With the 2017-18 season officially over, fans of all 32 teams can start thinking about draft season. Well, Philly fans might not be ready for draft season yet. They’re busy trying to put their city back together. Congratulations to them. I never thought I’d be jealous of anybody living in Philadelphia, but I want that feeling.
For the purpose of this mock draft, and all future mock drafts, I will use the “On The Clock” tool on FanSpeak’s website. This exercise is intended to spark conversation and nothing more. I don’t claim to be an expert. I don’t analyze countless hours of film. I’m simply looking at positional needs that the Bills have and identifying potential targets available at each selection. Use this to familiarize yourself with the names of certain prospects and then make your own opinions. With that being said…
Rashaan Evans (LB – Alabama)
Da’Ron Payne (DL – Alabama)
Somewhere, Buddy Nix is reading my mock draft and smiling at the selection of two SEC defenders. Okay, he probably isn’t really reading this. The Bills defense needs some restocking this offseason, and what better way to do it than drafting two studs from the defending National Champions.
Preston Brown’s future in Buffalo is uncertain and the defensive line needs help. If Rashaan Evans can come in to play the weak-side linebacker position in Buffalo’s 4-3 defense, than that may allow them to move Matt Milano to the opposite side. Lorenzo Alexander had a solid 2017 season but he is nearing the end of his career.
Speaking of nearing the end of a career, Kyle Williams may or may not retire before the start of next season. His leadership on the field and off can not be replaced, but his performance can. Da’Ron Payne is the run stuffer that Buffalo was sorely lacking this year. He should come in and fill the void left behind by another former Alabama run stuffer. Losing Marcell Dareus hurt the Bills defense in the second half of the season, but may have helped the locker room. Now they get a younger talent on a cheaper deal.
Harrison Phillips (DL – Stanford)
Sony Michel (RB – Georgia)
Did I mention that the Buffalo Bills defense struggled against the run in 2017? Harrison Phillips has a reputation of being a gritty run defender. The fact that he is a former wrestler means every analyst will connect him to McDermott at some point during this draft process. I like the thought of attacking defensive line early and often in this year’s draft. Maybe McBeane would be better served to get an edge rusher here, but Phillips at this spot could be a nice get.
The Bills finally go offense by addressing the backup running back position. There were several times this season that fans held their breath as LeSean McCoy hit the turf. The do everything back out of Pitt has had a Hall of Fame career to this point, but he will be 30 next season. I don’t think this is the end for Shady yet, but he needs someone to take pressure off of him. Sony Michel can be that guy. His style of play differs from Shady, which could present a nice change of pace for the Bills offense.
Jerome Baker (LB – Ohio St)
Jerome Baker is a bit undersized at the linebacker position, but his speed and athleticism make him an intriguing option. I don’t know that he is the ideal fit for Buffalo here, especially after getting Evans in the first, but the value is too good to pass up. The best case scenario would be that Preston Brown comes back to man the middle allowing the young guys to stay outside.
Mike White (QB – Western Kentucky)
I have serious doubts that the Bills will select a quarterback in the first round of the draft. From what I have seen, Lamar Jackson feels like the best case scenario at pick #21. White had a good week at the Senior Bowl and was the best quarterback on the board at this point in the draft. I don’t know enough about him to have an opinion, but this might be a name fans should familiarize themselves with.
Trey Marshall (S – Florida State)
Allen Lazard (WR – Iowa State)
This is actually my favorite part of the mock draft process. The later rounds are where you start to learn about guys the media isn’t talking about. Trey Marshall is a hard hitting safety out of Florida State. Buffalo’s infatuation with FSU prospects may officially be over, but Marshall’s name will likely come up. The Bills have one of the best starting safety duos in the league. They are young and under contract for the next few years, but the depth behind them is non-existent. Buffalo needs to address this either through the draft or with a veteran free agent.
When you don’t know many of the names left on the board, mock one of your old draftkings heroes to your teams. Allen Lazard had 26 touchdowns in his 48 games at Iowa State. He’s a strong, big-bodied receiver that could battle for a spot in Buffalo’s depleted wide receiver stable. He performed well at the Senior Bowl. With Kelvin Benjamin only under contract for one more season, Lazard could be an intriguing replacement. He could earn his spot on the field with his play in the red zone.
I want to hear from you on twitter. Again, the purpose of this is to spark conversation. Hopefully, come draft season we’ll recognize some of the names that are called. It makes the process much more fun. Do your own mocks on Fanspeak. Send me your screen shots @JoeGeniti, or post them here.
Editor’s babble: Yes, let’s get the draft conversation going here. Love what all of you who write in the comment section bring to the table . Thanks to Joe Geniti for his contributions to our blog.