On Tuesday at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke to the media a couple of hours after general manager Brandon Beane took the podium. Of course, the departure of defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was the topic of conversation when McDermott stepped up to the podium. Frazier and McDermott had worked together for six seasons, having a ton of success. The Bills ranked fourth and first in yards allowed in the last two seasons. The defense in 2022 finished fourth in defensive DVOA at -11.0%, just behind the New England Patriots. In 2021, the Bills’ defense was first in DVOA.
McDermott was asked about the departure of his colleague and when he himself found out about Frazier stepping away for a year.
“We’ll miss him. I thought he did a really good job with our defense. It’s a long and hard season. So he decided to take a year off here. We want the best for him. But I’d say somewhere in a week, a week and a half, or something like that,” McDermott said.
McDermott was then asked if he is in consideration to call plays for the defense this upcoming season.
“We’re just getting started with that in terms of evaluating who and what. So, the internal evaluation will continue. We’ll just keep taking it one day at a time. I’m extremely confident in the guys that we have and the coaches that we have already in our building. So we’ll just see where it goes,” McDermott said.
A couple of guys in the building that could be a possible promotion to fill for Frazier are linebackers coach Bobby Babich or defensive senior assistant Al Holcomb. McDermott spoke highly of Holcomb at the combine and says he’s a guy that really knows the system and that he trusts.
The receiver position has been a big topic of conversation as the offseason for the Bills began. McDermott was asked about the receivers in this draft, and if they are looking to add a playmaker to help franchise quarterback Josh Allen.
“Listen, we’re confident in the guys that we have. I really liked some of what Shakir did last season for us, and I think he’ll take another step for us this offseason into year two. And that’ll be a big thing for us,” McDermott said. “But we look at every position just like we do every year, and if we think a player can help us, you know, ideally we’re in a position come draft time where you can take the best player available. Sometimes it works out that way, sometimes it doesn’t when you’re in a position to do that. But in this case, that would be our goal.”
A topic that has been talked about due to the fact that Jordan Poyer might leave in free agency is Christian Benford making a move to safety. Benford was a starter in Week 1 as a sixth-round pick from Villanova, beating out first-round pick Kaiir Elam from Florida. During camp last year, the Bills mentioned the possibility of Benford switching to safety. McDermott shares his thoughts on whether it is a possibility or not.
“It will depend on what other moves are being made as most situations do. But I would say that our plan right now is to start Christian at corner and we’ll see where it goes from there,” McDermott said.
The last important note from the press conference on Tuesday was the possibility of adding an elite talent at running back in the draft. Obviously, Texas running back Bijan Robinson is one of those elite running backs, and some would say one of the best prospects in the past 20 years. Bills running back Devin Singletary is a current free agent. James Cook and Nyheim Hines are the two running backs on this roster. The Bills will most likely add another one if Singletary takes his talents elsewhere.
McDermott was asked if there is a place for a running back like Robinson in this offense that will get many carries and a heavy workload in this league.
“There is. I mean again you’re always trying to add good pieces to your offense. You never turn a good football player away, And it’s our job as coaches that we use those weapons matchup opportunities to our advantage,” McDermott stated.
Taking a guy like Robinson in the first round if he is available at pick No. 27 would help an offense that has struggled to find consistent play out of the running back position since McDermott was hired. The problem is that there are many pressing needs for the Bills heading into the 2023 offseason.