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Top 20 Most Important Buffalo Bills

A look at the 20 most important players on the Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills finished the 2015 season with an 8-8 record. Buffalo may have fallen back one game from their 2014 record but the team needed to adjust to plenty of new changes. In addition to a new coaching staff, the Bills started the season with a new quarterback, running backs, guards, tight end, and cornerback.

In 2016, Buffalo will be expected to take the next step and finally end their playoff drought. To do so, Buffalo will need their top players to match or exceed expectations. Thinking about this made me wonder, who are the 20 most important Bills? Recently, a Browns site made a list of their top players and I decided to try and do the same for Buffalo Football Report.

At first, my list was only going to include players under contract for 2016, but then I decided to open it up to every player currently on the roster. In doing so, you can see important players that the Bills risk losing in free agency.

This list is entirely subjective, but here is my list of the 20 most important Bills players.


Top 20 Most Important Buffalo Bills


Tyrod Taylor


Sammy Watkins


Marcell Dareus


Stephon Gilmore


Cordy Glenn (FA)


Jerry Hughes


Richie Incognito (FA)


Ronald Darby


Kyle Williams


LeSean McCoy


Eric Wood


Karlos Williams


2016 First Round Pick


Aaron Williams


Charles Clay


Nigel Bradham (FA)


Manny Lawson


Robert Woods


Colton Schmidt


Bacarri Rambo (RFA)


Now that you’ve seen the list, here’s my reasoning behind the rankings.

1. Tyrod Taylor: The Denver Broncos proved that you can win a Super Bowl with a strong defense and average quarterback play. Unfortunately, Buffalo’s defense isn’t close to Denver’s level at this time so they’ll need strong quarterback play to compete in the AFC East and get into the playoffs. Taylor had a strong first season with the Bills but he’ll need to be even better in his second season. If Taylor does build off of his 2015 season, Buffalo will have a realistic chance of making the playoffs.

2. Sammy Watkins: Over the final nine weeks of the season, no player on the Bills was better than Watkins. The wide receiver averaged 100 yards per game over that span of time and chemistry between Taylor and Watkins really showed on the field. Although the Bills will continue to lean on the run game offensively, it’s important for Buffalo to have a weapon in the receiving game. That’s exactly what Watkins at the end of the 2015 season and his stats should only improve in year two with Taylor.

3. Marcell Dareus: Dareus’ stat line over the course of the 2015 season may not have blown anyone away, but if you watched him on the field he was still a dominant force for the Bills. Although the Bills will look to address their front seven in the draft and free agency, Rex Ryan will build around an elite talent like Dareus.

4. Stephon Gilmore: Rex Ryan defenses have always depended upon having a true No. 1 cornerback. That’s exactly what Gilmore was on the field for the Bills in 2015. Entering the final season of his rookie contract, Gilmore has become one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL. Another strong season from Gilmore could result in a playoff berth for Buffalo and a large contract for Gilmore.

5. Cordy Glenn: Glenn will be highly sought after in free agency if Buffalo does not franchise or re-sign the left tackle. Glenn is just entering his prime and did a tremendous job of blocking for Taylor in 2015. Losing Glenn would be a major blow for the Bills.

6. Jerry Hughes: He’s not Von Miller, but his ability to get after the quarterback, drop into coverage, and play the run makes him an impact player in Ryan’s defense. Hughes’ jack of all trades ability is extremely valuable to the Bills.

7. Richie Incognito: Incognito is also a potential free agent but he’s really expressed a desire to return to the Bills. The left guard was Buffalo’s best run blocker last season. Without him, it’s possible that the Bills don’t finish first the league in rushing. Incognito’s age will keep his contract reasonable which is great news for the Bills.

8. Ronald Darby: You know what’s better than one lockdown cornerback? Two lockdown cornerbacks. That’s exactly what Darby was for the Bills in 2015. In 2016, Buffalo needs to hope that there is no sophomore slump for the cornerback. If the front seven improves, Gilmore and Darby will be extremely tough to throw against.

9. Kyle Williams: Buffalo missed Williams when he went down with a knee injury. On the field, Williams’ play could not be duplicated. His locker room presence was also missed. Having Williams back in 2016 should help the Bills in a variety of ways.

10. LeSean McCoy: No matter the outcome of McCoy’s current predicament, he’ll probably face some sort of suspension. That bumped him down a few spots on my list. That said, when healthy, McCoy was a big time weapon for the Bills. Despite not playing at 100 percent in 2015, McCoy went on a seven game stretch where he had 100 total yards or more. In a run-first offense, McCoy’s production will be very important to the team’s success.

11. Eric Wood: With some actual talent around him, Wood performed well for the Bills in 2015. He’s another lineman who has shown the ability to block well in the run and pass game. His ability to keep Taylor upright and open running lanes for Bills running backs is essential.

12. Karlos Williams: Williams jumped up a few spots on this list after McCoy found himself in trouble in Philadelphia. The running back was a touchdown machine for the Bills and was an excellent complement to McCoy. Buffalo may need to lean on Williams for a few games early in the season if McCoy is suspended.

13: Buffalo’s 2016 First Round Pick: Whoever Buffalo selects 19th overall in the draft will be expected to contribute immediately for the Bills. It’s important to realize that the rookie will need to be successful in year one for the Bills to make the playoffs.

14. Aaron Williams: If there wasn’t uncertainty about Williams’ career, he’d probably be a bit higher on the list. However, although Williams plans to play in 2016, he said he may re-evaluate his playing career if something doesn’t feel right. Williams is currently Buffalo’s best safety and safety play in 2015 dropped off after he re-injured his neck.

15. Charles Clay: Clay’s production varied from week to week based upon Buffalo’s game plan. He’s not an elite tight end like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, but when he’s producing on the field it makes life easier on Watkins, Taylor, and the run game.

16. Nigel Bradham: Bradham wasn’t great in 2015 by any means, but once he was injured it was apparent that he was Buffalo’s best overall linebacker. He could be lost in free agency but sounded willing to sign a one-year prove it deal. Unless Buffalo feels that they can find an upgrade in free agency or the draft, they should probably work on bringing Bradham back in 2016.

17. Manny Lawson: Lawson is on the downside of his career but he was one linebacker who grasped Ryan’s defense. Buffalo should certainly look for an upgrade to Lawson but he’s still valuable in terms of depth and as a mentor.

18. Robert Woods: Woods’ role in 2015 was primarily as a blocker. Unless the Bills add a wide receiver early in the draft, Buffalo will need Woods to contribute more in the receiving game. Last year’s drop in production wasn’t truly Woods’ fault but the receiver and team need to find a way to get him more involved overall.

19. Colton Schmidt: A punter?! Yes, a punter. Field position is always important but having a punter who can flip the field despite Buffalo’s winds and weather late in the season is crucial. Schmidt was a top ten punter last season and he’ll need to match his production in 2016.

20. Bacarri Rambo: It’s possible that Aaron Williams retires early in camp and Corey Graham could possibly be a cap casualty. That puts a lot of pressure on the next man up in Rambo. However, the safety had his fair share of moments in 2015 and he’ll only get better with more experience. Learning from Ed Reed should only help his game.

Disagree with my list? Share your top 20 Bills list in the Rockpile forum!



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