As a long-suffering Buffalo fan, let me be the first to assure you that this iteration of the Bills has little proven NFL talent: It is a very young team in many respects. But, there is an upside to that — hungry players eager to make their mark can instantly make an impact if they put in the work.
Today, we spoke with the crew at SBN’s Bills site, Buffalo Rumblings, about two such former-Alabama players doing some damage in their rookie campaigns: CB Levi Wallace and WR Robert Foster. Matt Warren, Rumblings editor-in-chief, was kind enough to take some time over the holidays and provide us a pro perspective on two recent Tide grads and the impact they are having in the NFL.
Again, our thanks to Matt. Drop by the site if you’re a Buffalo fan or just want to keep an eye on this pair of overachievers — whether you choose to dive through a folding table or not is totally up to you.
1. Levi Wallace was considered one of the better lockdown corners in the SEC his senior year, yet he went undrafted. PFF has graded him out as the 13th best coverage corner in the NFL in this rookie campaign. Why do you think he had to sign as an UDFA? What have been his strengths and weaknesses in Buffalo’s secondary? Do you think he’s a long-term piece of the defense?
I’m not a draft guy, but his size and strength have been a concern. He didn’t even make the Bills initial roster. I think he has a chance to be a depth corner for Buffalo but if he adds some muscle to him frame this off-season, he might be able to push for CB2 if Buffalo doesn’t take a huge swing at the position.
2. Switching gears to Robert Foster, one of the more pleasant surprises of 2018. This statistic is going to blow your mind: Did you know that Robert Foster has more receiving yards in his rookie season than he did in his career at Alabama?
It’s crazy to think about, especially given the ominous start to his career, but he’s been great since he was re-signed.
3. Has Foster, who leads the league with 25 YPR, brought some degree of balance to a Buffalo offense that has struggled this season with vertical passing?
He’s been the only legitimate receiving threat Buffalo has had all season. He is still developing, but he has the trust of fellow rookie Josh Allen.
Bills WR Robert Foster has proven to be one of the fastest offensive players in the NFL in short time as an undrafted rookie.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 25, 2018
Foster has reached 20+ MPH 12 times this season on just 140 offensive plays, including this 75-yard TD today against the Jaguars (21.11 MPH).#GoBills pic.twitter.com/DQixEdMWGw
4. Like Wallace, Foster was also an UDFA. He clocked the 5th best time for WRs at the combine, and has the right size and height. But why do you think he was still on the board after the Draft? How can his game improve?
His hands were very suspect early in the season. He had focus issues. He was overconfident. He didn’t put in the work. Then the Bills cut him and added him to the practice squad where he started to take things seriously. He has done a 180 since then.
5. Looking at his target numbers, and with Kelvin Benjamin gone, is Foster now WR2 behind Zay Jones? And is he a guy McDermott may want to keep over the long-term?
Foster is the Bills’ top receiver. Bill Belichick put his number 1, Pro Bowl cornerback on him all game and he still managed 50 yards and could have been more if not for some issues with the sun. He’s a guy to look at for the long term, but I’m not sure he is a number 1 receiver. As the second or third guy or as part of a group, he’s going to be dangerous.
6. Any final thoughts?
On a more talented team, I don’t know if either guy even gets a shot. They’ve got flaws, but every team needs depth players like them. Both can contribute in 2019 and beyond.