BBD Staff Writer: Ryan Talbot
My week at Buffalo Bills training camp has sadly come to an end. It has been great to see Buffalo’s young team at work over the last three days and in truth, my expectations have risen after seeing this team live. Based on my three days at camp, here are five predictions I see coming true in 2013.
1. Marquise Goodwin Will Be More Productive than Tavon Austin in 2013
I’m going big right off the bat. Marquise Goodwin looked like a star Monday through Wednesday. In the return game, you could see how Goodwin had a knack of following his blockers and then bursting through a hole. As a receiver, Goodwin showed strong hands and the ability to run decent routes. His speed, however, cannot be put into words.
Goodwin has had many deep touchdown receptions where he basically just outran his opposition in a straight line. On Wednesday night, Goodwin caught a short slant pass and then turned on the jets, so to speak. No one on the defense could catch Goodwin and he had another touchdown in the books. WGRZ’s Jonah Javad suggested that Goodwin should start over Graham in week one, and I agree. Goodwin looks like he could be a special player.
2. Buffalo Will Keep All Three Quarterbacks
EJ Manuel is going to start sooner rather than later for the Bills, but the team should keep all three quarterbacks on their roster.
Kolb had a great performance on Tuesday and showed the value of having a veteran on your roster. Wednesday’s practice featured more ups and downs for the veteran, but he improved as the night went on.
Manuel is the most talented quarterback on the roster, but handing Manuel the job isn’t the best way to handle things. Have Manuel earn it by competing with Kolb. Kolb and Manuel need one another to push the other to improve as a quarterback.
Jeff Tuel also deserves a roster spot. He neither looks nor plays like an undrafted rookie, and I think another team would scoop him up if Buffalo were to cut him. Wednesday’s practice, however, was a bit of reality for those who thought Tuel should receive more time with the first-team offense. Tuel struggled mightily on Wednesday. The quarterback was sacked, threw interceptions and also had a few ugly passes.
Everyone is bound to have a bad practice so no one should worry too much about Tuel. Overall, he’s proved his worth.
3. Stephon Gilmore Will Be Considered A Shutdown Corner By the End of the Season
Defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson likes to talk. You know this if you’ve attended any camp practice. Henderson has been telling anyone who will listen that Gilmore is a shutdown cornerback. Seeing is believing and after three practices, I believe it.
Gilmore blanketed everyone he covered over the course of my three days at camp, and he has added a few interceptions along the way. Look for Gilmore to take a big leap this season into the upper echelon of cornerbacks. At the end of the 2013 season, Gilmore will be a household name.
4. A Bills Player Will Win One of the Rookie of the Year Awards
This one is a simple numbers game. Buffalo has a lot of talented rookies who will get a ton of playing time.
On offense, EJ Manuel should see a lot of playing time while wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin have each had terrific camps. Woods will contribute more in terms of receptions, but Goodwin’s big play ability gives him a chance to win as well.
5. Aaron Williams and Jairus Byrd Will Be a Top-10 Safety Pairing
I had Top-5 written here initially, but there are quite a few impressive safety duos in the NFL. Everyone knows how talented Jairus Byrd is, but this prediction is based moreso on how impressive Aaron Williams was at training camp this week.
With Byrd still unsigned on a franchise tag, Williams was the best and most consistent safety this week. On Tuesday, it looked as though Williams had hurt his hamstring, but he was back at it Wednesday evening for another strong practice, including an interception of Jeff Tuel. Williams returned that interception for a touchdown and then threw the ball off of a blue mat with force.
After two disappointing season as a cornerback, the 2013 season will be Williams’ best yet as he emerges as an up-and-coming strong safety.
Which predictions do you agree and disagree with, and what predictions do you have for the 2013 season?