For my monthly Bills Mock Draft, I’m using FanSpeak’s Premium version of On The Clock with DraftTek’s big Board, and Difficult Level. I’ll discuss the Bills’ options at each pick, and why I picked the player I did. Next month, when both the Bills and colleges have played actual games, it gets easier …or harder, as I expect the Bills to draft lower than 11th, where they’re listed now! Let’s dive in.
RD1 #11 — OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Thomas will not be at #11 come Draft Day, but at this time of year, values like Thomas will drop into our laps (like Ed Oliver, right?!?). DraftTek is pretty high on Andrew Thomas. Says DraftTek Senior Analyst Austin Smith: “[Thomas] might be the best LT candidate we have seen in several years….LSU tape was up and down, but other than that, he looks like an NFL left tackle. He plays with outstanding leverage, knee bend, and a flat back.”
Thomas fits the Bills’ culture: He’s persistent and hard working, helped block for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers (Nick Chubb, Sony Michel), and comes from a run-first that year but three different backs who averaged more than six yards per carry, . At 6-5, 320, he’s also the perfect size for the system that OL Coach Bobby Johnson runs. He endured the RT–>LT position change and a 2018 ankle injury, showing toughness. Thomas played extremely well against the SEC’s top EDGEs in game after game, and half of the bills’ roster comes from the SEC or ACC. He’s PFF’s 2nd-graded SEC OT in the run game, trailing only Prince Tega Wanogho, but Thomas’s pass protection is superior.
The Bills will consider WRs Laviska Shenault, CeeDee Lamb, and Tee Higgins here, as well. Higgins is a huge consideration for his size, and the Bills may not have any receiver over 6-2 on their game-day roster in 2019. Higgins has that “made ya miss” after the catch that fans adore –watch this cued-up play.
CeeDee Lamb reminds me of Robert Foster and Smoky Brown. He separates extremely well, as do all the current Bills WRs. Lamb’s yards per catch against AP-ranked teams is better than all of my Day 1-2 WRs not named Henry Ruggs.
Another WR that could creep into the RD1 convo is Jalen Reagor from TCU. You heard it here first.
Would the Bills be worried enough about Mitch Morse’s fourth concussion to select C Tyler Biadasz from Wisconsin here? Maybe, but the Bills scouts steered away from Wisconsin entirely in 2017 and 2018. They prefer the SEC and ACC to the Big 10. Half of the Bills’ roster is from either the SEC or ACC.
The other position the Bills might consider early is an EDGE rusher (Lawson and Yarbrough are 2020 free agents), and I like Yetur (“YEE-tor”) Gross-Matos of Penn State a lot. His reach, closing speed, fundamentals, and strength are advanced for a college player. He sets the edge well against the run (vital for the Bills’ scheme), and one scout says Gross-Matos “moves blockers away like rag dolls”. Plus, hey, it’s Pegula’s alma mater.
RD2 #11: ** TRADE ** with Los Angeles Rams
Bills get picks RD2#29, RD3#29, RD4#29
Going into this draft, Beane only has 6 picks, and he loves his picks.The Rams take their CB of choice (they have 6 CBs coming up on free agency in 2020), and Beane gets their RD2#29 plus two extra playing cards. He’ll match his scouting department with anyone’s.
RD2#29 (From Rams): OT Alex Givens, Mississippi
A host of LBs, Safeties, and iDL players are available here, but once again, I’m looking at OT. Ty Nsehke’s 33 years old, and I see Cody Ford and Dion Dawkins as Pro-Bowl Guards. Poyer and Hyde’s free-agent years are coming up in 2019 and 2020. Available OTs in a deep draft at the position, including Alaric Jackson, Trey Adams, Alex Givens, Calvin Throckmorton, and Saahdiq Charles, could all play LT or RT for the Bills for ten years. Safeties Jalen Thompson of Washington State, and Georgia Bulldog J.R. Reed are attractive options still on the board.
When I wrote my OT Fits For The Bills, I was drawn to Alex Givens. He’ll likely replace Greg Little (Panthers’ RD2#37) at LT this year, and has RG and RT experience from past years. The Bills’ OL room is filled with players who are strong in Pass-Block Efficiency (PBE), and Givens had 2018’s second-highest PBE in the SEC with a 100 rating (First-rounder Yasir Durant was #1). That’s what makes this statement a Major Wow: Givens was the only SEC Left or Right Tackle who didn’t yield a sack all year. Givens has the work ethic and team chemistry the Bills look for. He’s a little light for the Bills’ scheme, though, at 305. Still, your bathroom scale at home would still say, “One person at a time” if he stepped on them.
RD3#11: EDGE Alton Robinson, Syracuse
I expect that Syracuse’s bookend EDGE rushers of Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman will rival Ohio State’s Young-Cooper, Alabama’s Lewis-Jennings and Notre Dame’s Okwara-Kareem-Hayes for the best pass-rush pairings in the 2020 Draft. Read about my Bills 2020 EDGE Fits here.
Robinson finished 2018 with 10.0 sacks and 17.0 TFL, the most of all returning college rushers not named Kendall Coleman. Over 24 games (22 starts), Robinson has 69 tackles (49 solo), 23 TFL, 15 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries, like this one against Trevor Lawrence. Arm length is one of his calling cards. It allows Robinson to win initially vs his opposing tackle, and his impressive bend, short-area quickness, and awareness allow him inside access to the QB’s launch codes. He’s also excellent at timing the snap and sniffing out the run. Robinson’s likely going to drop due to an arrest and charge of second-degree robbery (girlfriend’s cell phone), but since he was given a second chance at Syracuse, he’s been a model citizen.
