Recently, I asked the BillsMafia to #BuildTheBills. The responses were terrific and made me think about a follow-up of sorts to the hashtag. I went to Twitter and posed the following question to fans:
If you had to choose one player currently on the roster to build the Bills around, who would it be and why?
The BillsMafia didn’t let me down. First, let’s take a look at a few of the comedians in the FAMbase.
— Mattie ^S^ Trump (@MattieTrump97) June 3, 2014
— Ethan m (@Ethan07M) June 3, 2014
funny punny. Many fans looked at the offensive side of the ball, including this year’s first round pick.
@RyanTalbotBills Around him like they currently are. So I guess in saying I would do everything they are 2/2
— John (@jrwbufsorng) June 3, 2014
@RyanTalbotBills eric wood, center is the most valuable position on the oline.
— Scott M. DelleFave (@TheProfessorSD) June 3, 2014
Watkins is a tempting selection and many others voted for him as well, but it’s risky to build around a player who hasn’t played a snap in the NFL. Manuel makes sense as he’s the quarterback and it’s the most important position on the field, but have we seen enough from him? As for other players mentioned, Eric Wood had multiple votes which surprised me a bit. He’s a fine center but I’ve never thought of him as a franchise guy. Cordy Glenn was a pick I really liked as he looks and plays like a franchise left tackle. As for Fred Jackson, I love him but he’s a bit too old for me to select him.
Defensively, here were some of the responses received:
@RyanTalbotBills Kiko Alonso. Young, rookie contract, can be a defensive force/play caller. Humble, warrior, and can anchor the defense
— Kiko Azeez (@kikoazeez84) June 4, 2014
@RyanTalbotBills GIlmore, would mean he’s a premium CB.
— Bill Perry (@gottahavajava) June 3, 2014
— Christian Milanowski (@cmilli421) June 3, 2014
Aaron Williams had a terrific 2013 season at safety but his play before that point left much to be desired, in my opinion. Gilmore’s sophomore season was shaky due to an injury so the verdict is also out on him. The two most popular answers were Mario Williams and Kiko Alonso. They make plenty of sense. One person responded that their answer would be Kyle Williams if he were younger, and I must admit that he’d be difficult to defeat.
Now, who would I choose?
First, if you’re 28 or above and not a franchise quarterback, you’re out of the running. So long, Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Fred Jackson.
Next, you need to have NFL experience. I think Sammy Watkins could be the answer to this question next year, but right now I’m not building my team around someone who has never played in the NFL.
Based on this criteria, here are players still in the running: C.J. Spiller, Robert Woods, Cordy Glenn, Marcell Dareus and Kiko Alonso.
Of the final five, I want someone who is considered one of the best at their position. Spiller, although dynamic, isn’t one of the top running backs in the NFL. Woods is only 22 years old and I love his potential, but he’s also not in the top wide receiver category. That leaves three.
Dareus may be the best player available among the three remaining, but his recent off-the-field issues is worrisome.
Finally, we have two candidates and among them the winner is…
Cordy Glenn is a top twelve left tackle, but Kiko Alonso’s rookie season was outstanding, and he should only get better as a weak side linebacker. Last season, Advanced NFL Stats listed Alonso as the second best linebacker in the league. According to the analytics site, Alonso received a 2.54 win probability added (WPA) by the site. What is WPA? The site says it “measures the impact of each play toward winning and losing.”
At the “Will” linebacker spot, Alonso will get to use his athleticism to wreak havoc all over the field. It’s hard to imagine Alonso somehow being better than he was in 2013, but the odds are in his favor with the move. Look for Jim Schwartz to maximize Alonso’s talents in 2014.
The #LegendOfKikoAlonso will grow in 2014 and beyond. If I was building the Bills around one player, Alonso would be my top choice.