How should the Bills attack the draft?

I'd expect defense to be at the top of their list

Howard Simon
April 21, 2020 - 5:40 pm

It will feel odd Thursday night when the National Football League holds Round 1 of the NFL Draft. First and foremost because of the world we live in right now, and the fact that league and team officials will be at their respective homes rather than Las Vegas and at their team facilities.

It will also be odd for Buffalo Bills fans who will be bystanders for the first round. It will mark just the sixth time in the Bills' NFL history that they don’t have a selection in the opening round.

Here are some of my draft thoughts:

  • While it might leave you feeling left out of the party, dealing that 22nd overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs was well worth it. Diggs will have a bigger impact than anyone the Bills would have drafted in that spot. Wide receiver would have been the position I obsessed over going into the draft, and now I don’t have to worry about whether the Bills can find a way to get one of the top prospects. 
     
  • I still think the Bills should draft a receiver at some point because after Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley, you can basically take the rest of the names and throw them in a hat. Wide receiver is the deepest position in the draft, and on Day 3 the Bills could still find a player to make the 53-man roster and compete for the fourth spot on the depth chart. In addition, Brown has two years left on his contract and Beasley has three. It never hurts to think down the road when it comes to the depth chart.
     
  • Thanks to the work of general manager Brandon Beane and company, the Bills can truly think about taking the best player available with their first few picks. There are no glaring holes that jump out off their roster. Having said that, there are definitely some positions where the Bills can, and should add some talent. If I had to guess, the Bills' first selection will be on the defensive side, either an EDGE player or a cornerback. Both positions should be addressed over the three-day draft. The edge group is on the older side with Jerry Hughes (age 31) and Mario Addison (32). Trent Murphy is also going into the final year of his contract, and the young depth is basically Darryl Johnson.
     
  • Cornerback is Tre'Davious White and question marks. Levi Wallace played well for the most part last season, but couldn’t hold on to the job on a full-time basis. The Bills brought in Josh Norman, but who knows if he will re-gain the form from earlier in his career with the Carolina Panthers. E.J. Gaines has been here twice before, but has had issues staying healthy. If I had to prioritize the the Bills' needs, I’d put EDGE first and cornerback second.
     
  • Other needs include offensive line and running back. The need on the line depends on what the Bills will be doing with Cody Ford and whether they see him as a tackle or guard going forward. If they believe Ford is the long-term answer at tackle, then they are set with him and Dion Dawkins, assuming Dawkins eventually gets a contract extension. The Bills should then look to draft a guard since Jon Feliciano is going into the final year of his contract. If they believe Ford will eventually move inside to guard, should they not re-sign Feliciano, then they should draft a tackle. If you look at the depth chart at that position, a full-time starter isn’t currently there.
     
  • While Bills fans won’t have a pick of their own, there are a number of stories that could unfold on Thursday night that would be of great interest. It's possible two of their AFC East rivals will draft a quarterback. Most people expect the Miami Dolphins to do just that with the first of their three first round selections. The only question is which quarterback do the Dolphins take, and are they worried about the health status of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa? The New England Patriots are beginning the post-Tom Brady era and it will be interesting to see if that franchise uses a first round pick on a quarterback for the first time since Drew Bledsoe. 

We will have complete coverage of the NFL Draft on Thursday, Friday and Saturday on WGR.

 

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