5 Patrick Surtain II CB Alabama
Junior 6’1″ 203 4.44
FIPS 45 (Forced Fumbles + INTs + Passes Defensed + Solo Tackles in 2019)
TKL 32 (Tackles in 2019)
PD 8 (Passes Successfully Defended in 2019)
GP 27 (Career Games Played)
Why he’ll be a Bill: Right now, I have Patrick Surtain as the best DB who could declare for the 2021 draft. Watch how effortless Surtain makes this interception look. He stays in phase, is patient, snares the back end of the football, and gets north in a hurry. This year, he was second in the SEC in fumbles forced.His professional polish and elite ball skills shouldn’t be a surprise, and neither should the Surtain name; he’s the Miami Dolphins’ 1998 RD2 pick’s son. Why he won’t: Surtain will hear his name called in the first 10 picks, and that’s a hefty trade-up from #32.
Patrick Surtain II via GIPHY
7 Shaun Wade CB Ohio State
RS Junior 6’1″ 194 4.32
Why he’ll be a Bill: You’re going to see a lot of Shaun Wade highlights that are better than this one, but sometimes it’s instructive to watch Wade’s not-so-good plays. Here, he’s covering Indiana’s slot receiver, Whop Philyor, who gets a good release. Wade lets go within the 5-yard cushion, attempts to get in phase, watches the WR’s eyes, and gets his arms up so that Philyor can’t catch the ball. Wade’s lucky the ball was underthrown. Wade, should he declare, may have the fastest forty time. Why he won’t: I can’t stop thinking about some poor decisions he made vs Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. It’s a moot point; Wade’s also going to go too early for us. Wade had fewer opportunities as teams threw away from him, but he did have the fewest tackles of the top 5 DBs.
Shaun Wade via GIPHY
16 Hamsah Nasirildeen FS OLB Florida State
Senior 6’4″ 215 4.43
Why he’ll be a Bill: The Bills’ front office will love Nasirildeen’s measurables and versatility. He’s a FS OLB, which is perfect for the Bills with Hyde turning 30 on Dec 31 and looking for a new contract, and his 6’4″ height presents problems in pass defense for quarterbacks, especially with 6’5″ Tremaine Edmunds in there. His FIPS score is the highest along with Damar Hamlin, who I’ll get to in a bit. Add Hamsah’s experience, 33 games, which is top 3 among the Day 1-2 DBs, and I think we have a winner. Why He Won’t: The Beane Team hasn’t drafted a Florida State player. In fact, they haven’t had a credentialed Bills scout at a FSU game. Expect that to change if they’re interested in Hamsah or Asante Samuel, mentioned below.
Hamsah Nasirildeen via GIPHY
21 Jevon Holland FS PR Oregon
Junior 6’1″ 196 4.36
Why he’ll be a Bill: Holland is a Duck, and ducks have Bills. If you need more reasons than that, Holland comes from the secondary ranked highest in WAA [read about that here] so he’s a low-floor player, should he declare. As a freshman in 2018, Holland’s 5 INTs was the most an Oregon player has had since our very own Jairus Byrd (and see? Birds have Bills). Holland is also a good punt returner (244 PR yards), and we do need to add that experience. Of the seven RD1-2 players that could break 4.4 in the forty-yard dash in this fastest-ever DB class, Holland will likely be the biggest. The Bills took two PAC-12 players this year, Zack Moss and Isaiah Hodgins, the most ever. Doug Majeski is the Bills’ Coord. of College Scouting and West Area Scout, and it might indicate a shift in influence in the war room. I expect Holland and Tyson Campbell to be the Free Safeties available when the Bills pick. Why he won’t: I don’t have a good reason.
Jevon Holland via GIPHY
25 JaCoby Stevens SS OLB LSU
Senior 6’1″ 228 4.42
Why he’ll be a Bill: I like the size-speed combination, I love the school, and I like the fact he’s available in most early mocks in RD1. This LSU secondary is #3 in highest WAA (after Oregon and Georgia). Stevens was #6 in SEC in solo tackles in 2019 with 53, and we ask our safeties to be wrap-up tacklers. In my book, he’s top 3 in this draft class along with Damar Hamlin and Nisirildeen in tackling. My most viable argument for JaCoby becoming a Bill is that he’s a big candidate for the #18 jersey, and that carries a lot of weight in the Bills’ war room. That solid body type coupled with 4.42 speed would give the Bills someone that is built like a modern linebacker. Why he won’t: Miami Hurricane Jaquan Johnson is my biggest reason for passing on the LSU Tiger as the heir to SS Jordan Poyer’s throne. He’s going to be a revelation when Poyer needs a blow this season. While there’s little difference in Safety type on the Bills, I think they are looking for a Free Safety.
