Much has been made throughout this year’s draft process surrounding the Bills need to trade up to get their quarterback. Many fans have cited the J.P. Losman disaster as proof that the Bills absolutely cannot just stay put. Yet, what if the Buffalo Bills actually prefer a lower rated quarterback such as Mason Rudolph? In this mock draft, I’ll dive into what the three day process could result in if they choose to stay put and select Rudolph rather than trading up.
Round 1 Pick 12 – Harold Landry (edge) Boston College
Ideally, one of the top two linebackers would drop to Buffalo in this scenario, but that doesn’t seem likely. For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume Tremaine Edmunds and Roquan Smith have been selected with the caveat that either of these guys are the obvious selection if they’re on the board. Realistically, this pick comes down to two, maybe three players.
The Bills will most likely have to decide between Vita Vea, Harold Landry, and Denzel Ward. Vea seems like the safest option to me, but doesn’t make a ton of sense after the acquisition of Star Lotulelei. Denzel Ward becomes an instant starter at the nickel corner position, with the talent to kick outside after a year or two in the league.
Ward and Bills sophomore Tre’davious White would form an incredibly talented cornerback tandem. Combine those two with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde and the Bills secondary would rate as one of the league’s best.
As enticing as that sounds, Harold Landry seems like an instant playmaker in the Bills defense. Star will no doubt eat up some blocks inside and teams will be unable to double team both Landry and the veteran, Jerry Hughes. Landry could have double-digit sack potential as a rookie in the Bills defense, and you can never have too many pass rushers.
Round 1 Pick 22 – Mason Rudolph (QB) Oklahoma State
The best part of this approach, in my opinion, is that the front office will have options throughout the first round. If Buffalo stays put at 12 and a guy like Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen slip, then they can grab him. If not, Mason Rudolph seems like a guy who plays the position the way Brandon Beane envisions it being played.
So much is made about Josh Allen’s arm strength, but Mason Rudolph definitely has enough arm strength to play under any conditions in the NFL. He’s not going to wow anyone with his velocity, but his ability to go through reads and deliver the ball with accuracy shouldn’t be overlooked.
His experience throwing out of playaction will probably appeal to the shot callers in Buffalo. Buffalo could swing and miss on any of the top six quarterback options. None of these guys are locks to be stars in this league. If they swing and miss on Mason Rudolph, at least it won’t cost them additional assets moving forward.
Round 2 Pick 53 Frank Ragnow (C) Arkansas
Ragnow’s name is coming up more and more the later we get into this process. Many consider him to be the best center in the draft, although James Daniels and Billy Price should be factored right into that discussion.
One of those three should be available when Buffalo picks in the second round and they definitely need some help along the interior offensive line. The impromptu retirements of Eric Wood and Richie Incognito will have the team scrambling to assemble an offensive line that can protect their new quarterback. Ragnow offers a viciousness in his style of play that Sean McDermott will absolutely love.
Round 2 Pick 56 DJ Chark (WR) LSU
Mason Rudolph is a downfield passer. DJ Chark has all of the measurables to be a secondary beater down the field. He has good size (6’3”) and great speed (4.34 40 yard dash time).
His vertical jump of 40 inches puts him in the 92nd percentile according to mockdraftable. He isn’t the most polished receiver in the class, and his hand size is a bit worrisome, but this is a guy who fills a very specific need in the Bills offense.
Round 3 Pick 65 Jamarco Jones (OT) Ohio State
If Buffalo had selected Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson, I don’t know that they need to draft another offensive lineman in the first 65 picks, but that’s not the case here. I don’t think Mason Rudolph is a stiff, but he doesn’t have the elusiveness and the escapability that some of the other quarterback options in this class possess.
By keeping all of their picks in the 2018 draft, I think the Bills are admitting the inevitable to themselves. They are not a quarterback away from being one of the top teams in the AFC, and the most assuredly will not get to that point this season. As a long term plan, I love the thought of the Bills loading up in the trenches and filling some of those splashier needs in 2019. Jones may not step in as a day one starter, but he should eventually replace Jordan Mills at the right tackle position.
Round 3 Pick 96 Darius Leonard (LB) South Carolina St.
If the Bills come away with Roquan or Edmunds early in the draft they can look to beef up that defensive line here. Otherwise, this next pick comes down to the availability of three guys for me. The Bills need to add another starting quality linebacker before the start of the 2018 season.
Josey Jewell seems like the best fit schematically for what the Bills need, but he’s the most likely of the three to be off the board in my opinion. Fred Warner and Darius Leonard are both guys who I think project to play that Matt Milano role in the NFL.
With that being said, athleticism and coverage skills are so important to defenses in today’s league that teams can really benefit from two guys in that Matt Milano role. Darius Leonard is an athletic freak with good length and impressive coverage skills. It leaves an opening at that middle linebacker spot still, but I do think that’s a hole Buffalo just has to accept won’t be filled this offseason.
Round 4 Pick 121 Tony Brown (CB) Alabama
Running back has to be a top consideration here. Guys like Nyheim Hines and Kalen Ballage are intriguing options. I even think Bo Scarbrough could have been a possible play here if the Bills offensive line looked a little cleaner. Ultimately, I think Tony Brown makes a ton of sense for Buffalo in the fourth round. They come away with a hard hitting guy who can immediately contribute on special teams. Furthermore, his physicality gives him a chance to be a starter at the nickel cornerback spot.
Round 5 Pick 144 Jack Cichy (LB) Wisconsin
The only player I’ve ever mocked to Buffalo as much as Cichy was Matt Milano. Cichy’s injury issues are a major red flag, and Buffalo obviously prioritizes availability. However, I think he presents the team’s best shot at filling the hole at middle linebacker. With 6 picks in the first three rounds, Buffalo can afford to take a swing on a guy like him.
Round 6 Pick 187 Quadree Henderson (WR) Pitt
If there is one thing I don’t want to have to think about this year, it’s Tre White returning punts. Let’s keep that man healthy. Quadree Henderson is a return specialist who could also play a role similar to Cordarrelle Patterson. The team could use him in the screen game or on reverses. That gadget role isn’t worth the first round pick that Patterson cost, but in the sixth round I like it. The more weapons a young quarterback has the better.
So there it is. No Baker Mayfield. No Josh Rosen. My mentions will probably be on fire after this one, but I think it’s important to really take a look at what happened in this mock draft. The strength of that defensive line can hide the weakness at linebacker. They patched up the offensive line while also adding an explosive wide receiver. Is this team ready to push New England in the AFC East in 2018? No, but be realistic. There is no draft scenario that is going to make Buffalo the betting favorite in that division… yet.
Editor’s babble: We are grateful to Joe Geniti for his terrific contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @JoeGeniti.
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