Last week, I wrote about a potential trade in which the Buffalo Bills move up in the NFL Draft to get CB Ahmad Gardner. Well, what if they trade up twice?
I think one of the positions that can and will be addressed in the draft is running back. I think the Bills know they need to upgrade, whether it’s Breece Hall, James Cook, Rachaad White, or someone else. Now I don’t think the Bills should trade up for a running back. Rather, I think they should use the position as leverage to address other positions.
Assuming Buffalo does draft a running back, here’s what the depth chart could look like:
- Devin Singletary
- Duke Johnson
- Zack Moss
- Taiwan Jones
In this case, someone will be the odd man out – you can’t carry five running backs into the season, especially in a pass-heavy offense. So then the question is, who gets the boot? Devin Singletary is RB1 after proving he could contribute to this offense during the late stretch of last season. They won’t cut any rookies, and the Bills just signed Taiwan Jones and Duke Johnson to one-year deals, so they should be safe too. That leaves Zack Moss.
Moss is going into his third season but has failed to live up to expectations. He’s unreliable because he’s too inconsistent. He is supposed to be the big bruiser, but why waste a roster spot when you have Josh Allen for those short-yardage situations? Last year, Moss ran 96 times for just 345 yards (3.6 ypc), four TDs, and two fumbles. Not to mention he was a healthy inactive for a few games.
Playing in almost 60 mph wind gusts against New England, that Monday night game had Moss’ name written all over it. Allen couldn’t sling it like he wanted to and the elements were daring the Bills to go ground-and-pound. The problem was, the Bills were somehow better at throwing the ball than running it that night.
This play was a perfect example of how we need more from Moss. The vision was not there, as he should’ve been able to bounce it outside for six. That could’ve been the difference between winning and losing. And taking it a step further, that can be the difference between getting the two seed or the one seed.
Moss doesn’t present much trade value, but I think the Bills could get a draft pick for him, considering he still has two years left on his rookie deal and has flashed some moments. The team that I think makes the most sense is the Philadelphia Eagles. This year, the Eagles have ten draft picks, so they may be looking to trade some of those away to acquire talent and/or future assets.
Philadelphia has three running backs on their roster. However, only one of them will be under contract past this season. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott will be free agents, while Kenneth Gainwell is under contract until 2025. In addition, all three of those guys are involved in the passing game. So, acquiring a north-south back with a little bit of term might intrigue them enough to strike a deal with the Bills.
The trade that I proposed to the Eagles on the PFF simulator was:
BUF receives: 2022 4th-round pick (124)
PHI receives: RB Zack Moss, 2024 6th-round pick
The trade was accepted, and almost had a 100% approval. The trade would probably have been accepted if I just traded Moss for the fourth-round pick. I thought that was being pretty generous considering Moss’s shortcomings, so I threw the sixth-round pick to make it more realistic. But hey, you never know if the Eagles would go for that in real life, considering the reasons listed above. (They traded LeSean McCoy straight up for Kiko Alonso and Ryan Bates for Eli Harold!)
So then the question is, who do you select with the extra fourth-round pick?
Two players I’ve been really high on lately are UCLA WR Kyle Philips and Baylor ILB Terrel Bernard.
I’ve been seeing a lot of Bills fans say how linebacker should be one of the main priorities this draft. As great as guys like Devin Lloyd, Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker, Chad Muma, Leo Chenal, and Troy Andersen, might be, I don’t want to draft one that high. This year, Edmunds is still under contract, and I don’t see a team with Super Bowl aspirations trading away their starting middle linebacker. Besides, I think Edmunds will take a big step forward this year with the new and improved defensive line and possibly re-sign next offseason.
Furthermore, I think wide receivers and cornerbacks are becoming such dynamic and expensive positions now that you have to draft them early to get high-end talent on cheap rookie deals for four years before they start asking for $20+ million per year.
However, I think the Bills need to be prepared if they cannot bring Edmunds back. They could also use the depth, as Matt Milano is the ONLY linebacker under contract next season.
LB Terrel Bernard
In my last article, I had the Bills drafting Texas A&M ILB Aaron Hansford in the sixth round. I still am projecting that, but I think the Bills can use more. If they can trade up to 124, Terrel Bernard would be a great option. Bernard is a bit undersized at 6’1”, 225 pounds, but he makes up for it with his athleticism and explosiveness. He has great lateral agility, which helps him find the football and close off running lanes; he has notable gap integrity, something we hear Sean McDermott talk about a lot.
He’s also a great coverage linebacker as he has light feet and fluid hips. In addition, he is very smart and versatile as he can play all three linebacker positions while processing plays quickly. Given his size and build, I’d say Bernard is like Milano because he is more of a coverage linebacker but can still defend the run. Meanwhile, Hansford is more of a run stopper, like Edmunds. Bernard is projected to be a late day-two pick or an early day-three. A lot of the mock drafts I’ve read have him going somewhere between 120 and 140.
WR Kyle Philips
Kyle Philips is another intriguing option with this extra draft pick. Philips is your stereotypical slot receiver – good speed, great quickness, and an excellent route runner with great hands and ball skills. He’s great at working in the middle of the field and underneath. He also contributes on special teams, as he is a great punt returner. His biggest NFL comparisons are Hunter Renfrow and Braxton Berrios.
I thought the Bills were fine at slot receiver after signing Jamison Crowder, but then I started learning more about this guy. The Bills usually carry seven wide receivers at the most. After mocking Jalen Tolbert in the second round, the room was set:
WR: Diggs, Tolbert
WR: Davis, Kumerow
Slot: Crowder, McKenzie, Stevenson
Practice Squad: Hodgins, Gentry
But Philips is a talent you can’t pass on. If it comes down to it, the Bills could draft Philips and either release Marquez Stevenson or put him on the practice squad. And thinking beyond Buffalo, Philips is a prototypical Patriots receiver (very similar style to Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, etc.). With New England picking at 127, you might want to steal him at 124 before the Patriots can get their hands on him.
What The Draft Would Look Like
If both Philips and Bernard intrigue you as they do me, you could draft both in round four and then worry about your offensive line later in the draft. (Last time I had the Bills taking Virginia Tech OG Lecitus James at 130.) A guard that I have been high on is Oklahoma State’s, Josh Sills. At 6’6”, 324 pounds, he has the makings to be a day three steal, or in this case, an undrafted steal. Sills has thin ankles, which help him move quickly and fluidly in a fast-paced offense like the Bills’. He is a great blocker and finisher, who has some nasty to him. He’s reminding me a lot of Wyatt Teller.
Here is a look at what the draft could look like, considering the moves I made in this article:
- J.T. Woods and Tyrese Robinson are both projected to go higher, but they fell to me in this mock. Toledo FS Tycen Anderson, Louisville FS Percy Butler, and Kansas State OG Josh Rivas, along with Sills, are also on my board at those positions.
- PFF does not like the Araiza and Hansford picks, but Hansford’s stock is rising. I’ve seen Araiza projected to be selected as high as round four.