It’s just too early to look at 400 draftable college players, right?? I empathize with you. As of this writing, the fans of 8 undefeated teams –including my Bills– should care less about draft needs and “Process” guys. You’re content to watch Sunday football at least until the snow flies, or until the circling wagon’s wheels fall off. Whichever comes first.
There’s great football on TV on Saturday, though, and I’m going to give you six players to consider for each of Brandon Beane’s nine picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. My “Pick Six”, if you will. You will often see these names grabbed in DraftTek mocks, and they will change as we get closer and closer to late April 2020. Follow #BillsMafia and @TCBILLS_Astro on Twitter for updates.
RD 1 #24
Nick Coe WSDE/OLB Auburn
Coe’s primarily a weak side DE/rush OLB who is my pick as heir apparent to Lorenzo “Methuselah” Alexander. He’s a wrestler (won two state championships and three national championships as a wrestler at Asheboro High), and that sport helps –just ask Sean McDermott. Coe had 7 sacks and 13.5 TFL over 9 games in 2018. You have to read this great story of 2nd family that got him where he is.
Isaiah Simmons OLB/S Clemson
A Safety with OLB size,or a OLB with speed and diagnostic ability. You pick. The Process guys will adore his tremendous work ethic and great humility. Simmons loves to learn, and he’s a gregarious teammate that will slide seamlessly into any role Leslie Frasier has for him.
Yasir Durant LT Missouri
LT #70 in this video, Durant is big, tough, solidly-built, and allowed the 2nd-fewest SEC Pressures last year among OL returnees (after Prince Tega). If I’m nitpicking, Durant sometimes allowed DLs into his body last year because his hand placement was random. You’re not seeing that this year, though.
Grant Delpit SS LSU
Delpit may be gone by the time we draft. He’s an outstanding athlete who places the team first. The draft’s top strong safety, Delpit’s known for his toughness. He has length (he’s all of 6-3), which will be a major problem when he plays in the post with Tremaine near him, and when you try to throw a shoulder fade over him. Delpit’s a hard worker and outstanding athlete who lays the lavender with textbook tackles and ball-popping, fumble-forcing shots. Tre White will like the team he’s from.
Alaric Jackson LT Iowa
LT #77 here uses hand / arm placement and –ahem– ample lower center of gravity to steer his EDGE out. If hands come up late as they sometimes do, he’s not as effective, but again, I’m nitpicking. Bobby Johnson can work wonders, anyway.
Tee Higgins WR Clemson
Teams value this size with that athleticism and YPC, here shown on a sweet post route that Daboll can have fun with (trips formation next to John Brown and Cole Beasley? Yes, please). The Draft Network said it best: “[Higgins] can beat you in so many ways. He can cook you with his feet on a good route, he can beat you down the field with long speed, and he can make tough catches and get his feet down at the sideline.”
Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa
If Beane wants to add a strong, beefy right tackle in RD2, there are still some great choices. Tristan Wirfs, RT #74 in this video, has impressive strength (hang-cleans 450 4X), and has the size, power, and hands to steer any defensive lineman. Iowa has one of the two top OT combos this year with Durant and Wirfs, and either would be a great pick. Wirfs has excellent balance and bend, and is athletic enough to pin and pull –something Daboll likes to do.
DeMarkus Acy CB Missouri
Acy’s all over the place in early mocks, but I think RD2’s where he ends up. He was 2nd team All-SEC last year, and the Bills’ best scouts are in the southeast, feasting on the SEC and ACC. Acy ranked third in the SEC in three categories: INT (3), PBU (10), and PD (13). He’s Gil Brandt’s #3 CB as of this writing. Acy was the first Mizzou player with two picks in a game in 3 years.
Jacob Phillips ILB/OLB LSU
McBeane adores versatile players, and here’s another one. With ILB and OLB experience, Phillips started beside ILB Devin White in his sophomore season, and was dubbed SEC Player of the Week in his first game with a pick-6. He’s now in the middle looking every bit like the next Devin White. Phillips is humble, focused, patient, and a hard worker. He has “McProcess” written all over him. Watch him (#6) close on his target here.
