Astro’s Draft Week “Pick Six”

Photo of Dean Kindig from personal collection.

I apologize, BillsMafia. I moved my War Chart to here. I added some columns, so it’s worth a look. I’ve averaged each player’s position on 7 different big boards that I trust, and I’m sticking with these 6 players at each pick. I’ve put them in MY order of preference in each round, not their position on anyone’s big board.

Photo of WR Stefon Diggs from duluthnewstribune.com.

RD1

Stefon Diggs x 6.
Sorry. Felt good to write that, though.

RD2

Photo of RB J.K, Dobbins from elevenwarriors.com.

J.K. Dobbins RB Ohio State
Big 10
4 contacts, including GM/Asst, Combine—21 carries, 91 yds, 1TD vs FAU, then 24 carries 172 yards (7.2) 1 TD vs Mich State, then 18-121 (6.7) and 3 catches for 70 vs Northwestern, and then 20/163 (8.0) 2 TD vs Wisconsin, plus a Combine visit. He’d be my #1 choice as the best complement to Singletary, as I wrote here.
3 55 68 34 Dobbins has decisiveness, power, quickness. ability in pass protection and in the receiving game …Availability? He played 100% of college games throughout his college career. Dobbins has the best vision in the class per PFF, He’s decisive with his cuts, and his 4.45 speed at 215 lbs will be trouble for DCs.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB-KR LSU
SEC
4 contacts, including GM/Asst, Combine –CEH had the most success in front of Beane and Schoen of all prospects: 20 carries for 103 yards and 3 TD (5.1 ypc), 9 receptions for 77, 19yd KR in the first game, then 20 carries for 103 yards (5.1) and 3 TD to lead the run attack, but also had 9 receptions for 77 more yards (8.5) and a TD, plus a 19-yard KR, adding up to 199 all-purpose yards and 4 TD in a second game.
CEH adds kick-return chops (877 KR yards) if you want to break him in that way, but he’s too pro-ready to just sit him. His blitz pickup is well above average. He’s Singletary 2.0 in size, 5-8, 209, but he’s faster (4.4), is a better receiver, and has a phenomenal 86% catch rate. HE gets you first downs and touchdowns, as he was 2nd in SEC (Najee Harris, next year’s class) w 36% of carries resulting in first down/TD. He forces misses, he’s smart, has Singletary’s lateral agility, and runs the way the Bills want to attack a defense –between the guards (6.1ypc in those holes). “Clyde is one of the best players on our team,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said. “I tell everybody: Clyde is 6-4, 270 when he walks in the room. He has a lot of confidence.”

Chase Claypool WR/TE Notre Dame
Indep
4 contacts-Sept, SrBowl, Combine
4 68 81 56 5/94 18.8 ypc in first game, 6/30 in second game; met Bills at Sr. Bowl 5/94 18.8 ypc in first game, 6/30 in second game, both in Sept –Bills circled around and met with him at SrBowl (1 of 4)…Up to 238 pounds; playing that WR-TE role. Attitude problem? Not a great catch rate (17th best) and I worry about his willingness to block downfield, especially compared to Pittman and some other WRs. Read this.

Julian Okwara EDGE Notre Dame
Indep
2 contacts back in September, had 3 TFL and 3 awarded sacks in first game; then 2 tkl 1 sack in second game
Position of need, and Okwara has the lowest TFL/G, Career among the RD1-6 draftable EDGEs (Jesse Lemonier, Liberty). In 2018, Okwara ranked 2nd among returning all Power 5 DE’s in pass-rush productivity, per PFF, and was DraftTek’s 3rd-ranked DE. However, Okwara had encounters with several of the RD1 OTs and came up empty in the sack department. Over his career, though, Okwara had a better Sacks Per Game stat than Gross-Matos.

Zack Baun OLB Wisconsin
Big 10
1 contact, by former LB Dan Morgan. Baun led the Badgers in 8-tackle, 2-asst, 1-sack job in front of Dan Morgan.
36 51 21
On the other hand, is character a factor now? Or would that just drop him to the Bills at #54 and be a non-issue? Would he just be a pass rusher, because the Bills run a 4-2-5 base defense most of the time, so is a OLB justified in RD2? Baun was miscast in Wisconsin’s 3-4 defense, but he still impressed regardless. Baun is a player who operates better in space and off the ball, partly because of his size (6-3, 235). He has experience: 34 games played.

