I intend to put out a 2019 NFL Bills Mock Draft each month, based on where the Bills are scouting and who they visit throughout draft season. If you bookmark and follow my BillsMafia Draft Board here, you might be able to make your own “All-Visits Mock”.
Not everybody notices the tabs at the bottom: “By Round” shows where scouted players are likely to be drafted, per DraftTek’s Big Board. “By Game” shows you which games the Bills’ scouts have been to, and who I think they were watching. “By Team” shows you the top draft-eligible players on each team, and “By Position” shows you DraftTek’s positional priority for the Bills, which tells the DraftTek computer which positions to “shop for” first.
Here’s December’s best-guess draft. I’ve added these names to the BillsMafia Depth Chart, highlighted in blue.
RD-1 #6–D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss, WR
GM Brandon Beane paid a visit to Ole Miss the week of Veteran’s Day. He released Andre Holmes and Kelvin Benjamin on December 4. I think they’re picking a playmaker with speed in RD1 of the draft, and will opt to take care of RT (and possibly CB) in Free Agency (WR isn’t particularly strong in FA). Freak measurables are important to Beane (see Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds, both of whom had top measurables at their position).
RS Sophomore D.K. Metcalf deserves that “freak” moniker. He’s the only WR in the draft that has sub-4.5 speed (4.47) at a height of 6-4 or better, and has catch radius for days.
Metcalf and unscouted junior Lil’ Jordan Humphrey are both 6-4, 225, and I wouldn’t mind either. Junior Hakeem Butler, also unscouted, is 6-5, 219, but runs a 4.59 and needs more work into his breaks and through his catch than Metcalf.
Junior Collin Johnson is 6-6, 220, but also runs a 4.59, and is unscouted as yet. Metcalf had the highest yards per catch this year against AP-ranked teams among draftable WRs, a field-stretching 25.8 ypc, and is the main reason why Humphrey’s 16.8 is so low. Butler’s a close second at 23.2 ypc, if I don’t count 5-10, 175 John Ursua of Hawaii. Any of the “Big Three” will be far better than Kelvin Benjamin.
RD-2 #45–Trayvon Mullen, Clemson, CB
The success of Taron Johnson (4th-highest success rate while targeted among all NFL CBs, despite a nagging shoulder) and growth of Levi Wallace might reduce the need for a corner, but Beane’s history proves otherwise. Greedy Williams in the first round still makes a ton of sense. Greedy’s 6-1 height, QBR of 0.0 when targeted over the last two years, and Tre White knowing him might build a great DB room. In fact, Greedy idolized White.
Let’s ignore all that and take the playmaker for Josh Allen first, and get an even-bigger CB than Greedy in RD2. Mullen is the biggest of the top 8 CBs 6’2″, 190. He closes quickly to the ball, and he’s an interception machine who can take advantage of the Bills’ defensive front’s pressure and cover his zone. Quarterbacks often threw the other way when Mullen was in Cover-2. What will teams do when Tre White’s on the other side?
RD-3 #69 Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama, OC/OG
While I expect one splash free-agent signing to be made somewhere along the offensive line, Pierschbacher is a safe, sound pick in the draft. He knows Daboll from Alabama. He’s smart and consistent. He was recruited from Iowa as a tackle, but moved around the entire line before settling on Center, the position I think Pierschbacher plays in the NFL.
Oftentimes you will see Pierschbacher listed as the top interior offensive lineman, and for good reason. He’s quietly started four seasons for the Tide, earning all-conference honors the last two years, and Rimington Trophy Finalist this year.
Says Coach Saban: “He’s very confident, bright guy. The players have a lot of confidence in him. It’s a very natural position for him to be a leader & he’s embraced that role & done a really good job all year.”
Not an exciting pick, to be sure, just a versatile one that makes too much sense when you count the number of different starters on the OL since game 16 last year.
RD-4A #106-Myles Gaskin, Washington, RB
With McCoy’s and Ivory’s rushing averages down this year (both bottom five as of this writing), and with Marcus Murphy’s PFF grade of 55.6 as a runner, worse receiving, and just-average blocking, the Bills are prime candidates to take a pair of ball-carriers, perhaps one in Free Agency and one in the draft.
There are several flavors to choose from. Ideally, the Bills would want both a “lightning” and “thunder” back, and both would need to be able to catch the ball.
You have big Ivory-type thunder backs like Benny Snell, Jacques Patrick, and junior Damarea Crockett. Lightning backs Damien Harris and Dexter Williams have been scouted by the Bills. Bryce Love, a smaller back with great speed, has not, as of this writing.
