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Positions and Players The Buffalo Bills Could Target In Each Round



The closer we get to the NFL Draft, the deeper we dive with our analysis, research, and mock drafts. It’s hard to believe that the draft is almost here, but it surprisingly kicks off exactly two weeks from TONIGHT in Kansas City. The Buffalo Bills will be on the clock with the 27th overall pick… or will they?

As much as Bills fans want GM Brandon Beane to hit this draft out of the park, we have to be smart about it. We can’t be naive and think that Beane, or any other general manager for that matter, will walk out of the draft with multiple “sexy” picks. Not every player is going to be flashy or a fan-favorite.

That’s where the value of the board comes into play.

Finding The Right Value

The Buffalo Bills always talk about staying true to their draft board and making sure each pick matches the value that they place on that player, position, and round; they never want to reach for a player.

A great example of this is their predicament at middle linebacker. The Bills chose to not sign any free agents this offseason (other than re-signing Tyrel Dodson) after losing Tremaine Edmunds to the Chicago Bears. Most fans and analysts would agree that MLB is now their biggest need going into the draft, as it appears as though the Bills are setting themselves up to take one with their first pick. But here’s the thing — if the Bills agree with that notion, will they draft that linebacker 27th overall or will they trade back so that the pick matches the value?

Let’s take a look at some potential players who can replace Edmunds in the middle of the defense.

Round 1


  • Jack Campbell (Iowa)
  • Drew Sanders (Arkansas)
  • Trenton Simpson (Clemson)

These are the three linebackers that I think make the most sense for the Buffalo Bills. Personally, I am big on Jack Campbell as I think he is the best fit for the Bills’ defense. Unless they want to change their look(s) now that Sean McDermott is calling the plays, then Sanders or Simpson might be better options. But knowing how McDermott operates, I think Campbell is the guy.

However, all three of these LBs have second-round grades, according to most analysts. Assuming the Bills have the same grades on them, will they trade back to get more value or will they potentially reach and take one at 27 to make sure that they get their guy before another team can? That’s the hard part about not filling holes in free agency.

If I were Beane, I would find a team to trade back with. The reason why I think trading back makes sense here is to not only make sure that the pick matches the value, but to also get more assets in return to help later on in the draft. (You will see why I think this is so important at the end of the article.)

Rounds 2-3

Wide Receiver

  • Cedric Tillman (Tennessee)
  • Rashee Rice (SMU)
  • Jayden Reed (Michigan State)
  • Jonathan Mingo (Ole Miss)
  • A.T. Perry (Wake Forest)

I think there is a lot of value in the second and third rounds for WRs and DTs. I originally liked Cedric Tillman or Rashee Rice at 59th overall for the Bills. Both are big-bodied receivers who can go up and make the tough, contested catches. They each have size, athleticism, and ball skills, something that you want to find in a potential WR2.

However, the main knock on Tillman and Rice is that they ran limited route trees in college. Plus, Rice had some inconsistencies with dropped passes over his four years at SMU. So if the Bills are looking for someone who can potentially replace Gabe Davis, those two issues were what Davis struggled with most last season — running limited routes and dropping passes.

That’s where the value of the board comes in because I think there are some very interesting WR options in Round Three. Jayden Reed is a versatile receiver who can line up from many different positions and has RAC (run after catch) abilities. Standing at 5’11”, 187 pounds, some are comparing him to Stefon Diggs. Jonathan Mingo and A.T. Perry both have a ton of upside, as they have been rising the charts lately. They each present a ton of size and playmaking abilities (Mingo is 6’2″, 225 pounds, Perry is 6’4″, 200 pounds). Perry is described as a possession receiver and a red zone threat while Mingo is more of a RAC receiver, someone who you want to get the ball out to in space.

Defensive Tackle

  • Mazi Smith (Michigan)
  • Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin)
  • Siaki Ika (Baylor)

If the Bills do in fact like Reed, Mingo, or Perry in Round Three, I think there is a lot of value in finding a DT in Round 2. Mazi Smith, Keeanu Benton, and Siaki Ika are three of the best run-stuffing DTs in this class. While they may not be known for getting after the QB (the three combined for just 14 career sacks), they each have incredible athleticism and raw power/strength that NFL teams will definitely look to tap into.

I’ve seen some mocks that have Smith going in the first round, and some where Ika gets taken in the third round. Ultimately, I think Round Two is that sweet spot for these guys. And with no DTs under contract past 2023, the Buffalo Bills should definitely consider drafting one this year, sooner rather than later.

So, I pretty much see WR and DT being interchangeable between Rounds Two and Three, depending on the value that the Bills place on them. I don’t think they will want to wait until Saturday to draft either position; especially wide receiver since Zay Jones was the last WR to be selected by the Bills before Day Three.

