As you settle down to watch this evening’s Sugar and Fiesta Bowls keep and eye out for these potential future Buffalo Bills.
JK Dobbins vs. Travis Etienne Could Steal the Show
Frank Gore has been rendered non-existent in the back half of the 2019 season. Despite this the Bills don’t seem to have the faith in TJ Yeldon to activate him barring an injury. It is likely the Bills will chase a cost effective runner in the draft this season to compliment Devin Singletary and help to take the pressure of Josh Allen.
Enter JK Dobbins of Ohio State and Travis Etienne of Clemson. These two players will be in contention for the Bills first or second round picks should they choose to make that big of an investment in the position.
When you see him play Dobbins will remind you a lot of Singletary. He is very much a decisive runner with great vision and contact balance. The major difference is unlike the small Singletary, Dobbins checks in at 5’10 and 215 pounds. His 4.4 speed also makes him a threat to break the big play.
Bills fans may be uneasy when it comes to Etienne because his lack of vision as a runner has shades of CJ Spiller to it. However this 5’10 and 210 pound back is the total package after that. He is a threat to score on every play, he can accelerate north/south and laterally. He makes an impact not only in the running game but the passing game.
Don’t forget the LSU and Oklahoma backs! He may not play a lot due to a hamstring injury but LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire has a lot of Mark Ingram to his game but it also a plus pass catcher. Trey Sermon of Oklahoma is noted in several scouting reports for his pass block and can probably find a niche in the NFL as a third RB.
There are A LOT of players at the receiver position who will pop off the screen and didn’t make this list. That is because they are not yet draft eligible or unlikely to declare. The wide receiver class is LOADED for the next two years. The Bills would be wise to take advantage.
Tee Higgins is the big body receiver everyone seems to be clamoring for. AT 6’4 and 215 pounds he has a great catch radius and is excellent at the catch point. He has speed to match the height so the potential is there. The risk you take with Higgins is he struggles to get off the LOS and that is only going to get tougher in the NFL. Zay Jones notably could never make this adjustment.
CeeDee Lamb (6’2, 195) has few flaws outside needing more seasoning in the pro game and not having elite top end speed. He likely won’t be on the board when the Bills pick but a man can dream. Excellent ball skills, willing blocker, YAC monster. Everything the Bills want and need.
Other draft eligible receivers to keep an eye on include KJ Hill (6’0, 194) , Binjimen Victor (6’4, 199), Austin Mack (6’2, 215) of Ohio State and Justin Jefferson (6’3, 195) of LSU
If the Bills were to consider investing a high draft pick on an interior offensive lineman (they won’t), it would be Creed Humhrey‘s (6’5, 320) name you would hear called. The school that lost Cody Ford, Bobby Evans, Dru Samia, and Ben Powers retained their best lineman in Humphrey. This pivot took a brand new offensive line around him and they did not miss a beat.
Some other guys to keep an eye on include Saahdiq Charles the OT from LSU, and interior guards John Simpson and Gage Cervenka from Clemson.
An Eye on the Edge
Not a plethora of draft eligible rushers on these four teams but the two to watch are quite something. First off Chase Young will be gone by the second pick. He is an absolute unicorn. He was a Heisman finalist at defensive end despite being suspended 2 games.
The player you need to keep an eye on is LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson. His athleticism is out of this world, this guy is a freak. However right now he is more athlete and football player than nuanced pass rusher. He will take some time to develop at getting to the QB in isolated situations. But if this staff can do it right they can get an elite edge rusher in the late first round. He is a guy who can put his hand on the ground, or play the Lorenzo Alexander role and drop back into coverage while still getting to the QB when you decide to blitz him.
Jordan Phillips Replacement Options?
Two interior defenders to keep an eye out for are Neville Gallimore of Oklahoma and Rashard Lawrence of LSU. Gallimore has had a meteoric rise this season along with fellow Oklahoma defender Kenneth Murray.
Some other DTs to keep an eye out for are Robert Landers (6’1, 285) and Davon Hamilton (6’4, 310) of Ohio State as well as Nyles Pinkney (6’1, 295) of Clemson.
Stud Linebackers to Fill Zo’s Role
It will be very hard to replace Lorenzo Alexander with just one player because he does so much. No many linebackers can drop into coverage as comfortably as he does while still be stout vs the run and a good pass rusher. Isaiah Simmons of Clemson is one of the guys who could fill this void. However, because he is so good in almost every facet of defense he will likely be off the board by the time the Bills pick.
One player who could be in play late in the first round is Oklahoma outside linebacker Kenneth Murray (6’2, 235). He has a lot of Matt Milano to his game.
Ohio State state has plenty of linebackers to keep an eye on including Malik Harrison (6’3, 240), Baron Browning (6’3, 250), and Tuf Borland (6’1, 230).
LSU does as well Jacob Phillips (6’4, 230) and Patrick Queen (6’1, 230)
Plethora of Corners
Jeffrey Okudah of Ohio State and Kristian Fulton of LSU will get all the attention as they are both top 15 prospects. However, there are some good second and possibly third day guys playing today. Shaun Wade is a very good corner for OSU but as a redshirt sophomore he probably won’t declare.
AJ Terrell (6’1, 190) of Clemson is an aggressive and physical press corner who could be around in the second round.
One of my favorite players in this draft is Damon Arnette (6’0, 195) of Ohio State. This guy will have a Levi Wallace type impact in the NFL. He has all the necessary instincts but is not a great athlete. That will make him available in the middle rounds.
Grant Delpit (6’3, 201) from LSU is the blue chip prospect. if he somehow slides to the Bills in the late first round he would likely be the best player available and hard to pass up despite a lack of need. He could be a lethal nicker corner.
Some other players to keep an eye on include K’Von Wallace (5’11, 205) of Clemson who is more of a box safety and Jordan Fuller (6’2, 205) of Ohio State who is a great athlete who can make plays all over the field but is not much in terms of a tackler.
Tanner Muse (6’2, 230) of Clemson could be a late round consideration as a special teamer.
Don’t Forget The Quarterbacks
Good quarterbacks make college football fun and four of the best are playing in the playoff.
Burrow will be going first overall so just enjoy him for what he is. Watch Jalen Hurts closely because if he slides on draft day the Bills should consider pulling the trigger on him in the third round or later. Barkley is a great back-up but is stylistically different from Josh Allen. Allen takes a lot of hits and a back-up like Hurts would allow us to keep a similar offense if he misses time. He would also make for a nice trade chip in the future if he lights up the pre-season.
If Allen takes massive steps back in 2020 Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are going to be two guys you want to be familiar with.