The Buffalo Bills will have a bevy of selections in the coming NFL Draft, beginning with 2 deal-able picks on the very first night, and a total of 5 in the Top 100. They will likely compete with the Browns (12 picks overall) and the 49ers (9 picks overall) for control of this draft. If the Draft was held tomorrow, the Bills’ picks would be arrayed like this:
- RD1, #21
- RD1, #22
- RD2, #53
- RD2, #55
- RD3, #96
- RD4, #117 (approximate due to compensatory picks)
- RD5, #149 (approximate due to compensatory picks)
- RD5, #157 (approximate due to compensatory picks)
The Bills will need to address several needs through Free Agency and the draft, notably DL1T, DL3T, QB, Center, G, WR, EDGE, LB, and CB. Depth at S would be nice. We’ll add FanSpeak OTC‘s fan-voted team needs (RB, TE) to the list. Shady just turned 29, and O’Leary and Thomas are both exclusive-rights free agents after this year.
My order of priority would be QB, Center, DL3T, LB, EDGE, G, CB, RB, WR, DL1T, S Depth, TE. Free-agent signings will alter this list, as will Combine results and possible trades.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Tyrod Taylor is a middling quarterback, despite his penchant for taking care of the football. It begs the question whether or not to leverage the two first-round picks (and likely more) to move up for the game’s most-valuable playing piece. The Bills’ #21 (worth 800 points on the trade chart) and #22 (780) would be a once-in-a-decade chance to snare a franchise QB.
The 1,580 points, plus a player to be named later, could get the Bills as high as Denver’s Pick#5. That’s the position likely necessary to get ahead of the Jets’ pick of one of the remaining QBs. While the Jets have struck out more than Aaron Judge, they may stumble into a franchise signal-caller one of these years.
Other teams who might draft early could also take a Quarterback before the Bills, including the Browns (#1, #4), Giants (#2), Colts (#3), Dolphins (#11), Cardinals (#15), and Chargers (#17). The 49ers were smart to get Garoppolo and break from this brouhaha. Some of the above teams will take free-agent veterans, so the daunting list of 6 or 7 teams needing Quarterbacks will dwindle.
While it’s still Early in The Process, I’ve run a simulation of the first 20 picks in the 2018 Draft, and the players listed below were available at Pick #21 should the Bills not trade up. I’ve arranged them in the same order as the needs above. Click the player’s position to read my Cover 1 article about the Bills’ best fits at that position.
- Vita Vea DL3T Washington/Maurice Hurst DL3T Michigan—–very few sims had both Vita Vea and Maurice Hurst here. Most have one or the other. Combine will make Vea gone.
- Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma/Mason Rudolph Oklahoma St—–most sims offer either Mayfield or Allen at #21; Some have Lamar Jackson here. Rudolph-Rosen are typically gone.
- Billy Price C-G Notre Dame—–C-G is not a flashy pick, but would help most teams. Price is an even better C, but he’s more experienced (3 years) at G. Price is a pro’s pro.
- Rashaan Evans LB Alabama—–most sims have the productive Roquan Smith going before Evans, but the Combine will vault Roquon way up. Both are relentless with range.
- Ronald Jones II RB LSU—–All RBs not named Saquon Barkley or Derrius Guice are still in play at #21. Nick Chubb is tempting, as well. This move makes Sony Michel RD2.
- Ogbonnia Okoronkwo EDGE Ohio State—–If you prefer Chad Thomas, Hubbard, or even Arden Key, they are also on the board.
- Marcell Ateman WR Oklahoma State—-Ateman’s a big-bodied WR, but with the free agent market so good at WR, would a rookie wideout be a RD1 pick?
- Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma—–his hugeness Orlando Brown can move a pile, and the more-agile, much-lighter Connor Williams declared. But is our RT “alread-Dion” on the team?
- Ronnie Harrison S Alabama—–Armani Watts is also here; he might make it to the RD2#53 neighborhood, though.
- Mark Andrews TE Oklahoma—–DraftTek’s TE’s live here; you can wait until later for the others, though.
You have been rewarded for your patience. By not trading up, you get 2 of the above players, as the Bills pick again next at #22.
But which pair make the most sense to take? I’ll take a stab at rank-ordering them:
- QB Baker Mayfield——Beane didn’t acquire multiple draft picks to pass on a QB in RD1. Mayfield’s brash, visceral, and competitive. So was Kelly. Rudolph and Allen’s skill-sets fit, too.
- C-G Billy Price————The Bills need a better OL to release the run game. Eric Wood needs replacing. Richie’s old. A battle between Ducasse and Miller at RG means you had no RG.
- DL3T Vita Vea————-Vea’s size-speed combination is better than Hurst’s, and pressuring AFC East QBs gets better results. Dareus’s departure and Kyle’s age make this pick early.
- LB Malik Jefferson——-You’d like Jefferson’s speed at LB, even though you have Milano (11 tackles vs Indy) and Preston Brown (3rd in the NFL in tackles, 2014-2017).
- TE Mark Andrews——-Mayfield’s go-to target would be hard to turn down. Clay’s injuries, plus O’Leary and Logan Thomas’s contract years, create an reason to re-tool.
- EDGE Obo Okoronkwo–Lawson’s injuries, Hughes’ drop-off, plus the Bills’ rank of 27th in sack rate, make this position an early consideration.
- WR Marcell Ateman—–Re-signing Benjamin and Matthews (if you want them) would be prerequisites for waiting until RD2-3 for a WR.
- OT Orlando Brown——I think Price fixes the line more than adding another OT, especially if Cordy, Dion, and Seantrel figure in the 2018 team photo. Mills is gone, though.
- S Ronnie Harrison——This is a depth need, not a starter need, and we’ll wait until Day 3.
We’ll take our QB in Baker Mayfield and some O-Line protection in Billy Price in RD1. >>>>>ROUND 2 LINK
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Dean Kindig for his astute contributions to our blog. You can follow Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.
*Views expressed on the blog are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the owners of the billsmafia.com website.