Will Bills target RB to complement Devin Singletary early in NFL draft?

play
Ruggs, Lamb headline McShay's All-Satellite team (2:31)

Todd McShay names Henry Ruggs III, CeeDee Lamb, Brandon Aiyuk and Jonathan Taylor to his All-Satellite team. (2:31)

When the Buffalo Bills selected Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary in the third round of the NFL draft in 2019, the appeal centered more around value than anything else.

With LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon on the roster, the Bills didn't need a rookie to come in and make an immediate impact, but general manager Brandon Beane believed Singletary was too good to pass up and saw an opportunity to shape the position group's future.

Whether it's through the upcoming draft, free agency or both, Beane is expected to add more competition to the position again this offseason.

"We followed the board and he was sticking out," Beane said last April. "We felt like [Singletary] was the best player on the board and you've got to follow that. We know we've got some age there, too, so to add a young guy, we felt was a smart move not only for this year but for the future."

Of course, McCoy never played another regular-season snap for Buffalo, which released him before the season. Singletary and Gore split carries almost evenly until the rookie established himself as the team's primary back during the second half of the season.

Gore will not return to the Bills in 2020, leaving their running back room thinner than Beane and coach Sean McDermott would prefer. While fan preference might be to anoint Singletary the new bell cow, McDermott shut that concept down during his end-of-season news conference in January.

"I know this, it's not good to have one back carry the ball every time," he said. "So you'd like to have two backs that work together."

Therein lies the challenge for Buffalo; Beane and McDermott prefer a veteran in every position room, and there are a few viable options still on the market. Beane said last week Singletary is the Bills' "number one as it stands," so any addition to the group would, in theory, play a complementary role.

Given that Singletary excels between the tackles, a back who can get to the edge would be welcome -- such as former Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller. Another former Texans player, Carlos Hyde, makes sense if the Bills want to add a short-yardage bruiser.

Then there's Yeldon, who played in six games in 2019 but finished sixth on the team in receptions and seventh in receiving yards.

The sixth-year back has prototypical size at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, but is known as more of a receiving back than a runner. That's not to say Buffalo sees him that way, however, as Beane seemed fairly open to rolling with Yeldon as the team's No. 2 back.

"We're very confident in T.J. ... He's a three-down player," Beane said last week. "He's a guy that we feel can play at any point. Very good out of the passing game. Was probably more of a threat than Frank out of the backfield, but we just felt Frank was that heavier downfield presence than Devin's style and that's not T.J.'s biggest strength.

"If something happened to [Singletary], T.J. has carried the load in Jacksonville and has proven it, so we look forward to bringing him back for Year 2."

That confidence in Yeldon could inspire Beane to add a back via the draft in lieu of free agency, and a peek at ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's position rankings shows the Bills could have some intriguing options. The Bills' first pick is No. 54 overall, and if Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor -- who ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine -- is still on the board, he would be a home run. The type of player who can get to the edge and operate between the tackles.

Taylor and Singletary could give Buffalo one of the league's best running back tandems, and a situation with an established runner might be best for the former Badger, whose durability could be a concern after logging more than 900 carries at Wisconsin. Splitting time with Singletary would mean a lighter workload, and hopefully a longer career for Taylor.

Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins would also warrant consideration at No. 54, as well as LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire, although the latter's skill set is strikingly similar to Singletary's. Florida State's Cam Akers has dynamic open-field ability, ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and was highly productive behind a terrible Seminoles offensive line. Akers should be around in the third round if the Bills decide against drafting a running back in the second.

Perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects Buffalo could target is Boston College's AJ Dillon, who ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at 6-foot, 247 pounds. He won't get to the edge and didn't offer much in the passing game in college, but Dillon's bruising style would wear down defenses and his size would give him an immediate role as a short-yardage and goal-line back.

Dillon's 845 collegiate carries won't be as much of a concern if he's drafted as a situational or complementary player -- and his mid-to-late round projection means Buffalo can address other needs before taking a running back.