Ross Blacklock DL3T TCU
BIG12
2 contacts – 3 assists vs Oklahoma, showed pressure, and would be a terror with our D-Line
Beane, McDermott, Morgan, and the Front Office have historically drafted DTs early, no matter what team they’ve been with. If Blacklock falls, he’ll be in consideration, regardless of how Harrison Phillips is feeling.

Josh Uche OLB Michigan
Big 10
2 contacts, GM/Asst at game, and interview at Sr Bowl. Uche only had 0 tkl, 1 asst in the scouted game, but Uche’s speed gave Wirfs some trouble.
Wait! This is a Pick-7!?! I needed to add him to the list, though if only to explain why he’s not in my six. Uche’s arguably the #1 prospect on Michigan, with Ruiz and Bredeson close behind. But if given the choice between an EDGE and a OLB, both on the smallish side, I trade down, or else take Alton Robinson EDGE Syracuse (exceeded expectations in scouted game). Also Damon Arnette CB Ohio State (great in zone), or Jeremy Chinn FS Southern Illinois (hard-hitting freakazoid) might still be on the board.

RD3

Photo of WR Michael Pittman Jr. from USCAthletics.com.

Michael Pittman Jr. Big Slot/PR USC
PAC-12
2 contacts–Beane saw Pittman go off on Shenault and Colorado with 2 TDs, 7 for 156 yds (22.3 ypc) for Pittman
Always one of my “Pick Six” and Darnold’s top target at USC. Pittman would give the Bills this year’s version of D.K. Metcalf, a name frequently mocked to the Bills last year. Big red-zone target is not yet on the team. At 6-4, 223 and an angry-YAC-running intermediate-route DB defeater, Pittman provides the height, wingspan, and a catch rate of 75.9% –just what McDermott says he wants– with a drop rate of a meager 2.7%.

Zack Moss RB Utah
PAC-12
1 contact by 2 scouts in October, Combine interview —5 -121 , 2 TD (an astounding 24.2 YPC!!)
ALL of the RBs weighing 215 pounds or more were scouted this year, and Moss’s comp is Frank Gore. A straight-ahead runner a la Kareem Hunt, Moss has better change-of-direction skills. His Contact Balance is elite — just like Devin Singletary’s was. I respect that Moss came back to Utah for one more year, and the reasons he gives. This is the kind of character the Bills move up for.

Jonathan Greenard EDGE/OLB Florida
SEC
2 contacts (Combine, Private Workout scheduled)
“Gruh-NARD” had no credentialed games, but the Bills met with him at the Combine, and a workout was scheduled for a 30-visit. This guy has a great first step which immediately puts the defender in a compromised position. He’s top 4 in TFL/game over career with Chase Young. He’s this year’s best defensive player on the Gators, playing with Vosean Joseph, who was right up there last year. Greenard transferred from Louisville after missing all but one series of the 2018 season due to a wrist injury (Bills DIDN’T scout the team that year). Before that he was the co-leader in sacks (7) and leader in tackles for loss (15.5) in 2017.

Bradlee Anae EDGE Utah
PAC-12
1 contact -Oct, Sr Bowl — 3 tackles (but top prospect at Utah, Jaylon Johnson, had 7 tackles)
Anae has had an impressive 1.03 TFL-per-game average over his career, with 24.5 sacks. Anae also has a built-in competitive streak the Bills are always looking for. Expect a Utah player on the Bills this year.

Jordyn Brooks OLB/SS/KR Texas Tech
BIG12
1 contact by former LB Dan Morgan. That always gets my attention.
Brooks DNP in a game in front of the former LB, but Morgan did go to Texas Tech on business. Brooks deserves attention here. He led the country a year ago with 29 QB pressures (which was 2nd to RD2 ILB Evan Weaver), and added 39 defensive stops, . Brooks can be a 3-down linebacker. His 1.93 TFL per game is amazeballs, and even more telling about Brooks McBeane DNA is his 2nd-most seven TFLs per game in losing battles. There’s no letup to Brooks, whether you’re up by 14 or down by 14. He’s reportedly less of a fit in run defense per TDN. But…Brooks has the highest FIPS by an OLB (Forced Fumbles + INTs + Pass Defenses + Solo Tackles). Riddle me that.

