Bills’ Positional Needs, 2019

Photo of TE T.J. Hockenson from CBSsport.com.

​Here’s my annual pre-draft Positional Needs Assessment which will dovetail with my round-by-round BillsMafia War Chart which lives here.

Offense:

OT — Ty Nsehke is a 2-year contract, and LaAdrian Waddle (Pats bkp LT) is a 1-year contract. Both are “show me” deals, but both players have some viability, and may surprise people. Nsehka could be that RT. To be safe, we still need one more. Even Jonah Williams in the first round.
OT: Keep P2 (High Priority).

OG — Jon Feliciano (2-year contract), 50.9 (59.5 pass) was the LG for Raiders and RG before that. Feliciano brings some toughness and swag the OL has been missing and McBeane say they’re wanting. He’s seen 48 games but only 8 starts for the Raiders. Feliciano played LG this year, RG before that. He and Teller can fight it out for one of the Guard spots. At RG,
Ike Boettger (run-blocking 61.1, 75.9 pass), Spencer Long (45.9, 43.7 pass), or Sirles could hold down the fort, but I suspect OG is still a need, even under a new OL coach. Dru Samia got a meet-up most recently.
OG: Keep P2 (High Priority).

C — Four year contract for Mitch Morse suggests we’re sticking with Morse. Long and Sirles have played the position before, but are questionable #2 backups. This is a higher-than-you’d-think priority on Day 3. Could pick up a OC/OG as early as RD4A (Daboll’s Pierschbacher if he lasts to #112) to 4B (Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard). I like Alex Bars (Notre Dame OG OT) and Center Jesse Burkett even better in RD6-7​.
Move Center to P5 (But Day 3, Becomes High Priority).

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 15: Tight end Noah Fant #87of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs in for a touchdown during the first half against the Northern Iowa Panthers on September 15, 2018 at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images).

TE — Tyler Kroft ​(​61.4 run, ​but only a ​39.7 pass​ blocker) on a 3-year contract,​​ paired with only ​​Jason Croom ​(​52.0 run, 62.0 pass​ blocker who’s an ERFA next year) screams bigger need. ​Move to P1 priority. I could see Hockenson (RD1), Fant (RD1-2), or Smith (RD2) as a Bill. 4th choice for me is Kendall Blanton in RD3-4A-4B.
Set TE at P1 (Top Priority).

WR— Your 3 starters right now are:
​​Cole Beasley 73.8​, 4-year contract​
John Brown ​(PFF=​65.1​,​​, 3-year contract​)
Robert Foster 56.6 with ​​D​’Haquille Williams​ (CFL MVP, signed reserve/futures contract)​ or ​​Zay Jones as your WR5 and WR6.

I could see one more –unless it’s Isaiah McKenzie (66.4)​. The Bills still might need a big guy with a high catch rate from a major conference. I’d play it ​like I’m interested in DK Metcalf, then trade down for someone who wants him (although I think the need for QB will provide Beane an opportunity to trade down). I promise if you wait until at least RD3, you’ll still get a size guy with great catch rate. There are even some WR deals through RD7.
WR=P3 priority.

QB — Josh Allen 51.4​ is the unquestioned starter. Matt Barkley​, ​age 28​, is his backup. Derek Anderson​, age 35​, is the vet and QB whisperer. You might bring in a RD7 (Easton Stick?) or PFA (QB Jacob Dolegala).
QB: Keep P6 priority.

RB — Gore (age 35, 14 yr vet, 1 yr. contract) and McCoy (UFA next year) are solidly in there, both big bruiser backs, as is Ivory (UFA next year)​. There is room for an entire new backfield a year from now. Could get two –a new Thunder and Lightning.​ There’s value in every round, so it’s BPA all the way.

Jacobs on RD1 tradedown, Damien Harris in RD2, and Sanders in RD3 would qualify for Thunder. Bryce Love or Trayvon Williams​ ​as early as RD4A​ or Karan Higdon in 5A would be your Lightning.​

Photo of RB Nico Evans from trib.com.

Late-round guys I like include Dexter Williams​, James Williams (Bryce Love and he led​ the draft class in​ missed ​tackles)​, and Travis Homer​. Grab one more in PFA (my personal favorites are three the Bills have scouted: Patrick Carr​, Darrin Hall​, and Nico Evans​) and you’re all set for this decade.
I’m keeping RB at P2 (High Priority).

Defense:

EDGE: Some Free-Agency EDGE interest has been indicated, but so far, no Ziggy Ansah or Jadeveon Clowney. Hughes (71.8 as a pass rusher, but overall 57.9 due to his leaner defense vs run) is age 32 and a UFA next year. Shaq Lawson (80.9 run defense, 65.0​ pass rush) ​is coming on​, and 2020 is the Bills’ 5th-year option. I expect them to re-sign him. ​Trent Murphy (49.2​ run, 60.4​ pass rush) ​​​is a UFA and age 30 in 2021. Yarbrough works hard, but nobody has to game-plan for him.​ Still he’ll be a UFA after the year is up.

A run-defending EDGE who can still pressure the QB​ is needed early in the draft if we don’t bring one in …or if McBeane wants to bring in their own. The early targets for the #Bills at EDGE are all scouted.

Clelin Ferrell ​(going #​6-13​) or ​Montez Sweat (#6-18) ​in a RD1 trade-down would fill that need. Ferrell, Sweat, and Winovich had scouts at at least one game. And all 3 had more than 1 TFL per game. Austin Bryant, Jalen Jelks, Jordan Brailford in the mid-rounds, and Maxx Crosby on Day 3, are names to listen for. Until we make a “splash” in the EDGE waters, it’s a high priority.
EDGE: Keep P2 (High Priority)​​.

iDL:​ While the Bills brought Jordan Phillips back to platoon with Lotulelei at DL1T, and drafted Harrison Phillips last year in RD3 who can play DL3T or DL1T, there isn’t much else in the larder to replace Kyle Williams’ 388 career solo tackles. Good thing it’s the best iDL draft in years! Options abound in each round. Just different flavors.

