It’s officially draft day and I am ecstatic, just like most of you. Yes, it’s that time where we have hope for our beloved team. We hope that the new regime will bring in a new wave of talent, a group of guys that not only bring talent but bring the type of effort, sense of community, and character that new head coach Sean McDermott has been preaching.
The organization only has six picks at the moment, and from what I am hearing from sources within the organization, they are adamantly looking to trade back to acquire picks. This may prove to be difficult, but it’s not impossible. For the sake of my sanity, this Bills mock draft will be based on if they stay at 10.
With the 10th overall pick, I expect the Bills to address the defensive side of the ball. When McDermott was first brought on, he had mentioned that he has been a part of a defensive rebuild. I fully expect that to happen in his first year as a head coach. So I have the Bills selecting LB Haason Reddick from Temple. In their base defense, the starters at this moment are Lorenzo Alexander (Sam), Reggie Ragland (Mike), and Ramon Humber (Will), with Preston Brown on the bench. While they are all respectable players in their own rights, they don’t possess the athleticism that McDermott had in Carolina. Linebacker Shaq Thompson occupied the Sam position, and his versatility goes under-appreciated. Thompson was Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) 13th rated linebacker overall (inside LBs + outside LBs). The former safety does it all for the Panthers. He was 9th in pass rush productivity at 11.8, 10th in run stop percentage at 8.1, and of course excelled in coverage, only allowing 37 receptions for 285 yards, 1 TD and hauling in 1 interception. Luke Kuechly is the best inside linebacker in the game. The perfect blend of leadership, intelligence and athleticism, he’s a stud. At Will LB, Thomas Davis was the kamikaze, a disruptor and playmaker. Another former safety that utilizes his instincts and athleticism to disrupt plays, he was the number one outside linebacker in pass rush productivity at 15.6, and number one in total pressures with 20. Against the run, he posted 19 run stops, which put him at number 10 overall, and was able to pick off opposing QBs three times, which was #1 amongst all outside linebackers.
I think Reddick can excel if put at will LB. He has also has played safety and was shifted to the defensive line. He has experience in two and three-point stances, is able to rush the passer and drop into coverage. The transition to off the ball linebacker isn’t an easy one, but he has the athletic ability to hold his own. I truly believe that behind a good defensive line in Buffalo, he should be kept clean enough to create havoc similar to Davis.
In the second round I believe the Bills will pick wide receiver Zay Jones. If you follow me on social media, this should be no surprise, so I will keep it short. Zay projects very well into Rick Dennison’s offense. He can play inside and out, is the best route runner in the short to intermediate area, has arguably the best hands in the draft, and has a knack for finding zone windows. Taylor will continue to see a lot of zone defense to minimize big plays with his legs, so Zay will be able to work those windows and bring those tough catches in. According to my draft, the Bills will need to maximize their offensive selections, given the fact that there are so few. This selection will do just that, because Jones’s wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan now holds the same position in Buffalo. If there is anyone that knows his ceiling, it’s coach McGeoghan. He coached Jones into several receiving records at East Carolina, and I believe there is a chance in three years that we look back and say that the Jones’s selection provided the most value.
The next pick is an easy one. It is a player that I am sure McDermott saw a lot of film on when he was studying for the 2016 NFL Draft, and that defender is Rasul Douglas from West Virginia. McDermott and the Carolina Panthers drafted Daryl Worley (WVU Alum) last season in the third round. Douglas is a much better corner than Worley. To learn more, check out his scouting report here:
— Cover 1 (@Cover1Bills) April 17, 2017
Honorable mention: I am hearing the Bills are really high on Jordan Willis if he were to fall into the third (I have a 2nd round grade on him). Highly unlikely to be there in the third, but Willis has the power and technique that McDermott and Frasier covet.
With the first of three 5th round picks I have Buffalo selecting defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow from Michigan. According to Pro Football Focus, Glasgow was third in pass rush productivity, right behind Jonathan Allen. Glasgow compiled 6 sacks, 8 QB hits and 23 QB hurries.
When I watch him, I have a hard time not comparing his game to Kyle Williams. He isn’t as well versed with his pass rush moves, but he doesn’t quit fighting until the whistle blows. He can align at nose or as an under tackle in a 4-3 defense and would be a good rotational player in the Bills defense.
The second fifth round pick will be spent on corner Nate Hairston from Temple.
Buffalo has met with Hairston several times, including a private visit. He is a 6’0″, 196 pound corner with 31″ arms. He is a zone corner that knows how to disrupt receiver’s routes during the release and is efficient at re-routing receivers to his safety help. His backpedal is choppy, so the staff put him in a lot of press bail and taught him the ‘Saban Shuffle’ to make him more effective. His sloppy footwork and average straight line speed (4.52) can get him into trouble when in man coverage. The Owls played a lot of cover 2 shell , sometimes rolling into cover 3, but plenty of two high was also played. This allowed Hairston to keep the ball in front of him. He reads two man routes very quickly and keeps good spacing between the two receivers, making it very difficult for the quarterback to choose.
With the final 5th round choice, I believe the Buffalo Bills will bring in Youngstown St. defensive end Avery Moss.
This prospect is another player that the Bills met with, and for good reason. Moss began his collegiate career at the University of Nebraska, until 2014 when he was dismissed for exposing himself to another student. Fortunately, he landed on his feet and played opposite DE Derek Rivers. Moss’s ceiling isn’t that high, but his length is something that McDermott and the staff will love to work with.
Finally, with their sixth and final pick of the draft, the Bills will pick tight end Cole Hikutini.
He is 6’4″, 247 pounds and played his ball last season with QB Lamar Jackson at Louisville.
He is a long strider and has 33 1/4 arm length, so he is able to stretch the field AND can give Tyrod Taylor the catch radius he needs. Having played with Jackson, Hikutini ran a lot of bootlegs, seam routes, and is accustomed to getting open during the scramble drill. Hikutini has been used all over the field, including as a slot receiver and as an H-back, often leading run plays. He is an offensive weapon that will take some time to adjust at the next level, but he is definitely worth a late draft pick.
I think we can all agree that the Bills should trade back early and often. The team has too many holes and not enough assets. Hope you enjoyed all of our draft coverage here at Cover 1. I know we did.
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