorenzo Alexander (UFA), ILB Preston Brown, ILB Zach Brown (UFA). Backups -- OLB Shaq Lawson, OLB Lerentee McCray (UFA), ILB Ramon Humber, ILB Brandon Spikes (UFA), OLB Bryson Albright, ILB *Reggie Ragland, OLB IK Enemkpali (UFA).

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- CB Stephon Gilmore (UFA), CB Ronald Darby, S Corey Graham, *S Aaron Williams. Backups -- CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, CB Kevon Seymour, S Jonathan Meeks (UFA), S Corey White (UFA), S Sergio Brown (UFA), CB Marcus Roberson, S Shamiel Gray, *S Robert Blanton (UFA), *S James Ihedigbo (UFA), *CB Jonathan Dowling, *S Colt Anderson, *S Phillip Thomas.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Dan Carpenter, P Colton Schmidt, LS Garrison Sanborn, KOR/PR Brandon Tate (UFA), Reggie Bush (UFA).

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