Over the next few weeks, I’m going to present a series of articles that examine my favorite ‘sleeper’ NFL draft prospects for each of the Bills’ primary positions of need. These are generally players that I believe represent good value compared to where they’ll be drafted, and who I envision could find a role in the current Bills system. I’ll provide a player comparison, a brief scouting report, why I believe the player makes sense for Buffalo, and where the Bills should ideally consider drafting the player.
For good reason, I am going to start at the defensive tackle position. With Kyle Williams’ retirement and the majority of our free agent signings geared towards fixing the offense, I see the defensive tackle position beside Star Lotulelei as the only position on the roster where the Bills don’t have a viable starter. It’s therefore likely that the front office will draft a tackle with one of their first three picks. However, there could be draft day scenarios where drafting a tackle early doesn’t represent value and it’s also possible that the Bills draft more than one tackle, particularly with all of our draft capital on day three of the draft. In these cases, here are three players that I would love for the Bills to consider.
Daylon Mack, Texas A&M
Weight: 336 lbs
Where he would be a value for the Bills: Round 4 (Pick 131)
Strengths: Daylon Mack has an exceptionally thick, squatty frame that jumps out on tape. He’s short, with a low centre of gravity that should allow him to gain leverage against NFL competition early in his career. He’s very hard to move, can easily disengage against weaker competition and may appeal to 3-4 two gap teams looking for a nose tackle to occupy blocks. However, what I like most about him is his early explosion; he comes firing off the snap and simply overwhelms blockers at times. His 2018 tape shows a “pants on fire” player who consistently beats blockers to blow up run plays and provide pressure on passing downs.
Weaknesses:He’s extremely raw as a pass rusher. Despite his ability to beat blockers with power and bull rushes, he shows no nuanced approach and no real plan to finish plays. His technique is undeveloped, resulting in him often being off balanced and out of position. It could be a football IQ matter, but he could fix these issues with NFL calibre coaching Regardless, it’ll probably take some patience. Despite being 5-star recruit with lofty expectations, he’s been an underachiever most of his career. A bit of a boom or bust type.
Why he makes sense for Buffalo: Mack strikes me as a player who could wind up being a better pro than college player due to his rare speed to power conversion and first step explosion. While he’s probably more of a one technique than a traditional three-technique, I believe he could develop into a constant pressure generator with extensive technique refinement, or in the least, could provide the Bills with a solid space eating duo.
NFL Comparison: Poona Ford, Seattle Seahawks: Mack reminds me of Poona Ford in body type and sheer power. Like Mack, Ford’s tape was a fun watch last year, but Mack has a quicker first step. Ford went undrafted but played well for the Seahawks late last year
Trysten Hill, University of Central Florida
Where he would be a value for the Bills: Round 4 (Pick 112)
Strengths: The most noticeable thing when watching Hill’s tape is his explosiveness. He just overwhelms blockers with his get off and consistently disrupts run and pass plays. He demonstrated solid athleticism at the combine and his pro day, which means he may not be a true sleeper anymore. Close evaluation reveals a player with constant hustle and effort; when he’s on the field, he just does not take plays, or parts of plays, off. He’s also elevated his game in big games, evidenced by the 2018 Peach Bowl and UCF’s late year title game against Memphis. Overall, he has some great tape, to the point that its easy to convince yourself that his flaws and imperfections are worth taking a risk on.
Weaknesses: Hill has a ‘bad body’ for the position. He’s a little too top heavy, and evidently, he struggles with to anchor and sometimes gets pushed away from run plays. He’s going to need to learn how to temper his quickness because there are many draw or zone plays that he overruns or where he ends up easily eliminated. Most importantly, Hill’s character will need to be closely scrutinized. He was supposedly in the coaches doghouse this year, and there are whispers about motivation issues as well as him being outspoken. His playing time may have suffered because of issues with coaches.
Why he makes sense for Buffalo: I was struggling to include him as a fit for Buffalo because of the character and coachability concerns. However, none of these reports are overly alarming, and may reflect more on immaturity, or an issue with a specific coach this last year. You’re also just not going to find many defensive tackle prospects with as high a ceiling as Hill on day three of the draft. With solid depth type players at defensive tackle (Jordan and Harrison Phillips), and plenty of draft capital, the Bills are well positioned to take a swing on an upside type like Hill.
NFL Comparison: Vincent Taylor, Miami Dolphins. Its not just their similar hair; Taylor also had a ‘bad body’, was explosive on tape, and tended to over pursue plays due to his hustle. He’s played well when healthy for the Dolphins.
Michael Dogbe, Temple
Where he would be a value for the Bills: 6th round (Pick 181)
Strengths: Dogbe was a active, productive pass rusher at Temple. He gets his legs churning and uses his hands well to overpower and disengage from blockers. He’s extremely strong – as evidenced by his 34 reps on the bench press at his pro day- and it shows on tape. He’s been versatile in his career with Temple, and could project to 3 technique, 5 technique or possible left defensive end in a 4-3 front. He wore a single digit at Temple, which is reserved for players who exemplify character and leadership. It’s been noted that he’s a hard worker, and the work he’s put in has helped him consistently improve over his career.
Weaknesses: Dogbe is a bit undersized and it shows on tape. He weighed at 284 at his pro day, which is probably a little higher than his playing weight last year. He’s definitely not a quick twitch, bendy type, but relies on power and effort to win his reps. His stiffness will likely limit his pass rush potential for the next level.
Why he makes sense for Buffalo: I wanted to include Dogbe here, less for his talent, and more for his character and work ethic. He seems like a true ‘process’ guy that the current Bills brass will gravitate to. I don’t think he’ll ever be a starter, but his versatility across the line and leadership could find him a nice niche at the back of the roster.
NFL Comparison: Tyron Crawford, Dallas Cowboys: Perhaps not as much upside as Crawford, but Dogbe’s strength, level of effort and versatility are comparable.