The Roundtable

The Roundtable

Should he stay or should he go? – WR Deonte Thompson

To continue our series, today we’ll look at WR Deonte Thompson, the veteran deep threat who finally got an opportunity to start and took advantage of it. Should he stay or should he go? After a slow start to the season with the Bears, Thompson was released and joined the Bills in week 7. Since his arrival, Thompson had 27 receptions on 51 targets, amassing 430 yards and one TD. He became a go-to target of Tyrod Taylor, especially on deep balls. Their chemistry from their shared Ravens scout team days was still there, and Thompson was a guy Tyrod trusted. He also was a clearly an upgrade over any potential deep threat the Bills had on the roster. In all, he finished the season with 7 catches on his 7 catchable targets for throws 20 yards or more. Those receptions totaled 233 yards, a TD, and a good 43.8 catch rate, per Pro Football Focus. Despite being a spark for the Bills passing game, Thompson’s production wasn’t exactly stellar by any means, and Bills QBs had only a 65.9 QB rating when throwing at him. Though the case could be made that Thompson only looked solid because he was in a group of underperforming WRs, he had 1.48 yards per route run, another decent stat that shows his reliability, even if not enough to make him a good starting option at the position. In my opinion, Deonte Thompson is a good WR to have on the roster, but obviously not one to be counted as the number one or two guy, like he was in 2017. He can stretch the field, has reliable hands, and can be counted on in the return game. At the right price, I’m perfectly fine bringing him back to be the 4th guy on the depth chart, but in this case he obviously will want to test the market first and see if he can find a better situation elsewhere. Thompson showed he could produce not only with Taylor, but with Peterman and even Webb. I believe he can be a good option and produce to a greater extent with the better QB play we’re all hoping for this season.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Should he stay or should he go? – LT Cordy Glenn

The Buffalo Bills have a lot of decisions to make regarding their roster for the 2018 NFL season. Left tackle Cordy Glenn is one of the highest paid players under contract ($14.45M cap hit according Spotrac) and, after struggling all 2017 season with an ankle injury, he can become expendable with Dion Dawkins looking promising as the Bills’ franchise left tackle moving forward. Should the Bills keep Glenn alongside Dawkins? Should they let him go for draft compensation and more cap space? Glenn injured his ankle in the offseason and was never 100% healthy in 2017. Trying to play through the injury and with sparse practice time, he started 5 of the 6 games for which he was available before being placed on injured reserve, playing just 275 snaps on the season. To boot, he had a poor -2.6 Pro Football Focus overall rating. Glenn wasn’t his usual self, especially in the run blocking department (-1.9 PFF run blocking grade), where it became obvious his ailing ankle was limiting his movement skills, a killer in former OC Rick Dennison’s zone running schemes. By last season’s trade deadline with Dawkins already showing promise, we heard rumors about Glenn being moved by GM Brandon Beane, but it never materialized. Now, with the offseason upon us, it’s very possible Beane will look at his options regarding Glenn again, especially if he can transform the left tackle into more draft ammunition. The Bills are in a decent situation cap-wise and Glenn, when healthy, is a top-15 left tackle in this league, in my opinion. With a lot of time for a full recovery, we have no reason to doubt Glenn coming back and playing at his normal level in 2018. Dawkins’s performance gives the Bills the option to switch one of them to the right side and being set at the bookends for the foreseeable future. If Beane could find a really good offer for Glenn before the draft, a second round pick at least, then I would pull the trigger, because this draft is really important for the Bills regarding the QB position; all ammunition for a possible trade up will be crucial. But after a down year, it’s difficult to see someone paying a steep price for Glenn right now. In this case, the Bills had better keep him, solidify the offensive line, and, if him or Dawkins can’t make the switch to the right side successfully, then re-evaluate a move in the future, with Glenn hopefully showing he’s back at full strentgh.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Should he stay or should he go? – CB EJ Gaines

To continue our should he stay or should he go series, we will look into cornerback EJ Gaines’s situation. Acquired in the Sammy Watkins trade, Gaines came in and impressed, demonstrating he’s a great fit for Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s zone-based coverage schemes. With him hitting the free agent market, what should the Bills do? Gaines started 12 of a possible 18 games (playoffs included), and the Bills’ defense clearly played on another level with him on the field. The team record with him in the lineup was 8-4, thanks to Gaines adding great coverage skills opposite rising star CB Tre’Davious White. He was the 13th-best graded CB in the league by Pro Football Focus, with a 86.6 overall score, while White was the 2nd (92.0 PFF grade). Alongside the impressive safety duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, the Bills had one of the top secondaries in the league in 2017, and it was only their first year playing together. The sky is the limit for this group and, in my opinion, Gaines needs to be retained. He’s a perfect fit for this scheme with great instincts in zone coverage and is a very good tackler, shown by his 3 forced fumbles and run support ability (66.3 PFF run support grade). On the down side, Gaines struggled to stay healthy all season. He needed to be replaced during games is some situations and misse 6 starts from injury. He has a troublesome injury history with the Rams, too, and it’s never a good thing when one of your key pieces to the defense can’t be counted week in and week out. When healthy and on the field, my only knock on Gaines’s game is his dropped interceptions in some spot, but I guess that’s why he plays defense instead of offense. Without any news on possible negotiations between the Bills and Gaines so far, it looks like he will be allowed to test the market. He was a really good addition by GM Brandon Beane and exceeded any expectations anyone could have had coming into the season. Gaines clearly should stay if the price is right (and that’s a big if). If someone overpays for him in free agency, then I don’t see Beane going into a bidding war for his services, especially because he has shown — like he did in Gaines’s case — that he can find very productive players in places no one expects.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Should he stay or should he go? – LB Preston Brown

