The NFL Scouting Combine has wrapped up and the Buffalo Bills will now spend the next six weeks attacking free agency and setting their board for the 2023 NFL Draft. The team is entering a pivotal stage in its franchise; two core players in Jordan Poyer and Tremaine Edmunds are set to hit the open market and Brandon Beane doesn’t have the surplus of salary cap space to work with that he did in previous seasons. With that said, Beane will need to make the most out of the Bills’ 2023 draft class, beginning with pick No. 27 in the first round.
So, in what direction will the team go? Let’s take a look at the five most realistic options.
WR Jordan Addison, USC
Entering the 2022 season, Jordan Addison was viewed as one of the premier receiver prospects in the 2023 draft class. Addison transferred to USC after winning the Biletnikoff Award, following two seasons at Pitt, where he and first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett connected 160 times for 2,259 yards and 16 touchdowns.
With Caleb Williams under center for the Trojans, Addison’s numbers dipped a bit, reeling in 59 receptions for 875 yards and eight scores, en route to a First Team All-Pac 12 nod.
Addison’s stock took a bit of a dip at the NFL Combine, where he measured in at 5-foot-11, 173-pounds and ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash. Addison doesn’t have any one elite physical trait, but he’s a crafty route runner with juice that has the ability to separate and create yards after the catch. Thankfully for Buffalo, they already have their alpha WR1 in Stefon Diggs, so having Addison as a secondary weapon is ideal. Addison can play outside, but may be best utilized in the slot, where he can take over for Cole Beasley as the short-to-intermediate weapon.
WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
To me, Flowers seems more like a second-rounder, but there’s no denying the skills and talent possessed by the Boston College receiver. A better athlete than Addison, the 5-foot-9, 182-pounder ran a 4.42 40, jumped 35.5 inches and had a 10-foot-7 broad jump at the Combine. In four seasons at BC, Flowers caught 200 passes for 3,056 yards and 29 catches, averaging 15.3 yards-per-catch.
Flowers, like Addison, doesn’t have elite size or speed, but he’s got enough juice to occasionally win on the outside (If it wasn’t for terrible QB play, his 2021 5-70 performance against Clemson would look much, much different). In the NFL, Flowers projects as a dynamic slot weapon that can split out wide, go in motion and be a YAC monster.
Bills pair Zay Flowers with Josh Allen in 7-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft
OG O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
Buffalo’s interior offensive line has been a mess during the last two seasons, and shoring it up with a monster like O’Cyrus Torrence would go a long way in bolstering the team’s rushing attack. Torrence played three years at Louisiana before finishing his collegiate career at Florida, where he started all 12 games. The 6-foot-5, 330-pounder doesn’t fit the mold of the freakishly athletic linemen Buffalo has targeted under Brandon Beane, but Torrence would bring a new element to the group.
He’s a mauler in the run game with a solid, wide frame and strong base to anchor against pass rushers. It’d be surprising if the Bills decide to select Torrence, but he’d be a difference-maker for their offensive line.
OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Spencer Brown has been wildly inconsistent during his tenure as the Bills’ right tackle and the team may look to replace him. Tennessee’s Darnell Wright is another big, nasty lineman. Standing 6-foot-6, 330-pounds, the former five-star recruit has started since he arrived on campus for the Vols and has experience at both right and left tackle. Wright projects as a nasty people-mover in the run game and is more athletic in pass protection than his size would indicate. He’s a savvy pass blocker with great strength, and overall, is just a clean prospect. Again, not a freakish athlete like some of the currently rostered Bills’ linemen, but after failures, we’ll see if Beane bucks that trend this season.
RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
This pick would cause the most sensational takes throughout Bills Twitter, but there’s certainly a world where selecting a running back makes sense. And Bijan Robinson is not just any running back. Regardless of the performance last year, there is no denying that the Bills boast one of the NFL’s most potent offenses. Should a top pass catcher or lineman not be there at No. 27, Buffalo should absolutely snag Robinson.
Robinson is a more agile Jonathan Taylor that’s been touted as the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley. Robinson has a big, compact 5-11, 215-pound frame, but he’s got speed (4.45 40), and has ridiculous vision, footwork and balance that allow him to make plays out of nothing. He can catch a bit out of the backfield and would provide Buffalo’s offense with a third superstar that teams need to account for on every given snap.
There are definitely more valuable positions to target, but if the board falls in a certain way, Robinson could be the biggest difference-maker in the draft, should he fall all the way to No. 27.