For this week's Practice Squad Power Rankings, I feel compelled, by my dad and people like him, to write about the Buffalo Bills.
My dad is 71 years old and has been a nutty Bills fan since the team's inception in 1959. He was in attendance for one of Buffalo's AFL titles in the mid-'60s. Since then, let's just say he's seen some, uhhh well, you know.
And while the Bills have made the playoffs in three of the past four seasons and become of one of the AFC's most stable franchises, the Sean McDermott era has yet to eradicate the residual effects of 17 years without the playoffs, four-straight Super Bowl losses, and just six winning seasons from 1970 to 1989.
You see, many Bills fans have been conditioned to be extraordinarily knee-jerk about any development that moves the needle in any direction. When Josh Allen flashed late in his rookie season of 2018 -- to most of the collective Bills faithful, those games signaled he was ready to be championed as the next Jim Kelly. When an offensive line featuring two backups gets demolished by a weak Jaguars defensive front in a 9-6 loss, a doomsday scenario arises in their brains akin to wings and Labatt Blue losing their taste.
Buffalo's aggressive GM Brandon Beane surprisingly didn't swing a trade before the deadline, but I have a solution for him and nervous Bills fans who firmly believe the interior of the offensive line needs to be addressed -- NOW.
Phil Haynes, who's patiently waiting for another NFL opportunity on the Seahawks practice squad. My man has been at or near the top of The PSPR for weeks now for a reason.
The nearly 6-foot-4, 320-plus pounder tested like a high-caliber athlete at the 2019 combine after an illustrious, 47-start career at Wake Forest. While he's battled injuries over the past two seasons after being Seattle's fourth-round pick, he does have playoff experience, believe or not.
Haynes played left guard in the Seahawks wild-card round loss to the Packers in Green Bay as a rookie. On 41 pass-blocking snaps, he surrendered just two hurries of Russell Wilson.
And this past preseason, Haynes rocked. One pressure allowed on 71 pass-blocking snaps. If the Bills actually do feel the depth of their guard position has to be improved, Haynes needs to be their guy.
Heading into the weekend, THE CALL -- call-ups from The PSPR list -- we're now at seven, which includes Buffalo calling up nickel corner Cam Lewis twice now. And what do you know -- last weeks' PSPR cover guy, Kenny Willekes, had four pressures for Minnesota against Baltimore, trailing only Everson Griffen for the team lead [mic drop]. Use The Practice Squad Power Rankings as a resource, NFL front offices. If I've missed anyone, or you hear of a PSPR member getting The Call, alert me @ChrisTrapasso on Twitter, and feel free to use the hashtag #PSPR. Thank you in advance. Your next drink's on me.
(Oh, and PSPR alum, safety/linebacker Antoine Brooks, got The Call by the Rams ahead of their Week 10 clash with the 49ers in San Francisco. Once a PSPRer, always a PSPRer.)
In a sense, I'm running the Practice Squad Power Rankings parallel to the NFL. That means, as was the case last year, I'm not going to feature "veterans." To continue to maintain the PSPR's sterling integrity, I'll only be including practice-squadders who are rookies, second-year players, or third-year players. That's it.
And as you'll see below, I couldn't resist ranking more players, given the increase in practice squad sizes this season. To stay in line with the league's figure, I hope to write about 16 individuals every Friday: 10 officially in the rankings and six honorable mentions.
1. Phil Haynes, OG, Seahawks
Haynes is a thick, springy athlete with about as much collegiate experience as humanly possible. I'm actually surprised he's on the Seahawks practice squad, but Seattle did sign Gabe Jackson this offseason to elevate the floor of their guard position.
2. Carson Green, OT, Texans
I had a fourth-round grade on Green just a few months ago. He checked most of the boxes I have for a mid-round blocker who can come in and start right away. And he tested like a high-caliber athlete. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Green went undrafted. But he protected like a -- you guessed it -- early Day 3 pick in the preseason with one allowed pressure on 43 pass-blocking snaps. Naturally, the Texans released him on cutdown day, because Houston is completely set on its offensive line and doesn't need any young and talented blockers. Yeah, right.
3. Dazz Newsome, WR, Bears
It's going to take more than a first-year cut for me to drop my #TrustTheTape draft crush from the 2021 class. He recovered from a broken collarbone early in the offseason to get limited reps in the preseason. Get Newsome in the slot and let him work, Nagy.
