As we draw closer to the start of free agency, I thought I would take this time to discuss 25 of my favorite prospects for the Buffalo Bills in the 2021 NFL Draft.
- This is NOT a ranking. It is purely a list of my favorite early-round targets who could be fits for the Bills.
- There are no running backs on the list; I will be adding RBs to the next version.
- Obvious names that will be taken super early in the draft are omitted (i.e., DeVonta Smith, Kwity Paye, etc.).
- Players who are likely to be picked in the mid-teens/early twenties have been considered.
- Only players who appear to be a Bills scheme fit or are scheme agnostic have been considered.
- Positional needs: EDGE, CB, IDL, OT, IOL, IDL, TE
1. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB (Notre Dame)
JOK is my favorite linebacker in the draft. He recorded four and a half tackles for loss in two games against Clemson in 2020. At just 21 years old, he has speed, tenacity, explosiveness, a nose for the ball, and played against good competition. He won the Butkus Award (Best Collegiate LB) and was voted 1st team All-ACC and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.
2. Alijah Vera-Tucker, Guard (USC)
He played left tackle in college but appears to be better suited to play guard at the NFL level. On tape, it appears his above-average athleticism has helped him with pass protection. He can hold his own in the run game as well.
3. Zaven Collins, LB (Tulsa)
Collins won the Bednarik Award (Collegiate Defensive Player of the Year) in 2020. I do not know exactly where he would fit on the Buffalo Bills defense, but this man does it all. He is the type of player that you find a role for on your defense, regardless of scheme.
4. Jalen Mayfield, RT (Michigan)
He was a two-year starter, so there’s room to grow at the next level. He has good athleticism and should hold up well in pass protection. I am higher on Mayfield than others but believe he would come in and compete as a starting right tackle on day one.
5. Kadarius Toney, WR (Florida)
Toney has all the makings of an elite slot wide receiver in the NFL: elite athleticism, the ability to get yards after the catch, great acceleration, and top-end speed.
6. Alex Leatherwood, OL (Alabama)
Leatherwood won the Outland Award (Best Interior Offensive Lineman) in 2020. He certainly appears to project as an interior player at the NFL level but could be an emergency tackle in a pinch.
7. Gregory Rousseau, DE (Miami)
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season but was productive in 2019 to the tune of 15.5 sacks. I slightly prefer teammate Jaelan Phillips over Rousseau, but would not fault anyone for leaning his way.
8. Jaelan Phillips, DE (Miami)
Phillips had eight sacks for Miami this year after transferring from UCLA. (He was never a full-time player at UCLA.) Based on his size and familiarity lining up off the line, I see him more as a 3-4 OLB rather than a 4-3 DE. However, I do like his “get off” at the snap. Also, he is extremely athletic and has the build to play well against the run too.
9. Liam Eichenberg, LT (Notre Dame)
Eichenberg could likely step in and start at right tackle from day one, although he is a natural LT prospect. Notre Dame has had a very good track record of producing successful NFL offensive linemen in recent years (i.e. Zack Martin, Quenton Nelson, Ronnie Stanley, and Mike McGlinchey among others).
10. Nick Bolton, LB (Missouri)
Others are higher on Bolton than I am. I see him more as a long-term replacement for A.J. Klein than a replacement for Milano. (He could even backup Tremaine Edmunds at MLB.) Regardless, I greatly admire his skill set and ability. If he is the best player on Buffalo’s board at 30, I would not be upset with the pick.
11. Pat Freiermuth, TE (Penn State)
Freiermuth averaged over 14 yards per catch and had eight touchdowns as a freshman. He followed that up with seven scores as a sophomore. The dude is a monster and it’s easy to see why people refer to him as “Baby Gronk.” He could be a fit for the Bills, should they run more 12 personnel in 2021. While he exhibits all the qualities you would want in a receiving TE, his shoulder injury could be cause for concern. I have him ranked third on my TE list.
12. Wyatt Davis, RG (Ohio State)
Davis is a plug-and-play RG from day one. According to Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network, Davis has a “mauling presence.” He feels like the type of player that would demand a fiery attitude from his trench mates and plays with a high motor. Davis could be the “enforcer” replacement, should the Bills not re-sign Jon Feliciano.
