Astro’s “Pick Six” For June

Photo of LSU’s Kary Vincent Jr. from newsbreak.com.

My “Pick-Six” NFL Draft “prospects by round” articles seemed to be popular last year, so I’m doing it again. I run FanSpeak’s Premium Simulator, Steve Shoup’s Big Board, Diffcult Level, No Trades, and I recommend six players it has available at each pick, giving my reasons for the picks. The list at each round is in order of my preference. Give me a follow on Twitter to discuss!

Don’t worry about rounds taken this early; player rankings change as quickly as the leaves in Buffalo after Labor Day!!

RD1#26

CB KARY VINCENT JR. – LSU
CB/KR CALEB FARLEY – VIRGINIA TECH
FS JEVON HOLLAND – OREGON
DT3T DARIUS STILLS – WEST VIRGINIA
C CREED HUMPHREY – OKLAHOMA
CB ASANTE SAMUEL JR. – FLORIDA STATE

COMMENTS: We did so well the last time we took a corner from LSU; let’s do that again! Kary Vincent Jr. [highlights] has already played in 32 games to Caleb Farley‘s 23, and while Farley would add a modicum of competition in the kick-return department, I expect Kary to crush a 4.24 forty at the Combine. Our BillsMafia Depth Chart shows Josh Norman and E.J. Gaines are both 32 and signed for 1 year each, Levi Wallace was re-signed for a 1-year deal, and Pitt’s Dane Jackson was a 7th rounder. ‘Nuff said. Free Safety Jevon Holland [highlights] is also a compelling consideration opposite Jaquan Johnson; Oregon’s secondary is #1 in Most WAA (Wins Above Average), and Holland finished 2018 tied second among FBS freshmen in interceptions (5) –the most INT by a freshman at UO since the Bills’ Jairus Byrd in 2006. Holland netted 244 PR yards for added value there. Creed Humphrey [commentary] will be the Sooners’ starter at Center, but he can play Guard if necessary. Our coaches love versatility. Humphrey’s a nasty road grader, and has the savvy of Morse, but without the length to play outside at Tackle. I swear that Darius Stills, a senior, is a dead ringer for Dion Dawkins. His twin, Dante, is also at WVU, but he’s only a junior. They both will be near the top in speed, small-area quickness, and explosion. DT3T is not a need position, but just watch Stills’ tape and think of Jerry Hughes-type moves, but he’s more like Quinton Jefferson in his roles: WVU used the 3-tech at the nickel NT position last year, and at 4.85 speed, he moves outside to EDGE, as well. What a versatile chess piece.

Photo of Notre Dame’s OT Liam Eichenberg from ndinsider.com.

RD2#58

OT LIAM EICHENBERG – NOTRE DAME
G JACKSON CARMAN – CLEMSON
OLB/ED DEANGELO MALONE – W. KENTUCKY
LB HAMILCAR RASHED JR. – OREGON STATE
FS ANDRE CISCO – SYRACUSE
ED TYREKE SMITH – OHIO STATE

COMMENTS: You could talk me into Liam Eichenberg at Tackle real easy. The Golden Domer is an elite mover for a player his size with a natural, quick kick-slide. His balance, long arms, and effectiveness on pin-and-pull plays will vault him into the first round before springtime. He adds 3 years of LT starter experience as his ace in the hole. In 2018 Liam started all 13 games, 3 sacks allowed (900 snaps). He bested that in 2019 with 0 sacks. He’s so effective already with his hands [watch this] He needs to add weight, but BillsMafia can fill him in on how to do that. Jackson Carman‘s a huge, affable Guard with Tackle upside [commentary]. Said Alex Highsmith: “He was a dude. I’ve been playing football for 12 years and he’s by far the fastest off the ball I’ve ever gone against. Ever.”

