The Bills no longer have Marcel Dareus, but signing Star Lotulelei in free agency really fills that hole. Kyle Williams was our best tackle last season and should be good for another year. Adolphus Washington and Cedric Thornton were well below average for tackles in the league. Thorton is gone and I am hopeful that Washington can elevate his game. Signing Tenny Palepoi gives use a veteran rotation with he and Washington. So we have 4 veteran defensive tackles for the next season, but I think we need a tackle in this draft. Kyle Williams is near the end of his career, and we should draft his successor in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is my evaluation of the tackles in this draft; there’s some really good prospects.
1)Vita Vea, Wa., 6’5″, 344 lbs., 5.10 40, 41 reps. Excluding quarterbacks he is one of the top 10 players in this draft. He is a huge man with amazing speed and quickness for his size. He makes tackles from sideline to sideline and runs backs down 40 yards downfield. He is immensely powerful and you cannot move him off the line without 2 or 3 blockers. He will be an all pro in his career, and the potential to be perennial all pro. He is worthy of the 12th. pick.
2)Taven Bryan, Fla., 6’5″, 293 lbs., 4.98 40, 30 reps, 35″ vertical, 119″ broad, 7.12 3-cone, 4.48 shuttle. Big, fast and strong. Very quick. He has the potential to be really good as well. Seems to be getting better as he matures. I think he has a high ceiling. A top 20 first round selection.
3)Da’Ron Payne, ‘Bama, 6’2″, 305 lbs., 4.95 seconds, 27 reps, 28.5″vertical, 107″ broad, 7.58 3-cone, 4.71 shuttle. Has literally has been in the middle of the title hunt the past three seasons at Alabama. He is built like a bear and plays like one. He brings pressure up the middle and will get sacks. He is very hard to run against and requires double teams to move him. He is a first round talent.
4)Mo Hurst, Michigan, 6’2″, 292 lbs., 4.97 40, 29 reps., 31″ vertical, 7.74 3-cone, 4.62 shuttle. He is both strong and plays with a lot of quickness and guile. He kinda reminds me of Aaron Donald, but I don’t think he will be that good. He is plenty good though and could even go in the first round. Possibly a 2nd rounder. This business about his heart has been thoroughly investigated on multiple occasions and he is cleared. Not an issue. He probably has occasional PVC’s IMO.
5)Harrison Phillips, Stanford, 6’33/8″, 303 lbs., 5.21 40, 42 reps., 32″ vertical, 103″ broad, 7.28 3-cone, 4.5 shuttle. A Kyle Williams clone, but even taller and faster. Smart. Was productive throughout his career at Stanford. I think he could go in the 1st round or maybe 2nd. I would love to see him play in Buffalo; he would fit right into the Beane/McDermott profile. A leader on and off the field-like I said, a Kyle Williams clone.
6)Rasheem Green, USC, 6’4″, 280 lbs., 4.73 40, 32.5″ vertical, 118″broad, 7.24 3-cone, 4.39 `shuttle. Some project him as a defensive end, and he can play there. He could also bump inside and give you a really good pass rush up the middle. He is taller and leaner and needs to get stronger and a little bigger. He would be a good pick-up for the Bills with those late 2nd round picks.
7)Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays St., 6’4″, 310 lbs., 5.10 40, 31″ vertical, 112′ broad, 7.5 3-cone, 4.53 shuttle. A small school prospect who is really good. Was outstanding in the all star games and was great at the combine. He can play with the best in college football, that is clear. Probably a day 2 selection.
8)Tim Settle, Va. Tech., 6’3″ 329 lbs., 5.20 40, 25.5″vertical 99″ broad, 7.81 3-cone, 4.83 shuttle. A big, powerful nose tackle. He is a lot like Star Lotulelei. He is not exceptionally fast or quick, but a powerful presence in the middle of the line. Great against the run and pushes the pocket on passing plays. A 3rd round option for the Bills.
9)Andrew Brown, Virginia, 6’31/2″, 295 lbs., 5.03, 31 reps., 28″vertical, 101 broad, 7.51 3-cone. Has also played defensive end. He has good technique. He is fast and powerful. May have played out of his best position at Virginia. Could be a really good 4-3 tackle. Would be good value at pick 96 or later.
10)BJ Hill, NC St., 6’33/8″, 321 lbs., 4.99 40, 35 reps., 26.5 vertical, 101 broad, 7.28 3-cone, 4.53 shuttle. They had an all NFL potential defensive line at NC State this year. Hill is big, strong and quick in the box. He has starter potential in the NFL. I see him going in the 4th round. Whoever gets him I bet will be happy.
11)Bilal Nichols, Delaware, 6’31/2″, 306 lbs., 4.95 40, 29 reps., 30.5″ vertical, 7.51 3-cone. A small school prospect who was really good at Delaware. Proved in the all star games that he can run with the big boys. Has all the tools. A diamond in the rough on day #3?
