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The Bills will have their work cut out for them if they’re going to stop the Patriots from winning a sixth consecutive division title, but Buffalo has a young team that could only be a few key pieces away. For E.J. Manuel to improve in his second season, they’ll have to find a playmaker for him to target, effectively helping the offense achieve balance with their dynamic rushing attack. Reinforcing his protection to help prevent him from taking hits also couldn’t hurt.
1. Outside Linebacker
The Bills could certainly use a skilled linebacker to play alongside Kiko Alonso in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 scheme. Bolstering this position would improve the league’s 28th ranked rushing defense, rounding out one of the most talented front sevens in the AFC. Although the team has a few offensive needs, putting together a stout defense could be just as significant of a factor in taking the pressure off E.J. Manuel in his sophomore season.
2. Tight End
Scott Chandler was a useful target for E.J. Manuel in 2013, but the team could use a sure-handed playmaker at this position in case they are unable to re-sign the prospective free agent. There will be several tempting options for the Bills that should be available in the first and second rounds, and a reliable security blanket would surely help Manuel’s 58.8 percent completion rate.
3. Offensive Tackle
The Bills should be comfortable rolling with Cordy Glenn to protect E.J. Manuel’s blind side, but the opposite side comes with more uncertainty. Erik Pears did an adequate job in 2013, but he’ll be turning 32 this year, and will become a free agent after the 2014 season. Look for the Bills to be proactive in filling in this ever-important position.