Rounds 4-6

Tight End

  • Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan)

Another position that could use an upgrade is tight end, specifically TE2. The Bills have acted like they’ve wanted to run two-tight end sets for years now (Tyler Kroft, Jacob Hollister, O.J. Howard, Quintin Morris, and Tommy Sweeney, just to name a few), but have never actually done it. That’s why I think they need to find a tight end who will solely be used for blocking. Since Dawson Knox is the pass-catching TE, the Bills need to find someone to compliment him who has the opposite skillset.

I think Luke Schoomaker is perfect for this role, as he is described as a “willing and effective blocker in the run game,” who’s best trait is blocking, according to The Draft Network. Schoonmaker projects to be a fourth-round pick, but here’s where it gets tough.

Offensive Tackle

  • Nick Saldiveri (Old Dominion)
  • Tyler Steen (Alabama)
  • Carter Warren (Pittsburgh)
  • Warren McClendon (Georgia)

The Buffalo Bills could also use another RT to give Spencer Brown some much needed competition, as the only free agent they signed was David Quessenberry (he was re-signed to a one-year deal). Nick Saldiveri and Tyler Steen are two of my favorite options for this role, as Saldiveri is a swing offensive lineman who can play all five positions while Steen is a swing tackle (most of his experience came at LT).

However, these two are projected to be late Day Two/early Day Three picks. And with finding that blocking TE, it may be hard to get either of these offensive linemen. If they are gone, Carter Warren is another great swing tackle who they might be able to snag in Rounds 4-5. And Warren McClendon is a solid RT who helped Georgia win the National Championship last season while not allowing a sack. He should be available later on Day Three.

Defensive End

  • Isaiah McGuire (Missouri)
  • Karl Brooks (Bowling Green)
  • Thomas Incoom (Central Michigan)
  • Jose Ramirez (Eastern Michigan)

The other position that you have to think about is defensive end. While the Bills filled a big hole on Monday by re-signing Shaq Lawson, it was only a one-year deal. A.J. Epenesa will also be a free agent after this season, and with Von Miller recently turning 34 years old, the Bills may look to draft a DE this year.

Since the position is not a pressing need right now, I think there is good value on Day Three. Two of my favorite DEs are Isaiah McGuire and Karl Brooks. McGuire has a combination of physical traits, flexibility, power, and a relentless motor that make him an intriguing prospect. He succeeds at defending the run and the pass, something that the Bills will be looking for. And oddly enough, his NFL comparison is Shaq Lawson. Brooks is another high-effort player who flashes on that stat sheet and is best as a pass rusher. In five seasons (49 games) at Bowling Green, Brooks compiled 167 tackles, 46 TFLs, and 27.5 sacks.

McGuire and Brooks are projected to be early Day Three picks, but may jump to late Day Two given their upside. If that’s the case, Thomas Incoom and Jose Ramirez could be potential options later on Day Three (although Incoom’s stock has been rising as well). In two years at Central Michigan (24 games), Incoom recorded 85 tackles, 27.5 TFLs, and 15.5 sacks. On the other hand, Ramirez tallied 156 tackles, 34 TFLs, and 20.5 sacks in four seasons (36 games) at Eastern Michigan.

Why The Bills Should Trade Back

As I alluded to in the beginning of the article, I think trading back should definitely be on the table for the Buffalo Bills. Looking at some of these prospects, it becomes easier to understand why this makes sense other than just trying to get Campbell for the right value.

With six positions that could still use an upgrade, I would think that the Bills would want to get as many assets as possible to complete their roster. If they do in fact value some offensive tackles or defensive ends in the mid-to-later rounds, this gives them more flexibility and a higher chance of being able to draft them, while still being able to get their run-blocking TE.

Last week, I proposed this trade for the Buffalo Bills with the Seattle Seahawks.

BUF Receives:SEA Receives:
2nd (37), 3rd (83), 5th (154)1st (27)

For what it’s worth, Pro Football Network rejected that trade offer but did accept a trade where Seattle would send their fourth-round pick (123) back to Buffalo as opposed to their third. So let’s just go with that for the sake of this article.

If the Bills were to pull off this trade with the Seahawks, they would have eight total picks, with two coming in the fourth round and two in the fifth round. This would allow them to potentially draft guys like Saldiveri, Steen, McGuire, and/or Brooks. Or, they could draft USC OG Andrew Vorhees, who is recovering from a torn ACL, and stash him away for next year in order to build their IOL. (Buffalo will only have two OGs under contract past this season, as Ike Boettger and David Edwards only signed one-year deals.)

Brandon Beane and the Buffalo Bills will have a lot of decisions to make over these next couple of weeks.

Feature Image: Bill Wippert/Buffalo Bills