Astro’s Bills Mock, Round 5 – With Analysis

Photo from slideshare.net.

You’ve filled most of the Bills’ needs at QB, C, DT, CB, and RB, and you’ve done it in four rounds. You get a double pick in RD5. The pick numbers will again be different due to the NFL’s Compensatory Picks, announced late in February. Left for you to deal with are an EDGE rusher (Shaq hasn’t distinguished himself), another G or C depending if Price or Groy plays Center, a WR to complement Zay Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Malachi Dupre, and any FAs you re-sign, a one- and two-gap DL1T if you don’t use Rickey Hatley, S Depth, and TE Depth. 

Here’s our draft crop so far:

RD1, #21—QB Baker Mayfield
RD1, #22—C-G Billy Price
RD2, #53—DT3T Harrison Phillips
RD2, #55—CB Travares McFadden
RD3, #96—LB Malik Jefferson
RD4, #117—RB Rashaad Penny
RD5, #149—
RD5, #157—

What’s the priority? QB, RB, EDGE, S and CB are pretty deep this year. Also, the bigger inside defensive linemen always drop if they can’t play 3-tech.

Photo of C/G Ryan Groy from buffalobills.com.

Guard or Center or Neither? Ryan Groy is listed as the LG and C per Ourlads, but the Bills could still use another interior offensive lineman. Groy is on the second year of his two-year, $5 million contract, and he’s proven himself. In his 617 snaps Groy has allowed zero sacks. He’s played penalty-free, as well. I’d try and extend him before he plays another snap.

If Groy is your Center, Billy Price could step in when Richie decides to step down, or Price can kick Ducasse and Miller out right now. If you feel good about the prognosis for Cordy Glenn as I do, and even Seantrel Henderson, you might say OL isn’t a high priority with the addition of Price.

Another need to look at here might be WR, but first you have to decide what to do with two of the Bills’ own free-agent receivers.  I would re-sign Deonte Thompson (5’11, 205; age 29 as of Feb 14, 27 catches, 430 yds, 15.9 ypc), who was the Bills’ top WR at the end of the year due to injuries to teammates.

If the price was right, I’d try to re-sign Jordan Mattthews (6’3, 212; age 26 in July, 25 catches, 282 yards, 11.3 ypc, 69.4% catch rate was his career-high), even though he’s best as a slot receiver. Matthews could take up about 1/5 of the Bills’ $32M cap space if given a Robert Woods-like contract (5 years, $34M), and his thumb/knee injuries should be checked out.  I don’t break the bank for Matthews.

I still think a healthy Zay Jones can get to Matthews’ catch rate from the slot with a more-accurate QB with a quicker trigger. Brandon Tate (6’1, 195, 31 in October, 6 catches, 81 yards, 13.5 ypc) offers top 7 return ability, with 2017’s 19.6-yd average on 28 kickoff returns and a 9.7-yd average on 20 punt returns, and may be worth a 1-year contract.

Joe Webb (6’4, 230; age 32 in November, 1 overtime victory subbing for Nate Peterman) is likely done, but offers intrigue at Wildcat QB or as a big receiver. I would think the Bills would draft a WR with downfield speed and/or a tall feature receiver, judging from Beane’s signings in Carolina.

EDGE hasn’t been addressed yet, and there’s a case to be made for it. Jerry Hughes (6’1, 255; age 30 in August, 44 tackles, 4 sacks) is likely on the downswing. Shaq Lawson (6’3, 260; age 24 in June, 33 tackles, 4 sacks) was put on IR after an ankle injury in Week 13, and likely needs more interior pressure to be more productive.

Eddie Yarbrough (6’3, 259; 25 in April), 6 starts, 34 tackles, 1 sack) is an exclusive-rights free agent (ERFA) and is likely to be tendered before March 14. He made $465,000 this year, so he won’t break the bank. Marquavius Lewis (6’3, 269, age 26 in October) signed a reserve/future contract, and he looked promising in training camp.

Ryan Davis (6’2, 260; just turned 29,16 games, 0 starts, 26 tackles, 3 sacks) and Cap Capi (6’3, 249; age 26 in July, 4 games, 0 starts, 5 tackles) round out the current squad.

A DT1t, one who can play 1-tech or nose, might be brought in via Free Agency (I see Star Lotulelei there), they may pin their hopes on newcomer Rickey Hatley (6’4, 320, age 23, PFF=41.3) , or they may get value here in RD5, as 1-techs who don’t play another position can still be a value on Day Three.

Here are the players still on the board when the Bills are on the clock. We are going to pick TWO of these.

Photo of former Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta from chron.com.

QB– Kyle Lauletta, Alex McGough, Kurt Benkert, Brandon Silvers
WR– Allen Lazard, Trey Quinn, Keke Coutee, Richie James
OT– Brandon Parker, Joseph Noteboom, Toby Weathersby
OG-Skyler Phillips, Will Clapp
TE– Durham Smythe

DL1t- Kendrick Norton, Lowell Lotulelei (Star’s brother), Kahlil McKenzie Jr.
EDGE
-Justin Lawler, Jaylon Ferguson, Joe Ostman, Tyquan Lewis
OLB– Travin Howard, Shaquem Griffin, Dorian O’Daniel
S– Jessie Bates III, Damon Webb, Van Smith

Who jumps off the list?

