Before discussing 3 different draft scenarios, let’s look at what the Bills already have and where are there needs according to round.
QB-Everyone in Buffalo has been QB crazy, stoked by John Murphy among many others. I don’t feel like we need to trade up any further. I’m in favor of giving AJ McCarron and Peterman a chance. To move up into the top two picks it would take a king’s ransom. If I was the GM of the Brown’s or Giants, I would not take less than three first round picks and two second round picks. Chris Brown of Bills.com did a review of all the trade-ups in the last 6-8 years and one thing is clear, throw out the Jimmy Johnson points/value chart if you want to move into the top 3 spots. Personally, I would not give up 5 probable starters to move up to the top two (I’m assuming the Jets are not looking to move back after giving up three 2nd. round picks to move from 6 to 3). However, if the Bill’s brass feel one of those QB’s is worth moving up for, I would be willing to give up both 2018 # 1’s, and the 2019 #1. I doubt Cleveland or the Giants will move back to 12 for just 3 1st rounders. I feel getting more picks has been shown to be the way to go, rather than giving up picks to move up (think New England). Evaluating college QB’s is an inaccurate science and about 50/50 at beat. Personally, after watching all the top 10 QB’s in several games, I feel there are 6 top QB’s in this years draft; Darnold, Allen, Rosen, Mayfield, Jackson and Rudolph in that order. I would be happy getting any one of those players. IMO, Jackson and Rudolph are under rated. We can get one of these 6 with the 12th or 22nd. pick, without giving up any other valuable picks. Another option would be to trade down to 5-10, and that would be more palatable than moving up to 1 or 2, as it would probably require maybe pick #55 and 65 to move up that much. Maybe we could snag Mayfield or Rosen in that range, but they are only slightly better prospects than Jackson and Rudolph. Everyone has seen Jackson play, but if you are not familiar with Rudolph, watch his bowl game (Camping World Bowl I think) this year against Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech. was loaded with defensive talent this year with Settle, Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds, Brandon Facyson, Adonis Alexander, and Greg Stroman and they have a great Defensive Coordinator in Bud Foster. Rudolph carved them up in that bowl game. This was no simplified Big 12 defense. One rap on Rudolph is a weak arm-that is BS. I’d love to see Jackson or Rudolph playing for the Bills. They are only slightly less apt to be great pros than the other 4. Allen scares me, as everytime I watch him I am reminded of watching EJ Manuel at Florida State and in the Senior Bowl and Combine. I’d take Allen in a New York minute, but not trading up for him. I see his upside, but the accuracy issue (ala EJ) is a major concern to me. IMO you have it or you don’t.
Linebacker: I was not disappointed to see Preston Brown leave. He was way to slow to be a 3rd down linebacker. He was great against the run, but was a liability against the pass. I know Beane is searching for a veteran Middle Linebacker, but there are some really good ones in this year’s draft (Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Rashaan Evans). I would like to get one of those 4 for the Bills. There will be several linebackers later in the draft who are good prospects, but these 4 are the ones I would target. If these 4 are gone, Malik Jefferson is also a MLB that I would consider with this pick.
So in my mock draft we take one of the 6 QB’s and one of the 4 MLB’s with those 1st two picks.
Cornerback: Tre’ White and Vontae Davis are a good cornerback tandem. Leonard Johnson is gone and we could use a really good Nickle Corner. There are a ton of gifted corners and safeties in this years draft, and I wouldn’t mind waiting until day #3 to get a corner, but if you want someone to play right away, I would go for one of these 4: Donte Jackson, Duke Dawson, DJ Reed, or MJ Stewart. The top 5 corners in my cornerback evaluation will probably be gone by pick 53/55, but some or maybe even all of these 4 should be available in the 2nd round for the Bills.
Offensive Line: We need to add a really good interior offensive lineman. I think we are good at tackle with Dawkins, McDermott, Mills and Washington. The loss of Eric Wood and Richie Incognito, however, leave holes in the middle of the line. Russell Bodine was a good depth pick-up, but a below average center the past 4 years. I’d be OK using pick #22 on Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez, but I would rather use that pick for a Middle Linebacker or QB. Both Wynn and Hernandez would be good value at 22. I would target Braden Smith, James Daniels, Billy Price, Frank Ragnow, Austin Corbett or Wyatt Teller with one of those 2nd round picks.
Wide Receiver: We need a wide receiver with speed to stretch the field. If a really good prospect was available in the 2nd round, I might take a receiver rather than a corner with a second round pick, but we really need a nickle corner as well. I target a receiver with pick #65, the first pick of round #3 we got for Tyrod. Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk, DJ Chark, DJ Moore, and J’mon Moore likely will be gone by pick #65, but if available any one of them would upgrade our Wide Receiver Corp. If they are all gone, then consider:James Washington, Anthony Miller, Dante Pettis, Equamonius St. Brown, Michael Gallup, Deon Cain, Kiki Coutee, Simmie Cobbs or Cedric Wilson for pick #65. We should be able to get a good wide out at pick #65. The receiver crop this year is not top heavy, but has a lot of depth.
