The NFL Draft is less than one week away and fans have sifted through as many mock drafts as they could find. Of course, most of those mock drafts will be thrown out the window by the time the Buffalo Bills make their selection at number nine (if they pick make a selection at number nine). Lately, fans have been speculating about a potential move that could really alter Buffalo’s plans early on.
Gerald McCoy is a former All-Pro defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. General Manager Jason Licht has been reluctant to ensure Bucs fans that the 31-year old would be part of the team in 2019. McCoy is scheduled to make $13 million this upcoming season, and rumblings out of Tampa suggest the front office may feel more inclined to try and get value out of McCoy while they still can.
The Bills, who happened to make a draft day with the Buccaneers a year ago to secure the services of Josh Allen, happen to be in need of a defensive tackle. They also happen to have seven Day 3 draft picks in the upcoming draft.
It’s easy to see why fans are connecting the dots, but would it make sense? The Bucs may find themselves in a position to draft one of the top two defensive tackles in the draft, Ed Oliver or Quinnen Williams. Either of those two players would provide a younger, cheaper option at the position for a team with a new head coach. As for the Bills, Brandon Beane has shown fans time and time again that he is willing to be aggressive. With that being said, nothing can be ruled out. What things would Beane need to consider before pulling the trigger on this move?
Gerald McCoy signed a lucrative contract extension with the Buccaneers in 2014. There are still three years remaining on the deal with an average cap hit of about $13 million per year, however, he could be cut at anytime without the team accruing any dead cap hit.
Despite leading the league in free agent acquisitions this offseason, the Bills still have somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million in cap space. Considering most of the talent that will be coming back in 2020 is currently on team-friendly deals, that financial flexibility is expected to be there again next offseason.
For Buffalo, acquiring McCoy would be a risk-free move financially, even though McCoy is on the wrong side of 30. Furthermore, reworking a deal with some more guaranteed money in 2020 and beyond could lower that cap hit if they felt inclined to do so.
On the Field
Despite missing the entire month of October, McCoy still finished the season with six sacks. Only two Bills players surpassed that total last year, Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander. The man who McCoy would replace in the starting lineup, Kyle Williams, finished the year with five sacks.
There is no denying the impact that Kyle Williams had in the Bills locker room throughout his entire career. That will not be easily replaced, especially by one man. With that being stated, his production on the field was not consistently near the level of what it had been throughout his career. He flashed at times, but also found himself exposed in other games. McCoy would provide an immediate impact on the defensive line.
Jerry Hughes stands to be the biggest beneficiary from an addition like Gerald McCoy. Hughes finish 2018 with seven sacks, but it was frustrating as a fan to see how often he was able to get pressure on the outside only to have the quarterback be able to easily step into the pocket to make the throw downfield. The interior pressure that McCoy provides could help push Hughes back up to double-digit sacks.
Without adding a veteran like Gerald McCoy, the Bills will feel added pressure to come away with a defensive tackle early in the 2019 NFL Draft. Brandon Beane has said time and time again that he will draft the best player available, but he has also said that needs are considered in that evaluation. While he may not feel obligated to draft Christian Wilkens at ninth overall if Oliver and Williams are off the board, he may have to force the issue a bit on the second day.
So far this offseason, it seems like Beane’s plan was to gain some draft flexibility so that he does have the freedom to draft the best player available. Sacrificing one or two of those day three picks to get McCoy may give him that freedom he wants. Here is what a Bills draft could look like if they were to make this trade. Bills trade pick #147 and #225 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Gerald McCoy.
Round 1 – Pick 9 Bills select T.J. Hockenson, tight end, Iowa
History will show that drafting a tight end this early is a bad decision. All reports on T.J. Hockenson are that he has the potential to be an elite game changer. Not only does he provide Josh Allen with another weapon who can put pressure on the secondary, he also provides an immediate boost to the rushing attack with his blocking. That skill set makes Hockenson one of the safer bets in the draft, and one with a very high ceiling at a position of need for the Bills.
Round 2 – Pick 40 Bills select Kaleb McGary, offensive tackle, Washington
The temptation was there to add a big-bodied receiver like N’Keal Harry at pick #40, but McGary seems like a more likely option. Beane has already overhauled the offensive line this offseason, but letting McGary develop for a year or two behind Ty Nsekhe makes sense. If McGary wins the job outright this year, then the Bills will have great veteran depth behind him, a win-win situation.
Round 3 – Pick 74 Bills select Charles Omenihu, defensive end, Texas
I was torn between three different players at this pick: Darrell Henderson, Miles Boykin, and Omenihu. Ultimately, fortifying that defensive line is too enticing to pass up. Omenihu provides some versatility and may be able to play inside and outside on the line in certain situations. Although he is still raw, he would be in like to earn some valuable snaps in the Bills rotation. He has immense upside and his long-term fit for this defense is something Sean McDermott could fall in love with.
Round 4 – Pick 112 Bills select Darrell Henderson, running back, Memphis
With Henderson still on the board here in the fourth, this pick was an easy one. Henderson could come in and provide some explosiveness to the Bills offense without needing to be relied on as an every down back. This would be a great situation for any running back to walk into, being able to learn behind two future Hall of Famers in LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore. Even if Henderson isn’t the selection, this could very well be a different running back here.
Round 4 – Pick 131 Bills select Mike Edwards, safety, Kentucky
This would be one of my favorite picks of the draft. Edwards could fit right into McDermott’s defensive game plan. He is a versatile safety who can come down and defend in the box. Long-term, he would be in line to play the big-nickel role that they were forced into with Rafael Bush at times last season. Short-term, he could play an immediate role on special teams.
Round 5 – Pick 147 Traded to Tampa Bay
Round 5 – Pick 158 Bills select Will Harris, safety, Boston College
On paper, the safety position looks like one of the best positions on the Bills roster, and for good reason. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are one of the top safety tandems in the league. However, both of those guys have missed time on the field over the last two season and there is not much depth behind them. Harris’s biggest contributions would come on special teams, but some scouting reports project Harris as a developmental talent with long-term starting potential down the road. He reminds me of his former teammate Matt Milano.
Round 6 – Pick 181 Bills select Antoine Wesley, wide receiver, Texas Tech
Bills fans might not like the idea of waiting until the sixth round to select a wide receiver, but this possibility becomes increasingly more likely if the Beane selects a tight end early on. Whether you consider Cole Beasley and John Brown quality receivers or not, they are going to factor heavily into the Bills passing attack in 2019. Add in the ascending talents of Zay Jones and Robert Foster and there just aren’t many opportunities to go around for a rookie wide receiver and a rookie tight end. Wesley is a developmental guy who would get the opportunity to grow without being the focal point of an offense. Zay Jones can probably attest to the importance of that.
Round 7 Pick 225 Traded to Tampa Bay
Round 7 Pick 228 Bills select Mitch Wishnowsky, punter, Utah
Bills need to sure up their punting game this offseason. Any seventh round skill position player is probably not making this roster anyway. They should get this issue resolved so we don’t need to sit through another season of Colton Schmidt alternating weeks between the tailgating lots and the field.
Buffalo can go in any number of different directions in the 2019 NFL Draft. I’m of the belief that a team should bring quality talent into their locker room whenever they get the chance and figure everything else out later. Sign me up on for bringing Gerald McCoy to Buffalo. Do you agree or disagree? Sound off on twitter and let me know @JoeGeniti.
Editor’s babble: I’m comfortable with whatever Brandon Beane and his staff decide for the first time since Bill Polian and John Butler were making decisions about who to draft. Big time thank you to Joe Geniti for his terrific contributions to our blog.