What’s up, Bills Mafia?! It’s draft day and our beloved Buffalo Bills don’t have a selection to make tonight, thanks to a trade to acquire star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. That’s not a problem, though. I’m sure you’re pretty satisfied with what was added to the team with our 2020 first round pick, and there’s plenty of talent still available in the other rounds.
So, here’s my best (and final) guess as to what I believe Brandon Beane will be doing in this draft, with a trade included (because I can’t believe Beane is going to finish this event without a trade, c’mon). Here it is, Bills fans:
Round 2, Pick 54: WR Laviska Shenault Jr. – Colorado
Few people believe Beane and the Bills will be doubling down on the wide receiver position after acquiring Diggs in the trade with the Vikings. However, Shenault is a first-round talent that’s still available at this pick because of some injury-related concerns.
A 360-degree look at WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
*Viska’s physical strength caught up to his mental strength & how they’ve become the foundation to his game.
*An in-depth analysis of his injury history by @BangedUpBills
Link: https://t.co/oU0pOMlPtQ pic.twitter.com/LWmawb7O1u
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) February 3, 2020
Buffalo has a top-notch medical facility and has excelled at keeping their players healthy as of late. Shenault is big, physical, and versatile, offering a different skill-set from what the team has in their top three at the position.
As our Greg Tompsett likes to say, Shenault offers everything that Isaiah McKenzie does in this offense, but in a far bigger and stronger package. He can be utilized in a lot of different ways by Brian Daboll, adding another dimension to this offense, and long-term can become a strong ‘1A’ receiver alongside Diggs. Remember, John Brown and Cole Beasley can’t play ball forever, and with a lot of talented players on this roster on their way to getting paid, Beane will need to make some difficult financial decisions soon.
Round 3, Pick 86: G John Simpson – Clemson
One of the positions where the Bills have solid veteran starters but could add some youth and talent is the guard spot. Quinton Spain and Jon Feliciano are fine veterans who enjoyed solid first seasons in Buffalo. However, you will probably never get elite production from them, and it would be nice to have a young stud being developed and waiting on the wings to take over as soon as the opportunity arises. Enter John Simpson.
New Post: 2020 NFL Draft | John Simpson, Clemson, and the value of plug-and-play prospects https://t.co/ZDh1kwJu3X
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 13, 2020
The former Tiger is the perfect prospect for this situation. He can come in and learn the schemes, work on his craft, and develop without the pressure of starting right away, despite being able to if needed. Sooner rather than later, he should be ready to take over one of the guard spots and handle it for a long time.
LG John Simpson is obviously a fit for the Bills. The former wrestler is incredibly powerful. pic.twitter.com/gD8fa3uxvh
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 5, 2020
Trade: Buffalo sends picks 128, 188 and a 2021 5th to the NY Giants for pick 110
Round 4, pick 110: RB Cam Akers – Florida State
With Cam Akers still available, Beane calls his former boss, Dave Gettleman, and sends some of his draft ammunition to trade up for the dynamic rusher from Florida State.
Film Showcase: FSU RB Cam Akershttps://t.co/31mbbEaptk pic.twitter.com/jwi3hG37UI
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 14, 2020
Akers is one of the most intriguing players in this draft after being able to get solid production playing behind an awful Seminole offensive line. He consistently dealt with tacklers behind the line of scrimmage and was still able to gain a lot of yards after contact.
Cam Akers had to consistently make chicken salad out of chicken $&@! pic.twitter.com/R7eslRhPa2
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) February 18, 2020
This guy can be a great partner for Devin Singletary and has great potential on his own, giving Buffalo a promising one-two punch at the running back position for years to come. Akers could be in the conversation in the second or third round, so getting him in the fourth would be an amazing value.
Round 5, pick 167: OT Alex Taylor – South Carolina St.
It could be considered a bit early to take on a project like Taylor, but if you really like the player, you don’t wait too much and risk losing him. That’s the case here with this mammoth tackle prospect.
From the physical standpoint, Taylor has everything you want in a tackle. He needs to be polished, though, and Buffalo could be the perfect place for that polishing.
OT Alex Taylor our of SC state apparently has an 88 inch wingspan. Aka, if he gets his hands on you, you’re fighting a losing battle #DraftStockRising pic.twitter.com/LmM6lDHgxy
— Hoo Bangin Bandana Criminiminal (@0FTHEROSE_) January 29, 2020
Taylor can sit and learn behind Dion Dawkins, Cody Ford, Ty Nsekhe, and Daryl Williams, working on his craft and developing without being rushed into playing time anytime soon.
With some refinement plus his awesome size and physical skills, Buffalo could grow a future starter at the tackle position, taking advantage of a deep veteran group at their disposal in 2020.
Round 6, pick 207: CB Harrison Hand – Temple
A physical corner who possesses good zone coverage skills and is a willing tackler, Hand offers good value in round 6. He would compete with Wallace, Norman, and E.J. Gaines for the number two cornerback spot but without any pressure to play early if he’s not ready.
4th and 1
Not many corners are willing to stick their nose in there like this…👏👏 Harrison Hand pic.twitter.com/bPO7B9QcdT
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 22, 2020
Hand has a skillset that should translate well to Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s schemes, becoming another nice long term option in this defense.
Round 7, pick 239: DT Bravion Roy – Baylor
I was going to go special teams with this pick because Braden Mann was still available. However, I couldn’t pass on Roy.
Baylor DT Bravion Roy is a BEAST. 333 lbs 6’1. He uses his low frame against bigger OL and almost always wins. Immediate impact DL for any teams that needs depth up front. #NFLDRAFT pic.twitter.com/ditffrHxvu
— The Final Count (@The_Final_Count) January 25, 2020
The former Bear is a powerful presence in the middle of the defensive line. He fits perfectly as the space-eating nose tackle in the Bills’ schemes, being the immovable space eater needed to keep linebackers clean.
Roy can be groomed behind Star Lotulelei as his successor, and this late in the 7th round, there’s really no downside on betting in a player like him as a project.
Built to win now, Buffalo has a roster without many clear needs. Some say number two corner is at the top of the list, but the incumbent starter for the most part in the previous two years (Levi Wallace) is coming back with a former All-Pro hungry for a comeback year (Josh Norman) being added as his competition.
Other people says running back, but the Bills have a potential star in Devin Singletary and a guy who’s still in his prime years and has plenty of experience as the complementary back in T.J. Yeldon. This is a position where there are a lot of solid options still available in the free agency, too. In fact, some positions can be upgraded, but they aren’t true needs short-term.
The fact is that Beane has done a good job filling the needs with reliable veteran options in free agency, allowing himself to select the best available players in the NFL Draft with the long-term situation in mind. With this draft, there’s no guarantee any of these players will start in 2020, but most of them have potential to contribute early, and all can become starters down the road.
The Bills finally are in a position where they don’t need their rookies to produce at the highest level possible early, being able to develop and bring them along slowly. If they can surprise the coaching staff and surpass their veteran counterparts early, then great. After all, iron sharpens iron, as McDermott likes to say, and an injection of talent into the roster can only make the competition tougher.