by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL Expert

When we look at the Buffalo Bills running back corps for 2018 it starts with the great LeSean McCoy. As a general rule, running backs in the NFL have a short shelf life and if a club can get a player to his second contract it’s looked at as a bonus.

McCoy is now going into his tenth NFL season and will be 30 years old and while he may not be quite as fast or explosive as he was when he was younger, he is still damn good and there is a lot of gas left in the tank. To date he has shown no signs of slowing down.

McCoy isn’t the biggest guy but he has shown throughout his career that he knows how to take a hit and because of that he seldom gets worn down. He is not by any means a power but he can get yards after contact and is very elusive. As a receiver he is one of the better backs in football. Even at 30 years of age, McCoy is capable of going the distance on any given down.

99 & 44/100th% Backup

The Bills brass felt they needed a good and consistent complementary back to McCoy and they didn’t feel that player was on the roster a year ago. In free agency this year the Bills acquired Chris Ivory, who can be very good in the backup role. Ivory has more size and power than McCoy so he adds a bit of a different dimension to the Bills backfield. He has shown that he can easily run for 500 yards and 20 receptions in that limited role.

The Bills will use a fullback in their offense and that person will be Patrick Demarco. DeMarco is a consistent lead blocker and is reliable as a receiver when used. He has the size to be able to also play as a move tight end in some formations.

4th Back

After McCoy and Ivory, the Bills will probably keep one or two other running backs. Those players will come from the group of Travaris Cadet, Taiwan Jones and rookie Keith Ford from Texas A&M. Jones has not done much as far as running back production since he has been in the NFL but he is a solid special teams performer. Cadet is an interesting guy in that he can be a good receiver out of the backfield. In 2016 while with New Orleans he had 40 receptions. He also had 38 catches back in 2014.

Ford flashed while at Texas A&M as both a runner and a receiver. He is also a better than average kick returner. If he is to make the club he has to excel on special teams.

Overall, the Bills has a good but not a great running back group. The key will be for McCoy to stay healthy. For the most part he has been able to do that his entire career but with this being his tenth season he could be on borrowed time. If he does sustain a long term injury, the Bills could be in trouble as they don’t really have a guy who can carry the load if McCoy isn’t around.

Greg has already broken down the Bills receivers, tight endsoffensive line, defensive line and linebackers.

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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