To continue our series we’ll look at Preston Brown, the 4th-year veteran Bills middle linebacker who is expected to become a free agent for the first time in his career. Should the Bills keep him or should they let him go? Brown has been a key piece to the Bills’ defense since he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. He’s viewed by most as merely an old school thumper MLB, but this assessment is completely wrong, in this writer’s opinion. Brown was a 3-down LB since his rookie season and the QB of the Bills’ defense under different coordinators and schemes. He has good quickness for his size, which allows him to not be an obvious liability in coverage. Pro Football Focus had him with a 70.4 rating in coverage snaps, a respectable grade for a guy who is supposed to be too slow to play on 3rd downs. As far as tackling, you can’t do much better than his league-leading 144, and a 23.0 PFF tackle efficiency rating, good for 4th in the league among inside linebackers. He’s also the definition of reliability, playing every meaningful defensive snap of this season. Brown played his best football when it mattered most, earning a 86.5 PFF overall grade against the Jaguars in the AFC wild card round, the 3rd best performance by an inside linebacker in this year’s playoffs so far. At 25 years old, his best playing days are still in front of him. On the other hand, maybe Brown isn’t really what McDermott want as the prototypical LB for his defense. He’s a big guy who lacks ideal speed at the position for the modern NFL game. Opposing offensive coordinators consistently tried to exploit Brown putting him in space against quick backs and slot receivers. Brown also isn’t the most aggressive linebacker at the line of scrimmage, showed by his low 7.1 PFF run stop percentage and poor 50.1 PFF pass rush grade. He’s very reliable, but he lacks elite playmaking skills at the position, rarely forcing or recovering fumbles, sacking opposing QBs, or making interceptions. The Bills surely can get an upgrade at his position, but it will cost a good amount of money in free agency or a high draft pick. The Bills will have to make a decision about their productive but somewhat limited middle linebacker. The smart thing to do is let him test the market and then decide if they can bring him back at the right price. Brown looks like a guy who won over the coaching staff with his leadership, work ethic, and communication skills. He surely showed he can produce in this scheme and can still get better going forward. If the Bills can bring him back on a team-friendly deal, then I think they will, instead of opening up yet another hole on their roster. Brown is underrated by the Bills’ fan base, but I’m certain he’s appreciated by his coaches.       Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Should he stay or should he go? – QB Tyrod Taylor

After a wild ride and the end of the drought, the Bills’ offseason began with an offensive coordinator change. Out is Rick Dennison and in is Western New York native Brian Daboll, back with the power running concept and a reputation of adjusting well and maximizing the talents of his players, and not forcing then into a poor scheme fit. Today, I’m starting the “Should he stay or should he go” series with QB Tyrod Taylor.  Tyrod finished his third season as the Bills’ starting QB with maybe his worst year in that role. But even in a down year he threw for, playoffs included, 2933 yards and 14 TDs to only 5 INTs (two coming from drops by his receivers), completed 61.3% of his passes, and finished with a solid 85.5 QB rating. His Pro Football Focus 79.7 passer rating was rock solid. He also added 446 yards and 4 TDs on the ground, with a very good 86.5 PFF rushing grade. His 83.0 PFF overall grade was good for the 14th-best QB in the league, in front of guys like Goff, Winston, Cousins, and Newton. The problem with Taylor is well documented; it’s not about the plays he makes, but the ones he refuses to attempt. He was sacked 47 times this season, always risk averse and ultra conservative. Media members and fans are more than ever ready to turn this page and go all in into a new QB plan, but after the hire of Daboll as the team’s new OC, I think Tyrod’s odds to come back for his 4th year with the Bills just got higher. Tyrod clearly wasn’t a fit for Dennison’s scheme since the beginning. His struggles with the quick 3- and 5-step dropback passes were clear from the preseason. Dennison made adjustments during the season, using a lot of play action roll out plays to put Tyrod in space, but his offense never fully worked with Taylor as the QB. Now with Daboll, everything seemingly changes. Daboll likes to run the ball with power concepts, has experience working with a top college dual-threat QB in Jalen Hurts, and will surely know how to maximize Taylor’s skill set. Greg Roman and Anthony Lynn showed the Bills can have a top-10 offense with Taylor at the helm, and Tyrod surely showed Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane that he’s a model of a pro, a true blue collar presence in the locker room, always working hard and being a good soldier, even when things didn’t go well for him. He can be a limited passer, but it’s obvious a rookie QB can benefit a lot having a true pro like Taylor around. To this regime character matters, and Tyrod is impeccable in this department. The Bills can cut ties with Taylor before the start of the new league year and save 10M in cap space, but this can put the Bills in a Kolb/Manuel situation all over again, with a less-than-ideal veteran and a rookie not ready to start right away. It’s not good to go to the draft pressured to draft a QB to play since day one, and they will need to pay a veteran in free agency to play the Tyrod role of mentor/bridge QB. But in this case, you’ll need to overpay for another flawed option. If you add the dead money of Tyrod’s deal to the veteran FA new deal, it looks even worse. The Bills need flexibility and have a lot of holes to fill. They can package some picks to trade up and get their guy at the QB position, but ideally they keep all their picks, draft a QB who falls to 21, and then fill the other holes. In this case, better have a solid plan until the rookie is ready. With his on and off the field work and demeanor, I think Tyrod earned this opportunity and should stay for at least one more year.     Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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Thank You, Kyle.

