It’s easy to look at what the Buffalo Bills did last season and assume that, of all positions they could afford to take a hit, running back would be at or at least near the top of the list.
The Bills didn’t need to rely solely on LeSean McCoy to lead the NFL in rushing. In addition to the prolific legs of quarterback Tyrod Taylor, they had significant contributions from fifth-round draft pick Karlos Williams and former practice-squad member Mike Gillislee.
The bottom line is that the Bills, as so many teams in the league have discovered in recent years, can turn to mid- and low-round draft choices, as well as undrafted and lower-tier free agents, to fill a running back need if one should occur because of McCoy’s possible absence this season due to his alleged involvement in a nightclub brawl.
“History has shown that you will be able to find great value in the draft and/or second and third level free agents that can come in and hold down the fort,” ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL scout and player Louis Riddick said while at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It’s not the same as if, obviously, you lost a primary pass-rusher or a No. 1 corner. It just isn’t.”
Still, Riddick cautions that one should not assume that replacing McCoy, even for part of the season should he be suspended by the NFL, is as simple is plugging in any other running back.
“When you’re talking about a guy like Shady, there’s a group of good backs in the NFL and then you’ve got guys like him, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, who really are difference-makers,” Riddick said. “You can’t ever discount the impact they have on your football team, I don’t care if it’s running back or not. I think there is some comfort to take in (the ability to easily find a productive running back), but (McCoy) is an elite, special, different play-maker. So I think for them, it feels a little bit more important than maybe to us on the outside looking at it.”