In under two months, the Buffalo Bills will get to work at St. John Fisher College for training camp and the 2016 season. And this year, with how the team ended things in 2015, is extremely important to not waste the talent that exists on the roster.
So, as offseason workouts continue at One Bills Drive, WKBW will preview the roster — and more specifically, the top talent that exists on the roster that can help the Bills to putting an end to the playoff drought. You’ll be introduced to the Bills’ ‘Top 20 Talents.’
It's a bit of a different 'most talented' list, because it also takes other factors into consideration. The countdown criteria:
- Overall skill level
- On-the-field performance
- Projection based on film study over the past several years
- Age, and improving/declining ability
With that written, on to the countdown:
No. 6 - EDGE Jerry Hughes
Age: 27 (8/13/88)
Last year’s rank: 7
Why he’s here
- Mario Williams moved on during the offseason, which means the man in charge of getting after the passer more than any this year will be Jerry Hughes. It wasn't hard to see that decision coming, either. Hughes is younger, showed more ability at getting after the passer over the past couple of years, and is a better fit for Rex Ryan's scheme as an edge rushing outside linebacker. At his position, Hughes still has a few years left of his prime before a decline can be expected in ability, and the Bills will certainly be depending on it. However, at age 28 when the season begins, Hughes doesn't have the same type of upward projection as the top five, which is why he lands just a spot short of it.
- Hughes' sack production in 2015 wasn't great, registering only five for the Bills last season, but he put much more pressure on the quarterback than that number would indicate. This year, Hughes is no longer shackled to one side of the field, as he has been for the majority of the last three seasons. Over that time, the Bills usually kept Williams on the left side (against the right tackle), with Hughes on the opposite side versus the left tackle. That is, until around the middle point of last season, when the Bills started using Hughes, not Mario, as their matchup problem versus below average offensive tackles. It was a clear shift in thinking, and likely foreshadowed what would follow in this offseason. Now, Hughes will be used all over the field with Rex Ryan having a pretty clear role for him in mind -- to be the player that always keeps the offense guessing. I'd expect a fairly big jump in sack production this year for Hughes. Anything else would likely be a disappointment for the Bills.
Top 20 Talents Countdown
6) EDGE Jerry Hughes
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