Since he was drafted to the Buffalo Bills as the 134th pick of the 2006 NFL draft, Kyle Williams has been the most consistent member of the Bills’ organization. The undersized defensive tackle has embodied everything Western New York is. He has made it through 12 years of constant head coaching changes, a plethora of coordinator changes, a change in ownership, and without ever playing a meaningful week 17 football game. He has endured this all while maintaining nothing but the utmost professionalism, optimism, and dedication to the team and fans. While the organization has been in flux during his entire tenure with the team, Kyle’s play and leadership have been rare constants. Year in and year out, Kyle has played at a top level. When new coaching staffs came in, and it seemed like he would no longer be a fit, Kyle proved the doubters (including me, on occasion) wrong by showing that passion and heart can trump “scheme fit”, especially when it’s Kyle. Yesterday, December 31st, 2017, the Bills went down to their division rival Miami Dolphins for the final game of the season with real playoff implications on the line. This was the first meaningful week 17 game in the 12-year career of our captain, the heart and soul of the team. Leading up to this game, there had been rumors swirling around that this may be Kyle’s last game in the NFL. While the 34-year-old Williams refused to address this with the media, no matter how hard they tried to pry it out of him, there has just been a feeling that we are watching his last hoorah in the NFL. Throughout the first half, Kyle played a very consistent game. He’s still got his best in class “get off”, and he managed to get in a few QB pressures — that same consistency that fans have come to expect over the decade-plus of watching Kyle play. Little did we fans know that the greatest play of the drought would come in this game, and that it would be an unlikely play by our Pro Bowl defensive tackle that would bring many to their feet in pure joy. In the 3rd quarter with the Bills up 13-0, the Bills had the ball — 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. With LeSean McCoy out, Mike Tolbert lined up in the backfield and the Bills were clearly looking to run on first down. What we (at least I) didn’t see right away was that #95 was lined up at fullback. The ball was snapped, and the offensive line got a push off the ball like I have never seen. With a wide open lane, Tyrod handed the ball to Kyle, who plowed the one yard for his first ever career rushing TD. After a great celebration with the offensive line, Kyle headed over to the sideline, where he was mobbed by his fellow teammates. A swarm of red, white, and blue surrounded the 12-year vet in utter jubilation for their leader. It was one of the most beautiful moments of the 17-year drought. We love you Kyle Williams!! Props to the staff for that playcall #OneBuffalo #Billsmafia #Bills pic.twitter.com/5W3KpXoZfk — Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) December 31, 2017 Kyle Williams touchdown? Kyle Williams touchdown!!!#BUFvsMIA #GoBills pic.twitter.com/iegyrXoFhL — Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 31, 2017 Seeing the love and respect the entire team and organization has for this 12-year vet, who has done all the right things on and off the field for over a decade, was a very special moment. Whoever made the decision to get Kyle in the game for this TD, kudos to them. It was an incredible moment in the biggest game of the last 17 years for the man who has been the only constant for the last dozen. The moment. #GoBills pic.twitter.com/0Ip76NCPF8 — Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018   Go Bills!       Want more in-depth NFL and Draft analysis? Subscribe to our premium content Subscribe to our daily newsletter. Subscribe to our NFL Draft Podcast Cover 1 | The Podcast For topic ideas or rants call us at 716-266-2892  

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