Bryan Edwards WR South Carolina
SEC
scouted 2x, GM, Asst GM watched Edwards amass 14 catches, putting up 139 yards and 1 TD, which tied Deebo Samuel’s record at South Carolina.
I was surprised that Deebo Samuel didn’t get the nod last year, but is Edwards the reason? Daniel Jeremiah thinks so.

RD4

Photo of WR Antonio Gibson from ESPN.com.

Antonio Gibson WR/Slot/RBC/KR Memphis
AAC
scouted 0x (Sept, Jan, Feb jet visits to Memphis)
This is either the best smokescreen on the board (no games credentialed by the Bills) or an earlier player drafted aptly filling that WR/KR space. Gibson is top 5 in yards per catch vs AP-ranked teams this year. He’s a decent kick returner with 645 yards. He boasts the most YAC per reception among FBS WRs (12.5 ypr vs AP in 2019) and a 99th %ile speed score.

Antonio Gandy-Golden WR Liberty
Independent
2 contacts: Oct, SrBowl—5 catches, 68 yds, 13.6 ypc, 1 TD; interviewed with Bills at Sr. Bowl
Despite the fact that the 6’4”, 223 lb AGG didn’t do so well at Sr. Bowl practices against better competition, he makes my list as the type of WR the Bills are missing. He’s a quick study, so why not take a boom-or-bust type player and groom him? After all, this is a guy who took up bowling and eight weeks later bowled a 300 game. Here’s an encouraging report.

Kenny Willekes EDGE Michigan State
Big 10
scouted 2x-Oct, SrBowl –1 tackle 6 assists; 2 sacks at the Senior Bowl, and he interviewed with the Bills at Senior Bowl. I kind of expect EDGE to be taken care of before RD4, but some think the Bills could use two EDGEs . Addison and Hughes are both 32, and we have yet to see Darryl Johnson and Trent Murphy catch fire.

Antoine Brooks Jr. SS Maryland
Big 10
scouted 2x, once with GM Beane present. The top draftable player at Maryland led his team in tackles against Syracuse with 9. The Bills need a Strong Safety in the pipeline behind Micah Hyde. They re-signed Jordan Poyer and have Jaquan Johnson there, but there’s little difference between FS and SS in the Bills’ system. Expect Beane to grab a SS if given the choice, especially before Hyde’s contract year.

Khalid Kareem EDGE Notre Dame
Independent
1 contact, but it was Dan Morgan. –Kareem logged 2 tkl, 2 asst, 0 sk vs Louisville.
Kareem is a Bills poster child. He’s a humble persistent grinder type who was this year’s highest-graded returning edge defender among FBS Independents. He already has a multitude of pass-rush moves and a veteran-like understanding of how to pick his approach and how to dynamically modify it. While not quick or bendy, he is agile and strong. I particularly like his attention to minding the edge so as to not get beaten wide.

Michael Ojemudia CB/FS/NCB Iowa
Big 10
scouted GM/Asst —1 tkl 2 asst vs Purdue; 1 tkl 2 asst vs Michigan
The Bills like versatile players, have a professed need for competition at nickel, and like Process Players. Problem solved. Ojemudia was a menotr for his backfield teammates, showing leadership and humility, team-first spirit, and smarts. OJ has a thick build and long arms which allowed him to record the lowest passer rating when targeted in the BS a year ago. As a senior this past season, he finished with 52 tackles, a tackle-for-loss, three more interceptions, nine passes defended, and a fumble recovery. Nagy loved him at the Senior Bowl and his great Combine numbers (tops at his position in the forty and the vert) will likely vault him up into some team reaching.

Photo of OLB/SS Khaleke Hudson from toledoblade.com.

RD5

Khaleke Hudson OLB/SS Michigan
Big 10
scouted by GM/Asst — 4 tkl and 7 asst
That Shaq Thompson role is open for competition on the Bills, so 5-11, 224-lb Linebacker-Safety “kuh-LEEK” could be in the mix. He’s the team-first guy you want in the backfield; he’s solidly built and solidly grounded, and was on the team’s leadership council. Michigan’s secondary has limited opposing offenses to the fewest YAC, and Hudson’s one reason, with his 102 tackles, 3.5 for loss, two sacks, 3 PBU and a blocked kick in 2019. He actually played out of position in 2018 as their MLB. Watch his sideline-to-sideline speed. He cuts tackling angles with football smarts and gets there with gusto.

