These days, the Buffalo Bills are struggling. And by “these days,” I mean the last 15 years.
After spending the last 15 years looking for a quarterback in the wake of Jim Kelly’s retirement, going through an All-Star list of names like Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, J.P. Losman, Drew Bledsoe and Trent Edwards has finally led the Bills to a quarterback who looks like he has a legitimate future in the NFL in rookie E.J. Manuel.
Lacking playmakers over the years, the Bills have a dynamic running back duo in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, leading a rushing attack that is in the top 10 in the league in yards per game. Not only that, but they have weapons at receiver in Stevie Johnson and emerging rookie Robert Woods.
One thing the Bills haven’t had since perhaps the days of Pete Metzelaars (for those two years he was good) is a strong receiving tight end who can stretch the field and provide a dangerous additional option for the quarterback.
With all due respect to Scott Chandler, the Bills need an upgrade at tight end if they want to step into the elite. Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham – all of those guys are game-changers that give their offenses dynamic mismatches that can wreak havoc on opposing defenses.
Chandler isn’t a total scrub, but he’s very much an average tight end. Last year, he set career-highs in receptions (43), yards (571) and touchdowns (6). This year, he’s already passed the receptions with 48 and is just two yards away from topping that high, but he’s largely invisible in most games. Even when he’s visible, he’s good for a moderate gain here and there, not breaking something open up the seam or keeping the safeties honest.
Could someone like North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro, or Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins be the answer? All three grade out as first round picks, but tight ends don’t usually end up going that high. Could the Bills grab one of them in the second or third round and get that dynamic mismatch at tight end?
Whichever way they decide to go with it, a change is needed and another weapon to aid the development of Manuel should be a priority. The defense is coming together for the Bills; it’s time the offense join the party.