Calvin Throckmorton OG/RT Oregon
Oregon’s smartest player is a lineman. Your RT #54 is the only FBS player to start at 4 different line spots and through it all, he’s maintained a 3.84 GPA in pre-med. Dr. Throck demonstrates nice use of his arms and hands, and he mirrors effectively by adjusting the length of his kick slide. PFF gave him a 89.9 pass-blocking grade, which ranks second in the Pac-12. Throckmorton has made 38 consecutive starts before this year, always a checkbox with Beane, with one sack allowed in his last 31 games. That’s 2,289 snaps, with 1,105 of those being in pass-protection.
Paddy Fisher OLB Northwestern
Nick diSalvo, one of the discussion leaders in my DraftTek email chat room, loves Paddy Fisher, calling him “McDermott’s next Luke Kuechly”. I’ve watched some video of Fisher, and I’m inclined to agree, especially after checking out his OLB/ILB versatility. He has the freak size (6-4, 241) you’d associate with thumper ILBs, combined with elite recognition and “always do your job” mindset, and he does it with sub-4.6 speed. Fisher is excellent against the run, a significant team need right now (117 tackles in his first year). He’s smart and affable, and it’s always nice to have both.
Curtis Weaver EDGE Boise State
SSDE had 11 sacks last season, 21 quarterback pressures on this season. leads the nation in pressures, something McDermott has mentioned more than once. Also has 20.5 sacks and 28 TFL over the last 2 seasons already. Weaver is fun-loving, high-energy, and gregarious. He’s a hard worker, too. This is my favorite play, right here.
Jonathan Taylor RB Wisconsin
When looking for a complementary back to Devin Singletary, you want great size and hit-the-hole bulk like Frank Gore, without sacrificing Devin’s speed and bounce-it-out. Jonathan Taylor has it all, including a team-first attitude and dedicated work ethic. Like Singletary was, Taylor is top 3 in missed tackles forced. The leading returning Big10 RB in Rushing Yards (2,194), the 2018 Doak Walker Award winner picked up this year where he left off, with a 16/135/8.4 stat line with 2 TD and 2 receptions in his first outing.
Alohi Gilman S Notre Dame
Speaking of Notre Dame, its hard-nosed safety says “aloha” from Hawaii. Gilman’s work ethic moves him up my BillsMafia Big Board. As captain of the defense, Gilman’s a locker-room go-to guy (listen to his speech; you’ll be ready to do that house chore you’ve been putting off). “Gilla-Killa” practices what he preaches, with 170 tackles, 2 INT, 2 FF, and 10 passes defensed in 27 games up to this year, and he’s leader in tackles so far this year. Gilman’s highlights were like Doritos; I couldn’t munch just one, but make sure you catch his 19-tackle effort against Clemson in the College Football Semifinal. Gilman’s ceiling is Day Two, right where Safety becomes a priority for the Bills. Remember the Bills scouts saw more Notre Dame games than any other school, and remember Hyde will be 31 when his contract is up in March 2021, and Poyer becomes a UFA in March of 2020 and will be 29. Here are more Safety fits.
K.J. Hill WR Ohio State
Would the Bills draft a wideout that’s under 6-3? If they do, I’d listen to what Daboll likes in his current stable of receivers, and then look for those qualities in draftable pass-catchers. Excellent hands? Check. Uses his downfield blockers well? Check. Gets separation? Check. K.J. Hill is from a major program visited often by Brandon Beane in 2018-19. We’ll see if Beane keeps his Buckeye visits going in 2019-2020.
Khalid Kareem EDGE Notre Dame
Kareem is a menace to quarterbacks. Nobody is more of a grinder than this guy. The roommate of another draft possibility, Daelin Hayes, Khalid is the highest-graded returning edge defender among FBS Independents. He lines up on either end of the line, and games into the middle at times, but watch #53 from the left end secure the tackle.