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 07: Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Patrick Jones II (91) reads the quarterback during the College football game between the Ohio Bobcats and the Pittsburgh Panthers on September 7, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

RD3#90

EDGE PATRICK JONES II – PITTSBURGH
OT LANDON YOUNG – KENTUCKY
EDGE JONATHON COOPER – OHIO STATE
LB NICK BOLTON – MISSOURI
DTL1T TYLER SHELVIN – LSU
DT3T PHIDARIAN MATHIS – ALABAMA

COMMENTS: When the Bills scouted Dane Jackson, they surely saw Patrick Jones II. He’s hard to miss at 6’5″, 260. Jones offers a combo plate of size, speed, and strength [highlights]. He led the ACC with 62 QB pressures last year! He’s extremely disruptive, and with Jerry Hughes nearing the end of his career, you’re looking for this level of pressure: 43 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 18 official quarterback hurries in 2019. Jones helped Pitt’s defense lead the nation in sacks (51 total, 3.92/game). If you didn’t take a Tackle yet, you ought to consider Landon Young. He’s a steamroller at 6’6″, 324, and led the Kentucky Wildcats with 64 knock-down blocks (read: pancakes) last season. Per his coaches, he missed only one assignment in 754 plays in 2019. Kentucky’s OL is known as “The Big Blue Wall”.

Photo of PSU’s OLB/EDGE Shaka Toney from collegian.psu.edu.

RD5#158

OLB/EDGE SHAKA TONEY – PENN STATE
OT STONE FORSYTHE – FLORIDA
NCB/FS TYSON CAMPBELL- GEORGIA
OT TYLER VRABEL – BOSTON COLLEGE
DL LEVI ONWUZURIKE – WASHINGTON
OG TREY HILL – GEORGIA

COMMENTS: Very few players already have the McBeane ethos hard-wired into their being, but Shaka Toney does. The Bills’ braintrust will go to Happy Valley and talk to coaches about Toney, and they’ll watch him make plays like these. Says teammate P.J. Mustipher: “[He’s] going to have your best interests at heart because he really cares about you and cares about the team as a whole.” Shaka’s a Leader by doing it the right way. Gators’ LT Stone Forsythe is a 6’6″ 329 option with swing-tackle upside. He’s serious about his craft, and down-blocks extremely well. The Bills might see Jaquan Johnson as the SS going forward, and FS Richie Grant impresses. Tyson Campbell’s versatility will appeal to Beane. They may be looking for a nickel corner behind Siran Neal, and the fact that he’s able to play FS, as well. The 6’2″ Grant played CB last year since J.R. Reed (PFA, Jaguars) and Richard LeCounte played Safety. Maybe you opt for redshirt sophomore Tyler Vrabel since his dad is Titans HC and former Pats Mike Vrabel. He has long arms, stays square, and keeps his balance, but he ought to stay in school.

Photo of Tennessee’s KR/RBC Ty Chandler from 247sports.com.

RD5#168

KR/RBC TY CHANDLER – TENNESSEE
DT1T NAQUAN JONES – MICHIGAN STATE
EDGE JUSTIN FOSTER – CLEMSON
S JACOBY STEVENS – LSU
NCB MYLES JONES – TEXAS A&M
OG BRYCE HARGROVE – PITTSBURGH

COMMENTS: Ty Chandler is a change-of-pace running back, but Beane will give him looks because of his awesome kick-return game. Chandler’s the leader in KR yards among all draftable RBs in the 2021 NFL Draft, Chandler’s career stats as a running back aren’t bad (36 games, 20 starts, 321 carries, 1,590 rushing yards, 5.0 yards per carry, 9 rushing touchdowns; 42 catches, 354 receiving yards, 8.4 yards per catch, 3 receiving touchdowns). His return game is elite though; 35 kick returns, 780 kick-return yards, 22.3 yards per kick return, and the kick return touchdown linked above. Jon Gruden seems to know who he is, calling him out after crashing an online class. Naquan Jones is also a consideration at 1-tech. Lotulelei, now age 30 becomes a FA in 2022, although I like Vernon Butler in that role. He’s 26.

