The NFL is a copycat league.
With that in mind, are the Buffalo Bills looking at recent history for building their team?
It’s only fitting to look at the past two seasons and see if there were any similarities between teams that drafted their franchise quarterback and the success that they had the following year.
There were two teams that fit this description in recent years that would be helpful for this study: the Los Angeles Rams who drafted Jared Goff in 2016, and the Chicago Bears who snagged Mitchell Trubisky in 2017.
First, let’s look at the Rams.
In 2016, the Rams traded up to the No. 1 overall pick to draft Jared Goff. While he struggled in his rookie year, the Rams were set on making him the face of the franchise. In free agency, they looked to build up an offensive line to protect Goff by signing Pro Bowl tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan. Then, they made the decision to bring weapons to throw the ball to. They signed wide receiver Robert Woods and then traded for former first-round pick Sammy Watkins with the Bills. The Rams also built up their defense and signed cornerbacks Nickell Robey-Coleman and Kayvon Webster.
In the draft, the Rams were not done surrounding Goff with weapons. They drafted tight end Gerald Everett in the second round and wide receivers Cooper Kupp in the third and Josh Reynolds in the fourth. The Rams didn’t forget about defense either with safety John Johnson in the third round and linebackers Samson Ebukam in the fourth and Ejuan Price in the seventh.
So, for the Rams in total, they brought in four receivers, one tight end, and two offensive linemen. These signings were made in order to surround Goff with as much talent as possible and to also sure up a weakness on defense by bringing in two cornerbacks and one safety.
Now, let’s look at the Bears.
In 2017, the Bears traded up to the No. 2 pick to draft Mitchell Trubisky, who had a more of an incline in playing time by the end of the season and showed promise that the Bears could build around. In free agency, the Bears decided it was best to build up their offensive line with guard Earl Watford and tackle Bradley Sowell. Then, they brought in weapons for him to throw to with receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, and tight end Trey Burton. Similar to the Rams, the Bears built upon their strong defense by signing cornerback Prince Amukamara and linebacker Sam Acho and also trading for a former first-round pick in pass rusher Khalil Mack.
In 2018, the Bears went into the draft to build around their young star. In the second round, they took receiver Anthony Miller and guard James Daniels. Later in the draft, they took receiver Javon Wims. The Bears also built on their already strong defense with their first pick, taking linebacker Roquan Smith.
Let’s compare these two teams and the way they built their roster. Both traded up to draft their franchise quarterback and didn’t plan on him starting his rookie year.
Going into free agency, they knew they needed to build up their offensive line and both signed two players. They built up their receiving corps by bringing in two new players at that position.
They both upgraded their defense by adding a starting cornerback and defensive line depth.
And in the draft, they both added two receivers, one player for their offensive line, and two key players for their defense.
If the Bills can replicate the offseasons that the Rams and Bears had after drafting their franchise quarterbacks, perhaps they can replicate their playoff success, too.