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NFL Draft Notebook: Trade Up Targets



The 2021 NFL Draft is only a couple of weeks away, and the Buffalo Bills will be looking for pieces that can push them over the top and into the Super Bowl next season. The Bills are currently slated to pick at #30 in the first round, but there has been plenty of speculation that they could trade back and acquire more draft capital. But what if Buffalo has their eyes set on a certain player they want to trade up for? What would they have to give up, and what player would be worth trading away draft picks? Today, let’s take a look at three defensive players that the Bills could target in a trade-up scenario.

DE Kwity Paye, Michigan

It’s no secret that the Bills pass rush wasn’t as effective as it needed to be in 2020. Adding a skilled pass rusher would be a major boost for the Bills defense. Paye isn’t the premier sack artist that Jaelan Phillips or Gregory Rousseau have shown to be. But he’s a better overall player and the safest choice of the three. 

Paye came to Michigan as a skinny, lightly-rated recruit from New England. Some draft experts have pointed to Paye’s relatively low career sack totals as a reason for concern, but he had a steep learning curve entering college as a 225 lb. freshman. Paye also played behind future NFL guys like Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, which made it difficult for him to get on the field until 2019. For the past two seasons, Paye has been the best player on the Michigan defense. He’s not a pass-rushing specialist, but he’s a solid, all-around DE. Paye is a terrific run defender, and his ability to move laterally down the line of scrimmage is elite. He’s strong at the point of the attack, plays with great leverage, and has a nasty streak to his game. While his sack totals aren’t elite, he has shown he can consistently get to the quarterback and apply pressure. 

If the Bills want to get a player of Paye’s caliber, they will likely have to trade up about 10 spots. If the Bills are willing to part with pick 30 and their 2nd round pick (#61), that should be sufficient to move up into the early 20s to select Kwity Paye. 

CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

This is a deep, talented cornerback draft, but if you’re going to go corner in the first round, you might as well go for the best one. Surtain is a big, strong corner at 6’2” and over 200 lbs, but he ran a 4.42 at his Alabama pro day. Surtain is an elite athlete with strong genes and an advanced skill set. He’s got good quickness and burst and shows the ability to stay in the hip pocket of receivers down the field. He’s also a willing, aggressive tackler in the run game.

Surtain came to Alabama as a top rated recruit with a former NFL star defensive back for a father. After arriving in Tuscaloosa, Surtain started for the Crimson Tide as a true freshman. In his junior year, he helped Alabama win the national championship while also being named the SEC defensive player of the year and a first team All-American. Surtain seems like a good bet to be a Pro Bowl caliber player at the next level. 

To acquire Surtain, the Bills will most likely have to move into the top 15 on draft day. Moving up fifteen slots would likely be costly. The Bills would have to be willing to part with next year’s first round pick as well, which will likely be near the end of the round again. It’s a steep price to pay, but as we saw with the acquisition of Stefon Diggs last offseason, sometimes trading a first rounder works out just fine. If the Bills do make a splash and move up for Surtain, they can feel confident that they are getting a future star. 

LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Re-signing Matt Milano was a big offseason move for Brandon Beane and the Bills. Finding a way to land Micah Parsons in the draft would be just as big, and it would give the Bills the best linebacking crew in the NFL. Parsons is an exceptionally athletic and explosive linebacker. He stands at 6’3″ and over 240 lbs, but he still managed to blaze a 4.39 forty at his pro day. This kid has special talent. 

Parsons came to Penn State as one of the top recruits in the nation and a five-star by any recruiting measure. After a promising freshman year, Parsons broke out as a sophomore. He registered over 100 tackles and 5 sacks on his way to becoming a first-team All-American. Parsons decided to sit out the 2020 season to prepare for the draft. That choice seems to have pushed him down draft boards just slightly. Parsons could be the best player in this draft. 

In order for Micah Parsons to be a Buffalo Bill, they would need to find a way to move up in the 10-12 range of the first round. That would likely cost them #30 and next year’s first-round pick. They’d likely have to throw in another mid-round pick (or two) as well to get that deal done. It seems unlikely, but I’d love to see it happen. A linebacking corps of Edmunds, Milano, and Parsons would terrorize opponents 

What do you think, #BillsMafia? Are there any players you’d like to see the Bills be aggressive in acquiring? Would you be willing to part with future first-round picks for a Pro Bowl talent like Surtain or Parson?