The Bills need LB depth, but it isn’t that dire. Edmunds is in his final year, but he will be getting an extension; his contribution to this defense is immeasurable. Also, Milano and Miller are under contract for the next few years. As such, the Bills can wait until day 3 to fill that LB hole.
Here are the top 10 prospects I think the Bills should target in those later rounds.
1. Mike Rose, Iowa (6’4”, 250lbs)
Rose is a big guy and refuses to be simply knocked out of the way. He has good body control and uses it all in pursuit of the ball to make the tackle. He had five INTs in 2020, showing his ability to track the ball. His speed could become a liability if left alone in the open field. Would make for a great backup and eventual starter should the need arise.
2. Zakoby McClain, Auburn (6’0”, 219lbs)
McClain reminds me of McDuffie, in the sense that he’s small, but doesn’t let that affect his game. He’s explosive and aggressive with some quick and fancy footwork. He too, is a backup that could become a starter.
3. Jeremiah Gemmel, North Carolina (6’1”, 225lbs)
The way Gemmel plays can only be described as instinctual. He is able to constantly reposition and get ready to make that tackle. He’s smaller than what you would want out of a LB but this is something that can be worked on.
4. Terrel Bernard, Baylor (6’1”, 220lbs)
Leadership in one thing that everyone has been talking about with Bernard. His character will fit in great with the Bills. Much like Gemmel, he is smaller than desired, but all of his traits are impressive. Even with the injury history, Bernard is worth the risk.
5. Micah McFadden, Indiana (6’2”, 232lbs)
McFadden is by far the most aggressive and physical of this list. He is built like a horse and uses every bit of his strength to the make the tackle. He need to work on his ability to instantly recognise the play, minimise his indecisiveness.
6. Jake Hansen, Illinois (6’1”, 235lbs)
Hansen has all the necessary traits needed for a great linebacker. He has good technique already and his ability to read the play is fundamentally good. He needs to bulk up more to become a better player and be more aggressive with his play, making a solid tackle instead of just shoving guys around.
7. Baylon Spector, Clemson (6’2”, 235lbs)
Spector has the instincts and awareness to play at an NFL level, and can swallow up a runner up the gut. Needs to work on his athleticism to make plays on the move, he has the speed, needs to back it up with tackles.
8. Tariq Carpenter, Georgia Tech (6’3”, 230lbs)
Carpenter, originally a safety is moving down to linebacker. His instincts, IQ and ability to read the QB rival any linebacker on this list. His lack of experience in the position, no matter how similar, are a concern. He needs to gain experience before earning himself a spot on the roster.
9. Brandon Smith, Penn State (6’3”, 241lbs)
Smith stood out to me after his appearance on GMFB. He seems like a good guy you’d want in the locker room. His showed great talent at the combine boasting a 4.52 40-time. His tape says otherwise, if he can transfer this onto the field though, he could be a good pick.
10. Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin (6’2”, 239lbs)
Everything about Sanborn is average, but he has quite a high football IQ, shown with his ability to read the QB and almost instantly recognise a run play. He may not make his way to starter, but he will provide great depth.
The Bills need a linebacker for depth in this draft, and any one of these prospects would be a good fit in Buffalo. They can learn behind Miller, Milano and Edmunds and become a solid piece on the roster for a few years.