JaCoby Stevens via GIPHY
26 Caleb Farley CB KR Virginia Tech
RS Junior 6’2″ 197 4.3
Why he’ll be a Bill: Farleys 4.3 projected speed at the Combine may have been impressive in any other draft, but he’s not a shoo-in for the fastest corner this year. I see 5 corners in the running for that honor, depending on who’s declaring. Farley’s size at corner is top three, along with Trey Dean and Israel Mukuamu, and he’d be the biggest corner on the Bills (Josh Norman’s 6-0 200). The 155 kick-return yards is attractive. I like Farley’s athleticism (dual-threat quarterback in high school second-team All-State). Why he won’t: Beane’s minions have zero credentialed visits to Virginia Tech, plus there are 5 corners with more kick-return experience. While Farley has good ball skills at the catch point, he’s bottom-five in tackles.
Caleb Farley via GIPHY
32 Tyson Campbell FS CB Georgia
Junior 6’2″ 180 4.34
Why he’ll be a Bill: Georgia is #2 in Most WAA (with FS Jevon Holland’s Oregon Ducks). Tyson played CB last year with J.R. Reed and LeCounte (see below) at Safety, but Campbell will slide back to Free Safety this year, his more natural position, so I expect a healthy Campbell to make noise in 2020. He’s fast: Campbell is likely the fastest Safety at the Combine, should he declare, with Richard LeCounte III a close second. He’s opportunistic: 2 fumble-return TDs in the last 2 years. Plus, he’d be joining two Bulldogs taken by the Bills in last year’s draft, Jake Fromm and Tyler Bass. Why he won’t : Injuries last year results in bottom-3 number of games played, and the Bills have a history of taking the more experienced player. Campbell, Asante Samuel, and Ambry Thomas of Michigan are the three lightest DBs we’ll see drafted on Day 1 or 2.
Tyson Campbell via GIPHY
40 Paulson Adebo CB Stanford
Senior 6’1″ 190 4.36
Why he’ll be a Bill: With the Bills taking more PAC-12 players than they did during the Whaley era, why not look at the PAC-12’s INT leader in 2019 with 4? Adebo was expected to be a first-round draft pick last draft, but he returned to quash the questions about durability. I like Adebo’s anticipation combined with long hours of film study. Why he won’t: The durability question, if it’s not answered this year. With the exception of my pet cat Harrison Phillips, Stanford has been one of those schools Beane and his scouts have shied away from during his tenure as a Bills GM for whatever reason.
Paulson Adebo via GIPHY
42 Elijah Molden CB Washington
Senior 5’10” 186 4.4
Why he’ll be a Bill: Molden has all the tools to vie for a RD1 selection except for one: height. But Molden is solid, and packs a punch when he tackles, with a top-three level of production there. Farley and Molden share top honors among the Day-1 or -2 draftable CBs for second-most Passes Broken Up, with Asante Samuel Jr. the top dog. Why he won’t: The height may becoming an issue with taller WRs added recently in our division (Jets’ Cager and Mims, Fins’ Preston Williams, Pats’ N’Keal Harry and Quincy Adeboyejo). Washington is one of four “DB schools” not visited by Beane in his tenure (Washington, Florida State, Stanford, and Virginia Tech). Finally, Molden’s 22 games played is lowest among the RD1-3 corners.
Elijah Molden via GIPHY
52 Thomas Graham Jr. CB Oregon
Senior 5’11” 197 4.42
Why he’ll be a Bill: I love Graham’s attitude, first and foremost: Beane looks beyond mere football ability, and here he’ll see instincts, competitive spirit, sheer desire, and attention to detail in preparation. Graham has the most games played in the entire draft class of DBs at 40 entering his final season, sharing that honor with Memphis CB T.J. Carter and SS Marcelino Ball from Indiana. None of the three has missed a game in college, to my knowledge. If Jevon Holland declares, there could be three Oregon Duck DBs in this draft (see Deommodore Lenoir below). In 2019, the Ducks’ defense (under first-year DC Andy Avalos) led the PAC-12 in INTs (20), turnovers forced (23), and sacks (41). I can’t wait for Avalos’s second season. The GIF embedded below shows Graham’s “my ball” mentality, which I see over and over in games. Graham can pack a punch, too. Is his 5’11” height off-putting? Not likely; Taron Johnson, Tre White, and Dane Jackson are all the same height, and Gaines and Lewis are smaller. Why he won’t: Sorry. I got nothing.
