Buffalo Bills: A week later; digesting the Bills draft class

Bills Draft Picks 2020

With the 2020 NFL Draft completed a week ago, we now have a clearer vision of what the Buffalo Bills will look like this upcoming season. With seven players selected in the draft and another nine added as undrafted free agents, the roster currently sits at 89 players. How should Bills fans evaluate this draft? What will be the contributions of these new players for this year and beyond? For this week’s Thursday Thought: A week later; digesting the Bills draft class, I’m going to go through each pick and tell you what to expect from these players and who they can become at the next level.

A.J. Epenesa, DE – Iowa

Hawkeyes' A.J. Epenesa declares for NFL Draft | OurQuadCities
A.J. Epenesa #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium on December 27, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Somehow Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa fell to the Bills at the 54th overall pick. A player once considered to be a surefire first-round pick saw his draft stock fall after having a subpar performance at the Scouting Combine. However, after taking a closer look at Epenesa, one can see, despite not having a ton of speed, why people are speaking so highly of him. He’s incredibly strong and smart, and always seems to get to the football in the backfield. His hands are ridiculous, as he packs tons of power with each jab on the offensive linemen. I think Epenesa will never be an elite defensive end, but I like the comparison Epenesa got during the pre-draft process: Carlos Dunlap.  From a production standpoint, this is really important, as Dunlap is a guy who consistently gets seven sacks or more each season.

Zack Moss, RB – Utah

Utah Utes' Zack Moss withdraws from Senior Bowl but has received ...
Utah running back Zack Moss (2) runs for a first down against Arizona during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri/AP file photo)

Moss, one of my favorite players in the draft, will be a perfect scheme fit for the Bills.  He’s not necessarily the thunder to Devin Singletary’s lighting. While having a similar skill set to Singletary, his running style focuses more on power than elusiveness. Moss is capable of making guys miss, but he usually just runs them over instead. He’s got great vision and contact balance, which have become the biggest things that Brandon Beane seems to look for in running backs. He can catch the ball very well too. This will allow the offense to be more unpredictable. Moss should be able to contribute as a rookie and give the Bills a little bit more than Frank Gore was able to last season.

Gabriel Davis, WR – UCF

Bills select WR Gabriel Davis from UCF | WHAM
Central Florida wide receiver Gabriel Davis (13) runs away from SMU safety Mikial Onu (4) for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)

Davis was exactly the player the Bills needed to add to their receiving core. He is a big, physical receiver that can get down the field and make plays. His route running will need a little bit of work, but this should be fine as he will  get to learn behind three tremendous route runners in Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley.  When he does come into games, he’ll be facing teams’ number four cornerback, which should give Davis some opportunities in 2020. However, Davis could take over as the number two receiver by the time John Brown’s contract expires after the 2021 season.

Jake Fromm, QB – Georgia

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) looks to throw the ball in a game against the Gators in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday, October 27, 2018.  (Times, 2018)
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) looks to throw the ball in a game against the Gators in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday, October 27, 2018. (Tampa Bay Times, 2018)

The Bills most “headlining grabbing” draft pick was the former Georgia star. Fromm was once considered a top 15 pick in the draft, but after having a disappointing season, he fell to the fifth round. Fromm will not be competing with Josh Allen for the starting quarterback job. However, a comparison that I like for Fromm is Colt McCoy; a smart guy, who wins with accuracy, touch, and anticipation. McCoy has been a very reliable and steady backup quarterback for his entire career in Washington. This is what Jake Fromm hopefully will be for Buffalo.

Tyler Bass, K – Georgia Southern

Tyler Bass: Buffalo Bills draft Georgia Southern kicker in sixth round
Orlando, Florida, USA; Georgia Southern Eagles place kicker Tyler Bass (16) on the sidelines during the first quarter of the Cure Bowl against the Liberty Flames at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory (Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports)

Not too much to say here; Bass has a crazy strong leg and could compete with Stephen Hauschka for the kicker position this offseason. Will Bass make the roster? He might. This move, if anything, gives Hauschka real competition and will either push him to have a better season, or he’ll get beat out by Bass. Either way, it’s worth a sixth-round pick.

Isaiah Hodgins, WR – Oregon State

Oregon State Beavers vs. Cal Poly
Oregon State receiver Isaiah Hodgins (Sean Meagher/OregonLive)

The most fascinating pick by the Bills was taking Hodgins in the sixth round. He is a big receiver (6’4” and 210 lbs.) who has very little downfield speed. However, before you start thinking that the Bills have another Kelvin Benjamin on their hands, there is one big difference between Hodgins and other big-bodied receivers that the Bills have had in the past. Hodgins can run routes. He’s got a nasty double move that cornerbacks bite on consistently and he can create separation. Hodgins projects best to be a big slot receiver who can find the soft spots in zone coverage and be a goal-line beast (20 career touchdowns). Not to mention, Mel Kiper believes that Hodgins has the best hands in the draft. 

Dane Jackson, CB – Pittsburgh

Dane-Jackson-pitt-panthers-defensive-back-nfl-draft
Dane Jackson (Matt Sunday/DKPS)

Jackson is a typical Sean McDermott type of player. He’s super competitive and plays his tail off until he hears the whistle. Jackson likely will be a special team’s contributor for the Bills and later on, could compete to be the nickel corner for the Bills. Athletically, Jackson didn’t test amazingly well, but like Epenesa and Hodgins, when you turn on the tape you can see a true football player who seems to make plays. Jackson also brings much-needed depth to the secondary.

There you have it. The 2020 Buffalo Bills Draft class. Was it spectacular? No, but it didn’t need to be. This roster is already so talented and well rounded, that it just needed to fill in the few cracks that remained (which it did). The expectation of winning the AFC East this year should still remain for the Bills who own the best roster top to bottom in the division.    

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