The first Buffalo Bills preseason game is in the books, but the result was not what fans had hoped for. The Bills failed at a comeback against the Carolina Panthers, taking the 28-23 loss. Luckily, it is only preseason and it will not count towards their final record at the end of the regular season. Preseason is where fans can focus on rookies as well as undrafted free agents to see who makes the cut and become a sleeper player.

Both the offense and defense have questions surrounding it. FPC Bills writers Frank Wojtasiak (@FrankoelTanko50), Scott Bryk (@skotbrick1970) and Managing Editor Brandon Ray (@brandon_ray79) give their insights on questions that still need to be answered on both sides of the ball.

 

1.) With each quarterback making flashy plays in training camp, who would you say gets the start against Baltimore in Week 1? 

Bryk:

Forthwith, I would stick with my initial gut feeling. I certainly thought that if injury is avoided, A.J. McCarron would have been starting in the first preseason game. I do think it is too early to make the prediction with any real conviction for game one of the regular seasons. My original thought is usually my best crack at a successful hypothesis. Redundant as it might be, I am sticking with my first thought. He would probably the most ideal even keel quarterback currently on the roster. I’ll stick with McCarron starting week one through six. This is where being around the NFL for so long, even if a pure winner does not stick out especially if all three quarterbacks, as far as being a calming influence goes, the the edge goes to McCarron. I still believe that after the benching of Tyrod Taylor last year while in the middle of a playoff caliper season., that clearly demonstrates that Coach Sean McDermott is confident in his process and makes his decisions on that avoiding any influence by other players, fans or the media.

Wojtasiak:

I feel that barring injury, McCarron will be the starter. He has the most “pro” time out of the trio and I feel that his consistency will pull him ahead… for now. I do feel that he will be on a short leash because this offense is designed for Josh Allen and a big armed quarterback to make plays into tight windows. Allen is literally the only person on this roster that has the physical ability to make some of these throws that have been made during camp so far. 

Ray: 

The point of drafting Josh Allen is to develop his game as well as accuracy. Allen has the strongest arm on the team by a mile, but it would be the wrong decision to throw him into action in Week one. Allen is a project who needs to continue to work hard and get better each day. The Bills starting quarterback position is Nathan Peterman‘s to lose. I believe that Peterman even has a chance to compete with Allen for the future. This year, it will be Peterman vs McCarron and I give the slight edge above Peterman.

 

2.) “Maturity” is the word being used to describe rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Do you think he becomes a future star for the Bills as well in the league?

Bryk:

Watching him play with the big boys has his pure athleticism shining through his inexperience. I would say that he has a much higher maturity level based on his family and college experience. Miscellaneous players, who do not throw around compliments undeservingly, have said things like he will be an all-pro, Hall of Fame player and even had a current pro-bowl player stated he will no doubt be the best player at h is position in a couple years. On the team, certainly. This prediction was refencing the entire league.  Not too shabby.

Wojtasiak:

Absolutely. Again, assuming Edmunds is able to stay healthy I do not feel that it is out of the realm for him to become a future star for the Bills and long-time stalwart in the AFC. Aside from his obvious massive frame and freak like athleticism he comes from a “football family” that features every member of his family as former/current professional athletes in the NFL. I feel like not only is that a big reason for why he is so mature and ready to evolve on command also, he will be held accountable by all those close to him for his professional behavior and competitiveness as his career progresses. 

Ray:

I will stick by my bold prediction that I made about Edmunds in the draft, 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year. At 20 years old, Edmunds is showing his talents and maturity to the entire team and it has been praised since OTA’s. With Edmunds, the only risk is injury and that applies to every athlete. Edmunds ceiling is very high and has the opportunity to become the next Luke Kuechly in a McDermott defense.

 

3.) Which rookie not named Josh Allen or Tremaine Edmunds will make an impact in 2018?

Bryk:

I would certainly want to recognize rookie unsigned Rookie wide receiver, Cam Phillips. He keeps making play after play at camp. He corralled a Allen finger breaker bullet pass in the endzone with a defender all in his face. 

