The Jags return to Wembley for the third consecutive year in Week 7 of the 2015 season. Head coach Gus Bradley will hope to leave London with a win for the first time. His side is very young, but very promising and hopes are that his youthful side will learn and thrive from these tough experiences.
The Bills, on the other hand, are mixed bunch with some top established players and a few very exciting young players.
Here are 10 players from both sides that we can’t wait to see next year:
Sammy Watkins – Wide Receiver – Buffalo Bills
The Bills gave up the world and a bit more in the eyes of general managers around the league to secure the services of the wide receiver out of Clemson. While rookie pass catchers tend to struggle getting to grips with the complexes of an NFL offense, we’ve seen glimpses of greatness that makes you understand why Buffalo were so keen on moving up and taking Watkins at number four overall.
Next year, Wembley will hope to see a more consistent Watkins having a proper off-season under his belt, given the hectic schedule of player just coming out of college. However, Buffalo may not get the best of their special talent given their current quarterback situation and the unlikeliness in landing one as a consequence of drafting Watkins. But the wideout has still, on occasion, produced the goods whether catching passes from EJ Manuel or Kyle Orton.
Allen Hurns – Wide Receiver – Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s a great story as we head to the other end of the spectrum with this player. Allen Hurns wasn’t selected in this year’s draft, but with his first two catches in the NFL going for touchdowns the other 31 teams were left wondering how he slipped through their fingers. Not just a blip, the undrafted rookie leads the Jags in touchdown receptions this season and is becoming an important part of an impressive wide receiver group. There is surely no doubt that Hurns makes the team next year and graces the Wembley turf one again – hoping to improve on his one-catch game last time out.
Blake Bortles – Quarterback – Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s hard to judge Bortles based on his play this season. From the minute he was drafted, the Jags insisted that he would sit out his rookie season to aid his game in the future. But nothing goes to plan in the NFL and due to poor play from Chad Henne, that metaphorical red vest Bortles had been wearing was whipped off and he was thrown into the action. He has struggled, particularly in turning over the ball a bit too much for an offense to be functional but we do know why the Jags took Bortles at number three overall in this year’s draft. The Jags are a young team and can only get better. Wembley will see an improved Jags side, led by a better Blake Bortles in 2015.
Denard Robinson – Running Back – Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson is one of the most dynamic players in the league. A quarterback coming out of college, Robinson possesses the ability to play in any of the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball. During the Combine he was listed as a wide receiver, but when drafted by Jags in the 5th round of the 2013 draft, the team listed him as an OW (offensive weapon) because of his ability to play in any position. The 2014 campaign has seen Robinson change position once again and he has turned into the team’s first choice at running back. He displaced free agent acquisition Toby Gerhart on the depth chart and has been leading the way with his playmaking ability. Wembley should be excited to see this dynamic back run hard, run a few routes and perhaps even throw a few balls in 2015.
Chris Clemons – Defensive End – Jacksonville Jaguars
One of the few positives the Jags can take from this season is their ability to generate some pressure up front. Leading the line is this experienced free agent signing. The Jags signed the veteran pass-rusher fresh from his Super Bowl win with the Seattle Seahawks. The undrafted Clemons was also followed through the door by Red Bryant, formerly of the Seahawks and the two are familiar with a Gus Bradley defense. Bradley left his post as Seattle’s defensive coordinator to take up his current role with the Jags in 2013. He is known as the architect of the tough defense that helped the Seahawks go all the way last year. Clemons has been helping his teammates this year off the field but he is also showing how it’s done on a Sunday.
Chris Hogan – Wide Receiver – Buffalo Bills
Those who watched the Miami Dolphins series of Hard Knocks a few years ago will be familiar with this player. He’s not the tallest or the fastest wide receiver around, but he always finds himself open for a catch. His habit led to him being labelled ‘7-Eleven’ by Reggie Bush – named after the 24-hour convenience store in the United States. He may be not be the best receiver in the league, or even on the Bills’ roster, but he’s a good option for any offense to have. Having been at the Bills since 2012, Hogan only caught his first touchdown pass against the Patriots this season. Fingers crossed that 7-Eleven is open for business internationally for the Bills next year.
Mario Williams – Defensive End – Buffalo Bills
This year we saw a defensive end selected with the first pick in the draft. The Houston Texans used it on Jadeveon Clowney. Prior to that in 2006 they did the same with Williams coming out of NC State.
Two days of hard negotiation in 2012 saw the Bills sign free agent Williams to the most lucrative contract for a defensive player at the time. It was a big price to pay, but it’s been more than worth it for Buffalo. He holds the franchise record for the most sacks in a single game – producing 4.5 last year against the Panthers. Blake Bortles beware.
Marcell Dareus – Defensive End – Buffalo Bills
The Bills used the third overall pick in the 2011 Draft on Dareus. In his fourth year in the league, the former Alabama player has taken his game to another level on par with his teammate lining up next to him. He and Mario Williams are currently tied-4th for sacks in the entire NFL. As well as being a headache in pass protection, he’s also a dominant run stopper. This year has seen a solid turnaround for the player who had been getting into trouble with the police and turned up to this summer’s training camp significantly out of shape and initially failing a conditioning test.
Kiko Alonso – Linebacker – Buffalo Bills
It’s hard to think of Buffalo’s front seven improving. But when they come to Wembley they should have the defensive lynchpin Alonso back in the team. The second-year player suffered a knee injury before the season started that sidelined him until 2015. He was due to make a switch to weak-side linebacker this year, so British fans will get to see Alonso in his new role hopefully continuing where he left off in his rookie season. The second round draft pick had a stellar first season in the NFL and was the only defensive player on the short-list for 2013 Rookie of the Year.
Leodis McKelvin – Cornerback – Buffalo Bills
When All-Pro safety Jairus Byrd left Buffalo in the off-season, someone had to step up and take responsibility in the Bills’ secondary. McKelvin has shown signs of that this season. He is currently tied third in the NFL for interceptions, but is now out for the season after suffering an ankle injury in the week 11 loss to the Dolphins. The Bills will hope that McKelvin returns to team just as effective, who is now showing a slow return in production following the Bills using the 11th overall pick on the cornerback in 2008.