The beauty of making early season projections before the regular season is that anything is possible. Some are highly possible and some are very slim. One thing to learn though is that it’s never a good idea to doubt any kind of projection.
Who would have thought that a backup quarterback in Nick Foles would lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl win over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots? Who would have ever thought that there would of been much controversy of what a real catch is? But most of all, especially for Bills fans, who would of thought that under a rookie head coach, the Bills break their 17 year long playoff drought?
The Bills look to have more promise heading into 2018. Sean McDermott has a year head coaching experience and Brandon Beane upgraded the roster at different positions that suffered last season. While these projections are possible, nothing is to be taken lightly. All of these will have to be earned.
#1: LeSean McCoy rushes for 1,000 yards…for a 7th time
McCoy has been the Bills go-to guy for now three years. Last season, he played a vital role for the team in rushing for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns that put him over the 10,000 yard milestone. He also contributed in the passing game, catching for 448 yards out of the backfield and for 2 scores.
Even if the Bills found their quarterback for the future in Josh Allen, expect the Bills to still be a first-run team. They brought in depth for the big guys in the trenches, hoping to keep up the run game.
Going into his 30s, McCoy will look to still produce like a young back who can do some major damage to opposing defenses’. Assuming he stays healthy, expect McCoy to rush for over 1,000 yards once again.
#2: Tremaine Edmunds secures Defensive Rookie Of The Year
There has been debates and arguments about who the better rookie linebacker is between Roquan Smith and Edmunds. Both players are going to be special players seeing as the talent they have and the attributes they bring to the table. The one advantage that Edmunds has over Smith is that McDermott is a defensive minded coach. Smith has Matt Nagy who focuses more on offense.
Edmunds can become the leader of the defense, at 20 years old and help build something special in Buffalo. Edmunds will have competition up against him for this award. Don’t forget about obviously Smith, Bradley Chubb, Denzel Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
With Smith’s talent that he has, if he can produce and make key plays, Smith will put himself into the conversation as the best rookie defensive player.
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#3: Tre’Davious White Avoids Sophomore Slump
The Bills picked up a steal in White in last years’ draft by snagging him at #27 after trading down. While he wasn’t voted for defensive rookie of the year, there is a solid case for him to being a better defender than Marshon Lattimore, the man who won the award last season.
White has 69 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 4 interceptions and deflected 18 passes. White was around veterans such as Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer and E.J. Gaines. He’ll be joined by Hyde and Poyer again but he’ll have other help and valuable learning experience from Vontae Davis who signed a one year deal with the Bills.
It’s in past history that when a rookie does well in his first season, he falls into a slump in his second season. That’s not the case for White himself. Expect him to continue to build himself into a lockdown defender going into year two.
#4: Josh Allen Shows His Upside and Competes As Starting QB
With the open competition in Buffalo between Allen, A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman, I firmly believe it will be Allen who will be #1 on the depth chart as the starting quarterback. While there’s been doubt about Allen, even from myself, I think it’s Allen’s job to lose going into Week 1. McCarron has shown only a little in his career which was average and Peterman has a lot to prove from a disappointing 2017 season.
While Allen may not have a rookie season like Deshaun Watson was having up until his injury, Allen has a higher ceiling than the other two. With his arm strength and his NFL ready size, Allen can become the Bills next hopeful franchise guy for the team and it could start in his rookie season.
#5: Bills Make Playoffs For Second Consecutive Season
The Bills had a shaky quarterback situation last season with Tyrod Taylor and Peterman. If you really think about it, the Bills running game and secondary was what carried the Bills to the playoffs. Since their wild card game loss, the team improved their quarterback situation, brought in depth for the trenches on both sides of the ball and majorly improved the run defense.
McDermott has set a culture in Buffalo which is about character and discipline. That culture brought the Bills to the playoffs for the first in this millennium last season. With the talent making improvement, and some questions possibly being answered, the Bills have the chance to secure another wild card spot and compete in the AFC.
Brandon Ray is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL and the Buffalo Bills. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_ray79 and @FPC_Bills for Bills coverage.