Five Players Who Must Step Up For Buffalo Bills in 2013
Bills Players Ready To Step Up
The Buffalo Bills have a top-heavy talent roster. They have top stars such as, C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson, Jairus Byrd and Mario Williams, but there is a significant decline in the talent level of the rest of the roster. With a bevy of top draft picks that have failed to pan out over the last decade, the Bills have seen their playoff drought extend to 13 consecutive seasons. Too often, the Bills are left to rely on late round and undrafted sleepers to make up for the lack of production from the top of the draft.
The Bills have had big-time draft busts such as, DE Aaron Maybin (9th overall pick, 2009), DT John McCargo (26th overall pick, 2006) and WR James Hardy (41st overall pick, 2008), and those busts have left a lot of holes in the roster. Just this week, DT Torell Troup (41st overall pick, 2010) was released by the Bills, after minimal production in his three seasons with the club.
It's hard to succeed in the NFL with limited contributions from your draft picks in the first three rounds. The Bills hope they've turned their fortunes around by improving in their high draft picks over the past few drafts. With the exception of Troup, they have gotten a decent amount of production from their draft picks over the past several seasons. Additionally, they were one of only a few teams not to cut any draft picks from the most recent draft. Here is a list of Bills players, all drafted within the first three rounds, who are in position to make a big impact with the club during the 2013 season.
OT Cordy Glenn (41st Overall Pick, 2012)
Glenn was drafted by the Bills at the top of the 2nd round in last year's NFL draft. He started all 13 games that he played in during his rookie season. Glenn held his own as a rookie, but was playing beside a top talent G in Andy Levitre, who left the Bills in the offseason. Glenn will have to step up and be the leader on the left side of the offensive line, as he's tasked to protect new franchise QB EJ Manuel's blind side.
WR TJ Graham (69th overall pick, 2012)
Graham was OK in his rookie season. He was pressed into action last year due to injuries, and started 11 games, but only caught 31 balls in those starts. He'll be relied on as the 3rd wide receiver in the lineup in 2013. Expect to see the Bills try to utilize his speed on the outside now, with a QB with a big arm in Manuel behind center.
S Aaron Williams (34th overall pick, 2011)
Williams was a highly touted CB coming out of Texas, but multiple knee injuries over his first two seasons have damaged his speed and limited his one-on-one coverage capabilities. The new Bills' coaching staff shifted him over to safety this season, hoping his ballhawk skills can be put to better use there. With Byrd dealing with a foot injury, the Bills will need Williams to get comfortable at S fast.
CB Leodis McKelvin (11th overall pick, 2008)
McKelvin is entering his sixth season with the Bills, but his first after signing a new $20 million contract extension. The Bills had hoped that they would be able to slide McKelvin in the No. 2 spot in the new defense, but due to the hand injury, the No. 1 CB, Stephon Gilmore, will elevate McKelvin to the top spot for the first month or so. The hope is that an attacking front seven for the Bills will put less pressure on McKelvin, who can cover receivers but struggles to play the ball.
DT Marcell Dareus (3rd overall pick, 2011)
Dareus was a monster in his rookie season, but slipped a bit in production in 2012. He had to deal with the death of his brother in Week 1, and didn't seem to mentally recover for the rest of the season. Dareus gets a new start in a new scheme, and an attacking defense might be a perfect fit for the agile, big man to shine, as he was expected to when the Bills made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft.