It was a long, stressful offseason for the Buffalo Bills and their fans heading into the 2014 NFL season. Ralph Wilson, the Bills founder and the only owner the team has ever known, died on March 25, 2014. Immediately after Wilson’s death, rumors arose that the team would be relocated across the border to Toronto, Canada. The team was left under the control of Ralph’s wife, Mary Wilson, who was instructed to sell the team with the precondition that it be kept in Buffalo.
It was hard for fans in Buffalo to focus on football again until the Bills drafted Sammy Watkins with the fourth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. That was around the time that the city and fan base really started to get behind their team, and the Bills responded well to all the passion and support.
The Bills were expected to do worse than their 6-10 record from 2013, but with the fans behind them the team won the first two games of the season, including an impressive 29-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the Bills home opener.
Heading into Week 6 the Bills were sold to natural gas baron Terrence Pegula who was determined to keep the team in Buffalo where it belongs. The Bills went on to finish 9-7 on the season—not bad for a team that was supposed to struggle to win a game.
The Bills are looking good heading into 2015. With new head coach Rex Ryan and a little bit of help from the draft, the Bills could find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since the 90s. The Bills already have a championship defense, but the offense could certainly use some tweaking. Here are the Buffalo Bills biggest needs heading into the 2015 NFL Draft:
Running Back: Early indications suggest that C.J. Spiller will be leaving Buffalo this season as a free agent, and Fred Jackson is 34 making him one of the oldest running backs in the league. Jackson is still performing at a very high level, and the Bills should have no problem squeezing at least one more solid season out of him. By using a 3rd or 4th round selection to pick up a rookie running back the Bills could be set for set for years to come after Jackson retires. A rookie running back could certainly learn a lot from an old workhorse like Jackson, and the Bills
Offensive Line: The Bills finished 25th in the league in rushing last season, and for a team with two quality running backs that’s pretty bad. Obviously there’s no way that’s all on Spiller and Jackson, so the Bills will need to bolster their offensive line if they want any chance of success in the run game in 2015. On top of that, the Bills still don’t have a franchise quarterback; so the one they use will most likely need all the help he can get. Look for the Bills to get a few young offensive linemen ready to start right out of college.
Quarterback: The Bills have had problems finding a franchise quarterback for years. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a joke, and E.J. Manuel has not worked out so far. Kyle Orton did pretty well stepping in as the starting quarterback, but he is not the solution either. The Bills don’t have a first round pick in 2015 because of their trade during last year’s draft to acquire Sammy Watkins, so trading up to grab a top quarterback would cost way too much for the Bills. At this point, the Bills best shot would be drafting a young quarterback like Cody Fajardo out of Nevada and training him. Unfortunately, this also means that the Bills will be without a quality quarterback this season; but Rex Ryan will probably find a way to deal with that.