There aren’t many subtle drafts. But there aren’t many teams transforming themselves like the Buffalo Bills, either. By all accounts, the gang plans to seize control by grinding out wins on offense. In lieu of emphasizing elegant passing, they’re out to take their time by grinding out highway miles. Rex Ryan is leaving the Jets behind, and added draftees have equipped him to run. Coaches now have access to young players who could create the opportunity for more handoffs. Not everyone gets to dash with the ball, and some even play on the other side. But the overall scheme to empower rushers is in place.
This year’s top pick could aid the time of possession contest by cutting into opponents’ schedules. The best way to grind out yards is getting the offense the ball back after three downs, or fewer if a defender can maliciously steal a possession. First draftee Ronald Darby contributes to that goal by deepening the cornerback pool. If he progresses on schedule and can continue developing ball skills during summer school, coaches will be able to impose any cruel scheme they want.
Darby’s ability to run with his new teammates would hinder foes from moving the chains even with three-wideout sets. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman dreams of unleashing inventive blitzes without having to worry about a single cornerback being exposed. It only takes one underwhelming platoon mate for the line to break. The Bills drafted to ensure they have players who won’t be picked on for being the weakest. If projections come true, general manager Doug Whaley created a chance for the offense to chew clock by adding to the secondary.
The next selection was more straightforward at helping the ground game. Inside reinforcement John Miller has already shown preliminary signs of being the mauler they need to help replace concave results with convex blocking. The 81st overall selection should know the opportunity is there to start from his first game. Players from that round have an expectedly checkered history over the franchise’s life. But we don’t have to go back far to cite precedent, as Miller has a shot to join Preston Brown as an immediate starter chosen in that draft span. His no-nonsense style could clear spaces in the same way Buffalo’s last famous sporting Miller blocked them even if the uptight league won’t let him wear number 30.
Any team who adds a fifth back in the fifth round is serious about spreading handoffs. Karlos Williams may not take many this season. His selection at an already-deep position reminds us that players drafted this year can play in future ones. Adding an intriguing prospect who’s relatively new to the offensive backfield is testament to Buffalo’s previous shrewd moves. It takes confidence to add a rookie at an overstocked position because he might evolve into a devastating weapon. The prospect of him only making the field for special teams is a sign of Buffalo’s self-assuredness.
Williams meets a need for 2016. If it’s unnecessary to add as many competitors for roster spots this season, feel free to select a converted safety who can enjoy a year of pro development. If nothing else, the rookie back provides motivation this season for every non-McCoy back the Bills have. We’ll see if the coach remembers Bryce Brown’s name before knowing just how soon the newest guy will get his shot in the rotation.
Williams’s desire to join the lineup ahead of schedule will allow him to focus on the game. His brushes with the legal system lead the Bills to hope he made, past tense, shaky calls. As with questionable acts as an undergraduate, his accomplishments while playing NCAA-governed football are in the past. He should know he’s on thin ice even when the canal refreezes.
Everyone gets a chance to start fresh as a pro. Fans are hoping for consistency from intriguing talent Seantrel Henderson, who fell to the Bills after some off-field issues of his own. Stable surroundings might aid someone who played well considering last season’s tough line situation. Looking forward is a trait shared by someone presently penciled in on the inside, as Richie Incognito wants people to think of him shoving enemy defensive tackles and not hurting a delicate man’s feelings. Every day is a chance to leave more territory in the past.
Sports are not about offering charity cases second chances. There’s a difference between adding bad citizens and men who have made bad decisions. Every player who has made the news for unsavory non-football reasons gets to prove they can be part of a team and community. Cranky athletes focusing their energy is a goal that furthers both pursuits. Buffalo’s newest workers will get ample chances to shave minutes off opponents’ possession if they put in enough time.