12)Justin Jones, NC St., 6’2″, 309 lbs., 5.09 40, 24 reps., 29″ vertical, 104″ broad, 7.82 3-cone, 4.74 shuttle. Another big, strong, fast tackle from NC St. I like BJ Hill better as he is quicker. Jones is a good prospect for later on day 3.
13)Deadrin Senat, S. Fla., 6’1/2″, 314 lbs, 5.16 40, 35 reps., 26″vertical, 100″ broad, 7.77 3-cone, 4.79 shuttle. Shorter but has good speed and strong as an ox. He is hard to move off the block and pushes the pocket. Can squat 675 lbs. I see him as good value for the Bills in round 5 or later.
14)Poona Ford, Texas, 5’11”, 310lbs. 4.94 40, 24 reps, 29″ vertical, 111″ broad, 7.4 3-cone. He was outstanding at Texas. His height is the biggest knock on him. He is quick and uses his height to his advantage as he almost always can get leverage on the much taller offensive lineman. He would be great value in the later half of day#3.
15)Trenton Thompson, Georgia, 6’4″, 288 lbs., 5.06 40, 32.5″ vertical, 111″ shuttle, 7.68 3-cone, 4.56 shuttle. Did a lot of the dirty work for the front 7 at Georgia. He kept the blockers off those outstanding Georgia linebackers this year. Just as Poona Ford helped Malik Jefferson to a great year at Texas, so Thompson did the same for Roquan Smith. Thompson is very good also. He is fast. Will need to get stronger and he is not quite as quick. A late round draft selection.
16)Kahlil McKenzie, 6’5″, 314 lbs., 5.15 40, 26 reps, 29.5″ vertical, 105″ broad, 7.94 3- cone, 4.68 shuttle. Made a lot of plays at Tennessee. A little slower than some of the other tackles, but fast enough to play in the league.
17)Derrick Nnadi, 6’1″, 315 lbs., 5.38 40, 25 reps, 27″ vertical, 96″ broad, 8.15 3-cone. He is a little slower than the other tackle prospects. In games he made a lot of plays and plays faster than his testing would indicate. He is plenty strong enough. I think he will play in the league. 7th rounder or priority UDFA.
18)Curtis Cochran, Pa. St., 6’4″, 283 lbs., 4.85 40, 26 reps, 29″ vertical. Was very good against good competition at Penn St. He is fast and strong. He is a smaller tackle who relies on quickness. Another late rounder.
19)Lowell Lotulelei, Utah, 6’2″, 310 lbs., 28 reps, The younger brother of Star Lotulelei of the Bills. He is big and powerful, but doesn’t look fast to me. No speed testing that I could find. Has shorter arms. A late round choice or UDFA.
20)RJ McIntosh, Miami, 6’4″, 293 lbs. I thought he looked like he had NFL potential at Miami, but without any testing, I am leary of drafting him early. He showed some burst at Miami.
21)Breland Speaks, Miss., 6’3″, 285, 4.87, 32.5″ vertical, 7.63 3-cone. Played defensive end but I see him as a tackle. A late round choice.
22)Da’Shawn Hand, Ala., 6’4″, 282 lbs., 4.84 40, 28 reps, 31.5″ vertical, 7.98 3-cone. I was disappointed in his play this year. He looked stiff and slow. Makes plays but probably a 7th rounder or UDFA.
23)JoJo Wicker, Ariz. St., 6″3″, 296 lbs. 5.16 40, 25 reps, 30″ vertical. Was a solid player in the Pac-12.
24)Kentavius Street, NC St., 4.87 40, 28 reps. Can squat 700 lbs. Another good lineman from NC St. He played mostly DE, but I see him moving inside.
I want the Bills to get a tackle this year. I think we could get a really good tackle on day #2, but there will be some good tackle prospects on day #3. If any of my top 5 are available to the Bills in round 2 we take them. I would consider Vea at #12, but don’t we have greater needs (QB, MLB) for that pick. Likewise, I would consider Bryant, Payne, Hurst, and Phillips at pick 22, but again-I would rather get a QB and MLB out of round #1. I think Bryant is going to be really good. I might be tempted to take him at #22. He would be good value there. Bottom line, we get someone that could fill Kyle Williams shoes in the next year or so. I would love to get Harrison Phillips in round #2- he would be great value there, but he might be gone by pick #53.
2019 Prospects: The 2018 Clemson line will be better than a lot of NFL teams. Christian Wilkins would have been my 2nd best tackle this year, but he returned to Clemson. Dexter Lawrence at Clemson may even be better than Wilkins. Dre’Mont Jones from Ohio State is really good. 3 potentially great tackles to watch in college next year, possibly all 1st round talent.