Friday May 13, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The hype going into the 2022 season for the Buffalo Bills is off the charts. Caesars considers the Bills the betting favorites at +700 to win the Super Bowl. ESPN’s post-draft power rankings had the Bills listed No. 1.

“The Bills are the best team in the NFL,” ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky said this week on Get Up.

But the roster still isn’t perfect. And as coach Sean McDermott has noted, having a roster that looks good on paper hasn’t consistently been a recipe for success.

“I’ve been around this NFL for 20-plus years, and I’ve never seen a team win just because of names on a paper,” McDermott said. “That’s not how a team comes together. I think when you have what you think is a roster that’s able to compete, then it’s all how it comes together.”

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Buffalo addressed some glaring needs in the NFL draft at cornerback, running back and wide receiver. So which areas should they upgrade next and what moves could they still make?

Interior offensive line

The biggest criticism of the Bills’ 2022 draft class? It could be that the team failed to add to the interior of the offensive line. There are clear starters on the roster — left guard Rodger Saffold, center Mitch Morse and right guard Ryan Bates. After that, however, the depth is extremely limited.

If one of the starters were to miss time, there would be reason for concern. Guard Cody Ford, 2019 second-round pick, is the next man up, but he was benched in the first month of the 2021 season and has much to prove as he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

“Definitely still believe in Cody. I think he’s had a focused offseason by all accounts … It’s a contract year for him. He knows what’s on the line. It’s pretty simple that he’s gotta come in here, and this is the first year he hasn’t had a surgery,” general manager Brandon Beane said. “… There’s some things he can control that he’s gotta do better.”

Along with a first-time offensive coordinator in Ken Dorsey, the Bills brought in offensive line coach Aaron Kromer to work with the group. After Ford, the options include Greg Mancz, Ike Boettger — who is rehabbing a torn Achilles on his left leg– and Jacob Capra.

The did draft one lineman: tackle Luke Tenuta in the sixth round out of Virginia Tech. But when it came to adding interior players, Beane didn’t feel that were options that made sense value-wise.

The Bills should be watching the waiver wire as teams sort out their rosters. An ideal scenario for Buffalo would be adding solid interior players who can help in multiple spots.

Safety

The biggest question mark at safety is regarding the future. Starter Jordan Poyer’s new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, requested a contract extension for the 2021 first-team All-Pro. The 31-year-old is entering the final year of his deal after starting 79 regular-season games for Buffalo and being part of one of the strongest safety tandems in the league with Micah Hyde.

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“[Poyer and Hyde] are multi-dimensional players at the safety position,” ESPN analyst Matt Bowen said. “They can cover, they have range, they have ball skills, they are physical, tough and they can tackle. They can do everything you want at that position.”

Poyer has not yet taken part in voluntary OTAs, but McDermott didn’t sound concerned Poyer’s contract would become a long-term problem.

“I have a lot of confidence in Brandon, a lot of confidence in Jordan, and also a lot of confidence in our team that is here (at voluntary OTAs), and I think these things are going to find a way to work themselves out,” McDermott said. “My concern is that a player isn’t here, in this case Jordan or a couple other players as well, and I’m always concerned about situations like that. But I’ve also learned to focus on what I can control.”

While the Bills have solid depth at safety with Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson, there’s no one near the skill set of Poyer, which makes the situation worth keeping an eye on.

Tight end

Yes, the Bills have Dawson Knox under contract for one more season and they signed O.J. Howard in free agency.

“[Howard is] a big dude,” Allen said. I saw him running today and said, ‘I don’t want to be in front of that guy.’ We’ve got some big tight ends who are scary looking when they’ve got the ball in their hands.”

But tight end was also a position that the team considered adding to in the draft.

The Bills could run more two-TE sets this season now that they’ve added another credible receiving threat at the position in Howard. Their lack of depth at the position was an issue in 2021 after Knox missed time with a hand injury. Texas A&M tight end Jalen Wydermeyer signed with the team as an undrafted free agent and could compete for a spot.

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