Two high-end defensive prospects mocked to the Bills

12/13/2017
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Nov 11, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith (3) closes in on Auburn Tigers running back Kerryon Johnson (21) during the third quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs 40-17. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

 

It’s that time of year where NFL Mock Drafts start to roll out. Obviously, a lot can change over the next few months, but mock drafts can be fun to discuss. The Bills have a ton of needs, but in ESPN Insider Todd McShay’s first mock draft he had the Buffalo Bills selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith with the 15th pick overall, and with their other first round selection (21st overall) defensive tackle Vita Vea from the University of Washington.

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If Smith makes it to 15, the Bills should absolutely scoop him up. Linebackers with his combination of speed, quickness, and awareness do not come around often. Smith is an experienced player who has played in 36 games in the SEC, a conference that has an abundance of talent, and yet his athleticism still stood out. Most great players are great athletes, but Smith is more than just a great athlete. His greatest trait is his ability to key and diagnose and shut plays down.

 

Those mental processing skills are in the elite category, up there with some of the best linebackers to come out of the draft. He sticks to his keys, quickly diagnoses run-to-pass, and simply has that ‘click and close’ mentality that you want in your linebacker. He is a centerpiece defender, someone to build around, and at a position that the Bills are in desperate need of.

 

Defensive tackle Vita Vea would be another defender and position that the Bills need to overhaul. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams will likely retire after the season, and the Bills really have no top tier talent outside of him. The Bills are especially lacking a guy that can play nose tackle.

Nov 25, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive lineman Vita Vea (50) pressures Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) during the second quarter at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

We have seen what losing a stout defender up the middle did to the run defense when Buffalo traded away Marcell Dareus. Vea has registered 93 tackles, 60 of which are solo tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks in 36 games. At 6’4, 340 pounds he is that space eater that the Bills’ 27th-ranked run defense needs.

For a big guy, he shows flashes of explosiveness off the ball and the ability to convert that to overwhelming power — power that can and will collapse pockets.

 

Teams will no doubt have to double him in pass rushing situations, because his power will cause issues for a majority of guards.

 

Brandon Beane helped construct a very good defense while in Carolina. A couple of those building blocks were defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and linebacker Luke Kuechly, both guys that were drafted in the first round. Snagging LB Smith and DT Vea early in the 2018 NFL Draft would not be surprising. They are the types of players that would help reshape the makeup of the Buffalo Bills’ defense.

 

Note: QB Sam Darnold selected #1 overall, QB Josh Rosen #2 overall, QB Josh Allen #5 overall, QB Baker Mayfield #19 overall.

 

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