Oh, yes. You’re absolutely right; it is too early to project the Bills’ needs 11 months in advance!! It’s also probably too early for me to have a 400-player list of 2021 ‘draftables’ on my BillsMafia Big Board, and I apologize. Despite the pandemic, my internet was working fine. Indulge me.
RD1#24–Wyatt Davis, RG, Ohio State
Looking at my BillsMafia Depth Chart, I see the Bills have Jon Feliciano, age 27, back at Right Guard for his final contract year, and they brought in Guard/Center Daryl Williams from Carolina on a one-year contract. He’s also 27. Brandon Beane isn’t committing to a long-term relationship with linemen unless they’re sure things. With awesome-sauce DNA. Wyatt Davis’s grandfather is Lombardi’s Pro Bowler, Willie Davis (DE Packers). Wyatt is already known for his work ethic. He practices with the same level of intensity as you see in a game.
Other ideas: Wake Forest EDGE Carlos Basham Jr., Florida State Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen.
RD2#57–Landon Young, LT, Kentucky
You know what happens to offensive tackles every year; the fields are picked clean very early. As it was in 2020, this could hold true again next April, as my early survey of DraftTek Analysts has 10 teams putting OT at the top of their positional needs.I have the Bills double-dipping in RD2, this time with the extremely physical tackle, Landon Young. He led his team with 64 knockdown blocks last season: Per team stats-hounds, Young missed only one assignment over 754 plays in 2019. At 6’6″ 324, Young will somehow fit right in. Right now Dion Dawkins (UFA 2021) has Ty Nsehke (age 34, contract year), and newbies Trey Adams and Brandon Walton standing behind him. Pray for Dion.
Other ideas: Ohio State LT Thayer Munford, Florida iDL Tedarrell Slaton
RD3#89–Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
This is a deep draft for CBs, but the corner position is more tenuous than folks think. E.J. Gaines, Norman, and Levi Wallace are all UFAs after this season. Tre White would be going into the final year of his contract. Yes, Beane will re-sign Tre, and I like Dane Jackson a lot, but you’ll see the GM drafting a cornerback every year. Mukuamu’s height, leap, range, versatility, and special teams play will cause him to vault up draft boards, possibly into RD1, but he’s available, as Marv says, “right here, right now”.
Other ideas: Oregon CB Deommodore Lenoir, Pitt EDGE Patrick Jones II, Northwestern ILB Paddy Fisher
RD5#140–Raymond Johnson III, OLB/EDGE, Georgia Southern
After skipping RD4, the Bills will want to address another position group that’s aging: EDGE. Jerry Hughes (age 31 FA 2022) and Mario Addison (Age 32) aren’t in Beane’s long-range plan for the position. Raymond Johnson has the youth, experience, and fundamental tackling ability you covet. He’s Georgia Southern’s DPOY (Bills have his STPOY teammate, Tyler Bass, already). Johnson totaled 43 Tackles, had 4.5 sacks, 8 TFL, 2 PBU and 3 QB hits last season. Hear Raymond and Tyler’s articulate, fired-up demeanor in this Facebook interview.
Other ideas: Georgia Center Trey Hill, Clemson DL3T Jordan Williams
RD5#153– Todd Harris, Jr., SS, LSU
Buffalo gets a second pick in this round (Las Vegas’s pick from the Zay Jones trade), and two positions still stand out as needing a long-range plan: kick returner after Andre Roberts leaves, and a bona fide SS when Micah Hyde leaves. Let’s look at my depth chart again. Behind Hyde, the Bills have Garrett Taylor (CB-SS) and Josh Thomas (FS- SS) who might impress, but were UDFAs, and they have Jaquan Johnson, who’ll be a terror at the FS spot this fall. LSU junior safety Todd Harris Jr. redshirted in 2019 after a knee injury, but he excelled in his sophomore season, posting 31 tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception. He’s on the SEC Academic Honor Roll, a good sign if you have to learn the McDermott-Frasier scheme. Our last LSU DB did well for us, so Harris is a good risk here.
Other ideas: TCU OLB Garret Wallow, Alabama DL3T LaBryan Ray, Trevon Moehrig, SS, TCU
RD6#185–Keylon Stokes WR/KR Tulsa
I mentioned kick returner to compete with Andre Roberts. It’s possible the Bills fill this position with the late-August cuts, but it’s May, and I’m enthralled with the sheer number of fast, quick Smurfs in this draft, particularly in this round. Stokes has been the most productive (1201 KR yards leads the draft class), although he’s the slowest. USC’s Tyler Vaughns (6’2″ 190 4.36) and Clemson’s Amari Rodgers (5’9″ 210 4.5) were excellent punt returners from big-time schools, and both have plenty of game experience. The best kick returner in the round other than Stokes is K.D. Nixon from Colorado (5’8″ 185 4.4), with 758 KR yards. Juniors Elijah Moore (Ole Miss) and Dyami Brown (North Carolina), and senior Shi Smith (South Carolina) should get mentions for their otherworldly 4.3 speed.
RD7#196– Chauncey Golston EDGE Iowa
The Bills get an earlier RD7 pick due to two Beane trades. Cleveland gets Buffalo’s hopefully-late RD7 pick (Teller trade) and Buffalo gets Carolina’s hopefully-early RD7 pick (Newhouse trade). We’ll do what Beane will do here, and take the best value player still left on the board. Inexplicably, Golston is on the board. Chauncey Golston was A.J. Epenesa’s bookend in 2019, ranking a +4 value at the Bills’ pick. Golston forced a team-best 3 fumbles, had 9.5 tackles for loss, 7 QB pressures, 3 sacks, and an INT, sometimes sliding into the middle, showing his versatility combined with productivity.
Other ideas: Oklahoma WR/KR Charleston Rambo, Boston College C-T-G Ben Petrula
Editor’s babble: The sweet smell of first-cut grass and an early peek at college players to watch this fall. May days full of dreams for the next football season. Still trying to wrap my head around the reality of games without fans present. So it helps to ignore it for now and to go back to something familiar like a good old Astro Mock Draft. Dean’s eagle eyes make it easier to watch a college game and know where to direct attention. Thanks to Dean Kindig for his awesome contributions to our blog. You can also find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.