4. Charles Snowden, EDGE, Bears
Snowden is impossibly long at over 6-foot-6 with 34-inch arms. He's essentially the size of some of the longer offensive tackles in the NFL, except he's probably playing somewhere in the 240s. So he clearly needs to add weight. But Snowden understands how to use his length to keep blockers from obliterating him. At Virginia, he had 28.5 tackles for loss in his final three seasons. With Khalil Mack injured, this should be a no-brainer for the Bears. Yet, Matt Nagy and Co. have hardly listened to me this season.
5. Cade Johnson, WR, Seahawks
The Seahawks are the Patriots of the NFC in that they adore late-round and undrafted free agent receivers. Johnson will be the next against-all-odds story in Seattle, a small, crisp route-runner who's feisty after the catch and hauls in everything thrown in his direction. Sound like any recently productive Seahawks receiver?
6. Javon Wims, WR, Raiders
In the wake of the horrifically sad Henry Ruggs situation, the Raiders are probably going to need more receiver depth. Wims flashed with the Bears before punching his way out of Chicago. The former Georgia star has good size at over 6-2 and 215 pounds.
7. Ron'Dell Carter, EDGE, Cardinals
With J.J. Watt out for the monstrous Week 8 outing, why didn't Arizona give Carter a shout? I know, they don't play the exact same positions, but the Cardinals needed as many pass-rushing bodies as they could get for their matchup against Aaron Rodgers. The Call was never made, and, Arizona lost. SMH. Carter has the girth, leverage, burst, and just enough pass-rush moves to be a productive contributor Arizona. I'm very high on him.
8. David Moore, OG, Browns
Moore is a mauler with a natural center of gravity offensive line coaches dream about during REM sleep. He was just under 6-2 and 330 pounds at his pro day before the draft. After a dazzling career at Grambling State, Moore got a Senior Bowl invite and thrived in Mobile. He's not going to be the most athletic blocker if you're running a zone scheme, but he's quick enough off the ball to be effective on gap runs, and he's very close to being NFL strong already. Plus, no defensive tackle is going to get up and underneath him to drive him into the quarterback.
9. Spencer Brown, RB, Panthers
Brown had a long and illustrious career at UAB. He brought a solid 4.7 yards-per-carry average in 858 carries across four seasons into the NFL. He's a hybrid-type back who's not incredibly shifty nor overwhelmingly powerful, but there's some juice in his lower half and he can occasionally make tackle attempts look extremely weak.
10. Kayode Awosika, OG, Eagles
Awosika was a 32-game starter at the University at Buffalo, as a right and left tackle. At a shade over 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, he clearly has NFL guard size, and he entered the league further ahead as a run-blocker -- a damn good one -- than a pass-blocker, mostly due to his lack of explosive traits.
But there's something to be said about the strength of a young blocker, and Awosika is an effortless people-mover on the interior.
K.J. Hill, WR, Chargers
Hill caught seven passes for 73 yards in limited action as a rookie and caught three Justin Herbert passes for 30 yards in the season-opener this year. Naturally, as an Ohio State alum, Hill is a route-running connoisseur, he's just a lower-level athlete that doesn't have the juice of, say, a Terry McLaurin or Curtis Samuel.
As a possession slot receiver, Hill can be productive.
Holyfield averaged 4.6 yards per carry on 20 totes this preseason in Philadelphia and 4.0 yards per with the Panthers in 2020. He's a compactly built, decently shifty back with light feet and good vision. The Bengals backfield's a little banged up right now. Holyfield can help.
Olaijah Griffin, CB, Bills
I had a late fifth-round grade on Griffin after a steady career with the Trojans in Southern California. He had nine pass breakups in 2019 and three more in a shortened 2020 campaign. He's a fluid mover with serious striking ability when planting and driving on the football.
Baker had three years of solid-albeit-unspectacular production at South Alabama but failed to get named to the hometown Senior Bowl. But at his pro day, he got everyone's attention, running 4.45 with a 39.5-inch vertical and 129-inch broad jump. His slow three-cone placed him in the second percentile among receivers over the past 21 years, but the explosion that was evident on vertical routes and in contested-catch situations in college was clear at his pre-draft workout.
Sullivan was buried on the receiving pecking order at LSU, and the Seahawks tried to morph him into a defensive end after picking him in the seventh round two years ago. Back to his natural position in Carolina, Sullivan has a chance to make a splash without a bunch of stars in front of him. He's 6-5 and 248 pounds with 4.66 speed and a catch radius the size of a Chevy Tahoe.
Tyrone Wheatley, OT, Giants
I'm fascinated by Wheatley's journey, from marquee tight end recruit -- who was massive entering the Michigan campus -- to beefed up offensive tackle. The tight end to tackle converts are always compelling to me because the I know athletic traits needed to excel blocking on the edge are there.
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