Mekhi Becton OT Louisville
The ACC is the second-most-scouted conference by the Bills, and Mekhi Becton should be in the crosshairs of scouts’ binoculars this fall. Despite losing 20 lbs since last year, Becton is still the heaviest on my positional board at 350, but he’s the highest-graded run-blocking tackle per PFF (73.7). He’s a locker-room favorite who is both energetic and playful, but articulate and insightful. I’ve seen him line up at LT and RT in the same game.
Markus Bailey OLB Purdue
Markus Bailey does his job. He works off blocks, plays fast, shows excellent football instinct that you get from hours of film study and experience (he’s tied for most games played at the position). But those assets are not his greatest trait: Markus Bailey is reflective, he’s hard-wired to improve, and he speaks the language of a lifelong learner. Says Bailey: “I need to be better in zone coverage with my hips….That’s something I can work on going forward. I can try to get more explosive and faster. The feedback I got is they [NFL scouts] like my instincts and how I get off blocks and how I get to the ball.” Sound like a Process guy?
Khaleke Hudson OLB/S Michigan
=> It’s “kuh-LEEK”
=> LB-S role that McDermott had in Shaq Thompson
=> shares the NCAA single-game TFL record (8)
=> Solidly built and solidly grounded. Good team guy
=> Michigan’s secondary has limited opposing offenses to the fewest YAC.
=> Bednarik, Nagurski, Butkus lists
=> Three-year letter-winner returns as senior, starting MLB in 2019
=> on team’s leadership council – knows it’s the little things every day
=> watch sideline speed, plays with football smarts and gusto.
Chase Claypool WR Notre Dame
=> Uses length, strength, and cunning so well he’s high on my list
=> Getting separation
=> Bills need tough red-zone pass-catcher who catches bullets
=> Canadian player has chance to be Canada’s best
=> Back-shoulder fades and bucket corner catches
=> Will sacrifice his body for the completion, toughness
Benito Jones NT Mississippi
=> great at blowing up pulling blockers
=> fundamentally-sound player
=> Ole Miss captain
=> four starts at DT as freshman (34 tackles and 4.5 TFL)
=> 10 starts as soph at NT (29, 7 TFL)
=> all 13 games as junior (34 tackles, 9 TFL, 3 sacks)
=> off-season shoulder surgery, attacked his rehab
=> As a 330-lb DL1T, made 1-handed INT!
A.J. Dillon RB Boston College
=> Good downhill runner making people miss by sheer momentum
=> not the moves you’d want,
=> Can catch the ball and reach the edge (2 plays)
=> Lowest YPC vs AP-ranked teams in my top 15 Low # of receptions.
=> Contact balance excellent
=> Nifty spin move
=> speed impressive at size
Frederick Mauigoa C Washington St
=> “mow-we-GO-uh”, from American Samoa
=> Bills visited Wash State this summer
=> Likely looking for quicks getting to the second level
=> Look how fast he gets to next block here
=> See him as an insurance policy for Mitch Morse’s concussions
Jonathon Cooper EDGE Ohio State
=> Team captain
=> focused, motivated to do better
=> affable, locker-room guy
=> played opposite Bosa and Chase Young so stats were inflated
=> drew praise in spring from coaches
=> often double-teamed (he’s #18 RDE) when he’s on the play side
J.R. Reed S Georgia
=> 145 tackles, 7 passes defensed (29 games) 2.5 sacks, 4 INT, 1 FF in career
=>Does the name sound familiar? J.R. (Jake Rashaan) Reed’s father is Jake Reed, a WR with 12 years’ service with the Vikes and Saints, not to mention 450 receptions, 6,999 yards, and 36 TDs.
=> His uncle is Dale Carter, a 1992 RD1#20 draft pick by the Chiefs and a four-time Pro Bowl selection who played 14 seasons.
=> The younger Jake logged a personal-best 11 tackles vs. Auburn in 2017 and started 15 games in 2018, including the SEC Championship game, the Rose Bowl and the National Championship.