The Bills could use another LB to add speed there. You’ve already added do-everything ‘backer Malik Jefferson (6-2, 238, 4.57), who I see at MLB; he’s tied for first in total stops in the FBS.  Last year, you drafted BC’s Matt Milano (6’0″, 216,PFF=72.2) who took over Ramon Humber’s WLB role.

Also on the roster is Boise State’s Tanner Vallejo (6′1″, 225, PFF=64.8), who’s penciled in behind free agent MLB Preston Brown (6’2″, 256, PFF=71.6) but too light to play the position.

Xavier Woodson-Luster (PFF=70.2), an undrafted free agent by the Raiders, holds promise. The position that remains thin is Strong-Side Linebacker. as Lorenzo Alexander and Deon Lacey (PFF=59.6) are among those still on your board. (Travin Howard, Shaquem Griffin, Dorian O’Daniel), Shaquem (“shuh-KEEM”) is the most intriguing. He’s tied for second in the number of pass breakups in the FBS.

Travin Howard, however, could play the Shaq Thompson-type “moneybacker” role that McDermott had in Carolina. He’s a perfect fit for this defense, and for that reason, could even be picked earlier by the Bills. Travin Howard’s the RD5, #149 if he’s there.

Photo of former Iowa State WR Allen Lazard from herosports.com.

You have to make sure your quarterback has enough weapons, and running back was a great start, but you know McBeane likes the tall wide receivers in the Kelvin Benjamin (6’5″, 243), Devin Funchess (6’4″, 225) mold.

Allen Lazard (6’5″, 222) has the four-year, 48-game resume of experience the Bills are looking for, and a 4.44 forty. Combine that with Benjamin, and you’ve created a mismatch for the #2 cornerback. Lazard’s 241 catches, 3,360 yards 13.9 ypc, and 26 TDs were impressive, but I like the fact that he played some of his best games against the ranked opponents, posting a 13.6 yards-per-catch mark against the AP-ranked teams.

The other three WRs, Trey Quinn, Keke Coutee, and Richie James, do offer reliable options at slot, but not the size McBeane likes, nor the WR position he needs to fill. Keke Coutee gave his QB Nic Shimonek a 152.3 passer rating on throws targeted his way; the class average is 105. If the Bills wanted to take two QBs, taking Shimonek as a Preferred Free Agent would be my recommendation.

Another name that jumps out to me isn’t a Lotulelei, although signing Panthers’ free agent Star Lotulelei and drafting his brother, Lowell (6-2, 310, 5.08), would be a great news story.

Declaring a year earlyKahlil McKenzie Jr. (6’3, 325, 5.08) would actually be the better fit to compete with Rickey Hatley for Dareus’s former role.  Kahlil is Raiders’ GM and ex-linebacker Reggie McKenzie’s son. Reggie Junior is versatile enough to play 3-tech, often draws double-teams in the middle, and successfully alters the rushing lanes that the offense is trying to create.

McKenzie played with Derek Barnett (now on the Eagles) and certainly helped him get his sacks on that Tennessee defensive line. McKenzie is a good tackler, but he drifts down the draft due to injury –he missed 4 games in 2015, 7 games in 2016, and 2 games in 2017. McKenzie’s a good value as a RD5B, but he’s a luxury compared to the big WR Lazard. We’ll take the tall 4.4 receiver to complement Benjamin.

RD1, #21—QB Baker Mayfield
RD1, #22—C-G Billy Price
RD2, #53—DT3T Harrison Phillips
RD2, #55—CB Travares McFadden
RD3, #96—MLB Malik Jefferson
RD4, #117—RB Rashaad Penny
RD5, #149—SLB Travin Howard
RD5, #157—WR Allen Lazard

There you have it. Please don’t get stuck on the names; it’s too early in The Process.  If Baker Mayfield somehow vaults up as high as #1 QB, it just means another QB slips down within trading range of the Bills.

The QB class is deep, and each QB is flawed in different ways, but the Bills have an offensive coordinator who tailors the pants to fit the customer, unlike recent OCs who tailored the customers to fit the pants. Taking advantages of a Lamar Jackson’s skill set would be no problem. Neither would emphasizing Josh Allen’s strengths, or Mason Rudolph’s.

Just enjoy the ride. With eight picks’ worth of draft capital, this will be a fun ride.

Editor’s babble: Thanks to Dean Kindig, DraftTek Bills Analyst, for his valuable contributions to our blog. 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.

14 Replies to “Astro’s Bills Mock, Round 5 – With Analysis”

  1. I’m a little stuck on the names. I would be ecstatic with Mayfield at 21…I just think there’s 0 chance of it happening.

