The Buffalo Bills lost a few members of their front seven this offseason, but the team picked up some defensive linemen and linebackers via free agency and the draft. Entering 2016 no one knows what to expect out of the front seven in Rex Ryan's second season at the helm, but Pro Football Focus believes that the Bills will be in the middle of the pack.
The analytics site ranked all 32 front sevens and Buffalo came in at No. 16:
16. Buffalo Bills
Projected starters: NT Marcell Dareus, DE Kyle Williams, DE Adolphus Washington; OLB Jerry Hughes, OLB Manny Lawson; ILB Reggie Ragland, ILB Zach Brown
Other names to know: DE Corbin Bryant, DE Leger Douzable; OLB Shaq Lawson; ILB Preston Brown
Key stat: Buffalo recorded a sack on 4.8 percent of third-down passing plays, the third-lowest rate in the NFL last season.
In their first year under Rex Ryan, the Bills’ biggest defensive failing was a complete and utter lack of pass-rushing support for Jerry Hughes. First-round pick Shaq Lawson will need to provide that once he returns from shoulder surgery, but the Bills once again look thin on further support. As ever with a Rex Ryan defense, run-D was not a problem for his defensive front, at least not on the line. Reggie Ragland will look to provide an upgrade over Preston Brown after his disastrous campaign, where he was one of the least-productive middle linebackers in the league.
Although PFF lists Zach Brown as a projected starter, Preston Brown should be starting alongside Reggie Ragland. Shaq Lawson will be out for the first 4-6 weeks of the season, but once he returns the Bills could have three rookies starting in their front seven. Their production will go a long way in determining the success of Buffalo's front seven in 2016.null