=> He’s started at S in 29 straight games, and experience seems to matter to the Bills’ front office.
=> Reed’s come up big in big games, including 9 stops + a red-zone INT vs Alabama; the Sugar Bowl vs. Texas (8 tackles); at Missouri (8 tackles); and LSU (9 stops).
=> He knows how to “Reed” an offense, too. Watch #20 here, the opportunistic safety at the bottom of your screen.
=> Annual volunteer at Camp Sunshine
=> Reincarnation of Micah Hyde? Start him on special teams.
Bryce Huff OLB Memphis
=> OLB/ILB versatility
=> 9.5-sack season as an OLB in 2018 opened some eyes
=> works at his craft (timing and precision of get-off, etc)
=> junior leads Memphis in sacks, TFL, and QBH
=> has 24 TFL in 31 games (.77 TFL per game)
=> quickness, acceleration, and speed
=> very good diagnostic ability: play recognition, smarts
Ke’Shawn Vaughn RB Vanderbilt
=> Quicks and jukes
=> Quicks and jukes
=> wins with subtle hesitations
=> 4th in draft class in YPC vs AP teams
=> will fall due to slower forty.
K’Von Wallace S Clemson
=> 84 tackles, 5 passes defensed (30 games) 0 sacks, 3 INT, 2 FF in career
=> only allowed 1.40 yards per cover snap in 2018
=> safety with experience who plays in the ACC
=> no credentialed Bills scouts went to Clemson games in 2018
=> Showing some serious speed to foil a TD
=> INT-return aplomb
=> excellent catch-point vert
=> strength, physicality, athleticism against the run and the pass
=> He’s an excellent run defender
=> ability to stay with guys in zone.That’s a match for a Bills safety
=> We could have two Wallaces back there.
Justin Jefferson WR LSU
=> vaulted up after he caught 6/108 yds in upset over Georgia
=> leads the country with 3.82 yards per route run out of the slot.
=> nice chemistry with grad transfer QB Joe Burrow
=> has the size, speed, quickness combo plate that Bills lack
Bryan Edwards WR South Carolina
=> thickly-built with zigs and zags:
=> Muschamp re Edwards: “Bryan is a very mature young man. He gets it. He has a real good work ethic. He pushes himself through adversity….We’ve got some other freshman receivers that can’t, quite frankly. The intangible qualities you look for in any player, Bryan has.”
Solomon Kindley G Georgia
=> handled himself well in Champ. Game (see video; he’s LG #66)
=> also played games at RG
=> considerable dexterity for his mammoth size
=> mauler who moves the pile, fits Bobby Johnson’s scheme
=> marked improvement in pass protection, he mirrors well
=> OT in HS but was moved inside by Georgia
=> dropped 30 lbs since coming to Athens by eating right
Daniel Bituli OLB Tennessee
=> range, quickness, and athletic ability, 178 stops over 33 career games
=> Bituli led the team in tackles in each of the past two seasons
=> earned the Andy Spiva Award, most improved defensive player
=> Work ethic and solid relationships
=> 90-yard pick-six here
Antoine Winfield Jr. S Minnesota
=> Son of Antoine Winfield! Need any more? Has nickname “Tweeze”
=> playmaker like his dad: punt return TD here
=> 2 injuries (2017, 2018) will drop him
=> 17 tackles, INT, fumble recovery in first 3 games 2018 before injury
=> marvelous attitude
=> game-saving INT already this year vs Fresno State in overtime
Tremayne Anchrum G Clemson
=> Likely a G in the NFL
=> per PFF, allowed fewest pressures in ACC
=> named second-team All-ACC as a RT
=> Lightest of my top 22, though.
=> has the best name for a Guard. You want to anchor ’em.
