I am approaching these mocks as though I am Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott. Meaning, as the days and weeks progress, I will try and “read the tea leaves” in predicting trades and player selections. It is a little bit tougher this year as pre-draft visits and pro days have mostly been called off due to the coronavirus epidemic.
As of this writing, the Buffalo Bills have traded for Stefon Diggs (WR), signed Taiwan Jones (RB, SPT), Mario Addison (DE), Quinton Jefferson (DE/DT), Vernon Butler (DT), AJ Klein (SLB), Tyler Matakevich (LB/SPT), Josh Norman (CB) and re-signed Quinton Spain (OG) and Dean Marlowe (S).
This week I am taking a “Big Nickel” defender with pick #54. Next week I will select an edge defender with the pick. The week after a traditional cornerback, the week after that a running back, and I will conclude my mock draft series taking a wide receiver in the second round. Each week the draft philosophy changes due to the ramifications of taking a different position group with the top pick.
Major Needs: None
Moderate Needs: Complimentary RB, Edge Defender competition, Secondary competition
Other Needs: Developmental Wide Receiver, Offensive Line competition, Punter
#54 Kyle Dugger, Big Nickel/Safety, Lenoir-Rhyne – 6’1, 220
Buffalo opts to add a playmaker to their secondary with pick #38. Dugger may just be the x-factor this defense needs to bring it into the elite category of the National Football League. This small school playmaker can essentially replace AJ Klein on passing downs, shut down opponents’ big slots and tight ends, and provide blitzing prowess from the secondary. As he progresses in his career, he can eventually drop back into a more traditional safety role and replace Jordan Poyer when his extension runs out. Bills’ scouts were some of the first in the NFL to start looking into Dugger.
Other Options: Xavier McKinney (Alabama), Grant Delpit (LSU), Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), Terrell Burgess (Utah)
#86 Bradlee Anae, Edge Defender, Utah – 6’3, 260
Anae is not to be confused with the upper echelon of pass rushers in this class. He is closer to his ceiling than most prospects in this draft. He projects as a rotational end who can contribute from Day One. He has a great motor and aggressive mindset. He isn’t a “bender,” but has a bevy of pass rush moves at his disposal. He had a great Senior Bowl week and a disappointing combine. He will need to be a more consistent run defender.
#128 Antonio Gibson, Running Back, Memphis – 6,0, 228
Gibson gives you one thing that Devin Singletary does not… the ability to take it the length of the field on any play. He will be the last “touchdown maker” Brandon Beane can expect to get his hands on from the Running Back position from this draft class. This former high school sprinter has played running back, wide receiver, and returned kicks. He projects as a running back in the pros. He can give you the “power” you need between the tackles without tipping defenses that you are in a “power” package. He is raw at the position and may need to be slowly worked in. Meaning TJ Yeldon could have a prominent role early in the season.
#167 Antonio Gandy-Golden , WR, Liberty – 6’4, 228
Gandy-Golden will be a major developmental prospect, and Buffalo is the best place for him to do that with our top three wide receivers set in stone. He can be eased in as the fourth or fifth receiver, and his traits suggest he can compete with both Duke Williams for a role as the “big slot” and Robert Foster for his role as a back-up boundary receiver and special teams gunner.
#188 Gage Cervenka, Interior Offensive Line, Clemson – 6’3, 325
Cervenka is relatively new to football, so he is a raw prospect but also extremely physical and athletic. He has played multiple interior positions for Clemson including starting at Right Guard last season. Clemson is a school the Bills have scouted heavily. He can compete with Ike Boettger for the final offensive line slot and hopefully progress into a player who can replace Jon Feleciano in the starting line-up.
#207 Brandon Walton, Offensive Tackle, Florida Atlantic – 6’5, 300
Walton is a relative unknown, but the Bills’ scouts have had their eye on him per Damond Talbot of Draft Diamonds. He would come in and compete with Ryan Bates and be developed as either a swing tackle to succeed Ty Nsekhe or as a possible starter that will eventually allow Cody Ford to kick inside to guard.
#239 Jaron Bryant, Cornerback, Fresno State – 6’1, 186
Has the height and arm length you look for in a corner. He is a solid tackler and has intercepted a lot of passes at Fresno State. He struggles in man but excels in zone coverage. Think of adding him like adding another player with Levi Wallace’s potential to our secondary.
Where This Draft Succeeds
Kyle Dugger is an x-factor type of talent that can give this defense an edge it has been missing in seasons past. Dugger is the type of playmaker that can force opponents into making dumb mistakes and help the Bills defense create more turnovers. With the addition of Hand, the secondary becomes very deep, and we will not run into an issue like we did last season in Houston when players went down.
Anae and Gibson have the ability to be consistent and regular contributors. Anae with a lower ceiling as a consistent rotational edge and Gibson as a possible game-breaking talent on the offense.
Gandy-Golden, Cervenka, Walton, and Bryant all have traits to one day be NFL starters but will need time before they can contribute consistently.
Where This Draft Fails
Kyle Dugger is not an edge rusher or a boundary corner. He is a luxury pick for sure. I will not dispute that. This draft won’t appease those who want a defensive end who can transition from wave player to starter or a boundary corner who can step in at CB#2 right away. In this scenario, Trent Murphy is likely a Buffalo Bill in 2020 and either Josh Norman or Levi Wallace are starting opposite Tre White.
Essentially every player taken after Anae is relatively green or comes from a small school. There is risk involved in these players. They have the traits to be starters, but their ceiling is much lower than some other players on the board who could be more immediate contributors.
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