This upcoming 2014 NFL season is an extremely important one for the Buffalo Bills. Following Ralph Wilson’s death, questions surrounding the team’s future have been non-stop. The Bills’ roster finally has come together with enough talent to make quite a few analysts believe that the team could finally get over the hump into the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
While the talent and potential of the players on the roster exists, a large number of unheralded sophomore and third-year players will be taking on large roles for the team.
In the coming days, I’ll be taking a look at a few young players that could see a bigger role than most expect with the 2014 Buffalo Bills.
RB Bryce Brown
Bryce Brown was a seventh-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Kansas State, by way of Tennessee. Brown was the #1 recruit coming out of high school, the first running back to earn that status since Adrian Peterson, and had one of the more dramatic recruiting processes in history.
After committing and de-committing from Miami, he went to Tennessee, where he backed up Montario Hardesty, rushing for 460 yards and three touchdowns on 101 carries, while adding 10 receptions for 137 yards and a score in 2009. After Lane Kiffin was fired, Brown transferred to Kansas State, where he sat out the 2010 season, before leaving the program early in 2011 to declare for the draft.
|Height||Weight||10 Yard||40 (Official)||Bench||Vertical||Broad||3-Cone||S. Shuttle|
With the Philadelphia Eagles, Brown wasn’t able to see the field, as Lesean McCoy is an every-down back that’s one of the best in the league. However, when he saw the field he was productive, rushing for 878 yards at a 4.6 yards a pop, scoring six touchdowns, adding another 140 yards on 33 catches.
The Buffalo Bills entered the offseason with a need at running back, and without any on the board of value to the team, Doug Whaley pulled the trigger on a trade with the Eagles that was reportedly in the works for quite some time.
Brown should be penciled in at “No. 3” on the opening day depth chart, but could see an increased role if Fred Jackson shows signs of decline.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are heading into the final years of their contracts, but both will have different futures. There’s no question that Spiller is one of the more gifted and game-changing running backs in the NFL, but the value at the position has plummeted, which could cause some rifts between he the team.
This is where Bryce Browns 7.2 shuttle time shows https://t.co/pbzy7flagb
— Rob Quinn (@RQUINN619) July 14, 2014
Jackson will be 33- years old, and while he was the heart and soul of the team’s offense last season, performing at a high level of play simply doesn’t seem sustainable.
Bryce Brown fits the mold of the modern day running back that teams are turning towards, as he has the size and bulk to take the beating of an every-down back, while possessing the lateral movement skills and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield—an aspect of the game that’s seeing an increased importance.
Brown’s inexperience (294 total college/pro carries) has led him to earn the “impatient” label, but in the following clip, he displays his excellent vision, lateral quickness and burst to explode through an open gap.
— Rob Quinn (@RQUINN619) July 14, 2014
ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak wrote that the team envisions Brown as a “lead back,” and it’s hard to disagree. As it stands today, Brown would be the team’s No. 1 running back in 2015 and it’s absolutely possible that he could find himself rising up the depth chart with strong performances in training camp and preseason games.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are the running backs that will be featured, but Brown provides quality depth and rounds out arguably the best stable of running backs in the National Football League.