    Supposedly the Bills scouting dept is enamored with Josh Rosen, which is a little surprising to me. I would think his personality would be a little too brash for the Bills brass. If they can somehow manage a deal with the Giants and land Rosen, though, I would probably be equally ecstatic despite it costing a king’s ransom. I just want a great QB. Everything else can be found with some effort and reasonable resources…but the QB, takes mostly luck and being in the right place at the right time…things you can’t really control unless you’re willing to go super tank, Cleveland style…and even then it still takes a bit of luck.

    • I see that too. Right now, we have it Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, Rudolph, Allen, Jackson, with Allen and Jackson available without a trade-up.

      What the Bills will do during this Obfuscation Season is feign interest in various QBs at various “price points”. They may not have interest at all in Rosen, and it would be to their advantage to create a buzz and ensure that Rosen is picked early, if that’s the case.

  2. At this point, everything is a smokescreen on which team likes this player. I want the Bills to draft an elite QB, one that can outscore the Patriots. If it costs a king’s ransom, then so be it. While it was nice to finally make it to the playoffs after all these years, the next goal should be winning the Superbowl. If the Bills draft a QB this year, then they’ll have a four to five year window before they have to pay that QB a kings ransom and that will effect who the Bills are able to sign/re-sign.

    • I want that elite QB just as much as you; I can almost taste it. I’m okay with spending draft capital and players to make it happen, and I trust the McBeane team more than any of the other GM/HC combos we’ve had in the drought. Your point about the five-year window is well-taken. BTW, We spend more on QB than the Eagles! https://overthecap.com/positional-spending/

  3. Allen confuses me. I see a number of print publications saying he’s the #1 or 2 prospect at QB but most others that say he’s a project player, great potential, but high risk. I would be willing to take him where they’re at (if the top 3 are off the board) because they’re desperate for a QB and you can’t hit if you don’t swing…but I wouldn’t want to trade up for him as I think he’s more likely to bust than boom. He reminds me of one of those 7 foot euro basketball players that get drafted high in the first round but never pan out…only Allen never really excelled anywhere. He simply has elite measurables and physical gifts, but hasn’t shown much ability to use them positively on any kind of consistent basis, though. Not sure how he’s supposed to just learn how to play at a high level at the highest level. Just because I can drive the ball 300 yards (I probably can’t btw, but roll with me) doesn’t mean I can join the PGA tour and learn to compete with the greatest golfers in the world…

    • Every one of these QBs is a risk, but they’re less of a risk if the GM/HC/OC see him in their culture, in their system. I could see Allen making it somewhere. But with the exception of Riley Ferguson (26), no QB in my top 13 has fewer games under his belt than Allen (27). That’s a deal-breaker for the Bills.

  4. we haven’t even had the “combine” yet (2-1/2 weeks away).
    player’s stock value will rise and fall like…..

  5. I wouldn’t trade up for Allen. I’ll think about trading up a bit for Jackson. I would let Rudolph fall in my lap.

    I think the Combine events won’t change the QB board order for McDermott and Bane, but the interviews might, especially if on rubs tams the wrong way.

  6. Good morning…

    You are not giving enough Credit for Allen, if he somehow manages to get out of the top 10 I would love to see the Bills make a move for him.
    I’ve seen Jackson play and he is dynamic with his running ability and some of the reports I heard say he would make a fantastic WR.

    • Good day! Allen is the only QB in the top 8 who has yet to be scouted at a game, or talked to at a postseason Bowl practice. I’m sure it’s giving him a complex, but he’s used to it, being a walk on, not getting FBS offers, only getting Wyoming’s when Eric Dungey declared to Syracuse… but no. Look at the completion rates for Allen where he throws it ahead of the LOS, more than 10 yards, etc…not good.

  7. “Look at the completion rates for Allen where he throws it ahead of the LOS, more than 10 yards, etc…not good.”

    That makes me nervous. It’s great the kid has all the tools, the arm, the athleticism, etc…but what good is it if he doesn’t have accuracy or the ability to find and hit open receivers? I’m not sure it’s something that can be taught either…you either have it or you don’t. I wouldn’t dismiss him outright…but I can’t imagine paying double or triple the cost for him and then just hope for the best.

  8. I hope Allen does well at the Combine and his Pro Day. I’m counting on him being a placeholder for a QB-needy team ahead of us. Two things Allen has that may make this work are: (1) The obvious physical presence Allen has, and (2) Ball spin and velocity in the wind. Giants, Cleveland, and Washington (as well as Buffalo) need a QB who can get the ball downfield in these climates.

  9. “Every one of these QBs is a risk, but they’re less of a risk if the GM/HC/OC see him in their culture, in their system. I could see Allen making it somewhere. But with the exception of Riley Ferguson (26), no QB in my top 13 has fewer games under his belt than Allen (27). That’s a deal-breaker for the Bills.”

    QB is pretty much always a risk. The last one that was said to be pretty much a sure thing just missed an entire season and there’s question about whether he’ll be ready to go this year (Luck.) But there are risks and there are long shots. I think Allen is more a long shot. But do note I watch next to no college football and my opinions are based entirely on what others have to say. I still don’t like the idea of a guy with poor accuracy somehow figuring out how to become an accurate passer at the highest level, though. Just seems incredibly unlikely.