Mock Draft Monday: Calm Before the Free Agent Storm

Philosophy

I am approaching these mocks as though I am Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott. Meaning as the days and weeks progress, I will try and “read the tea leaves” in predicting trades and player selections. As of now, the needs are endless, and there have been only a few hints as to where the Bills could be leaning. As the weeks progress and needs are filled and player and pro day visits come in, these mocks will change drastically.

This week I am mocking as though Levi Wallace, Robert Foster, Spencer Long, and Josh Norman are only sure-fire off-season additions. This means I have many “needs” that must be filled through the draft.

Team Needs

Major Needs: Edge Rusher, Wide Receiver

Moderate Needs: Secondary Running Back, Offensive Line Competition, Linebacker

Needs: Tight End, Defensive Tackle Depth, Secondary Depth, Punter

The Draft

Round One

#22 AJ Epenesa, Edge Rusher, Iowa – 6’6″, 280

AJ Epenesa’s combine almost assures he will be there for the Bills at pick #22. While he isn’t a bendy, finesse rusher like many would want, he fits exactly what Sean McDermott is looking for. He will be stout setting the edge and powerful enough to bully tackles and get 6-10 sacks a season. Will he ever be an elite edge rusher in the NFL? Probably not. But he will probably always be a guy just on the outside of that conversation. Think Greg Hardy without the baggage. Not to mention, McDermott loves his Iowa guys.

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Exact quote from McDermott: “I always love guys from Iowa because of the culture they come from.” pic.twitter.com/CepQeGu9DK

Round Two

Trade: Picks #54, #188, #207 to Carolina for #38 and #221

#38 Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver, Clemson – 6’4″, 215

I am personally not the biggest fan of Tee Higgins. I don’t think he has the speed to ever be a #1 alpha wide receiver. I am concerned that he just outright skipped the NFL combine. However, this draft isn’t about me. It is about the Bills Front Office. Both Benjamin Albright and Joe Marino, two very reputable sources, have been told by people on the inside that the Bills are quite fond of Higgins. Here the Bills trade up with their old friends in Carolina to secure him early in the second round.

Duke Williams had 10 targets in the wildcard game against the Houston Texans despite hardly playing all year. Allen proved in that game he can make the tight window throws necessary to have a receiver like Higgins in his arsenal. Think of Williams as a souped-up version of Duke Williams.

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Tee Higgins my lord 😱😱 pic.twitter.com/DBw56IVT6H

Trade: Pick #86, #125 to Seattle for Pick #64

#64 Terrell Burgess, Nickel CB / Safety, Utah – 5’11”, 192

The Bills move up on day two to fill two needs in one with Terrell Burgess. Another option here is small school safety Kyle Dugger. The Bills were one of the first teams to start scouting him. Josh Norman has come in to compete with Levi Wallace opposite Tre White, so, in this scenario, boundary corner is settled. Hyde and Poyer are locked in at the starting safety spots. However, Poyer is a free agent next year and Taron Johnson is injury prone and struggled against bigger receivers in the slot. Burgess is a player who can eventually succeed Poyer at safety and in the meantime contribute as an upgrade in the Dean Marlowe/Siran Neal role.

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Utah’s defense had a ton of good players this past season, but the best one I’ve seen on tape is Terrell Burgess. Dude was legitimately elite in 2019, his first year as a starter. Thread of some of his best plays:

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Burgess hardly ever played single-high free safety in the six games I watched. Hard to get a feel for if he can do it or not, but he’s so good in man coverage, I’d use him mostly there. https://t.co/XeLAT5LHZL

Round 5

#155 Shaquille Quarterman, Linebacker, Miami – 6’1″, 241

First and foremost, the Bills are bringing in Quarterman for a free agent visit, so you know the interest is there. If no free agent is brought in, Quarterman would immediately compete with Vosean Joseph and Tyrell Dodson to fill a part of the role left by the retirement of Lorenzo Alexander. My guess is these players would not see the field as much as McDermott would start to implement more of his “Big Nickel” philosophy and make this position no more than a two down option.

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Canes LB Shaquille Quarterman will make a private ‘official 30’ visit with the #Bills. This is the first official 30 visit for the Bills this draft season.6’0″ 234 lbs (Senior) pic.twitter.com/vnS7mVxPGq

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Shaquille Quarterman with a nice stop on Perine in space #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/uDDHMKAvbi

#167 Patrick Taylor Jr., Running Back, Memphis – 6’3, 227

My biggest regret in this draft is not grabbing a running back I like earlier in the draft. As Brandon Beane would say, it is “just how the board fell.” In this scenario, Yeldon is your running back #2 and Taylor comes in with a chance to push him. At 6’3, 223 Taylor can be a bruiser, but he has some shiftiness and pass-catching ability. His tape will remind you of former Bill Chris Ivory.

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Memphis RB Patrick Taylor Jr. (@PatrickTaylor_6) HighlightsComing off a 1,122 yard season with 16 rushing touchdowns, Taylor Jr. will anchor Memphis’ high powered offense in 2019. He already has 34 career scores & will add a lot more #GTGFull Video 🎥: https://t.co/AxokMk7Ykh pic.twitter.com/rQPRagkZFL

Round 7

#221 Lynn Bowden, Gadget WR, Kentucky – 6’1″, 199

The Bills have made contact with Bowden, and he provides tremendous flexibility for a late-round pick. If Tee Higgins is the Bills choice at wide receiver, he offers almost no special teams value. This gives Robert Foster a leg up on a wide receiver position because of his ability to play gunner on punts. Bowden is a selfless player having switched to option quarterback at Kentucky due to multiple injuries at the position. He can compete with Isaiah McKenzie as the “gadget” receiver and with Andre Roberts as a return man. He is known for his shiftiness in space and has the speed to develop as a down the field receiver. At worst, he is a great practice squad stash.

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ATH/WR/RB Lynn Bowden Jr (Kentucky, 6′ 1″, 199 lbs). This guy can do it all and is fast. I put him in as WR but he can be a RB on a certain scheme. Stats: (38 games) 206 Receptions, 1530 Rec Yards, 7.4 Avg, 13 TD, 114 Rushes, 1303 Rush Yards, 11.4 Avg, 6 Rush TD….

Positives of This Draft

The Bills add day one contributors in Epenesa, Higgins, Burgess and possibly Quarterman. Taylor and Bowden have long term potential as offensive contributors.

Where This Draft Fails

Offensive Line

I made a conscious decision not to address offensive linemen in this draft. I feel the Bills will address this in free agency. Worst case scenario, you get Waddle back to act as swing tackle to Nsekhe and move Ford inside and keep Long as your versatile swing guy on the interior. Not ideal, but it was a decision I made based on the information we have so far.

Defensive Tackle

I think the Bills really want to add a defensive tackle. They have been linked to DJ Reader in free agency and Ross Blacklock in the Draft. However, in this scenario, there are just too many other needs. They can coax Liegut back, and have he and Vincent Taylor compete to be DT #4. Not ideal but serviceable.

Tight End

There simply is no way based on their needs the Bills can take a Tight End early in the draft. After Day Two, I could not justify adding a player I cannot confidently say is better than Kroft, Smith, and Sweeney.

Rate This Draft!!!

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter to let me know what you think. My handles are @JudgeMathes and @TheBillsGuys!

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