This is a P2 (High Priority) need where the Bills could easily go Multiple (M3 to M5 on our Needs page, depending on how soon you want to look for a second one). Doubling up on DTs in one draft is a front-office tendency. If all 8 GMs preceding Beane lose their marbles and let Quinnen Williams fall to us at #9, that’s the pick, as he’s a combo DL3t/DL5t terror. One could hope. If he even falls to #6, I’m on the phone.

Ed Oliver is an Aaron Donald-type DT, so I could understand taking him at #9, too. He’d platoon into the DL3T rotation and be a force from Day One. On a trade-down in RD1, the need is so great that soon-to-be locker-room favorite Christian Wilkins​, the quick-but-not heavy Rashan Gary​, or even Golden Domer Jerry Tillery​’s name could get called. If Day One comes and goes without a new Kyle, despair not. In RD2, you have bull-strong DL1T/DL3T Dexter Lawrence​, in RD3 you have Freak-Listed Renell Wren, and in RD3-4 you have Daniel Wise. The Bills met up with him at the Shrine game, and he’s a perfect fit: an outstanding leader-type, with work ethic galore, and a gregarious personality. RD3-4 can also land you DL1T Daylon Mack​. Mack played in 47 games in four seasons with Texas A&M, second only to Christian Wilkins. Similar to Horrible Harry’s production, from a one- and two-tech position he produced despite double-teams: 108 total tackles (27 tackles for loss) and eight sacks in his collegiate career with 5.5 of them coming in 2018. The Draft Network said that Mack was “living in the backfield all week” during Shrine Game practices. Beane will do the right thing. It just might be two things.​​​​
iDL: P2 (High Priority)​, M4 (Multiple picks allowed).​

OLB: We aren’t likely going to bring in any ILB to move Tremaine Edmunds (PFF=87.1) to the outside. Nope. WLB​ ​Matt Milano ​(PFF=72.2​)​ has a secure job, too, and likely has Maurice Alexander, age 28, as his backup. Alexander is that LB/S hybrid type. SLB Lorenzo Alexander (PFF= 82.4 run, 79.9 cover​)​ has a job for ​at least ​one more year, then I hope he coaches one of these guys who can be ​drafted in the mid​-rounds:​ Chase Hansen​ in RD3, Terrill Hanks ​or Te’Von Coney​ in RD4A, or Drue Tranquill ​in RD4B.

Photo of OLB Khalil Hodge from WKBW.com.

Even local kid Khalil Hodge ​in RD5A or 5B works for me. LorAx, sprinkle some of that fountain of youth on them while you’re at it. P3 (Mid-Round Priority with Increased “Reach”). Carolina reference numbers: Shaq Thompson 6-2, 228​; Thomas Davis 6-1, 230​.​​
OLB=P2 (High Priority)​; ILB=P6 (Day 3).

CB: If Kevin Johnson (FA)​ and Levi Wallace can compete for the #2 CB job, we’re probably talking about a late-round CB. A healthy-again Taron Johnson ​will be a good NCB. Most likely, we’ll see a DB or two before the draft is over. CB=P5 (Low Priority Until Day 3, then Higher Priority) The Bills had dinner with Blessuan Austin (RD6), and they’ll check to see if David Long or Iman Marshall are there around the same time. They need a zone corner, which is good this late in a deep draft.

S: Safeties Hyde and Poyer have their jobs sewed up, but I worry about depth. FS and SS picks could happen as early as RD2. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Poyer / Hyde both have very high agility, tackles per game, and work ethic. I just tweeted out the best Safety matches for the Bills:


RD2: Taylor Rapp
RD3: Darnell Savage
RD4: Jaquan Johnson, Marquise Blair
RD5: Marvell Tell III
RD6: Andrew Wingard, Mike Edwards
RD7: Delvon Randall

FS, SS=P3.

Editor’s babble: I would love to see the Bills add S Andrew Wingard from Wyoming in the late rounds or as an UDFA. Thanks, as always, to the incredible Dean Kindig who is kind enough to share his draft expertise with us. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.

4 Replies to “Bills’ Positional Needs, 2019”

  1. Great writeup Dean on positional needs. Do you think OBD would take Wilkins and Tillery at 17 and 37 or am I reading this wrong?

    • My ideal trade, I think, is with the Giants at #17. We get the #17 pick and the #37 while keeping our #40.
      Giants get what they want.
      Using the DraftTek mock out this Wed. at dawn, Bills could get
      #17—Christian Wilkins, DL3T
      #37—Dalton Risner, OC
      #40—Rock Ya-Sin, CB

      The four players available to the Bills at #9 are (in my order of preference):
      Ed Oliver DL3T
      Jawaan Taylor OT
      Montez Sweat EDGE
      Greedy Williams CB

      A trade to get 3 players instead of 2 is intriguing, but I love the choices this week at #9.
      Dean

  2. Good stuff Dean!

    I love that you still point out that we will need a center due to Mitch and his HUGE concussion history! With Morse it’s not a question of if, but when will he be out this year…..that being said, I love Gaillard from Georgia too as many don’t even know how good this kid is and I’d select him with one of our 2 picks either in 4th or 5th rounds!

    Excellent picks and overall analysis Astro!!

  3. Good eyes on Gaillard. I also like Eric McCoy (likely too early for the position). Most likely the versatility of the Guards and the scheme Bobby Johnson enacts, plus Josh’s own quick-draw style, will make it a non-issue. I wouldn’t count out Elgton Jenkins, either.