Thomas Graham Jr. via GIPHY
53 Kary Vincent Jr. CB LSU
Senior 5’10” 182 4.24
Why he’ll be a Bill: The other LSU corner we took –what’s his name? Orgeron’s found another member of “CBU” in Kary Vincent, Jr. While he’d only be taller than Cam Lewis in that cornerback room, he’d be the room’s fastest. I won’t be shocked to see a 4.2 forty at this senior’s Combine. Another reason to like Vincent is that LSU is #3 in WAA (after Oregon and Georgia), so he’s already experienced working with a great defensive backfield. Kary’s 4 INTs in 2019 tied him for #2 in the WR-infested SEC. He added on 44 tackles, two TFL, and 13 PBU, second only to Asante Samuel. In the Beane/McDermott Era (’18-’20), a staggering 48% of players came from the SEC or ACC. Why he won’t: In a draft class stocked with fast cornerbacks, I don’t see Beane settling in RD1-2 for the smallest-looking one. Vincent’s speed would be mitigated in a zone-heavy defense, and his versatility compared to, say, Taron Johnson or Siran Neal at nickel is negligible.
Kary Vincent Jr. via GIPHY
56 Eric Stokes CB Georgia
RS Junior 6’1″ 185 4.25
Why he’ll be a Bill: The other speed demon from an SEC school is Eric Stokes. I prefer him over Vincent for two reasons: Stokes is taller and longer, and perhaps more importantly, he’s played exceptionally well in high profile games. In 2019, Stokes allowed just 3 catches on 5 targets for 41 yards against Florida’s Trask and only 1 catch on 2 targets for 9 yards against LSU’s Burrow. While all 3 schools have outstanding talent, Georgia is #2 in WAA (behind Oregon and ahead of LSU). Eric Stokes has the lower floor and a somewhat higher ceiling. Nice twitch.
Eric Stokes via GIPHY
59 Asante Samuel Jr. CB Florida State
Junior 5’10” 180 4.32
Why he’ll be a Bill: The other reason besides Hamsah Nasirildeen that might force the Bills to visit Florida State is the player my buddy Moose calls “a poor man’s Patrick Surtain”. You’ve likely heard the name before if you’re as …uh… seasoned as I. The New England Patriots selected his dad in RD4 of 2003 draft, and he had an 11-year career, four Pro-Bowls, and 51 INT. Even as a freshman, Surtain The Younger led all FSU players in PBU and flashed wrap-up tackling ability. He shows he’s a ball hawk like his father, as he was the only Power 5 DB in 2019 to log 14 PBUs and 45+ tackles. Tenacity, DNA, anticipation, tackling, ball skills, and football smarts make up for size, but because this class is loaded, he’s being mocked in the RD2-3 range for now. Here’s another chance to stick it to the Pats. Why he won’t: Something about Florida State has kept Beane and the scouts away. We’ll see if that continues in 2020.
Asante Samuel Jr. via GIPHY
60 Deommodore Lenoir CB Oregon
Senior 5’11” 202 4.42
Why he’ll be a Bill, excuse the bad rap: Oregon is growing DBs on trees, five if you count Pickett and Brady Breeze. The Oregon Ducks have led the way in the stat PFF coined, WAA. He’s prevented wideouts with INTs (four), and everyone pronounced his name wrong –it’s luh-NORE. In a loaded class with CBs galore, you could wait ’til Day 2 and you still can score. He ended his junior season with 47 tackles, 32 of them solo, two TFL, one forced (with tackles so low). He made 1 fumble recover-y, seven PBU, and one INT. Why he won’t: I don’t expect the Bills will take a CB after RD2 with the competition already in the room for a bookend for Tre White. Lenoir is right on that RD2-3 cusp.
Deommodore Lenoir via GIPHY
61 Andre Cisco FS Syracuse
Junior 6’0″ 203 4.46
Why he’ll be a Bill: The Bills will be looking long and hard for a FS for the long-term opposite Jaquan Johnson, and why not take the ACC leader in INTs in both 2018 and 2019? Cisco has made 12 INTs over the last 2 years. Also, why not take advantage of the attraction of Cisco’s school being down the Thomas E. Dewey Thruway from Buffalo? Cisco has the optimum size requirements for a zone safety position, but I’d want a touch more speed and experience under his belt. He’ll need to stay healthy and prove he can keep up with the WRs in this year’s Syracuse Orange schedule, including seniors Dez Fitzpatrick, Amari Rodgers, and Taysir Mack, plus juniors Chatarius Atwell, Tamorrion Terry, and maybe Justyn Ross. A few TEs, including NC State senior Cary Angeline and Louisville’s RS senior Jordan Davis, might cross Cisco’s path, as well.
