Bills pair Zay Flowers with Josh Allen in 7-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft

03/09/2023
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Mock Drafts have never been my thing, in fact, I haven’t even done one in quite a long time. But, I have gotten some requests to put out some Mock Draft content, so I have caved and fired up Pro Football Focus’ Mock Draft Simulator. Here we go!

Round 1 (27), WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

 

The Bills’ offense was one of the top units in the league during the regular season, finishing 2nd overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, which includes a No. 2-ranked  passing attack and 11th-best rushing attack. But when they got to the playoffs, their offensive DVOA dropped to 9th overall – 11th in passing and 3rd in rushing. Mind you, those rankings are out of 14 teams in the big dance.

 

So with their first pick, I had the Bills selecting Zay Flowers. Flowers may have only measured in at 5’9″ and 182 pounds at the combine, but when you turn on the film, he plays much bigger than his measurables. This is why I don’t believe he is a slot-only type at the next level. Flowers is a confident, alpha-type WR like Stefon Diggs and like Steve Smith – something GM Brandon Beane adores about those guys.

He is an aggressive and violent runner with a gravitational pull that belies his smaller stature. Boston College maximized his skillset on two major concepts that are installed in the Bills’ seam, specifically the Seam Read and Y Cross packages made known by Cole Beasley.

 

 

He’s a three-level receiver that has a knack for getting into the blind spots of corners, but then can make safeties feel comfortable with their leverage before running away from them.

 

 

Flowers is also excellent at quickly getting into the quarterback’s vision on crossing routes and ruining defenders’ angles to gain yards after the catch. He consistently gets past off coverage with double moves, and he’s a great stop-route salesman and go-route runner.

 

 

Overall, Zay Flowers is a dynamic wide receiver and would be another dimension to the Bills’ offense that defenses have to prepare for. He can excel in multiple offensive packages and has the ability to make defenders miss with his aggressive and violent running style. Defenses will need to know where he is at all times, as he has the potential to make game-changing plays. Coincidentally enough, Flowers was coached by WR Coach Darrell Wyatt at Boston College, the same coach that mentored Gabe Davis at UCF a few years ago.

 

Round 2 (59), OT/G, Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse

 

Matthew Bergeron was the best offensive lineman talent-wise at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, according to former Coach now turned Offensive line Guru Paul Alexander. He is a well-balanced offensive lineman who primarily played tackle at Syracuse but I believe would be a very good guard in offensive line Coach Aaron Kromer’s system. All of Bergeron’s movements are efficient, balanced and calculated. When edge rushers spike inside he has a quick lateral power step that allows him to redirect wide rushers inside and pick up loopers.

Bergeron is a player who understands how to stay grounded, play with a good base, and utilize his core strength. He flashes the ability to torque edge defenders in order to open inside lanes for the running back to exploit. He isn’t a 1 on 1 people mover like some linemen in this class, he’s more of a positional leverage who is in tune with the angles needed to out leverage a defender.

Overall, Matthew Bergeron is a reliable offensive tackle who excels in pass protection and is also effective in the running game as part of a spoke on a wheel. His control and deliberate movements allow him to play with great positional awareness, and his ability to close interior rush lanes on stunts makes him a valuable asset to the Bills. An offense that struggled vs. those defensive strategies. While he primarily played tackle, based on his measurables of 6’5″ 318 pounds, and 33.75″ arm length, based on Kromer’s history,  I believe he would kick him to guard and love to develop his skills over the next few years.

Round 3 (91), S/CB Jartavius Martin, Illinois

 

Quan Martin is a versatile defensive back with the ability to play safety, nickel, and boundary corner positions. He is a chess piece on the field and could be the key to disguising the Bills’ defensive schemes – which has been the trademark of the Bills’ defense, and can slide into the role expected to be vacated by Jordan Poyer, who will be hitting the free agent market.

Martin communicates effectively with his teammates prior to the snap and excels in a multitude of coverages. Martin’s trail technique in Man Coverage is very good, and he is confident in off-coverage, especially from the slot. He uses his hands well to disrupt the route timing and possesses the twitch to undercut crossing routes. But he also possesses the closing speed to minimize receptions. His physicality forces wide receivers wider than they want to be in their route stem while taking speed off their routes. Martin doesn’t panic with no help over the top with the ball in the air. These traits have put Martin at the catch point a bunch over his career and are the reasons why he racked up 7 interceptions and 18 PBU’s at Illinois.

