Less than 72 hours removed from the final pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills are certainly looking better than they did one year ago. Fans have argued as to whether or not the Buffalo Bills actually improved on paper. Although it may not have been in the areas many of us were hoping for, this draft class definitely improved the team.
Yes, it’s disappointing that the Bills didn’t draft a Cornerback within the first two days of the draft. However, there were other positions on the roster that required depth. For instance, I didn’t take the need for swing tackle all too seriously. I was met with a backhand to the face by Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane, who drafted back-to-back Offensive Tackles. This goes to show that what we as Bills fans want for the team rarely aligns with what the people actually steering the ship want to do.
Buffalo Bills 1st Round – Pick 30
When the Bills were on the clock at pick 30, I was really hoping for an Edge Rusher or Cornerback. Asante Samuel Jr. and Joe Tryon were both available and had met with the Bills during the pre-draft process. Seeing them on the board gave me tunnel vision. When I saw the Buffalo Bills decided to draft Greg Rousseau, I was disappointed. However, after some time to think about it, I was thrilled because Rousseau has a lot of untapped potential.
Although he wasn’t the top name on my big board, I certainly understand why he was the pick. Yes, he only has one year of production. However, it was his first year playing that position and he produced on a very high scale. He was still able to tally 15+ sacks in a season without refined techniques. I might’ve grabbed someone who was more polished, but I really like the draft pick in hindsight. It says so much about the culture that has been instilled into the Buffalo Bills organization. Drafting an unfinished product like Rousseau works for both the player and team. Plugging Rousseau into a culture like Buffalo enables him to become the best version of himself.
Buffalo Bills 2nd Round – Pick 61
As much as drafting back-to-back Edge Rushers ruffled feathers, I was elated to see the Bills draft Carlos Basham Jr. After seeing how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got after Mahomes in the Super Bowl, I began to look into pass rushing prospects. Basham was one of the first I looked into and he checked all the boxes for me.
In my humble opinion, I believe he can be one of the best Edge Rushers in this draft class. I think the main reason he lasted so long is because of his age. At 23 years of age already, teams might have been worried that Basham is already a finished product. However, for the Bills, that’s a good thing. After drafting Rousseau in round one, Basham provides a sense of comfort with the high floor that he offers as a rookie.
Buffalo Bills 3rd Round – Pick 93
As I mentioned before, a backup Swing Tackle was not high on my personal priority list for the Buffalo Bills heading into this draft. However, drafting Spencer Brown makes a lot of sense from a team-building perspective. Protecting the franchise QB is as important as getting your franchise QB weapons. If he isn’t upright, he can’t get the ball to those weapons.
Although the Buffalo Bills re-signed Daryl Williams this off-season, there’s a potential out built into the contract. There’s no guarantee Williams can double down on his season he had last year. Brown is an insurance policy in case of injury and potential regression from Daryl Williams in 2021.
Buffalo Bills 5th Round – Pick 161
I might have been ok with drafting back-to-back edge rushers, but I was definitely confused with the direction of the draft after the Bills drafted Tommy Doyle. I love the prospect, but it didn’t make sense to me. With Dawkins, Williams, and Brown on the roster, it seemed like a waste of a pick.
However, Daryl Williams is not guaranteed to be on this roster in 2022. Therefore, Spencer Brown could be promoted to starting Right Tackle in 2022, which would make Tommy Doyle the next man up as the backup Swing Tackle on the roster. Yes, it would’ve been nice to spend this pick on someone who would have a more direct path to playing time. With that said, it’s comforting to know that Beane and McDermott are building a model for sustainable success rather than mortgaging the future.
Buffalo Bills 6th Round – Pick 203
When the Buffalo Bills traded out of the 174th overall pick with the Houston Texans, I was elated. I saw it as an opportunity for Brandon Beane to start attacking the various positions that were marked as areas for improvement. But before he did that, he decided to keep his eyes on the future when he drafted Marquez Stevenson.
