The Buffalo Bills are getting close to the point when they are ready to head back to base to deliberate over all the scouting work they have done for this draft class. Now, as fans, we can sit back and speculate for the next month over what they are going to do, even though none of us have a clue. Yes, some of us are more informed than others or have more logical thought processes about the draft, but no one is going to be right. At the end of the day, the people that will be able to brag about their draft predictions will be those that are the least wrong out of the bunch, as everyone is going to be wrong … just to varying extents.
Throughout this pre-draft process, we all fall in love with certain prospects. To shout out a few Buffalo Fanatics contributors, there’s Casey Reed (@CashOutBF) with offensive tackle, Spencer Brown, Zach Vaughn (@zvaughn2712) with interior offensive lineman, Quinn Meinerz, and Dave Tilton (@tiltmoney) with his fellow NC State Wolfpack alum, defensive tackle, Alim McNeill. We all have draft crushes that we end up picking almost every time we do a mock draft, and I’m sure the guys I mentioned above do the same. This is an exercise to step out of our comfort zone, as one collective Bills Mafia, and look into some prospects we may not have heard much about that are linked to the Buffalo Bills.
Sleeper #1: DB – Darren Hall (SDSU)
Back on March 11th, Justin Melo of The Draft Network reported that the Bills were in contact with Darren Hall and had an upcoming interview with him. Once I got that news, Hall was immediately put on my shortlist of prospects to look into as possible Buffalo Bills targets in the draft. However, it wasn’t until this past weekend that I actually watched his film, and boy, was I delighted to see that the Buffalo Bills scouting department is on their game.
Hall might be ranked as the 324th best player on The Draft Network and just barely cracked the top 300 on PFF’s rankings, but from what I saw, this guy is easily a day three pick. Even more, I could see a team falling in love with his game enough to pick him in Round 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
According to Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb), Hall scored an 8.02 total relative athletic score (RAS) out of a possible 10. The only areas that he came in below average were his weight, at 188 pounds, and his three-cone drill at 7.12 seconds. After watching his tape, I saw no reason to question his physicality at all, and he showed excellent footwork in coverage. On top of these traits, Hall recorded 16 pass breakups and one interception in 2019 to illustrate his above-average ball skills. While Hall does have some experience at the safety position, he projects best as a boundary cornerback in my opinion. With that being said, his willingness, physicality, and efficiency in run support could make him a viable option in the slot, giving him inside and outside flexibility at the cornerback position.
Sleeper #2: WR – Michael Strachan (University of Charleston)
Similar to Darren Hall, Strachan was reportedly linked to the Buffalo Bills back in March. I did the same thing, put him down on my shortlist, and pushed him to the side. Yet again, this is another guy that isn’t getting the kind of love that he deserves during this pre-draft process. This past week on the Nap Knows Buffalo Podcast, the special guest was Damond Talbot, owner of Draft Diamonds. Talbot explains on the podcast why Strachan is such an intriguing prospect entering the draft and why he should be getting more love. If you haven’t listened to this episode, I highly recommend it!
Furthermore, our own co-host of The Air Raid Hour, Steve Mathes, had a chance to sit down and personally interview Strachan. Apparently, Strachan and his agents are rather confident that he will be drafted before day three. Personally, I initially ruled out the possibility of drafting a receiver like Strachan because I felt like the Bills would only add a receiver in the draft if he adds value in the return game. However, I have since pivoted from that standpoint, and I think others should too.
Although the Buffalo Bills have a stacked receiver room, Beasley isn’t getting any younger coming off an injured leg, and Sanders is on a one-year deal. This means that the future of the wide receiver position is up for grabs, so don’t be surprised if the Bills take one in this draft, and maybe take one earlier than expected.
Strachan is an absolute unicorn standing at 6’5″ and weighing about 225 pounds, but he can also move for his size. He ran a 4.54 40 yard dash, which may not seem all that fast, but when you combine his size with that speed it creates instant mismatch opportunities all over the field. Strachan absolutely popped off in 2019, his last season as a Golden Eagle, with 78 receptions for 1,319 total receiving yards, and a whopping 19 touchdowns. That’s a combination of size and production that merits looking deeper into.
Sleeper #3: OT – Tommy Doyle (Miami University)
Don’t be fooled by this one. He’s a sleeper for a reason. Tommy Doyle was a Miami Redhawk that played in the state of Ohio, not a Miami Hurricane that played in Florida. I didn’t know much about this guy at all before yesterday, but I’m guessing most of the reason he’s being overlooked is because of his competition level.
Prior to yesterday’s recording of The Air Raid Hour, a new RAS score was posted on Twitter by @MathBomb. It was Tommy Doyle, and he scored a 9.9 out of a possible 10. So I proceeded to look into it, and the dude is 6’8″. On top of that, he isn’t slender; he’s 320 pounds. Later that day when Dean Kindig joined the show, he let us know that Buffalo Bills offensive line coach, Bobby Johnson, was at his pro day. This isn’t a coincidence; the Bills have some level of interest.
This kind of interest from the Bills and little knowledge on his ability from my end makes Doyle the next prospect that I plan to look into. I suggest other Bills fans do the same. Given the recent signing of Bobby Hart and swift news that the Buffalo Bills are also interested Le’Raven Clark, it’s obvious that backup offensive tackle is a position that the team feels they need to improve. If it can be done through the draft, great; and hopefully that guy can be Tommy Doyle.
Last night, we had the opportunity to have Dean Kindig on The Air Raid Hour. Dean was a wealth of knowledge and a pleasure to have on the show. We would love to have him back again to run another mock draft. I think all three of us agreed that last night was our best mock draft of the year so far. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out at this link.
During the late rounds of the mock draft we talked about a couple of sleeper names, including Shane Simpson and Avery Williams. Both Simpson and Williams have been in contact with the Buffalo Bills and both provide value as returners.
Simpson is a running back who started his collegiate career at Towson University and transferred to the University of Virginia for the 2020 season. Despite limited touches, Simpson was actually pretty efficient with those touches. On 67 total offensive touches in 2020, Simpson averaged over six yards per touch and scored three touchdowns. Additionally, Simpson had six kick returns for 189 yards which is an average of 31.5 yards per kick return.
Williams is a four-year starting cornerback from Boise State. He has some production and ability defending from the nickel corner position, but he also provides most of his value on special teams. With that being said, unlike Simpson, Williams offers more than just nine touchdown returns in four years. He also has two blocked punts, which helped propel him to being a two-time Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year. This kind of double-pronged contribution cannot be underestimated going into draft season. Keep your eyes on Avery Williams from Boise State, he might be picked earlier than expected.