Running Back: Shady and Chris Ivory are older backs. Travaris Cadet and Taiwan Jones are OK, but I don’t see either one of them being the Bills Halfback of the future. Let’s get a set of young legs in our backfield. Saquon Barkley, Derrius Giuce, Ronald Jones, Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel will probably all be gone by the end of the first round, but here are some really good prospects who might be available: Nick Chubb, Royce Freeman, Justin Jackson, Nyheim Hines, Kerryon Johnson, Josh Adams, Kalen Ballage, and Akrum Wadley. We can get a good back with pick #96 and maybe they will be the next Alvin Kamara or the kid from Kansas City whose name I can’t remember right now.
Defensive Tackle: Before we signed Star Lotulelei and resigned Kyle Williams, I was hot on getting Vea, Payne, Bryant, Hurst or Phillips in the 1st round. We need to groom someone to replace Kyle Williams eventually. Adolphus Washington has been a disappointment. None of the 5 I just mentioned will be available in the 4th round, but we could grab one of these in the 2nd round if they are still available, as they all would be great value at pick #53 or 55, but I think Corner, Interior Offensive Line and Wide Receiver are bigger needs right now. Here are some other tackle to consider in round #4: Nathan Shepherd, Tim Settle, Rasheem Green, Andrew Brown, BJ Hill, Bilal Nichols, Justin Jones, Poona Ford, Deadrin Senat, Derrick Nnadi, Trenton Thompson, or Kahlil McKenszie to consider in Round #4. We should be able to get a good tackle with this pick.
Defensive End: Jerry Hughes is good and adding Trent Murphy gives us two good, but not great Defensive Ends. Shaq Lawson has been a huge disappointment as a first round pick. Eddie Yarbrough (Happy Birthday today) was really good in the preseason last year against 2nd and 3rd stringers, but during the season he didn’t do much. Brad Chubb, Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry, Sam Hubbard and Arden Key will all probably be gone, but here are some good DE’s that might be available:Marcel Frazier, Chad Thomas, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Kemoko Turay, Duke Ejiofor, Tyquan Lewis, Josh Sweat, Ade Aruna, Kylie Fitts, and Leon Jacobs. I am sure we can get a good DE prospect with this pick. Before we lost Eric Wood and Richie Incognito and signing Trent Murphy, I was thinking of getting an offensive lineman with this pick, but after losing these two really good lineman, I thought we needed to go for a top offensive line pick.
Safety: Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer give us two really good safeties. I don’t see Rafael Bush, Dean Marlowe, and Kelsie McCray as anything other than depth and special teams players. In this really deep safety draft. All pro Josh Norman ran a 4.66 second 40 at the combine, and Sean McDermott developed him into an all pro at corner. There are 22 safeties that have faster 40’s than Josh Norman. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, Ronnie Harrison, & Justin Reid will be long gone, but here are some safeties that the Bills should consider in round 6: Terrell Edmunds (probably gone also, but maybe still on the board), Marcus Allen, Godwin Ibwebuike, Kyzir White, Armani Watts, Damon Webb, DeShon Elliott, Kam Kelly, Trey Flowers, Jaleel Wadood, Natrell Jamerson, Siran Neal, Dane Cruikshank, Josh Kalu and Trey Walker to consider.
Here is my mock:
1st Round-Lamar Jackson, QB and Leighton Vander Esch, MLB
2nd Round-Duke Dawson, Corner, and Frank Ragnow, Center/Guard
3rd Round-Anthony Miller, Wide Receiver and Justin Jackson, Running Back
4th Round-Andrew Brown, Defensive Tackle
5th Round-Josh Sweat, Defensive End (Sweat may drop due to his 3 ligament knee repair). He is a great prospect, but will that L knee hold up? I’m taking the risk.
6th Round-Godwin Ibwebuike
Trading up can often not work (think Sammy Watkins). I am against trading up in this draft except to get a top QB or to move up from pick 12 to pick 5-10 if we have a chance to get Tremaine Edmunds, or Roquan Smith. I would not give this draft and next years draft totally away to get a QB as some advocate. Only if the price is right. The Bills have way too many holes to give away many valuable picks. Frankly, I really am not in favor of moving up!
Trading down and getting more picks is what I would rather do. It has worked well for Belichek in New England and draft history shows getting more picks is the better way to go, as evaluating who will make it and who won’t is a 50/50 proposition. We could use a tight end, although Jason Croom may fill the need there this year. We could use another linebacker and another corner also from this draft. Trade back if we get the chance.
Trading next years picks is risky: What if we tank this year and have the #1 pick next year and we traded it away. I’m not saying the Bills will tank, but who would have guessed the Giants would have the #2 pick this year, you never know.
I would also consider some corners who could play safety and there are several tackles who would be available that could be kicked inside as well.
Final Note: I hope a lot of Bills Fans see my blog. It has been fun compiling it. I am hoping for a great draft for the Bills this year that will propel us to Super Bowl Contenders and AFC East Champions. IT IS TIME FOR THE PATRIOTS TO GO DOWN!