3-Round Mock Draft: Bills Secure Tackle Early
With 10 total picks and several positional needs on an up-and-coming roster, Buffalo Bills fans should be very eager for this year’s NFL Draft. Following an impressive 2018 rookie class that produced playmakers on both sides of the field, Buffalo should look to continue their success through the draft as the organization settles into their new-look franchise under Josh Allen and Sean McDermott. As May nears closer, Buffalo’s needs are bright and obvious: pass catchers, protection, and interior defensive lineman (we miss you, Kyle Williams).
Bills nation should feel pretty confident that all three of these needs will be addressed. The question now becomes: in what order? There’s always the ‘best available’ strategy that may seem logical, but in the case of Buffalo, certain priorities must be attended to early.
Top-10 pick early that is.
Round 1, Pick #9: Jawaan Tayor, OT, Florida
The tape never lies: Buffalo’s offensive struggles in 2018 began with an inferior offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranked the 2018 Bills offensive line 26th in the NFL in overall production. According to the National Football League’s website, Buffalo sat in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed and quarterback hits allowed this past year.
Oh, and 6x Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. THREE. POINT. TWO.
University of Florida’s Jawaan Taylor makes a lot of sense for this spot. At 6’5” 334 lb, Taylor is a monstrous protector with phenomenal mobility for his stature. The Draft Network eulogized the former Gator for his pass protection abilities, raving that he possesses, “rare lateral movement skills for his size…effectively uses his length and widens the rusher’s path.” By bulking the offensive unit with a dominant tackle—who specializes on the right side—the Bills are helping Josh Allen comfortably improve upon his pocket skills moving forward.
Round 2, Pick #40: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The receiving core of the Buffalo Bills has been an underachieving unit for quite some time now. While young talents like Zay Jones and Robert Foster saw flashes of stardom towards the end of the 2018 campaign, it’s tough to tell if these successes will carry through to the 2019 season. After all, no receiver to suit up in the royal blue and red has amassed 700+ receiving yards in a season since Sammy Watkins in 2015. It may be time to present second-year Allen with a new toy.
Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry is nothing short of a physical specimen lining up on the outside. The Sun Devil junior earned two First-team All-Pac-12 honors in his three years at ASU, including two 1000+ yard receiving efforts. While Harry may not possess the top-tier speed that other prospects like Marquise Brown and Parris Campbell hold, his toughness and elite contested catch ability could make him an immediate threat in a Buffalo offense that lacks receiver size. When you’re the 30th ranked offense in points AND yards, offensive playmakers are never a bad idea.
Round 3, Pick #74: Gerald Willis III, DT, Miami
The defensive line has been cushioned with talent for several years in Buffalo. Former Pro Bowlers Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, and Mario Williams were dominant over the last several years in Orchard Park, but this may be why the Bills have rarely addressed the front four in the past few drafts. Fast forward to the current state: no NFL team has allowed more rushing touchdowns over the past three years than the Bills.
Run-stuffers: where you at?
Enter Gerald Willis III. Willis III—the younger brother of star NFL safety, Landon Collins—is a very under-touted prospect in this year’s draft. Due to character concerns and an unfortunate MCL tear before his 2016 campaign, Willis III was only able to muster up one full college season before declaring for this year’s draft. So, why is he worthy of an early 3rd round grade? In simplest terms: immediate production. In 2018, the Miami defensive tackle earned the Outland Trophy for the nation’s best interior lineman in his first eligible month, along with Second-team All-American honors for the season. If Buffalo is fortunate enough to find themselves with a chance at Willis III in the 3rd round, Leslie Frazier could be gifted a legitimate weapon.