Andre Cisco via GIPHY
66 Israel Mukuamu FS CB South Carolina
Junior 6’3″ 205 4.53
Why he’ll be a Bill: Tied for second in the SEC with 4 INT in 2019, Israel Mukuamu returns to his FS position this season.He’s a long, tall CB/FS with tremendous savvy and athleticism. The 6’3” Gamecock gave up only 19 catches on 286 coverage snaps last season. Of those 19 catches, 13 went for 9 yards or fewer. Teams just don’t test Izzy deep. His best game last year, ironically, was in SC’s overtime upset of Bills’ rookie Jake Fromm, when Mukuamu torched him for 3 INTs, one a pick-six. Let’s put it this way: Since 19% of Jake Fromm’s career INTs were thrown to Israel Mukuamu in one game; the Bills better draft him. He’s versatile, and Why he won’t: Of the draftable CBs, Mukuamu is one of the slowest at a 4.53 estimate, but as a zone safety, he’s right in the pocket. He doesn’t have enough experience yet at either position, and I’d urge him to stay another year.
Israel Mukuamu via GIPHY
68 Trevon Moehrig SS/OLB TCU
Junior 6’1″ 210 4.54
Why he’ll be a Bill: Just when you thought that “le-NORE” was the name most draftniks would butcher in this draft class, we throw “MARE-rig” at you. After Oregon, Georgia, and LSU, TCU is actually #4 in WAA, INT Ret Yds in 2019=70 (#4) Big 12. Moehrig (61 total tackles, 11 passes defended) was the highest-graded safety by Pro Football Focus last year, and per 247 Sports he had the third-best grade among safeties since the site started grading college players. If teams miss out on Nasirildeen, Moehrig is a great option. Why he won’t: We’re not likely looking for a SS. Also, TCU hasn’t been scouted since Kolby Listenbee, and TCU’s conference, the Big 12, has brought the Bills only one player under the McBeane reign, and that’s Cody Ford in 2019. Jerry Hughes doesn’t count; Indy drafted him.
Trevon Moehrig via GIPHY
89 Damar Hamlin FS/SS Pittsburgh
RS Senior 6’1″ 195 4.44
Why he’ll be a Bill: RD3 seems right for a Bills Free Safety, and the #89-96 big board range seems appropriate. What if the Bills take Dane Jackson’s teammate here? Damar Hamlin is the senior, and his best buddy, Paris Ford, is a junior, and I like them both, but expect Ford to stay in school. Hamlin has the height and experience. Ford has the top FIPS score in the draft class (Hamlin’s is #2). Hamlin and Ford play much the same role for Pittsburgh, so they have versatility going for them as well.
Damar Hamlin via GIPHY
97 Richard LeCounte III FS Georgia
Senior 5’11” 190 4.37
Why he’ll be a Bill: Say “Richard LeCounte Aye-Aye-Aye” in a French detective Inspector Clouseau voice. Isn’t that fun? The smaller DBs LeCounte and Tre Brown (next on my list) are still viable picks. LeCounte was also tied for #2 in the SEC for INTs,with Mukuamu. LeCounte has explosive acceleration that helps him make plays on the ball even when you think he can’t possibly do it. Why he won’t: Maybe I’m reading into this more than was said, but this is telling about whether LeCounte’s a team-first guy: “He’s bought in a little more into the understanding of what I have to [do] within this system,” Kirby Smart said. I’m going to listen to a few more interviews. And maybe watch Pink Panther again.
Richard LeCounte III via GIPHY
98 Tre Brown CB/KR Oklahoma
Senior 5’10” 185 4.36
Why he’ll be a Bill: The number one reason Tre Brown will be a Bill is his draft-class-leading 1,121 kick-return yards. Pro Bowler Andre Roberts is 32. There is nobody behind him with that kind of production. While Tre Brown isn’t likely going to knock anyone off their hold at CB, we need a good plan at returner. Why he won’t: I’d give that Christian Wade fella a tryout at kick returner instead of a mid-round CB who won’t see the field except for kickoffs.
Tre Brown via GIPHY
Editor’s babble: What a feast Dean Kindig provided for us here. We’re so grateful for all the time and effort Dean puts in (15 hours for this post) to give us his valuable insight. You can also find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.