Buffalo Bills Top 10 Players 25 and Under

The Buffalo Bills have done a great job of drafting in the last few years. For that reason, the team has a lot of talented players who are 25 years old and younger. He's a look at the top ten players on the Bills in this age range.

The New England Patriots may rule the roost in the AFC East, but the Buffalo Bills have a chance to contend in the division in the next few years. One reason for this is because of how well the team has drafted in the past few seasons. The Bills have a nucleus of young talent under the age of 25. If these players continue to develop, there’s no reason to believe that the Bills cannot compete in the AFC East and AFC in general. Here is a look at Buffalo’s top 10 players who are 25 years old and younger.

10. Nickell Robey

Robey, an undrafted free agent, has emerged as one of the best slot corners in football. The cornerback thrived at USC in college, but went undrafted due to his height (5’8”). In the NFL, Robey has shown that his size isn’t a factor. In his rookie season, Pro Football Focus rated Robey fifth in cornerback slot performance. He had 39 total tackles, three sacks, 10 passes defensed and one interception that went for a touchdown in 2013. In 2014, Robey finished the year with 47 total tackles, one sack and seven passes defensed. Robey finished eighth in cornerback slot performance this season. In 2015, Robey will be playing in a defense similar to Mike Pettine’s 2013 defense. Besides covering out of the slot, you’ll probably see Robey blitz more this season.

9. Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams had a breakout season at safety in 2013 under Pettine. He recorded 82 total tackles, 11 passes defensed and a career-high four interceptions in the team’s aggressive defense. Williams was rewarded with an extension for his strong play in the offseason. This year, Williams’ play fell off slightly with 76 combined tackles, five passes defensed and one interception. He also had a career-high 11 missed tackles this past season. Williams should thrive in Rex Ryan’s defense. Buffalo’s aggressive play up front will give him the opportunity to make plays for the defense.

8. Nigel Bradham

Bradham is an athletic linebacker that may rotate inside and outside in Buffalo’s defense this season. Bradham stepped up in 2014 with Kiko Alonso missing the season with a torn ACL. Bradham started 14 games and finished the year with 102 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks, six passes defensed, one interception and two forced fumbles. PFF rated Bradham as their thirteenth best 4-3 OLB with rankings of sixth in pass rush, thirteenth in coverage and sixteenth in run defense. Bradham is an all-around player that Rex Ryan can use in a variety of ways in 2015.

7. Cordy Glenn

There are still some people who believe that Cordy Glenn is best suited at guard. They may be correct, but he’s done a fine job at left tackle since being drafted by the Bills. Glenn missed three games in his rookie season, but he’s played and started at left tackle in 45 games. In 2014, Glenn was PFF’s sixteenth best left tackle, but he still graded out with a +6.5 grade. He fared well in pass protection, but was seen as below average in run blocking. This is a fair assessment as the entire line struggled last season in run blocking. Glenn may have been asked to do too much with poor play at left guard, especially early in the season. There is certainly room for improvement for Glenn, but he’s shown the ability to protect his quarterback since entering the league as a rookie.

6. Preston Brown

Brown was extremely impressive as a rookie in 2014. If there was a draft redo, there’s no doubt that Brown would be a first round selection. In Buffalo, Brown played in all 16 games, starting in 14, and finished with 109 combined tackles, two passes defensed and an interception. Towards the end of the season, Brown’s play fell off a bit in terms of run defense but that may have been him hitting the rookie wall. In 2015, Brown will play on the inside along with Bradham and Alonso.

5. Robert Woods

Robert Woods has played well since joining the Bills in 2013. In two seasons, Woods has 105 receptions, 1,286 yards and eight touchdowns. This season, Woods improved in receptions (+25), yards (+112) and touchdowns (+2).

Woods is willing to go across the middle of the field and in 2014, he made quite a few difficult catches look easy. Ideally, Woods may be at his best in the slot, but he’s proven that he can also play on the outside. Besides being a terrific pass catcher, Woods is also a decent blocker.

4. Kiko Alonso

Alonso, the Pro Football Writers of America’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013, comes in at four after missing the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL. He recently stated that he should be 100 percent for training camp, which is encouraging for him and the team. Alonso had a terrific rookie season in 2013 that saw him finish with 159 combined tackles, two sacks, four passes defensed, four interceptions and a forced fumble. Alonso was especially strong in coverage in his rookie season. He was rated second among all ILB on PFF in coverage his rookie season. Alonso literally played like a man with his hair on fire, which was the way one draft analyst talked about him after the Bills selected him. Much like Brown, Alonso’s play did fall off a bit towards the end of his rookie season, but he’s still considered one of Buffalo’s cornerstones going forward. The legend of Kiko Alonso should only grow in 2015.

3. Stephon Gilmore

Gilmore looked like a lockdown cornerback this season for the Bills. In his third season, it all game together for Gilmore. He finished the season with 46 total tackles, six passes defensed, three interceptions and a forced fumble. From Week 8 to the end of the season, Gilmore had nothing but positive ratings. He went one three game stretch against the Broncos, Packers and Raiders where he only allowed four completions on 16 targets for 31 yards. Pretty impressive stats considered two games were played against future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

Opposing teams respect Gilmore’s play. Since his rookie season, his targets have gone down yearly. In his rookie season, Gilmore was targeted 87 times. In 2013, Gilmore saw 76 targets and last year it was down to 69 targets. Ryan will appreciate having a lockdown cornerback after having such a weak secondary with the Jets in 2014. Gilmore should only get better in 2015.

2. Sammy Watkins

The Bills traded up to get Watkins in the 2014 NFL draft. They won’t have a first or fourth round pick this season, but they will have a No. 1 WR for years to come. Watkins finished his rookie season with 65 receptions for 982 yards and six touchdowns. He made some spectacular catches throughout the year and played a significant role in four of Buffalo’s nine victories.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman may be running a ground-and-pound offense in 2015 but he’ll find creative ways to get Watkins the ball. Now, just get him a consistent quarterback.

1. Marcell Dareus

Marcell Dareus is not only Buffalo’s top player 25 years old or younger, but he’s Buffalo’s best overall player. Mr. Big Stuff finished the 2014 season with 49 total tackles and a career-high 10 sacks. Dareus finished fourth among all DT/NT in PFF’s ratings and was first in terms of run defense.

This season, Dareus will play nose tackle in the 3-4 defense, much like he did in 2013. Dareus finished that season with 71 tackles and 7.5 sacks. In 2013, Dareus finished sixth among all DT/NT and was third in run defense.

Dareus is an all-around player that can do it all. As mentioned, he’s outstanding in run support and is a terrific pass rusher as evidenced by his 17.5 sacks in the last two years. Dareus has made two Pro Bowl appearances in the last two seasons and was a 1st team All-Pro this season. At 25 years old, Dareus is just getting started. Keeping Dareus will cost the Bills a lot of money, but he’ll be worth every penny.

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