Shaquille Quarterman ILB/OLB Miami
ACC
First 30-visit announced, no credentialed games.
Wrapup tackler who at one time was Kiper’s No. 2 inside linebacker. Quarterman played in 52 college games, the most of all linebackers. I like Cam Brown more, but Quarterman is more versatile in a ILB-OLB role, a bit more experienced, and would start on special teams. He’s an excellent gap-filler, as you see here.

Cam Brown ILB Penn State
Big 10
scouted 2x,— 1 tkl 2 asst for Beane, 4 tkl, 2 asst for a scout in Nov
6-5 ,233 won’t look out of place next to Tremaine Edmunds. His 46 games played is top five among the linebackers, so if they don’t get Quarterman, they can take Brown.
.

Eno Benjamin RB/KR Arizona State
PAC-12
SrBowl interview, per TDN
Senior Bowl visit, practice-focused, learning-focused runner, excellent contact balance and body control. Pro Football Focus describes him as a “human pinball machine” that can bounce in and out of cuts. He’s also a highly-touted pass catcher (most receptions this year with 82, and most receptions per game, career). He’s a decent blocker, and was #1 in the PAC-12 in yardage and TDs in 2018 with 1,642 yards, 16 TDs. Herm Edwards is his coach, and says he was relied on very heavily, and is a hard worker. HE has an extremely good shuttle time (4.25 sec.) which is McCoy-like. Will he be too much like Singletary? Maybe. Anything wrong with having two?


D.J. Wonnum EDGE South Carolina
SEC
scouted 1x in Sept with GM/Asst GM present —2 tkl 2 asst vs Bama for Beane to see. Only game scouted. I’d like EDGE to be addressed earlier, but Wonnum has possibilities here. He’s a versatile defensive end, who can also play outside linebacker, stop the run, and drop back in coverage. He believes he can fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme at the next level. He played in both schemes under Muschamp, in fact. He was outstanding this year with 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and an INT to go with 29 total tackles, You can’t have enough long-bodied, high-motor EDGE/OLBs, and Wonnum was a captain for three of his 4 years. At SCAR, he profited from the work of teammates, but in his own right he has impressive get-off and wrap-up tackles. On Nov 1, Wonnum led all SEC interior defenders in stops.

Jacob Phillips ILB LSU
SEC
scouted 3x, GM/Asst—2 tkl vs Bama; then 5 solo 3 asst, 1/2 TFL in Natty
There are 17 players on LSU that I’d like to have on the Bills, but if I had to start weeding them out one by one, I’d still have Phillips late into that weeding. RD5 would be an ideal time to lock in depth behind Tremaine Edmunds (especially if you didn’t take Quarterman or Cam Brown). This guy is humble, focused, patient, and a hard worker. He started beside Devin White (RD1#5, Bucs), and all Phillips did was make an SEC-most 113 tackles as his replacement. Some say Phillips’ instincts are “raw,” but given the fact that he’d be behind Edmunds, he can get by on athletic profile for now and be a clean slate for Frasier and Company. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Phillips posted a SPARQ score in the 70th percentile.

RD6 (PICK 2)

Photo of CB Lavert HIll from 247sports.com.

Lavert Hill CB Michigan
Big 10
scouted by GM/Asst —-4 tkl and 1 INT vs Iowa.
At one time Hill was NFL.com’s #1 CB, pesky press-man type, 2017 Lowest QBR Against (11.9 passer rating when targeted), small but adds with anticipation/vert on the jump, needs bulk and more production this year, isn’t showing it as yet… sometimes gets lost in coverage or flat-out outrun. Hll’s former teammate is current Dallas Cowboys’ Jourdan Lewis. Michigan’s secondary has limited opposing offenses to the fewest YAC. Low FIPS (FF, INT, PD, Solo Tackles) but he was 2nd in B1G in snaps per reception allowed.

