It’s Free Agency week!! Everyone knows what that means! The Buffalo Bills are running it back. Beane has re-signed everyone, even people we didn’t think he could get back.
Where does this leave us on the Mock Draft front? I’m so glad you asked! This week we will be talking all about pick 30 and who the Bills will draft there. Trades are included, so this should be extremely fun.
Round One (Pick 30): Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL – USC
Wow, I am as surprised as you are at this pick, but it comes down to Best Player Available. Sure Buffalo re-signed Jon Feliciano to an extremely team-friendly deal, however finding his replacement early in the draft should make you giddy. With the top pass rushers off the board, the Bills draft a player who can be day-one starter on the line.
Vera-Tucker is a mauler; he’s 300 pounds of pure nastiness. He’s listed as the starting Left Tackle for USC but many draft experts have him sliding into guard. Having Tackle experience is a value just in case an injury happens in-season. Seems like a win-win situation.
Building the offense line around Dawkins, Ford, and Alijah Vera-Tucker is a smart football move and, let’s be honest, Brandon Beane only makes smart football moves.
Round One (Pick 30): Jaelan Phillips, Edge – Miami
With all three of Buffalo’s big free agents resigning, there are far fewer needs heading into the draft. Now, the focus is an edge rusher. In the first Fanatics mock draft, I had the Bills selecting Greg Rousseau. This time, I have them rolling with his fellow Miami Hurricane, Jaelan Phillips at pick 30.
The UCLA transfer finally lived up to his name and had a coming-out season after “taking” 2019 off. Playing in all 10 games (not including the bowl game vs Oklahoma State), he accumulated 45 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and a pick in 2020. He was given Second-Team All-American and All-ACC honors this season.
Phillips stands at 6’5’” and weighs 258 pounds. He has long, powerful arms, which help him excel both against the run and the pass. The only main concern maybe his lack of playing time throughout his college career. He played the same amount of games at Miami that he played at UCLA.
Still, Phillips has the making of a dominant edge rusher in the NFL and with his size and strength. He’d be a perfect addition for Leslie Frazier’s defense.
Round One (Pick 30): Daviyon Nixon, DT – Iowa
After signing Emmanuel Sanders, the Bills seem set at the receiver position and can add a depth piece later in the draft. The main need continues to be defensive line help and Nixon might be the best defensive tackle in the draft. Nixon is a former Community College standout who transferred to Iowa for his final two years of eligibility. In 2020, he was an All-American and Big-Ten Defensive Player of the Year, leading the league in sacks as an interior defensive lineman. Nixon is an explosive, athletic defensive tackle who excels against both the run and pass.
Round One (Pick 30): Trade Down with LA Chargers
- Bills Receive: Picks #47 (2nd) & #77 (3rd)
- Chargers Receive: Picks #30 (1st) & #234 (7th)
Most of the holes on Buffalo’s roster have already been filled through restructures, extensions, and free agency. Therefore, my strategy for this mock draft will mainly revolve around selecting my best players available (BPA).
With that said, I decided to trade out of pick 30 for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my BPAs at 30 played positions that were already filled through those previous moves (Offensive Line, Linebacker, Cornerback) or were Running Backs, which I consider an inefficient use of a first-round pick.
Secondly, this specific deal is of tremendous value for the Bills. (They gain 572 value points through this transaction, per Over The Cap Chart’s Draft Chart.) I, Brandon Beane, give up a mere seventh-round pick, who would more than likely be cut in the preseason anyways (see Dane Jackson), to move down 17 spots and gain two additional top-100 picks. These extra day-two picks could be used to either bolster roster depth or move around the draft board.
Round One (Pick 30): Any Edge Rusher
During an interview on The Rico Report, Steve Tasker stated that “you have to build within the two lines of football”: The Offensive Line and Defensive Line. Brandon Beane brought back the same offensive line for next year, but that is a debate for another day. Meanwhile, the defensive line is missing a lot of players from last year. We let some go and restructured others.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If the Bills want to compete with Mahomes and the Chiefs you must TOUCH the quarterback. Last year, they barely beat the Colts in the playoffs because Philip Rivers was never pressured. Don’t even get me started on the AFC Championship game because I don’t even know where our defensive line was that day.
We need to draft someone to play opposite Jerry Hughes. Not addressing that need in free agency thus far tells me we might be looking to fill this spot in the draft.
We need to get one of the top-four available edge rushers. I don’t even care if we have to move up to get one.
I have been a big supporter of Azeez Ojulari from Georgia. This guy is speedy and can get into the backfield, abilities this defense sorely lacks. The other edge players I would love to see are Greg Rousseau or Jaelan Phillips from Miami. I would even take Kwity Paye from Michigan.
If we want to win, we must be able to touch the quarterback. With the Chiefs building an even better offensive line, it is vital we find a difference-maker at this position or we may just be the bride’s maid once again.
Round One (Pick 30): Kwity Paye, DE – Michigan
Kwity is an explosive edge rusher with immense potential; think a more explosive Shaq Lawson. He screams process, exhibiting upper echelon character and having been a team captain at Michigan. He’s still a bit green with just 19 starts under his belt; however, he can develop for a season in McDermott’s d-line rotation and breakout in the post-Jerry Hughes era.
Round One (Pick 30): Trade Down with Bengals
After seeing GM Brandon Beane extend Matt Milano, Darryl Williams, and Jon Feliciano, there are three fewer needs in the upcoming 2021 draft. With the moves made to date, my philosophy for the Bills’ draft plans has changed.
For this series, I was on the clock at 30. I got the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart out and made a move. I traded pick 30 to the Cincinnati Bengals, acquiring picks 38 (round two) and 111 (round four). Pick 30 is worth 620 points according to the chart. Pick 38 is worth 520 points and pick 111 is worth 72 points. While I came up 22 points short, it was still a move I wanted to make.
At pick 30, Cincinnati selected Terrace Marshall, WR from LSU. In this mock via The Draft Network, the Bengals also selected OT Rashawn Slater (Northwestern) at five. By trading up to 30, they were able to secure another weapon (and former teammate) for second-year stud Joe Burrow. They also gain a fifth-year option on Marshall because they took him in round one, which is very valuable to teams.
Trading back to pick 38 allowed me to pick up a fourth-rounder, which the Bills currently don’t have (they traded it in the package for Stefon Diggs). Acquiring extra picks is crucial for a team like the Bills, who sit right below the salary cap and have large extensions looming for QB Josh Allen and LB Tremaine Edmunds. Being able to infuse your roster with rookies on cheap deals can offset those big contracts and keep you out of cap jail, as long as you hit on those picks.
With pick 38, I selected CB Eric Stokes from the University of Georgia. Stokes is 6’1 and 185 pounds. He possesses the size and length that McDermott and Beane covet in their DBs. He has the ability to play both in zone and man coverage, which can help the Bills switch things up during games. Stokes also has some natural speed to him, which the Bills need to add on defense to keep up with opposing offenses. He supposedly clocked a 4.25 and 4.28 on his 40-yard dashes during his pro day. Stokes also has good ball skills and could become a ball-hawking zone CB in the NFL with the right coaching. (Who better than McDermott, the DB wizard right?)