The NFL Network’s latest Top 100 Players list starts off with a list of unsurprising names: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers at number eight, Bears LB Khalil Mack at number three, Rams DT Aaron Donald at number one. While this particular Top 100 often had some surprising entries due to being voted on by NFL players rather than the media, most of this year’s entry seems about right.
But for one fanbase, scanning farther down the list led to a rising sense of disappointment. Buffalo Bills players appeared in this top 100 exactly zero times. How could this happen?
What happened to the Bills players on last year’s list?
Are the Bills really in such a state that even their peers don’t care to give them a nod? Or did this list simply miss out on some underrated players that a different voting base might have noticed?
The Bills are not a terrible team. In fact, their fans have a lot to be hopeful about going into the 2019-20 season. In 2018, the top 100 list included SS Micah Hyde at number 62 and RB LeSean McCoy at a very respectable number 30.
McCoy going from 30 to a complete absence from the following year’s list may be a reaction to the underperforming 6-10 season that followed his nomination. RB Carlos Hyde made the list during a year when the Cleveland Browns had a dismal 0-16 run, however.
With that in mind, it’s more likely that McCoy’s 514 total rushing yards and three touchdowns represented his worst year in the NFL so far.
Two Bills players that should have made the list
The Bills are still very much on the path to overcoming their underdog reputation, and despite this year’s snubs they absolutely have talent primed to make the 2020 version of the NFL Network’s list. Some of these guys probably deserved to be recognized this time around, especially considering the incredible defensive performance of this team.
LB Tremaine Edmunds was a 2018 first-round pick that started off wobbly at middle linebacker before rapidly improving as he came to grips with the transition from outside. His week four challenges to Aaron Rodgers’ passes were on a level rarely seen from such a young player. He led his team with 121 tackles and 12 passes defended, and he’s just getting started.
And then there’s CB Tre’Davious White. He consistently put in lights out defensive work, leading a 2018-19 Bills defense that allowed fewer passing yards than any other team. White held his opponents’ passer rating to 75.6, earning him accolades from USA Today as the third best CB in the game. How can that feat not be recognized on a list of 100 players?
Outlook for the Bills in 2019-20
The Bills have ample salary-cap space for big acquisitions if necessary, so underrating their potential now is misguided. While general manager Brandon Beane’s ruthless moves are often hard for fans to stomach in the short term, the 2019-20 looks to be the first year where these austere measures might start paying off.
The true test is whether fresh-faced QB Josh Allen is up to the task. A strongly performing QB on a good contract is a potent ingredient for a team with wide-open cap space to perform. He has already shown flashes of brilliance.
Allen’s training camp work so far reveals imperfect but hopeful results. He continues to struggle with accuracy while showing improvement in his ability to stay calm under pressure. And the area where he has always excelled, running the ball, appears to only be getting better.
The NFL Network let the Bills fall through the cracks. That doesn’t mean they won’t be making a strong case for playoff potential in the upcoming season.