Found July 10, 2012 on Queen City Sports:

Buffalo Bills fans have to be proud of the front office in Orchard Park as of late. The Bills finished at the bottom of the AFC East once again with a 6-10 record, forcing General Manager, Buddy Nix, to make some desperate moves. Those moves included the Bills to sign free agent defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, after years of desperately needing to upgrade their pass rush. With this time being the slow period between minicamp and training camp, lets take a look at the five best players on the Buffalo Bills right now.

5. Andy Levitre

Andy Levitre is arguably the best and most consistent offensive linemen on the Buffalo Bills’ roster. He has appeared in all 48 games of his career since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft out of Oregon State.

Last season, Levitre was asked to play center, guard, and left tackle, performing fairly well. ProFootballFocus.com has high praise for Levitre, explaining

The versatility and quality of play of our first Secret Superstar for 2012, Andy Levitre, made him a crucial cog in this offensive line; a line that overcame a rash of injuries to provide a solid base for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills’ offense all season long.

Levitre’s play is clearly going only one direction and if the Bills can provide him with some stability in where he lines up (though he proved himself adept at providing cover when needed) then there is no reason to believe that the Bills won’t have one of the league’s best left guard’s on their hands. His +14.5 overall grade through those first six weeks was better than players like Evan Mathis, Carl Nicks, Marshal Yanda, and Josh Sitton … the only players who ranked higher than Levitre at guard for the full season.

Levitre’s ability in pass protection at both guard and tackle cannot be questioned. Over the last two seasons whether you look at our grades (+15.1) or the stats (35 total pressures allowed), he is amongst the elite pass protectors at guard. Combined with clear improvements in his in-line run blocking, and his consistent quality blocking in space, Levitre is ready to use the 2012 season to break into the NFL’s upper echelon of guards.

Levitre is entering his fourth and final year of his rookie contract, and if he can continue to improve on his overall knowledge of the Bills’ offensive line scheme, he will be in for a major payday.

4. DT Kyle Williams

Bills’ defensive tackle, Kyle Williams, is one of the most underrated players in the National Football League. A fifth round draft pick out of Louisiana State, Williams has spent his six-year career with the Bills. In that time, he has racked up 301 tackles and 13.5 sacks.  When the Bills transitioned to the 3-4 defense, the team drafted a prototypical nose tackle in Torell Troup, with the hopes of grooming him into a starting role. But the undersized Williams persevered, finishing the year with 5.5 sacks.

Now with the Bills going back to the 4-3 defensive front, Williams can use his penetration ability even more effectively alongside fellow defensive tackle, Marcell Dareus.

3. FS Jairus Byrd

Jairus Byrd has had a steady career since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft. Byrd made the Pro Bowl as a rookie after recording nine interceptions, but his overall play has consistently gotten better.

According to the folks atProFootballFocus.com,

Third in our rankings in 2011, Byrd has the kind of athleticism to play the single high safety role while at the same time making his presence felt in the run game.

This was the year where Byrd established himself as one of the league’s top safeties, with a season that earned him our third-highest grade of all his peers (+13.0). He broke up seven passes to go with his three interceptions, while only allowing 51.5% of passes into coverage to be completed. What’s more, for a player who spends most of his time playing deep (84.1% of all snaps), he notched up 35 tackles in run defense, good for 16th of all safeties. He’s a rare beast; a free safety who is active on every play.

Byrd is also entering a contract year, and General Manager, Buddy Nix has already stated that he’d like to keep Byrd, along with guards Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik, explaining to BuffaloBills.com

“We definitely want those guys back,” Nix told Buffalobills.com. ’I’ve told them. They know that. As far as us working on contracts we’ve been kind of busy. I think they want to be back and we want them back and when the time comes we’ll get started on it.”

2. RB Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson is not only a great player, but a great story. Coming out of small Coe College, a division-III school, he was rejected by the NFL. He joined the Sioux City Bandits, an indoor football league, before being recognized by NFL Europe. In 2006, he finally got his shot at the National Football League, and he has finally emerged as one of the best running backs in the game.

Jackson has averaged 4.6 yards per carry, gaining 3,794 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, adding another 175 receptions for 1,535 yards and four scores over his career.

Last season, he was on pace for roughly 2,000 all-purpose yards before breaking his fibula. He is reportedly healthy, according to an interview on BuffaloBills.com, and should be a major weapon on the Bills’ offense if he is back to 100 percent.

1. DE Mario Williams

Without playing a snap for the Buffalo Bills, newly acquired defensive end, Mario Williams instantly became the best player on the roster. The team has had a dire need for a pass rusher ever since Bruce Smith retired, and they found one in Williams, who is signed to a six-year, $96 million dollar contract.