Stevenson is a burner that brings a versatile skill set to the next level. He has the ability to primarily operate out of the slot, threaten as a deep threat on the boundary, and return kicks. It’s too early to tell, but Stevenson could find himself in a heated training camp battle with Isaiah McKenzie. Even if he loses that battle, he’s eligible for the practice squad and can take McKenzie’s place in 2022.
Buffalo Bills 6th Round – Pick 212
Perhaps my favorite pick of the Buffalo Bills 2021 Draft was Safety Damar Hamlin. After losing Dean Marlowe to the Detroit Lions in free agency, there was a vacancy at the safety position. Hamlin comes in as a very experienced and productive collegiate Safety. He’s a very well-rounded player that doesn’t do any one thing great but also doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses.
Hamlin will primarily serve as injury insurance for Micah Hyde and/or Jordan Poyer. As much as I like Hamlin, hopefully, that never has to happen. However, I think Hamlin also enables the Bills to use more defensive packages that include 3 Safeties. He has the versatility to support in the run game, play in the nickel, or drop back as a deep Safety. That versatility enables the Bills to be more creative with their coverage schemes moving forward.
Buffalo Bills 6th Round – Pick 213
After patiently waiting, the Buffalo Bills finally drafted a Cornerback with their third sixth-round selection. Rachad Wildgoose was not someone I was too familiar with, but it’s been fun getting to know his game. He’s a very physical Cornerback that likes to make his presence felt.
He may not be immediate competition for the CB2 competition, but he will contribute to the bully identity the Buffalo Bills are trying to create. Wildgoose plays a tough brand of football, which may be most immediately felt as a Nickel Corner and/or on special teams. Wildgoose showed me glimpses of the ability to contribute as a Boundary Corner, but it may take a little time before the coaching staff trusts him with that role opposite of White.
Buffalo Bills 7th Round – Pick 236
Interior Offensive Line was another position group that was believed to be of top priority to the Buffalo Bills entering the draft. However, they waited to address it with the last pick. That being said, I believe that found a great value pick in Jack Anderson.
Anderson is yet another player that makes his presence known to his opponents. He has the positional flexibility to play either Guard spot and Center. Ideally, he can compete for one of the two starting Guard positions. If he doesn’t win either of those gigs, he can still come in and be a great backup to Mitch Morse at the Center position.
Buffalo Bills 2021 Draft Class recap
The haul from this Buffalo Bills draft class paints a clear picture for me. In the past, the Bills felt more comfortable taking players with a large body of work and good production in college. In 2021, the Bills seemed comfortable adding superior athletes. I believe this is because they believe in the culture of the organization. Regardless of if you are a 1st round pick, 7th round pick, or an undrafted free agent, you have to earn your spot on the team. That blue-collar mentality really does make everyone the best version of themselves.
Furthermore, they believe in the coaching staff to refine the talent of these raw athletes. in 2021 the Buffalo Bills were certainly trying to add athleticism and they succeeded. You can coach scheme, technique, and situational football, but you can’t teach athleticism. With a deep roster already in place, these rookies won’t be expected to contribute heavily in year one. Rookie contributions are always welcome, but this patience is a luxury the Buffalo Bills have this year.
Air Raid Hour Recap
Last night on The Air Raid Hour, we had the honor of being joined by the owner of NFL Draft Diamonds, Damond Talbot. In addition to getting his reaction to the Buffalo Bills 2021 Draft Class, we talked about the undrafted free agents that the Bills managed to sign. We also got his thoughts on the Buffalo Bills picking up the fifth-year options on both Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds. Damond has an unbelievable wealth of knowledge when it comes to football in general and especially the Buffalo Bills.
Now that the NFL Draft is behind us, we didn’t end the show with our regularly scheduled mock draft. Instead, we asked Damond about some small school prospects to keep on our radar for 2022. If you missed us live, you can catch the replay linked and embedded above. You don’t want to miss us as we turn the page on the draft and begin to break down the 2021 Buffalo Bills roster.