Dane Jackson CB Pittsburgh
ACC
scouted Asst GM —0 tackles, 1 asst in Syracuse game
One of the better zone corners that McDermott’s defense always seem to find under rocks. Top four in games played, he’s an excellent tackler; he tied for an ACC-high 12 pass breakups this season.

Breiden Fehoko iDL1T/3T LSU
SEC
scouted 3x, GM/Asst —4 games started in 2019 when Rashard Lawrence was injured, 11 tackles in those. He’s my pet cat this year, like Horrible Harry was. Dogged worker, brute-strong, also like Horrible Harry was. He’s driven from within, extremely smart and yet reflective and compassionate. He has angels looking out for him, too.
.
James Morgan QB FIU
Conf USA
scouted 3x — per Cover1 has had 3 contacts with Bills.
Watch two plays here. A great kid with a powerful arm and wicked fake handoff. Where have we heard that before? The confluence of low need and his spot in the draft is plausible. The Bills will likely look at his tape, but it’s a tough year to draft a signal caller. You know that if one of their QB targets drops to undrafted, the Bills will bring a fourth QB in.

Kalija Lipscomb WR Vanderbilt
SEC
scouted 2x, GM — 8 for 98 yards (12.2 ypc).
I have Joe Reed, Lipscomb, Hodgins, and Bayless all late-Day-3 possibilities who’d be drafted much earlier in a less-rich WR draft. if one of these is available in RD6, they’re worth a flier. Lipscomb improves a team’s short game, and is deadly in the Red Zone. His in-the-air catches are eyebrow-raising..here are two: He made tons of short catches vs AP teams (top 25-high of 22, but a low of 197 yds). His team share in 2018 was fourth-highest (21%) among returning FBS players. Primarily used as an underneath-and-intermediate receiver, Lipscomb caught 71% of his 124 targets last year. However, Lipscomb is more than a check-down receiver because he can win in the red zone. Last year, Lipscomb scored on six of his seven red zone receptions!

Thaddeus Moss TE LSU
SEC
scouted 3x, GM/Asst —128 4 for 99 (24.8 ypc) 1 TD in the Natty; 2 for 12 (6.0) vs Georgia in the semi, and 6 for 46 (7.7) vs Bama.
Here’s another LSU Tiger, at a position of lesser need, that Beane might pounce on just for the DNA upside. Could he crack the TE room door? Certainly.


I’d add Notre Dame backfielders Alohi Gilman FS and Troy Pride CB here if given a seventh and eighth slot. They did very well in the scouted game, with Pride making 5 tackles and an assist, and Gilman 2 tackles, an assist and an INT.

RD7

Photo of CB Chris Williamson from foxsports,com.

Chris Williamson CB Minnesota
Big 10
scouted FaceTime but no credentialed games before FaceTime meeting
A pre-draft meeting suggests that, just like WR/TE, the Bills might take two CBs in the draft, one early and one late. He’s savvy, flips his hips, and sniffs out a coffin-corner TD here against Penn State.

Binjimen Victor WR Ohio State
Big 10
scouted 4x, GM/Asst 6 249 311 188 3 catches, 79 yards, 26.3 ypc, 1 TD 6’4″ 195, had a great day when scouts saw him (3 catches, 79 yards, 26.3 ypc, 1 TD). TDN: “catch radius and ample wingspan to contest throws on inaccurate passes” –here’s one late big WR if you went for speedy Smurf earlier. Victor is an Elastic-Man, springy and athletic, but much like earlier-year Collin Johnson, relies too much on his physical superiority. (and not strong: benched 9). The cued-up video shows high points and cutbacks on TD. Looked so good in the gauntlet drill at the Combine.

Jacob Breeland TE Oregon
PAC-12
scouted 2x-Oct — Breeland led all pass-catchers with 5 for 85 yards (17.4 ypc) for 1 scout, then 3 for 53 (17.7) 1 TD for 2 scouts 2 weeks later. I have him going much earlier, like at RD3#86 or RD4#128, but I’m the lone wolf on this one.

Braden Mann P Texas A&M
SEC
scouted 1x-Morgan—no credentialed games. 2018 Ray Guy Award, Morgan visit. Mann began his career as a LB. He saved a couple TDs because of his LB tackling ability. His 51.1 ypk is insane for a small kid.(5’11/190); I’d opt for HArtbarger in UDFA to challenge Vedvik.