13. Rondale Moore, WR (Purdue)
Moore could be Buffalo’s version of Curtis Samuel, should they miss out on the former Panther in free agency. A do-it-all player who has had a laundry list of injuries to date. The Bills would have to be super confident in the medicals before pulling the trigger on Moore, but he is oozing with game-breaking ability.
14. Brevin Jordan, TE (Miami)
Jordan was responsible for the second-highest passer rating when targeted in 2020, behind only DeVonta Smith. He is extremely athletic, a willing blocker, a YAC (yards after catch) monster, and has possibly the best hands of all TEs in the class.
15. Jackson Carman, Guard (Clemson)
Carman is a huge dude who projects to be more of an asset immediately in the run game. Therefore, a move inside at the pro level seems to make sense. If the Bills are looking for a massive body to play inside, Carman could fit, but it may be a bit of trial and error as to where he bets fits (like Cody Ford).
16. Dillon Radunz, RT (North Dakota State)
Radunz appeared to struggle with balance in pass protection during the Senior Bowl, even though that has been considered a strength of his by many. Regardless, he is known more as a run-blocking tackle anyways. Overall, he could be an adequate long-term option on the right side for the Bills.
17. Trevon Moehrig, FS (TCU)
Moehrig had seven interceptions in his three seasons at TCU. He won the Jim Thorpe Award (Best Collegiate Defensive Back) to go along with Second-Team All-American and First-Team All-Big 12 honors. Moehrig might not be the perfect fit scheme-wise, but given his playmaking ability, there could be an avenue where this pick makes sense.
18. Jabril Cox, LB (LSU)
Cox transferred to LSU after three seasons at North Dakota State. He recorded six and a half tackles for loss, one sack, and three interceptions in 2020. He is a do-it-all LB who excels in pass coverage. In my opinion, Cox has the most similar skill set to Matt Milano in this draft class.
19. Patrick Jones II, DE (Pittsburgh)
Jones recorded 17.5 sacks through the 2019 and 2020 seasons. I love his size and am not concerned that he is purely a 4-3 DE, as this is an area the Bills have a glaring need to get younger. If they miss out on the big names like Rousseau and Phillips, Jones would be a very nice consolation prize.
20. Teven Jenkins, Guard (Oklahoma State)
Jenkins was a versatile offensive lineman during his time at Oklahoma State. His nastiness and ability to finish plays have been well documented by many in the draft community. My only hesitation with Jenkins is I do not want the Bills to be in another Cody Ford-type situation, where they must experiment with his position.
21. Landon Dickerson, G/C (Alabama)
Dickerson was the best center in college football this past season, winning the 2020 Rimington Award. He does have a significant injury history, including ACL/knee and multiple ankle injuries, which puts him lower on my list. Regardless, I love his demeanor and ability to finish blocks. He likely starts as a guard in the NFL but could provide depth at center.
22. Tyler Shelvin, DT (LSU)
Shelvin is a massive dude, serving purely a one-tech at the next level in a 4-3 front. He can eat up blockers and plays with great leverage.
23. Carlos Basham Jr., DE (Wake Forest)
“Boogie” Basham had 15 sacks in 19 games played through 2019 and 2020. He also tallied an astounding 33.5 tackles for loss since his sophomore year. He has a ton of experience chasing down good QBs in the ACC over the years, including Trevor Lawrence.
24. Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB (Syracuse)
The Bills, who met with Melifonwu at the Senior Bowl, have been searching for a CB2 for what seems like forever. I love his size/athleticism combination. He would make an excellent running mate opposite of Tre White.
25. Alim McNeill, DT (North Carolina State)
McNeill essentially played the equivalent of NT at NC State on their 3-man defensive line. He recorded 17.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks from the interior at NCSU over the past three seasons. (In 2020, McNeill returned an interception for a TD against Virginia that would have made Sam Adams jealous.) He projects as a one-tech on a 4-3 defensive front, but I could see a team taking a shot on him as a 3-4 DE.
- Creed Humphrey, IOL (Oklahoma)
- Jaycee Horn, CB (South Carolina)
- Hamsah Nasirildeen, S (Florida State)
- Jevon Holland, S (Oregon)
- Eric Stokes, CB (Georgia)
- Chazz Surratt, LB (North Carolina)
- Paulson Adebo, CB (Stanford)
- Dylan Moses, LB (Alabama)