Myles Gaskin, the pick here, fits the “lightning” mold. Gaskin will place top three in the Combine forty (Love, Josh Jacobs, and Trayveon Williams are his likely competitors). He entered this season as the FBS’s active leader in career rushing yards (16th all-time), and remained so this year, logging his fourth 1,000-yard season.
Gaskin might have declared early last year, except that his 2018 draft projection disappointed him, and he wants to prove the NFL experts wrong. That’s motivation. A player known for his outstanding work ethic and character, Gaskin has keen vision, experience, and fluid lateral agility needed for those McCoy-like jump-cuts. Gaskin has 62 receptions on the season, a Daboll requirement for Bills backs.
RD-4B #133-Anthony Johnson, Buffalo, WR
A Bull could become a Bill. Anthony Johnson could go a lot earlier now that he’ll get more exposure at the post-championship bowls. Johnson caught 7 passes for 124 yards and two first half TDs vs Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship, was just invited to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Lack of previous exposure to any AP-ranked defenses and an earlier hamstring injury that nagged him have been the only knocks on Johnson. It’s obvious from video that Johnson plays fast against lesser competition. I’d like to see his Combine forty time before carving his name in stone. If Johnson is in the 4.5 range, hike him up this list, give him Stevie’s jersey, and save some fans some bucks. I got a closet full of ex-Bills jerseys.
RD-5A #143- Zach Gentry, Michigan, TE
Now, McBeane is entranced by measurables, and the 6’8″, 262 Gentry is elite in that regard. Moreover, Gentry caught 71.43% of his targets this year per NFL Savant, and reliability is what we didn’t have from any pass-catcher this year. Third, Gentry is deceptively fast, and as his Coach Patterson says, he’s easy to locate: “He’s a heck of a target”.
Think of that bonus in the back of an end zone or down a seam. Gentry was converted from a QB, so his understanding of the nuances of Daboll’s scheme will be an added plus. Watch Michigan’s Maryland game this year, and he’ll remind you of the way Reimersma sat down in green space. Add blocking (watch #83) to Gentry’s straight-line speed, always a help if you happen to have a running QB.
You’ll admire Gentry’s knack for going across the field and making difficult catches. Gentry has presence of mind out there, too, a hard-to-quantify seize-the-moment quality that makes a player opportunistic. Gentry’s still learning, but you see the potential to be great, and you can’t teach size.
RD-5B #160-Jalen Jelks, Oregon, DE/OLB
Now it’s time to take a high-ceiling player to learn under Lorenzo Alexander. I promised myself I wouldn’t mention that LoZo’s age is 35, and please, I’m not saying to cut him. I’d recommend that over the next year or so that he continue to be the player-coach for a young LB crew.
Jelks has the pass-rushing chops with that superior seal-the-edge, run-defender pursuit that Alexander still has. Beane likes to think ahead, and this guy’s it. Why isn’t Jelks going earlier than this if he’s so good?? He might, but many of us put him in that ‘tweener mold. If Jelks isn’t there, take Dewayne Hendrix from Pittsburgh, Porter Gustin from USC, or Anfernee Jennings from Alabama. Bills have been to their games, too.
RD-6 #180-Jordan Fuller, Ohio State, SS
He falls here because 2017 was his first season starting. Damon Webb (Titans UDFA) occupied his slot until then, but Fuller has exceeded Webb’s numbers in fewer games. I like other safeties here that the Bills have scouted (Andrew Wingard of Wyoming, Amani Hooker of Iowa), and they’ve met with coaches about big Chris Johnson at North Alabama.
RD-7A #224-Breiden Fehoko, LSU, DL5T
We might start looking for a backup for Lotulelei in RD6-7. Fehoko, a native of Hawaii, may not have seen snow, but he’s seen quarterbacks stretched out on the turf plenty of times.
Fehoko is solidly built with a low center of gravity and strong legs. He takes on double teams, pushes the pocket, occupies blockers, has strong mitts that won’t let go, gets in the backfield, and helps make stops. Fehoko is also surprisingly agile at 300 pounds.
RD-7B #247-Ben Powers, Oklahoma, OG
This pick hopefully doesn’t make sense by Week 16 of the regular season. Pro Football Focus ranked Iowa OT-turned-OG Ike Boettger 2nd overall among Bills’ starters in the loss at the Dolphins, and first against the pass. Wyatt Teller has improved in every single game he’s played per PFF.
If acquired Boettger begins to contribute like I think he can, and Wyatt Teller continues his upward vector, I’d think about WRS, DraftTek’s name for a Small, Speedy, Slot receiver like Johnnie Dixon, Noonie Murray, or Andy Isabella.
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Dean Kindig for his incredible contributions to our blog and keeping us up to speed on who we should be eye-balling for the NFL’s 2019 Draft. If you’re not following Dean on Twitter, you should do so because he’s simply awesome. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.