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NFL Draft Notebook: Sleepers



The 2021 NFL Draft is coming, and the Buffalo Bills will be looking to add pieces that can push them over the top in the 2021 season. For the past several weeks, I’ve been breaking down players that the Bills could target at each defensive position. Today, we’re going to look at some defensive sleepers that could be great value picks for the Bills in the mid to late rounds of the NFL Draft. 

The difference between a good draft and a great draft is finding talent in the middle and late rounds. Every year, there are really talented players that fall through the cracks and don’t get chosen as high as they should. Here are three players that could provide tremendous value to the Bills in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Israel Mukuamu, CB South Carolina (6’4″, 205 lbs.)

Mukuamu is one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft. He’s a giant corner with a long, rangy frame. Naturally, there will be some questions about his quickness and change of direction due to his height, but he also can be used in a variety of ways. Mukuamu can play corner or slide back to safety. Guys with positional flexibility are in high demand in today’s NFL. 

I could see Mukuamu being an Isaiah Simmons type player. Simmons settled into a linebacker role while Mukuamu will likely stay in the secondary, but both are guys with a wide variety of skills. I love the idea of the Bills being able to add a versatile piece in the middle of the draft. A guy that can cover big wide receivers, tight ends, and make plays in space could be the perfect sleeper pick.

Shaka Toney, DE Penn State (6’3″, 238 lbs.)

The Bills need to upgrade their pass rush, and Toney is one of the better pass rushers in this draft. He also happens to be vastly undersized for an NFL defensive end, which is pushing his draft stock down into Day 3 territory. But don’t get too caught up in the measurables because Toney can flat out get after the quarterback. 

Toney’s teammate, Jayson Oweh, is being projected as a possible first-round pick. While Oweh has better size and off-the-charts athleticism, it’s Shaka Toney who was the best pass rusher for the Nittany Lions in 2020. If Toney can add 10-15 pounds to his frame, he should be able to hold up well enough to become a pass-rushing specialist. Buffalo doesn’t need him to be an every-down defensive end, but a guy who can get you 6-8 sacks playing mainly on passing downs would be a welcome addition to the roster. 

Cam McGrone, LB Michigan (6’1″, 232 lbs.)

McGrone is an interesting case. In 2019, he took over the starting middle linebacker spot for the Wolverines early in the season and never looked back. He was explosive, athletic, technically sound, and a violent hitter, and as a redshirt freshman, he looked destined for superstardom. Then 2020 came, and McGrone took a step back. After a few underwhelming games, McGrone was injured, and his season was finished. McGrone would declare for the draft after only 15 starts at the University of Michigan.

What I like about McGrone is he offers first-round talent at a fourth-round price tag. He shows terrific instincts in the run game and he plays with a mean streak. McGrone has really good sideline to sideline speed that makes it hard to get around the edge on him. McGrone has some work to do in his pass coverage skills, but this is a guy with a first-round athletic profile who will be available much later than that. 

What do you think, #BillsMafia? What sleepers would you like to see the Bills draft on the defensive side of the ball? Who are some big time talents that the rest of the country is sleeping on?