There are portions of Bills Mafia that will go apoplectic if the Buffalo Bills use a first-round pick on a defensive lineman again. It might not be their first pick, but you should prepare to help your fellow fans walk back from the cliff’s edge because DL is still a need, especially with Von Miller unlikely to return until well into the 2024 season. Who in the 2023 draft class fits the Bills’ physical profiles for defensive linemen?
Building on the work we did for the Bills’ measurables, it’s time to start comparing this year’s draft class to the physical traits of the players the Bills have rostered. “Rostered” is an important distinction here because those 2017 and 2018 teams still had numerous players on the roster that were rollovers from the previous administration, and some of those players’ measurables distort the average. “Rostered” also does not include players who were cut before the season started but were drafted. Ultimately, we’re looking for how this year’s draft class stacks up against who has played for the Bills.
Bills’ Relative Athletic Size: Skill Positions
We’ve talked a lot about RAS, to the point that you should have a cursory understanding of Kent Lee Platte’s work. What we’re looking at now is similar, just minus all the intelligence and leg work. To boil down all the measurable data we get on prospects from the combine and pro days relative to those of the players the Bills have rostered, I created the Bills’ Relative Athletic Size, colloquially known as BRA Size because I am forever a 12-year-old boy and it makes me giggle.
McBeane Era Measurables: DT
The chart from the Bills’ Measurables series has the average combine measurements by each year of the McBeane regime, as well as the average for the whole six years (Blue). Each score was calculated for standard deviation, creating the +/- 68% lines (Gray), and the +/- 95% lines (Yellow).
The colorful chart below gives you the measurables that are currently available for each 2023 NFL Draft prospect. Their scores in each column have been formatted according to the one standard deviation from averages of the McBeane Era Bills by position. For example, the average 3-Cone time for Bills’ DT in the McBeane Era is 7.58, with a standard deviation of 0.331, so any time within 7.25 – 7.92 falls within one standard deviation. One standard deviation accounts for ~68% of all players the Bills have rostered. A second standard deviation accounts for ~95% of all players, but really you can just look at the range because of how far out a second deviation goes.
Results that are worse are in red. Results that are within the range are yellow. Results that are better are in green. So, a DT prospect who weighs less than 293.8 lbs is in red for weight. Say that same prospect ran a 10-Yard-Split that was under 1.68. That result would still be in green because in that category, lower is better.
To determine BRA Size, a player is given 1 point for each yellow category and 1.5 points for each green category. No points are removed for red – like the old baseball scout adage goes, “Once a player has demonstrated a skill, they own it,” so we won’t be subtracting from a 40 time because their hands are small. The players you’ll see in this chart are only from the combine for brevity’s sake. If you want to see all prospects and pro days results, use this link:
Notes on DT:
- Calijah Kancey’s size has gotten a good deal of scrutiny in this draft process. His arms are 1.125′ shorter than the Bills have rostered since 2017.
- Keeanu Benton’s name has been buzzing in a lot of Bills’ draft circles, and for BRA Size, he hits a perfect Goldilocks – 11 for 11 yellow.
McBeane Era Measurables: DE
Notes on DE:
- There are players in this list that are more LB than DE because of the overlap in a dynamic position.
- Isaiah Foskey leads the group at 13, and he’s a player Erik Turner has claimed as one of his guys.
- There is no middle ground for Nolan Smith.
Please know that I am fully aware these spreadsheets don’t replace any of the work on evaluating prospects from their film, medicals, interviews, etc. I would argue with you if you said it does. This is simply information to put prospects into a McBeane context, and no one else was doing it. Trust me. I looked everywhere. The Bills could very well draft a player who doesn’t rank highly in BRA Size, but that gives us information as well. There would have to be components to his game on film that encourage the Bills to overlook their tendencies.
**This work is not possible without the combine and pro day spreadsheets by Alex Katson (@alexkatson on Twitter). Give him a follow if this work lights your fire.