Overall, Quan Martin is an excellent defensive back who excels in a variety of positions and coverages. He disrupts quick game routes like slants and ins, and his ability to communicate effectively and get teammates lined up makes him an important asset to any defense. He is also very highly competitive in nature and one of the best tacklers in this class only missing 6.1% of his tackles in 2022, an area the Bills must get right. Martin is an ideal replacement for Poyer because of his versatility and skillset. I believe he possesses the DNA that this regime covets, which should put him near the top of their board.

Round 4 (130), TE Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion

 

Kuntz appears to be rising up boards because of the historic workout at the combine. According to Kent Lee Platte’s Relative Athletic Score metric, Kuntz has the #1 athletic score ever.

Most of the time, I shy away from tight ends that are 6’7″ because typically guys of this stature aren’t fluid movers. But Kuntz is definitely an exception.

We can see it in the short area where he is a dangerous tight end when given a Two-Way go because he has the agility to make sharp route breaks facilitated by his lower body flexibility. Kuntz uses his length well with the ball in the air and has an impressive catch radius,  but these are traits that Tight End Rob Boras will need to help amplify because we don’t see them enough on tape. His speed enables him to stretch the field on vertical concepts, and he has the ability to kick out wide or into the slot and run clearing routes which can open up the underneath passing game. In fact, his 11.1 Average Depth Of Target was 4th overall among tight ends in this draft class, a couple of spots behind Georgia TE Darnell Washington.

As a blocker, he uses his positional leverage well, and his movement allows him to get angles on defenders. Kuntz drops his hips on contact to create lift in the run game and has the tools to be a very effective blocker but he definitely needs some refinement in that area. Overall, he is a lanky and rangy tight end with the ability to create separation with his agility and lower body flexibility. With his size and speed, he can be a significant asset to a team’s passing game but will need to be coached up more in the run game aspect of the Bills’ offense.

Round 5 (139), OT/G, Jaxson Kirkland, Washington

 

If there was one developmental lineman that I believe Kromer would pick to coach up, it would be Kirkland. Kirkland is 6’7″, 322 pounds with 33.5-inch arms. He was voted Captain last season and possesses some positional flexibility to play both tackle and guard positions. But when he was bumped inside last season for the UCLA game, we saw his game start to pick up.

He has active hands and consistently maintains proper hand placement in the run game, which enables him to generate significant torque to finish blocks.

In the passing game, Kirkland’s independent punches keep rushers off balance because they have to continue to adjust to the hand-to-hand combat. In close quarters, he is skilled at refitting his hands and adjusting his body position throughout the rep to maintain leverage and control. Kirkland is a finisher who consistently plays through the whistle and displays a high level of tenacity on every snap. His ability to consistently get his hands inside and use them effectively to control defenders make him an asset to any offensive line.

Overall, Jaxson Kirkland isn’t an upper echelon athlete he does offer some minor positional flexibility with excellent technique and physicality. But I believe his home on the Bills would be at guard. His active hands, consistent hand placement, and independent punches make him a force to be reckoned with in both the run and pass game.

Round 6 (205), RB Mo Ibrahim, Minnesota

 

While I do believe that the Bills need a thunder-type back to complement James Cook and Nyheim Hines, it was difficult for me to pass up Ibrahim. He’s only 5’8″, 203 pounds but his low center of gravity helped him break 71 tackles last season, and 172 on 808 rushing attempts over the course of his career. He racked up 53 rushing touchdowns in 41 career games. Ibrahim was 2nd in this class with 48 runs of 10 yards or more, which perfectly encapsulates his running profile. He has some short-area elusiveness to make people miss, but can also be the hammer to nail down a defensive back looking to take him on 1 on 1. He will be super efficient at keeping the offense on schedule but he doesn’t have the top-end speed to make house calls to shorten drives. Ibrahim is very much like Devin Singletary, just not as elusive. But he does pack more of a punch at the end of runs than Motor did.

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1 Comment

  1. Terry

    Unless a top 15th player drops onto their lap the 1st round pick has to be a offensive lineman slot receivers you can draft in the 4th rd. Josh Allen needs better protection period other selected players make sense