Wojtasiak:

An impact? That is a tough one. I want to go with a guy I had been pining over in defensive tackle, Harrison Phillips however, I find it unlikely he makes a true impact, so I am going to go with 4th round pick, Taron Johnson. Johnson has good size and is a disciplined cornerback. Add in the fact that his skills favor him as a zone corner and the importance/open competition in the secondary, I believe he can truly shine. Albeit he will need to outplay Phillip Gaines, who is a little quicker and experienced, I think he will start ahead of Gaines as that Nickel corner before midseason, if not immediately. 

Ray:

The Bills third-round pick who has first-round talent, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. Kyle Williams is heading into his last season as a member of the team. Want to know what the team will be like in the trenches after he leaves? Keep an eye on Phillips this season. A vicious interior defensive lineman who can stuff the run and create pressure in the pocket. I believe Phillips will earn himself more playing time in the rotation as the season progresses.

 

4.) Robert Foster has been an under-the-radar player. An undrafted free agent who has been raising eyebrows. Does he make the roster and if so, where will he be on the depth chart?

Bryk:

If he makes the final cuts it is based off his outstanding performance and playmaking abilities he showed in the fall. I have seen nothing from as he is double clutching the ball to one down with the ball.

Wojtasiak:

I think that Robert Foster’s absolute best chance at catching on and succeeding in the NFL is with the Bills, with Brian Daboll, in 2018, and with the current combination of competition/teammates playing wide receiver in Buffalo. That being said, I believe he can make this roster… contingent on Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl not making the 53-man roster. He has been under the radar and his athletic ceiling is crazy (former five star recruit) and I think special teams will be able to highlight those assets however, he has not shown enough as a wide receiver to garner substantial targets yet. It is way too early, but I will go with wide receiver depth looking something like this; 1. Kelvin Benjamin, 2. Jeremy Kerley (from the slot), 3a. Zay Jones/3b (or 4). Rod Streater, 5. Andre Holmes, and 6. Ray Ray McCloud (unless they think that Foster will get snatched from the Practice Squad). Although, with the acquisition of Corey Coleman, this now potentially has a more dangerous impact for some receivers, including Foster. I do believe however that Jones will begin the season on the PUP and/or the Bills cut another wide receiver or lose one to injury early, then Foster will immediately be the next man up, and when he is there he will not go back to the practice squad.

Ray:

I believed that Foster had a legitimate chance to earn a spot on the roster comes the start of the regular season, but with Coleman’s arrival and the way the Allen to McCloud combo has been heating up in camp, I do not believe Foster makes the roster, but will be on the practice squad for the season.

 

5.) With the defense being renovated, which Bills defensive player emerges as the units’ potential best player in 2018? 

Bryk:

 As far as rookies go since that is what I have been mostly commenting on, third-round pick Harrison Phillips is coming around and finally is impressing. Penciled in as the eventual replacement for Kyle Williams, Phillips might force the hand of the team’s coaching staff for more playing time before Williams retires. Many other rookies could be the projected best rookie player especially with freakish talents like quarterback Allen and stud, Tremaine Edmunds on the roster. Overall, I would choose last years breakout rookie to step forward and build on that in Tre’Davious White, cornerback. If he continues where he left off he will be playing and extra.

Wojtasiak:

The defense is the most exciting part about the 2018 Bills and I am excited to say that their best player will be either free safety, Micah Hyde or cornerback, Tre’Davious White. Either of those two players will garner the most national attention and recognition and have the stats to vindicate the naysayers. A close alternate for the title of best player will either be defensive end, Jerry Hughes or rookie middle Llnebacker, Edmunds. Hughes should eat from the new look front seven and although last year his stats may have seemed down, he still maintained a top ten PFF ranking in pressures (45) and had an 88.8 grade as an edge defender. Finally, my sleeper is Edmunds. For obvious reasons athletically, he is exciting but he also (like Foster) has the perfect storm of variables to succeed with a tailor fit defensive scheme, little competition and the most natural athlete at the position group. This is a very exciting group.

Ray:

The Bills will be playing defensive football in 2018. Who will be the leader? Obviously the heart and soul of the Bills, Kyle Williams. Williams never fails to perform below expectations and he can change the tempo of the game. Although, a player to look out for is Trent Murphy. He is an under-the-radar player for the defense who can apply pressure from the outside and he has a high chance to getting to quarterbacks’ ten-plus times this season.

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