After months of anticipation and countless debates, disagreements, and mock drafts, the 2022 NFL Draft is finally in the books. Over the course of three days, the Buffalo Bills drafted eight new members to join their squad. Brandon Beane & Co. worked their tails off and appear to have made all the right moves for the future of the Bills.
We all know what Kaiir Elam, James Cook, and Terrell Bernard are capable of; they were picked early for a reason. But what about the Bills’ Saturday picks? Who are they and what do they bring to the table?
Let’s take a look at the five picks the Buffalo Bills made on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Round 5 (Pick 148): WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State
The Bills drafted playmaking Boise State Bronco Khalil Shakir with their first pick on Saturday. Many expected Shakir to sneak into the third round, but to the delight of the Bills, he fell (almost) right into their hands in the fifth.
Shakir seemed to be part of Brandon Beane’s master plan this entire time. According to The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia, Beane would have taken Shakir at 130 if they didn’t trade it away to the Ravens to secure Elam in the first round.
Shakir put up some outstanding numbers during his four years at Boise State. In 279 plays from scrimmage (both receiving and rushing), Shakir had 3,200+ total yards and 24 total touchdowns. On top of that, he made some insane highlight reel SportsCenter Top-10 catches that made my jaw drop when I was watching them.
Although he lacks speed, his overall production and playmaking ability are huge pluses for the Buffalo Bills offense. Don’t be surprised if he develops into a starter sooner than later.
Round 6 (Pick 180): P Matt Araiza, San Diego State
Two words: Punt. God.
It was almost inevitable that Araiza would find his way to the Bills; it was just a matter of when he would be selected. Especially to a team that rarely punted the season prior.
Despite being considered the consensus top punter in his class by multiple draft experts, Araiza was the third punter taken behind Penn State’s Jordan Stout and Georgia’s Jake Camarda. In fact, it was just the third time since 1993 that two punters were taken before the end of the fourth round. Regardless, the Bills got their guy in a perfectly respectable spot.
The 2021 Ray Guy award winner put up some seriously ridiculous punting numbers last season. He had 18 punts of 60-plus yards, two at 80 or more. His net average of nearly 50 yards on open-field punts led the NCAA.
On top of all of this, he is not afraid to hit. Araiza has laid the boomstick multiple times throughout his collegiate career. Hopefully, that’s a trait that will carry over to his professional career.
Araiza is definitely “for the brand” and Buffalo has found their punter of the future.
Round 6 (Pick 185): CB Christian Benford, Villanova
With the second sixth round-selection for the Buffalo Bills, Beane took FCS stud Christian Benford out of Villanova.
Benford is a physical cornerback with a knack for turnovers. In 36 games for the Wildcats, Benford accumulated 137 tackles, 14 interceptions, and defended 47 passes. His resume also includes being named First Team All-CAA three times and the 2018 CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Benford has the potential to develop into a solid depth piece in the Bills’ zone defense, and even more potential to be a perfect special teams candidate within his first few seasons under coach Sean McDermott. I see him fitting in nicely with the Bills.
Round 6 (Pick 209): OL Luke Tenuta, Virginia Tech
It seems Brandon Beane has a type with his linemen. With their third and final pick of the sixth round, the Buffalo Bills went with Luke Tenuta, the 6’9” tackle out of Virginia Tech.
Despite his size, this was one of the first head-scratchers the Bills made. No, I do not expect the Bills to be drafting their starters in the later rounds of the draft, but with other names still on the board, I was a little surprised.
The son of former Virginia Cavaliers defensive back Jon Tenuta, Luke has experience at both tackle positions while playing at Tech. A 2021 All-ACC Honorable Mention, Tenuta uses his size both to his advantage and disadvantage. It may be easier for him to seal off defenders, but his height causes leverage problems.
On top of all of this, he has less than ideal length. His arms are about an inch and a 1/4 smaller than the ideal length of an NFL tackle. An intangible, but a very important one in the pros.
I hope I’m wrong, of course, but I don’t see Tenuta doing much for the Bills unless he has a stellar preseason and summer camp. Hopefully, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer can develop Tenuta into a more well-rounded lineman at the professional level.
Round 7 (Pick 231): LB Baylon Spector, Clemson
With their last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Buffalo went with Clemson linebacker Baylon Spector. Beane is known to double up on positions in the draft, but I did not expect it to be at linebacker.
A Clemson legacy, Spector has five years of college football experience with two years starting at weakside linebacker. His college head coach, Dabo Swinney, had some very high praise for one of his defensive leaders.
“Baylon is a true Will (linebacker) that can really cover and play the edge, but can also move in and play Mike,” Swinney said. “I think that he’s got outstanding Day 1 potential with his size, with his speed, with his experience, and with his knowledge of the game but also his ability to be a Day 1 starter on special teams on all core teams.”
Nonetheless, his defensive mindset and ability to make plays is a plus for the Bills, or for any other team. Although he lacks the ideal length and isn’t the best tackler, I could see Spector becoming another big-time special teamer for the Bills, but he does need to beat out Tyler Matakevich, Andre Smith, and Tyrel Dodson for a roster spot in a pretty filled linebacker room.
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- College stats courtesy of Sports Reference
- Draft picks courtesy of Brandon Beane
- Scouting reports courtesy of The Draft Network and Lance Zierlien
- Araiza stats/information courtesy of CBS Sports
- Dabo Swinney quote courtesy of The Clemson Insider