Lamical Perine RB Cincinnati
=> cousin of Samaje Perine (RD4, Redskins)
=> cousin of the uncle of Myles Jack (RD2, Jaguars)
=> work ethic through the roof: Lamical works hard on his liabilities. In fact, he fumbled in the first game he played, so he watched the tape, worked hard in practices, and in the next game they entrusted him to carry the ball (2016 vs Kentucky), he rushed for a team-high 105 yards and caught a TD pass.
=> looks faster and quicker than last year, eager to get downhill
=> vision excellent
=> uses his blocks extremely well
=> second-effort tackle-breaker (Singletary forced missed tackles too)
=> above-average receiver and dangerous after the catch
=> low on mileage because of how Mullen uses backs
=> Bills RB Coach Kelly Skipper’s brother, Tim, coaches LBs at Florida.
=> Kelly Skipper was in Carolina with McDermott.
Josh Uche OLB Michigan
=> SLB with pass-rush prowess
=> speed off the edge, has speed-to-power
=> highly determined and motivated
=> on minimal snaps in 2018 Uche was leading Michigan in sacks at times.
Logan Stenberg G Kentucky
=> aggressive, tough, physical
=> one of the SEC’s best guards
=> working on becoming more technical, has great upside
=> Blocked for All-SEC RB, Benny Snell Jr.
=> UK football’s ‘Mr. Nasty’.
=> Week 1: TD run was called back due to a holding penalty vs Stenberg
T.J. Carter CB Memphis
=> DPOW vs LSU and Auburn last season
=> full name is Shyheim
=> wings aficionado
=> 68 TT, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT/1 pick-6, 12 PBU, FF in 14 gms in ’18
Trystan Colon-Castillo C Missouri
=> started all 26 games since his redshirt freshman season in 2016
=> Plays with Yasir Durant and Tre’vour Wallace-Simms
=> charismatic, coachable and never coasted despite his talent.
=> He’s a dancer, good mentor, and good leader.
=> Proud of his Puerto Rican roots.
Breiden Fehoko iDL LSU
=> Strong iDL with a powerful bull rush
=> reminds me of our Kyle Peko
=> has versatillity of some DE experience
=> heartwarming backstory –which I will write soon.
Robert Windsor iDL Penn State
=> Gil Brandt has him as a name to watch.
=> has already made Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week
=> fishing and hiking, outdoor guy
=> wants to be the best DT in the country
Patrick Johnson EDGE Tulane
=> led all AAC Edge defenders in total pressures, pass-rush win rate from the 2018-19 season. Bryce Huff was second.
=> Highest-graded pass rush in the AAC
Pete Werner OLB Ohio State
=> OLB with work ethic, versatility
=> Watch this
=> HS Coach: ” There’s not a harder worker around”
=> drops due to lack of games played (bottom 3 in my top 20)
Desmond Franklin S Appalachian State
=> league’s highest-graded safety by PFF
Gage Cervenka C Clemson
=> former DL, RG #59
=> Guard-Center experience
=> workhorse attitude in the gym
=> incredibly strong: can bench 225 over 40 times
=> His hand strength is unreal
=> Clemson boasts the third-best offensive line in the nation
=> 19 straight wins,
Charles Snowden OLB Virginia
=> originally was going to do basketball, but now full-on into football.
=> Height is obvious, but work ethic galore
=> phenomenal athlete but very raw, new to the game and position
Tommy Townsend P Florida
=> DraftTek’s #1 punter
=> 2018 season 45.4 yards (2,315 yards on 51 punts)
=> 14 punts of >50 yards
=> 24 punts inside the 20
=> career-long 71- yard punt, vs LSU
=> 18-yard gain on a fake punt vs Vandy
=> SEC Academic Honor Roll
=> Eagle Scout
=> brother Johnny was drafted by Raiders in RD5 of the 2018 NFL Draft, waived, claimed by Giants, and waived late August.
Editor’s babble: Love Dean’s “Pick Six” post. I can’t wait for Saturdays so I can focus on who to watch. Thanks to Dean Kindig for his incredible contributions to our blog. As mentioned in the beginning of the post, you can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.