Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and Head Coach Sean McDermott can go multiple ways in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft depending on how the board falls. There are multiple positions across the current roster that you can address with pick No.27, and I’m here to tell you what possible direction the Bills can go.
With the loss of Tremaine Edmunds, there is a hole at the MLB position, but the Bills re-signed Tyrel Dodson and A.J. Klein, as well as drafted Terrel Bernard in the third-round last year. They also have Baylon Spector, who they drafted in the seventh round during the 2022 NFL Draft. Spector has a 9.13 RAS (Relative Athletic Score), which ranked 211 out of 2,419 linebackers from 1987 to 2022. Dodson, Klein, Bernard, and Spector all have the chance to start next year if the position doesn’t get addressed in the draft.
The linebacker class in this draft isn’t deep, and not many national analysts who cover the draft have any first-round grades on the linebackers. The conversation gets interesting because some would consider it a reach to take a linebacker at No.27, but Erik Turner from Cover 1 mentioned the 27th overall graded prospect in this draft might be graded just ahead of the 50th overall player. Therefore, taking your 50th overall player at 27 might not be considered a reach, especially if it meets need and the player becomes a starter instantly. Beane also mentioned in his press conference last week that he doesn’t have as many first-round grades as usual prior to the 2023 NFL Draft.
Some possible prospects that the Bills could attack at the MLB position in round one would be Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell, and Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders. Campbell won the 2022 Butkus Award, which is awarded to the best linebacker in the country. He has proven at the college level that he can play in the role the Bills would use him for. Campbell tested well at the combine, recording a 9.98 RAS, which ranked sixth out of 2,648 linebackers from 1987 to 2023. The Bills like guys who are athletic, and Campbell fits that mold. Sanders has high upside, and is best used when you can move him around and put him on the edge to get to the quarterback. However, Sanders is more of a project coming into the league. Sanders finished with 9.5 sacks last year.
The Bills could add a receiver in this draft, complementing Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Last year, the Bills’ offense missed a reliable slot option over the middle and a guy that could move the sticks on third down for quarterback Josh Allen. They drafted Khalil Shakir in the fifth-round last year, and he showed some signs of capability in the league, but it’s not a guarantee that he develops into a starting slot option.
To highlight a few names, the Bills have met with six wide receivers on top-30 visits, which is more than any other position they have met with heading into the draft. USC WR Jordan Addison, Boston College WR Zay Flowers, and Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba are three names who the Bills have met with, and are projected to go in the first round. These three guys also happen to be slot options, and guys that would instantly become a starter for the Bills and another option for Josh Allen. North Carolina WR Josh Downs is a favorite amongst Bills Mafia and Cover 1. According to Peter King, if Smith-Njigba, Addison, and Flowers are all gone at No.27, the Bills really like Downs and he could be the pick at No.27.
Just throwing out the possibility here if it does happen, but wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins would love to join the Bills according to Von Miller. If Buffalo misses out on these wide receivers, or the asking price comes down from the Arizona Cardinals, Hopkins could be a Buffalo Bill by the end of the draft.
Moving onto the offensive line, Bills right tackle Spencer Brown had a frustrating second season and wasn’t able to stay consistent for the team. Brown was dealing with a nagging back injury during training camp, causing him to miss reps, and putting himself behind the eight ball. There is some talent at the tackle position in the draft, and a guy that the Bills have met with on a top-30 visit is Tennessee OT Darnell Wright. Other names like Broedrick Jones or Anton Harrison could also be there at 27. However, since 2018, there have been at least three tackles taken off the board before pick 27 because tackle is a premium position. If the Bills can get an upgrade at right tackle at pick 27, it’s the right thing to do as protecting Josh Allen is high on the list of off-season priorities.
The last option I could see the Bills attacking in the first-round is edge or defensive tackle. Edge rusher Nolan Smith from Georgia is someone who has been talked about to the Bills at No.27, as well as edge rusher Myles Murphy from Clemson. The Bills have met with four defensive tackles on top-30 visits ahead of the draft. Michigan DT Mazi Smith, Florida DT Gervon Dexter, South Carolina DT Zacch Pickens, and LSU DT Jacquelin Roy have all visited One Bills Drive. Smith is a first round target, and the other three could be possible day two additions.
The Bills have some options at No.27 depending on how the board falls, and in what is an important draft for Beane and his staff, the Bills need to pick the right guy to be an impact player for the team this year.