How To Trade Up For Ahmad Gardner
Could the Bills land Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner? I explain how the Bills could pull of a blockbuster trade to get the best CB in this year’s draft.
Earlier this week, I wrote an article describing what the Buffalo Bills can do at CB2. I talked about trading up for Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, arguably the best cornerback in this draft, and people liked the idea. So I thought more and more about it as I made my BF mock draft selections for this week, and I refined my trade offer.
On Monday, I had the Bills trading the 25th pick, this year’s 3rd-round pick (pick 89), and next year’s 1st-round pick for the 5th overall pick in this year’s draft. After making a couple of changes, here is my current trade offer to the New York Giants:
|Teams||Picks (Round)/Players Received|
|Buffalo Bills||#7 (1st)|
|New York Giants||#25 (1st), 2023 1st, OL Cody Ford|
The more I pondered the possibility of going all-in this year and trading up for Gardner, I realized that some other positions still need to be bolstered up. For that reason, I did not want to give away this year’s third-round draft pick. I like James Cook, the shifty, pass-catching running back from Georgia. Cook is the prototypical third-down back, exactly what the Bills are looking for to pair with Devin Singletary. (I know they signed Duke Johnson for the same role, but he’s more of a placeholder.) While splitting time with many talented backs at Georgia throughout his four-year career, Cook put up 730 yards (10.9 ypc) and 6 TD on 67 receptions. So essentially, I chose James Cook and an extra $1.5 in cap space over Cody Ford and moving two spots up.
With that, most likely comes the loss of the fifth overall selection. Knowing Ford from Buffalo, Joe Schoen, Brian Daboll, and Bobby Johnson would probably value a third-round pick over Ford and would be reluctant to give away the fifth pick. But because they are in rebuild mode, I think they would accept this new trade offer, considering they would still have two first-round draft picks this year, two firsts next year, and would add an offensive lineman who knows the system and would provide depth on a pretty weak offensive line. (For what it’s worth, PFF said the Giants would almost 100% accept this trade on their draft simulator.)
So here is my latest mock draft for the Buffalo Bills:
Starting with Gardner, I was able to get my guy. The lockdown corner has been projected to potentially get drafted by either the Jets, the Giants, or the Panthers. But for this mock, he was still available at pick number seven. (The Jaguars selected DE Aidan Hutchinson, the Lions drafted T Ikem Ekwonu, the Texans got S Kyle Hamilton, the Jets went with DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Giants went with T Evan Neal, and the Panthers selected CB Derek Stingley Jr.)
I don’t know what these teams are thinking, but there is a good chance that the Panthers will take a quarterback while the Jets and Giants want to build from their lines up. Schoen learned from Brandon Beane that the proper way to assemble your team starts in the trenches with the offensive and defensive lines. (And the Giants desperately need a tackle.) Even if Gardner goes in the top six, you can’t go wrong with Stingley Jr. or McDuffie. All three corners are studs.
Moving into round two, I’ve been high on WR Christian Watson. The problem is, I think many other teams are now too. I’ve seen a lot of mock drafts where Watson goes early round two or even late round one. He surprisingly fell to New England for this mock at 54.
So, at #57, I selected WR Jalen Tolbert. The South Alabama product has good size (6’2, 194 pounds) and speed (4.49 40-time). Though he’s not the quickest player in the draft, he is still one of the best deep threats, as his 16 deep receptions ranked fifth in all of college football in 2021. Furthermore, he put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons the past two years. In 2020, he caught 64 balls for 1,085 yards and 8 TD. Last season, he had 1,474 yards and 8 TD on 82 receptions. If the Bills can’t draft Watson, Tolbert is another great WR3 option behind Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.
As for the rest of the draft, I addressed a different position each round while only double-dipping at OL in round seven to replace Ford. (And Robinson happened to be the best player available at 231 anyways.) I got my pass-catching running back in round three, a backup guard with some potential in round four, and the “Punt God” in round five, whether PFF likes it or not!
Round six is a little interesting – this is the first time I’ve mocked the Bills to take a safety, but after Diggs signed his big extension, Jordan Poyer switched agents (he now has Drew Rosenhaus), and Rachel Bush has made it public that her husband needs to get paid next… so I figured it was a good time to draft a safety.
Hopefully, this all means nothing, and the Bills can pay Poyer when the time comes so he can retire as a Bill, but they can’t pay everyone. I hope that the soon-to-be 31-year old is one of the guys that can get paid, but you have to be prepared for anything. Tycen Anderson is a strong safety who is physical, a hard hitter, has good instincts, good awareness, and strong hands, just like Poyer. He also has great size (6’2, 210 pounds), speed (4.36 40-time), and can play special teams, something the Bills covet.
Speaking of replacements, I found a potential Tremaine Edmunds replacement for the 2023 season with my second sixth-round pick (if the Bills can’t afford to re-sign Edmunds). Aaron Hansford is an athletic inside linebacker who’s rising up the charts after having a strong pro day. He is a great tackler and has good range as he can cover sideline to sideline. Oddly enough, CBS says he “does a good job of avoiding blocks and can get off of them when engaged.”
With my final pick, I selected Oklahoma’s Tyrese Robinson, who is listed as a tackle but can also play guard. He played 2019 and 2020 at guard and was graded as the Sooners best pass protector before switching to tackle his senior season. No matter where he lines up, he plays physical, another aspect the Bills look for. He probably fits in as more of a guard in the NFL, but it’s good to have the versatility.
I’ve wanted the Bills to draft two corners due to the lack of depth at the position. But after the Diggs extension, Buffalo now has an additional $6.1 million in cap space to sign a Joe Haden or Steven Nelson, meaning they would only have to draft one to fill out the room.
Assuming the Bills make the moves that I did in this mock, here is how the cornerback and offensive line depth charts would look (assuming Tre White and Ike Boettger miss the start of the season):
Potential Buffalo Bills CB Depth Chart
LCB: J. Haden, D. Jackson, O. Griffin, T. Harris
RCB: A. Gardner, C. Lewis, N. McCloud
SCB: T. Johnson, S. Neal
* Tre White
Potential Buffalo Bills OL Depth Chart
LT: D. Dawkins, T. Doyle
LG: R. Saffold, J. Capra
C: M. Morse, G. Mancz
RG: R. Bates, L. Smith
RT: S. Brown, T. Robinson
* Ike Boettger