Patrick Taylor Jr. RB/FB Memphis
AAC
scouted 3x (Sept, Shrine, Jan) —DNP in Shrine due to injury, but interviewed around. Jonathan’s fine if they can draft him at #54, but Patrick Taylor is a legit complement to SIngletary. 44 games, 5.4 career rush, 55 receptions, 39 all-purpose TDs. Bruiser. Balance. Agility. Decent jump-cut for size. Goal-line usage. Watch the smoothness of cuts.

Josh Metellus SS Michigan
Big 10
scouted GM/Asst—4 tkl, 2 asst, and a nice INT. Beane and Schoen went to his game, and elder statesman Safety had this cued-up INT. His 43 games played is a lot for a Day 3 Strong Safety, if you didn’t take Antoine Brooks or Tanner Muse.

PFA’s to Watch

Wisconsin linebacker Chris Orr (54) celebrates after sacking Northwestern quarterback Hunter Johnson (15) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 24-15. (AP Photo/Andy Manis).

Chris Orr OLB Wisconsin
Big 10
FaceTime —-2 tkl, 4 asst, 1 sack in scouted game; FaceTime meeting, Baun teammate, both had a sack in the game scouted vs Ohio State. Orr had 2 tkl, 4 asst; Baun had 8 tkl 2 asst. GM Beane at game

John Houston, Jr. WILB USC
PAC-12 2x, — led USC in tackles, had 9 tackles, 7 of them solo, plus a pass defensed in the scouted game (where they were watching Pittman). Has closing speed, wrap-up tackles, position flex, excellent dropping in coverage, and even his interviews, where I see smarts and reflective self-study. Check out his interview.
Blake Ferguson LS LSU
SEC 3x, GM/Asst 9 333 333 285 Brother Reid is Blake’s brother, wonderful article (click Blake’s name)

Jordan Fuller FS Ohio State
Big 10 4x, GM/Asst —- 5 tkl, 2 asst, 1 INT. great leader, super smart, flies around to the football, reliable, athletic, experienced. always in the right spot. Led OSU in tackles vs Michigan St with 2 scouts there. TDN talks about him being an “abysmal tackler”, and I don’t see that.

Maurice Ffrench WRS/PR Pittsburgh
ACC Asst GM —- 6-92-15.3 ypc-1 TD vs Syracuse on 10/19/2019, scouted by Joe Schoen.
Ffrench (6-92-15.3 ypc-1 TD this year) is a quick and fast Day-3 slot option in the Pitt passing game. (Ass’t. GM visit).He broke Larry Fitzgerald’s 2003 Pitt record for most receptions in a season, catching 96 balls. Holds record for Longest Reception (96 yards) with a TD, and Longest KR (99, TD). Ffrench Ffinished with 2,832 all-purpose yards — 1,637 receiving, 379 rushing, 652 kick return, and 164 punt return.His eagerness to block for teammates downfield and his contributions on special teams will force Beane to draft him. He’ll be a great addition to the locker room.

Luke Farrell TE Ohio State
Big 10 4x, GM/Asst —- size, athleticism, but injury kept him out of much of 2018. Will fall to RD5-6 or even undrafted. Could be good player to take on a flier.

Editor’s babble: This list is gold. So is Dean’s “BillsMafia War Chart”. Be sure to bookmark it for watching the draft. Thanks to Dean Kindig, as always, for his invaluable contributions to our blog. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.

3 Replies to “Astro’s Draft Week “Pick Six””

  1. Thank you, Dean. The information you have provided to Bills Mafia has been an invaluable aid in preparing for the draft. Thanks!!!

  2. Dean, can I ask your opinion of a couple of potential late-round developmental prospects?

    What do you think of Alex Highsmith, DE, Charlotte; Alex Taylor, OT, S. Carolina St.; and Nevelle Clarke, CB, UCF? Other than possibly Highsmith, none of them would be ready to start or play much at all this season, but the Bills wouldn’t necessarily need to have them do so. Yet it seems to me that each has athletic qualities that you don’t usually find in late-round picks that can be developed. And each plays a position that the Bills will need to address going into the 2021 season. What do you think about the Bills potentially taking one or more of them?