Well, the sun has set on the 2019 NFL Draft, and the city of Nashville put on one hell of a party. To the surprise of most and the expectation of few, the Buffalo Bills were the belle of the ball this year. Somehow Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott were able to seamlessly marry the daunting tasks of drafting for need and acquiring the best player available. This type of success is becoming somewhat of a new standard for the regime as they continue to make their mark on the franchise. With that, allow me to introduce you to the newest members of the Buffalo Bills and how each pick was graded in this year’s crop of talent.
Round 1, Pick 9:
Ed Oliver– DT, Houston
When the word luck is mentioned, it should forever be tied to the Buffalo BIlls 9th overall pick this year. The team landed an absolute blue chip freak who has drawn comparisons to Aaron Donald, without playing a single snap of pro ball. Granted, nothing is guaranteed in this league, Oliver is as close to a sure thing as you can get. It took a couple head scratching picks to allow him to fall into the welcoming laps of Brandon Beane and company, but if you listen to both parties speak, it was a match made in football heaven. Oliver will come in and compete from day 1 for the starting defensive tackle spot alongside Star Lotulelei. The natural burst, strength and ability to get into the backfield and cause havoc is exactly what the team needs following the departure of future hall of famer, Kyle Williams. Oliver is what happens when need and want decide to get on the same page and make beautiful music.
Round 2, Pick 6:
Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma
As fate would have it, luck would strike twice this weekend as Cody Ford, a forecasted first round talent falls into the early second round for the Bills. After a plethora of linemen were signed this offseason, there is no doubt that this offensive line improved drastically after an abysmal 2018 campaign. Ford will likely come in with the chance to challenge these acquisitions for a starting position, without the pressure of needing to start day one. Touted as a maller, Ford is going to bring a nasty streak that resembles the skill set of one Richie Incognito, minus the off field issues. After these short term, stop gap contracts expire of the Bills, Ford will be ready and waiting to slide into that key role for the team with ease. The only thing that keeps this move from a perfect grade is the draft stock that the team had to give up to move forward to nab Ford. However, the team felt it was necessary to trade that draft stock and move up to get the future of their offensive line.
Round 3, PIck 11
Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic
With Lesean McCoy on the wrong side of 30, and in the final year of his contract, it only makes sense to go after the player whose pro comparison was Shady himself. A shifty, elusive back that lacks the traditional height you would expect at the next level, Singletary will have the luxury of not needing to take over right away. Much like Ford, Singletary will be granted the rare chance to learn from those above him, while being granted the chance to fight for playing time this year. To be honest, taking one year behind two future hall of famers in McCoy and Frank Gore is not a bad way to spend your rookie season. With the only remaining running back under contract after this year being TJ Yeldon, this move was made with the future in mind. The primary criticism that hovers around Singletary is his 5’7” stature. History has shown plenty of running backs that have sustained success despite lacking traditional size. Only time will tell if Singletary will follow suit with these players.
Round 3, Pick 33
Dawson Knox, TE, Mississippi
This year’s draft class was deceivingly deep at the tight end position. All of the attention mostly surrounded Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson, the duo from Iowa that both ended up as first round selections. However, when you are teammates with DK Metcalf and AJ Brown, both of which were given first round grades, it is understandable to see yourself fly under the radar. Knox was never really given the chance to allow his skill set to be on full display during his tenure at Ole Miss. However, after giving up 2 picks in the 4th round to get him, Buffalo clearly saw something they liked. Prior to the signing of Knox, the team’s roster saw Tyler Kroft and Jason Croom as the top two players on the depth chart for tight end. This pick up will challenge both of them for the starting role. It also gives the team a solid run blocker, and a better chance to run some of the two tight end packages that have been so successful in the league as of late.
Round 5, Pick 9
Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida
When the later rounds start to come around, teams need to start getting creative and begin to look at the best player available, as opposed to trying to fill a need. Vosean Joseph, seemed to do both for the Bills in round 5. Granted, he is going to be a bit of a project, this young man has a motor that does not stop. He has a way of finding the ball and attacking it that seems fluid and natural. However, at times he seems to be lost on the field as well. In his scouting reports, it was cited several times that in order to maximize his potential, he would need a coach that could help develop his football IQ. Seems like Joseph may have lucked out with McDermott. For now, expect to see Joseph making his mark on special teams, while serving as a depth pick up at linebacker.
Round 6, Pick 8
Jaquan Johnson, S, Mia (FL)
Johnson was expected to be off the board in the 5th round, due to his physicality and play making abilities. A captain for the Hurricanes and an admired locker room presence made him a talent that has come to be the standard for anyone playing under Sean McDermott. Johnson made a name for himself after compiling 6 interceptions and 188 tackles, despite missing time with injury during his final two seasons in Miami. As of now, he is expected to compete for the back up position behind Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, while possibly earning his roster spot on special teams.
Round 7, Pick 11
Darryl Johnson, Edge, North Carolina A&T
Prior to the draft, the only edge rusher the Bills had under contract after this season was Trent Murphy. So it made sense to add to the position somewhere in the draft. Darryl Johnson is a highly interesting prospect for the team moving forward. He will definitely be a project fo the coaching staff, and will likely not see much playing time this season. However, at 6’5”, he is enough of a physical specimen to earn a spot in the league. In his final college season, he amassed 8.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. Though he needs to work on his strength at the next level, as well as adding to his pass rushing repertoire, when Johnson finds his way into the backfield, he makes himself known.
Round 7, Pick 14
Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College
Depth is the word when it comes tight ends this year in Buffalo. After the group mentioned early in the Dawson Knox summary, Beane and McDermott looked deep into the final round to pick up another difference maker in Sweeney. He is a complete combo tight end that can do a bit of everything well. He lacks the overall athleticism that was displayed by players taken in earlier rounds, which explains his day 3 grade. However, there will always be a need for a player who can do a bit of everything at their position.
So there you have it, a quick insight to all of the players selected to the BIlls in this year’s draft class. There seems to be a healthy mix of immediate help, as well as plans for the future, which is the ideal place teams want to be. Overall, the team can head home to Buffalo with their heads held high, knowing they absolutely crushed this year’s draft.
Overall Grade: A-