Photo of Virginia’s FS Joey Blount by Jerry Ratcliffe.

RD6#206

FS JOEY BLOUNT – VIRGINIA
KR/WR KEYLON STOKES – TULSA
OT DREW HIMMELMAN – ILLINOIS STATE
SS GREG EISWORTH – IOWA STATE
G SADARIUS HUTCHERSON – SOUTH CAROLINA
KR/WR K.D. NIXON – COLORADO

COMMENTS: If you’d rather have a wide receiver than change-of-pace back be your kick returner, this is your round to get one. Keylon Stokes (most productive kick returner in the draft with 1201 career KR yards and a nice receiver) and K.D. Nixon (758 career KR yards, but who can receive and throw TD passes) should be on Beane’s radar. I suggest taking former Giants DB Tony Blount’s son, Joey Blount. That Virginia secondary is one of the five top backfields in the FBS, and has been: Juan Thornhill (RD2, Chiefs) and Quin Blanding (Redskins, now Panthers) say hi. Blount is one of the best tacklers in this class, with 112 Solos over 3 years. OT Drew Himmelman, a high-upside FCS prospect, is a man-mountain with some great technique who paved the way for James Robinson, making him the FCS rushing yards leader two years in a row. Also in the mix might be safeties Paris Ford or Damar Hamlin, Dane Jackson’s teammates at Pitt.They are interchangeable at FS/SS in Pitt’s scheme, and the versatility might impress the front office.

Photo of Utah C/G Orlando Umana from 247sports.com.

RD7#226

C/G ORLANDO UMANA – UTAH
EDGE MALIK HERRING – GEORGIA
G ZION JOHNSON – BOSTON COLLEGE
CB MIKE HAMPTON – SOUTH FLORIDA
K JONATHAN DOERER – NOTRE DAME
RBC/KR MICHAEL CARTER – NORTH CAROLINA

COMMENTS: Let’s just pretend that the Bills have solved their long-term kicking woes, they’ve re-signed CB1 Tre White to a fat contract, and that the CB2 position is filled by Josh Norman, Dane Jackson, and Levi Wallace. This gives a chance to improve up front, an area Sean McDermott says is the cornerstone of the Bills’ system. Which line more desperately needs an infusion of youth? Is it the O-Line at any position, except maybe Left Guard? LG Spain has a new 3-year contract, and has Ike Boettger behind him, and Marquel Harrell (OC-OG-LS) is in Beane’s draw pile. Spencer Long isn’t making the final 53 (or 55, or 60). While LT Dion Dawkins (age 26) is a top-ten run blocker, I worry about depth behind him. Center Mitch Morse is an extremely smart leader type with Evan Boehm brought in to compete with Harrell as depth OC-OG. Daryl Williams and Cody Ford have a nice battle for OTOG, with Trey Adams about to take advantage of NFL’s best Sports Training Center. Brandon Walton (Singletary’s point man at FAU) and Ty Nsehke (age 34, final year of contract) will go at it at RT-LT. Orlando Umana (6-4, 340) blocked for Zack Moss at Utah, and gets my O-Vote. On the D-Line, you have Addison (FA in 2023) and Hughes (FA in 2022), both still effective, but Beane doesn’t wait for downslides; the heir-apparent is already in the castle. Epenesa’s one, and Darryl Johnson will begin to surprise this season. The Bills tapped Georgia with 2 draft picks this year, and Bulldogs EDGE/DT3T Malik Herring [commentary] might be worth a look. Umana got the nod because Georgia runs a 3-4 defense, plus the Bills seem to place great emphasis on TFLs per game (Darryl Johnson’s 1.44 TFL per game is the gold standard), and Herring’s is only .21 per game.

Editor’s babble: This is a delicious diversion from all the stress in our lives outside sports. Thankfully, we have Dean Kindig to keep us all entertained and ready to roll when (if) college football starts in the fall. You can also find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.