RD3#29 (From Rams): OLB Daniel Bituli, Tennessee
This spot is a treasure trove of four or five OLBs who’d complement Milano and Tremaine in different ways, and need meets availability here. The Bills have chosen a LB in each of the past three drafts, and I don’t expect that to stop.
Here’s my article about Bills fits at LB. Pete Werner and Malik Harrison are both Ohio State OLBs. I like Werner’s length, work ethic, and versatility, but I think he’ll drop to Day 3, while I admire Harrison’s lights-out style. It reminds me a little of Florida’s Vosean Joseph in that regard. Bryce Huff, Memphis OLB, has the ILB-OLB versatility, plus his 9.5-sack season in 2018 opened some eyes. He’s the guy you want who works at his craft. One day he’ll work on timing and precision of his get-off, the next day it’s something else. Huff leads the team in both sacks and hurries, and has notched 24 TFL in 31 games. I went with Daniel Bituli, OLB out of Tennessee. He has the range, quickness, and athletic ability you see in our linebacking crew. Bituli also earned the Andy Spiva Award this spring as the most improved defensive player. Bituli’s work ethic will fit right in, and his ability to forge relationships with teammates will sit right with McBeane.
RD4#11: S Nigel Warrior, Tennessee
I think Hyde and Poyer mean too much to the Bills to let them walk in Free Agency, and I’m liking what I see from Jaquan Johnson and Dean Marlowe. But Hyde will be 31 when his contract is up in March 2021. Jordan Poyer is a UFA in March of 2020 and will be 29. Brandon Beane has made it clear that your competition will alreeady be on the roster when you negotiate with him.
Nigel Warrior is RD1-2 Safety J.R. Reed’s cousin, the son of Dale Carter, and related to Jake Reed. DNA plus a cool name, right? Warrior joined the Vols with great fanfare, and fought like a… warrior through the Tennessee depth chart to make Freshman All-SEC. He offers some kick-return experience with a nice 23.7 ypr average, and Bills safeties and LBs have to contribute on special teams. Warrior’s knack for forcing fumbles (he’s #3 in the SEC) and pick-sixes (#2 in the conference) would fit with the Bills’ attitude in the defensive backfield. He’s in a 3-4 defense for new coaches this year, but don’t let that deter you; he can play in any scheme. Other Bills fits at Safety can be found right here.
RD4#29 (From Rams): EDGE Jonathon Cooper, Ohio State
Pick an EDGE. Any EDGE. Yes, you signed Hughes for another couple years, but he’s not getting younger –he’s 31 already. Trent Murphy is having his first productive season for the Bills at 28. You have youngsters Shaq Lawson and Darryl Johnson, but are you sure they’re your starters going forward?
Cooper’s stock will rise to the RD1-2 range, as he’s been bypassed for having played opposite Bosa and Chase Young, inflating his stats. He’s a bargain here. Look deep and you see a team captain who recently drew praise for his intense focus and motivation. He’s a locker-room guy. If Cooper goes early, who might be a RD4 EDGE rusher that comes out of that Bills mold? Jonathan Garvin from Miami might be there, Mykal Walker of Fresno State, or Kendall Coleman’s bookend, Alton Robinson from Syracuse, all have a play or two cued up for your examination.
RD5#11: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
As sure as dawn follows night (unless you’re in the Arctic Circle), Sean and Brandon are going to get a CB and a defensive lineman in every Draft or in UDFA. Adebo sure needs some wings; he’s 2nd-lightest of my top 15 corners, but we can take care of that. What Adebo has already taken care of is his job on any given play. In 2018 alone, Adebo has defended 17 passes thrown his way, and intercepted 4 of them, including this beautiful one-hander vs Cal, the better of two INTs he had in that game. He uses his length to maximum advantage to prevent this touchdown. Adebo has defended 17 passes thrown his way, and intercepted 4 of them, including this beautiful one-hander vs Cal, one of two INTs he had in that game. He uses his length to maximum advantage to prevent this touchdown. Adebo’s great vs the run, as well, with 46 solo stops last season.
RD6#11: Nick Westbrook, WR, Indiana
Brandon Beane is a wizard on Day 3. Nick Westbrook may catch his eye. He was unable to replicate his breakout season of 2016 due to an ACL tear (non-contact injury suffered covering a kickoff) in 2017, and was unable to fill the shoes of current Saints receiver Simmie Cobbs in 2018. Westbrook’s size (6-3, 215) and excellent YAC (17.1 yards per catch) are sure to appeal to the Bills, who flirted with tall WRs in Free Agency with CFL MVP D’haquille Williams and in UDFA with David Sills V. Westbrook can help in the red zone and in play-action. Other good-sized Day 3 WRs I like include Juwan Johnson of Oregon, Jauan Jennings of Tennessee, and Isaiah Wright of Temple. I’ve linked you to an impressive play of each.
Editor’s babble: These mock drafts are golden. I use them to direct my attention about who to watch on Saturdays. Thanks to Dean Kindig for his tremendous contributions to our blog. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.