Since being drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, Williams has recorded 244 tackles, 53 sacks, and 11 forced fumbles. He played in all of his first 48 games of his career, but missed 11 games last season due to a torn pectoral muscle. With the Bills’ depth on the defensive line in addition to lining up next to Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, Williams is definitely slated for a double-digit sack year.

NO ROOM FOR STEVIE?!?!

I love Stevie Johnson and pretty much all Bills fans do as well. However, while trying to remain unbiased, it was extremely difficult to decide between Andy Levitre and Stevie Johnson.

Johnson has been the Bills’ best receiver over the past two years, and became the first Buffalo Bills’ wideout to record consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.

However, his inconsistencies on the field in critical situations is what brought him to No. 6 on this list. Andy Levitre is the core of the offensive line that allowed the least sacks in the league.


THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Preseason over/under for the 2012 Buffalo Bills

It’s a strange time to be a Buffalo Bills fan. After an offseason that saw GM Buddy Nix sell the farm (and a bunch of other things adding up to $100 million) to lure top defensive end Mario Williams to town, as well as Mark Anderson to cover the opposite flank, the defense looks as [...]

Bills may put Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller on the field at the same time

Getty Images It sounds like the Buffalo Bills may end up putting both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson on the field at the same time, either in the back field together, or one of them split out wide.  At least that’s the way head coach Chan Gailey is hinting at. “You don’t want to do too much when they’re both in there because if you lose one of them then you’re without a...

Buffalo Bills running backs to split carries in 2012

The Buffalo Bills are likely going to join the ranks of NFL teams which frustrate fantasy football owners this season as head coach Chan Gailey hints that Buffalo Bills running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will be splitting carries this season. Spiller showed that he is poised for a breakout season with increased playing time on the field last season. Jackson was on pace for...

Bills rookies report to training camp today

North Carolina States’ T.J. Graham (6) breaks a tackle against Clemson during the 2011 season. Graham was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Graham and the rest of the Bills’ rookies start training camp today. (Credit: AP Photo/Gerry Broome) The Buffalo Bills finished signing their 2012 draft class today as third round rookie T.J. Graham signed...

NEW SERIES – On the Mend: RB Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson suffered a broken fibula that put an abrupt end to what was a fantastic season. Jackson had six games with over 100 rushing yards in the nine full games he played before sustaining the season ending injury. Jackson's stat line was impressive; 170 carries for 993 yards and a career-best 5.5 yards per carry. He added 39 catches for 442 yards and an 11.3 yards per...

Buffalo Bills: T.J. Graham Last Rookie To Sign

Monday, the number of unsigned rookies in Buffalo dropped to zero. Almost two months after Cordy Glenn became the eighth rookie player to ink a deal with the Bills, T.J. Graham followed suit and signed on the bottom line for the next four years. That gives Buffalo no more paperwork to worry about, meaning they can now turn their attention to the impending training camp starting...

Which Buffalo Bills’ Single Season Records Will Be Broken In 2012?

Those who follow the National Football League are beginning to recognize that the Buffalo Bills are developing a talented core of players on their roster. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is proving himself as a starting-caliber quarterback, while his favorite target Stevie Johnson is a dangerous receiving threat. The team has some decent weapons on special teams, and the defensive line...

Spotlighting The Buffalo Bills’ Running Back Position

The Buffalo Bills’ rushing attack was surprisingly effective last season, ranking 27th in rush attempts with 391, and a respectable 13th ranking in yards with 1,921. Fred Jackson was the main source of the Bills’ rush offense, adding 934 yards on 170 carries in the nine games he played prior to a season ending injury. When C.J. Spiller took over, the run game didn’t miss a...

Buffalo Bills: Knock on Wood

The recent remarks of Buffalo center Eric Wood, regarding his solid rehabilitation from the knee injury that limited him to nine games in 2011, magnified the confidence of the Bills' staff about an improved line this year.

Herm Edwards Believes Buffalo Bills Could Challenge for Wild Card

NFL analyst Herm Edwards has jumped onto the Buffalo Bills bandwagon. During a recent ESPN segment, analysts were asked to pick five teams which would make the playoffs this upcoming season. The five teams chosen had to be teams which missed the play-offs last season. Edwards said the Buffalo Bills had a strong chance of [...]

Rob Gronkowski Wins Celebrity Home Run Derby in Buffalo

Even in the offseason, Rob Gronkowski dominating in Buffalo. The New England Patriots tight end put on a show, belting 12 homers over two rounds in a celebrity home run derby during Triple-A All Star weekend at the Buffalo Bisons’ Coca-Cola Stadium. The nearby Williamsville native swung to a mixed reaction of cheers and boos from the Buffalo fans, but that did not keep him from...
Bills News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.