Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has established himself as a member of the top-tier executives in the NFL. One can argue he is the best.
A quick look at what the 47-year-old has accomplished since entering the front doors of One Bills Drive in May 2017 speaks volumes. He took Buffalo out of Doug Whaley’s cap hell. Beane then accumulated draft ammo and fired a massive warning shot at the rest of the league by selecting franchise QB Josh Allen. He also pushed the Pegula’s financial chips on the table by trading for Stefon Diggs while handing out Terry and Kim Fun Bucks (real dollars) to players like your grandma passing out those awesome strawberry candies she keeps in that cookie tin, to name a few. All that said, what Beane has done in 2022 may be his finest work. Why? He took a team that won the AFC East and upgraded every position group on offense and defense. Let’s quickly explore how each unit is better in 2022 than in 2021 below.
Before we start, I want us to agree on one Pythagorean theorem type given, any player 27 or younger should improve their physical and mental abilities as they look to continue earning generational wealth simply by flourishing in their athletic prime and with a better understanding of the game. Now that we have established that, here we go!
The scariest thing for the NFL is that Josh Allen falls into the 27 or younger crowd as a newly minted 26-year-old. The Wyoming product has shown a desire and ability to improve each offseason through his work with Jordan Palmer. Allen is also coming off of a historic postseason where he went 21/25 passing for 308 yards and five touchdowns versus New England. He followed that up with a 27/37 effort with 378 yards and four more passing scores in Kansas City. That dude fine-tuning his game even further has MVP written all over it.
Behind Allen is the newly acquired Case Keenum. Keenum oozes professionalism and has quarterbacked his teams to a 20-20 record over the last five years. He is an upgrade over Mitch Trubisky for a couple of simple reasons. He has proven he can jump into the fire and win games. Keenum was 2-0 a year ago for Cleveland. He is also going into his 10th season and can act as a veteran sounding board for Josh. An upgrade in Allen’s play and Keenum being better suited as a spot starter equals 2022 > 2021.
This one is pretty simple, James Cook > Matt Breida. If we give Devin Singletary and Zack Moss the 27 and younger bump we are left to make the aforementioned comparison. The Bills used a second-round draft pick on Cook for a reason. He will be a piece that Allen and this offense haven’t had, a weapon out of the backfield that can take a dump off, touch pass, screen, etc. to the house and pad Allen’s MVP resume. Lastly, Beane added Duke Johnson, a low-key upgrade over Moss and Breida.
Stefon Diggs misses our 27 and under rule; however, the 28-year-old is coming off of a second straight Pro Bowl season. Plus, another year of continuity with Allen can only be a good thing. The best upgrade to Buffalo’s WR room could be the simple fact that Gabriel Davis is the unquestioned number two target for JA17. Davis enters his third season after a playoff game where he hauled in eight of 10 targets for 201 yards and four TDs. I could end the argument here, but the Bills went on to add Jamison Crowder to competition at slot and another toy in rookie Khalil Shakir. The four players mentioned as growth in 2022 far outweigh losing Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders.
Dawson Knox is putting our 27 and under rule on full display as he again takes part in Tight End University in Nashville. It is fair to want, maybe even expect, a top five year from Knox. Even as good as we believe Knox can be, Beane wouldn’t rest going out and adding former first-round selection OJ Howard. The former Alabama TE hasn’t lived up to his draft stock yet, but he does bring blocking to Buffalo and has the athleticism to add another threat when Allen goes to 12 personnel. Those two elements and Sweeney make TE an easy 2022 > 2021.
Start by writing Dion Dawkins and Mitch Morse down in sharpie. The most vital improvement in 2022 could and should be the maturation of RT Spencer Brown. We saw flashes of pure awesome from Brown, who has top-level athletic testing scoring a perfect 10 RAS score. Alongside Brown, the Bills retained guard Ryan Bates after he had signed with the Bears. Those four are the makings of a very good line. But wait, there’s more! Beane also added Rodger Safford and David Quessenberry. Those six, plus holdovers like Ike Boettger and Cody Ford give the Bills OL depth Sean McDermott has never experienced.
Beane signed future Hall-of-Famer Von Miller to play defensive end and sack the quarterback. Now on to linebackers.
Okay, I will say a little more, but it does seem that simple. A lot of this group is meeting expectations. Ed Oliver started to round into his own at the end of 2021, showing why he was a five-star recruit and the ninth overall pick in 2019. Gregory Rousseau, Boogie Basham, and AJ Epenesa should also enjoy the youth bump. Beane didn’t stop with “we young,” he added depth to the interior with Tim Settle, DaQuan Jones, and Jordan Phillips. This unit may have the greatest growth over 2021.
The growth of this group will rely heavily on further advances from Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds as they enter their age 27 and 24 seasons respectively. Aside from them, the Bills added Terrel Bernard as a third-round pick. Bernard may finally be the answer for third-down plays where Buffalo needs someone to try and roam sideline to sideline. He flashed explosive tackles as a Bear and utilized his sub 4.6 speed as well as an 8.88 RAS score. Those three could be a heck of a trio patrolling the middle of the field and attacking behind the bolstered front.
The biggest change in the secondary is the most obvious with first-round rookie Kaiir Elam replacing Levi Wallace. Beane and the Bills traded up for Elam for a reason, he checks all the boxes. The former Florida Gator has the measurables you want from a CB, is a willing tackler, and ran a 4.39 40. He should pay immediate dividends at corner.
We know CB1 is Tre White despite tearing his ACL on Thanksgiving last year. An ACL was once thought of as a 12+ month recovery, but we’ve seen many returns closer to nine months. Add Elam and White to the best safety duo in the league, and you can argue the top secondary in the NFL resides in Orchard Park. On top of those four, guys like Dane Jackson, Siran Neal, and Cam Lewis showed they’ll eat snaps if needed. The confidence and depth of 2022 > 2021.
In conclusion, if you want to have even more skin in the game than a parade through Buffalo in February throw a couple of greenbacks on the Bills to hoist the Lombardi.