Bills Predicted to Add ‘Fearless’ RB Who Led SEC in Rushing

Cody Schrader

Getty Cody Schrader runs the ball in the Cotton Bowl.

The Buffalo Bills generated a strong ground attack in 2023 behind James Cook, who became the team’s first running back to top 1,000 yards since LeSean McCoy.

The Bills could add more young talent through the NFL Draft, with one insider predicting they will snag a “fearless” back who led the SEC in rushing last season. In his seven-round mock draft, ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller predicted the Bills would take Missouri running back Cody Schrader with one of their three fifth-round picks, adding the power rusher the roster currently lacks.

Bills Address Backfield With Draft Pick

The Bills lost plenty of talent from last year’s backfield, with Latavius Murray and Leonard Fournette becoming free agents and Damien Harris announcing his retirement this week. The team also released speedy running back/return specialist Nyheim Hines, who missed the 2023 season with a torn ACL.

Miller predicted the Bills could add some size and versatility with Schrader, who’s Lance Zierlein called an “ornery and competitive” back who led the SEC last season with 1,627 rushing yards. Zierlein noted that Schrader is a good short-yardage back who can also stay back in pass protection — both of which are not areas of strength for Cook.

“He’s a stocky short-strider lacking ideal explosiveness but is still a successful outside-zone back due to his vision, decisiveness and fearlessness through the line,” Zierlein wrote. “He’s a volume back more likely to wear a defense down rather than gash them with chunk runs and is a capable pass protector against the blitz. Teams need to weigh the heavy production against average physical tools, but he appears to have a decent shot of becoming an RB2/3 with three-down ability.”

Schrader could also help alleviate some pressure on quarterback Josh Allen, who became the team’s go-to ballcarrier in short-yardage situations last season. Though Allen had a high conversion rate, both general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have stated a goal to decrease the number of hits that Allen takes.

Bills Bring Back Veteran RB

The Bills have already done some work to address their backfield, signing veteran running back Ty Johnson to a new contract after a strong season behind Cook. Johnson started the season on the practice squad but moved to the active roster after Harris was lost to a season-ending neck injury and another team tried to sign him away.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Los Angeles Rams had tried to poach Johnson off the practice squad, leading the Bills to move him to the active roster.

“The #Bills promoted RB Ty Johnson to the 53-man roster from the practice squad after the #Rams tried to sign him earlier in the week,” Rapoport posted.

Cook rose to the role of No. 2 back behind Cook, rushing 30 times for 130 yards and making seven receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. His role continued to grow in the playoffs, with Johnson taking eight carries for 26 yards in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and seven carries for 40 yards in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs the following week.

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