Predicting which Bills make the NFL's Top 100

The NFL Network is in the midst of naming their Top 100 Players of 2015. This is voted on by NFL players and no Buffalo Bills have been named to date. Here's a prediction of which Bills players make the list.

The NFL Network is unveiling their Top 100 Players of 2015. These rankings are unique as they come from the players themselves. In the offseason, players fill out ballots and vote on players based upon their 2014 performance, as well as how they think the player will fare in 2015.

The NFL Network has unveiled 20 players (100-81) and no Buffalo Bills have been named to date. With 80 players left to be named, here’s a prediction on which Bills players make the Top 100 Players of 2015 list.

The Guarantees

Mario Williams

What Mario Williams did in 2014:

Williams set a new career high in sacks in 2014 with 14.5. In addition to the career high in sacks, Williams was also credited with 37 quarterback hurries, seven quarterback hits and 36 defensive stops (all per Pro Football Focus). Williams had a fantastic season from a pass rushing standpoint, but also arguably had his best season in terms of run defense.

What to expect in 2015:

Williams will be moving back to linebacker in 2015 under Rex Ryan. In 2013, Williams did very well in this role under Mike Pettine. He notched 13 sacks that season and it’d be a surprise if Williams’ didn’t find himself getting double-digit sacks in 2015. He should continue to be a nightmare matchup for opposing offenses and there’s no doubt that he’ll make an appearance on the Top 100 list.

Kyle Williams

What Kyle Williams did in 2014:

Williams had his best season as a pass rusher in 2014. Generally, you don’t expect defensive tackles to be consistent pass rushers, but Williams routinely found himself hurrying quarterbacks last year. Williams had 5.5 sacks in 2014 and was credited with 29 quarterback hurries and 12 quarterback hits. In his ninth NFL season, Williams also added his first career interception. Williams wasn’t Buffalo’s best defensive tackle in run defense, but overall he had a terrific season.

What to expect in 2015:

Williams will eventually slow down, but don’t look for that to happen in 2015. Buffalo’s front seven is loaded and it will allow Kyle Williams to go one-on-one with opposing offensive linemen. Bills fans will take Kyle Williams in a one-on-one matchup against almost every offensive linemen in the NFL.

Marcell Dareus

What Marcell Dareus did in 2014:

Dareus had the best season of his young career in 2014. He set a career high in sacks (10) and became an elite run stopper. Pro Football Focus had Dareus as their No. 1 defensive tackle in terms of run defense. He’s emerged as a complete player and he’s getting better each season. That’s a scary thought for opposing offenses.

What to expect in 2015:

Dareus will take over nose tackle duties in Buffalo’s 3-4 defense under Rex Ryan. Nose tackle may be the most important position in a 3-4 defense and Dareus will have to control the A gaps. Simply put, Dareus will have to take on opposing running backs or prevent offensive linemen from getting to the linebackers. Dareus is a special player and should thrive in this role in 2015. Of the three defenders listed, Dareus probably deserves to be ranked the highest.

Contenders

LeSean McCoy

What LeSean McCoy did in 2014:

McCoy ran for 1,319 yards with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014. He added another 155 yards as a receiver. McCoy finished third in rushing in 2014 so he has a great chance of making the list. That said, his overall yardage, YPC average and receiving totals were down in 2014. That could keep him off of this year’s list, but McCoy has the best chance of the contenders listed in this group.

What to expect in 2015:

McCoy is going to be Buffalo’s lead back in 2015. The Bills are looking for a workhorse back and Rex Ryan wants the team to utilize a run-first offense. That’s great news for McCoy who could see over 300 carries as the team’s No. 1 back. Look for McCoy’s receiving yards to bounce back in 2015 as well. McCoy will benefit from short passes on plays where Buffalo’s quarterback needs to get the ball out quickly or in scenarios where Buffalo’s receivers are covered well down the field. McCoy can create in open space and should finish the year with more than 155 receiving yards.

Jerry Hughes

What Jerry Hughes did in 2014:

Hughes proved that 2013 was no fluke. In back-to-back seasons, Hughes recorded 10 sacks for the Bills. In addition to his 10 sacks, Hughes added 40 quarterback hurries and nine quarterback hits. Hughes also showed a lot of improvement in the stopping the run last season.

What to expect in 2015:

Hughes is 26 years old and is just entering his prime. The linebacker can do it all and will be asked to do it all in Rex Ryan’s defense. Hughes will rush the passer, stop the run and asked to drop back into coverage in 2015. He’s an extremely versatile player and it wouldn’t surprise any Bills fans if he thrived in every one of these roles. It’s not a bold prediction by any means, but Hughes has a terrific shot of setting a new career high in sacks under Ryan in 2015.

Stephon Gilmore

What Stephon Gilmore did in 2014:

Gilmore emerged as a No. 1 cornerback in 2014. He ended the year on a tremendous stretch where he blanketed receivers and gave quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers no room to squeeze in passes. Gilmore set a career high in interceptions (3) while playing the best football of his career. In his final three games of the 2014 season, Gilmore allowed four completions on 16 attempts for 31 yards. It’ll be interesting to see how Gilmore’s peers rate him. At the very least, Gilmore deserves some consideration to make the list.

What to expect in 2015:

Gilmore may have the second most important role in Ryan’s defense after Marcell Dareus. Simply put, Gilmore’s role will be to lock down one half of the field on a consistent basis. If Gilmore is successful in locking down one side of the field, Buffalo’s front seven will have a better chance of sacking the quarterback or forcing opposing quarterbacks into making poor throws. No one should expect Gilmore to be a Darrelle Revis clone, but he’s capable of covering any receiver in the league. Gilmore had the best season of his career in 2014 and he’ll turn 25 this season. The best is yet to come for Gilmore and that’s great news for the Bills defense.

Do you feel that any of these players are undeserving? Is there another player on the team’s roster that you feel could make the Top 100 list? Share your thoughts in the forum!


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