Bills’ Best Bets at RB in 2019 NFL Draft

I have TE, OT, OG, RB, EDGE, DT5T and OLB atop the Bills’ needs in the 2019 NFL Draft, Apr 25, 2019 in Nashville (mark your calendars), so our DraftTek computer begins its search for the best value atop our Big Board for the best “deal” among those players. I do love our current Bills’ players at those positions who might greatly reduce the need to draft one (Cole Beasley in the Slot, D’Haquille Williams, Smoky Brown, and Robert Foster at WR; Marcus Murphy at RB; Harrison Phillips at DT; and Lorenzo Alexander at SLB). However, it would be irresponsible of me to ignore draftable college talent that would fit the McBeane mold. Here are the draft’s top RBs on my McBeane-O-Meter, culled from 62 backs DraftTek is looking at right now.

Bryce Love, Stanford
5-10, 196, 4.36
39 gm over 3 yrs
6.2 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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My top back entering this season, Love passed on the NFL after a prolific junior campaign to shoot for the Heisman in 2018. It didn’t work out for him. In 13 games, Love rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 TDs, at a 8.1 yards-per-carry pace. He set the FBS-record with 13 runs of 50+ yards last season –on a bad ankle. Love’s 76 missed tackles forced in 2017 was third to Montgomery and Singletary. He has 4 returning OL to block for him, so he’ll be in the Heisman hunt. Love is in the air, as well; he’s a nice receiver. He’s on the McBeane-O-Meter because he’s described as humble, smart, genuine, and he credits his teammates after strong performances. Oh, and he’s a Skittles lover, Marshawn!  Fit For Bills: A+

Damien Harris Alabama
5-11, 214, 4.55
39 gm over 3 yrs
6.0 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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Harris passed on the NFL for another year with the Crimson Tide, despite ‘Bama OC Brian Daboll’s exit for the Bills. Playing on a run-first team, Harris will be the bell-cow once again. Harris has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns and averaged 7.4 yards per rush on 135 carries last fall. He’s shown consistency, as he’s churned out 2,197 yards rushing with 14 TD over three seasons, and his body of work, 39 games so far, is large enough to warrant a serious look by Beane. The Kentucky native has yet to eclipse more than 20 carries in a contest, but that could change in 2018 with ‘Bama WRs leaving for the NFL.  Fit For Bills: A+

Tavien Feaster Clemson
5-11, 220, 4.34
23 gm over 2 yrs
7.4 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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Feaster, a speedy Clemson junior, is not a Nick Tahou’s Garbage Plate by any means. He is, however, a combo plate of size, speed, burst, and missed tackles galore. Feaster was 247Sports’ No. 1 all-purpose RB, and you see oodles of potential. He’s always been the understudy. As Wayne Gallman’s understudy as a freshman, Feaster recorded 669 yards and 7 TDs, and shared the rock with speedy Travis Etienne last fall. He gets his world-class speed from track, and could could get the Combine forty record. Feaster’s winning personality, ideal-teammate qualities, high character, C.J. Spiller/Sammy Watkins’ size and speed, unrelenting work ethic, and keep-your-nose-clean/keep-your-head-on-straight intent make him an ideal McBeane type. He still has a year of eligibility left, but he sure has the output already. Fit For Bills: A+

Myles Gaskin Washington
5-10, 191, 4.50
40 gm over 3 yrs.
7.4 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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Gaskin enters this season as the active leader among FBS players in career rushing yards (4,055 yards), notching at least 1,000 yards in all 3 seasons on the Huskies’ campus, and posting a career-high 21 rushing TDs in 2017. The 2018 draft projection he received wasn’t to his liking, and he wants to prove the experts wrong. That’s a green flag on the McBeane Speedway. A player with outstanding work ethic and high character, vision, instincts, and fluid lateral agility might win him the checkered flag, too. Add the 40-game experience to his vita, and he’s a slam-dunk. He does need wings (with blue cheese) because he has rail-thin legs. Fit For Bills: A+

Travis Etienne Clemson
5-10, 200, 4.39
13 gm over 1 yr.
6.1 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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Etienne and Feaster should form one of the nation’s top tandems in 2018. As a freshman last year, Etienne led the offense with 766 rushing yards and 13 TDs. Adding to those impressive totals was Etienne, who had only 107 carries, with a 7.2 yards-per-carry ranking that’s first in the ACC among rushers with at least 100 attempts. He just bounces off tacklers; watch this. Not likely to be in the 2019 Draft with 2 years of eligibility remaining, Etienne is the opposite of Gaskin’s body type. Etienne carries his weight all in the legs which, combined his feet, provide him the elite ability to set up the defender for missed tackles, and elite speed after they miss. Only 13 games of experience won’t tempt McBeane to step up to The Etienne Machine, but his low center of gravity and 4.39 speed might. Fit For Bills: A

Jacques Patrick Florida St
6-2, 231, 4.59
30 gm over 3 yrs.
5 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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Patrick is slated to work behind Cam Akers this fall, but his senior could start on a good chunk of teams at the FBS level. Patrick was the Dalvin Cook’s backup in 2015-16, but he got more carries than Etienne. With a career-high 132 carries last season, Patrick made the most of his snaps, recording 735 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2017. The reason he’s a McBeane guy is that he’s serving in a big-brother capacity in the RB room, and Jimbo Fisher loves him, saying he’s a “hell of a football player. There’s so much character, talent, heart in that guy… he’s just playing so well on blitzes.” Pass-blocking is a key dimension if you’re in Daboll’s stable. Fit For Bills: A

Patrick Laird California
6-0, 200, 4.70
15 gm over 4 yrs.
6.7 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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When Tre Watson was done for the 2017 season due to a knee injury, Patrick Laird stepped up in a big way. After a mere 11 career carries prior to 2017, Laird handled 191 attempts for 1,127 yards and 8 TDs. His receiving is a strength, as well; Laird caught 45 passes for 322 yards and was actually listed as a WR in 2015. Laird also played Safety in high school (You want versatility???). Harrison Phillips was my top human being in 2018’s draft (although I’d thought RD2 was where he’d be drafted), and Laird’s my top human being in this draft. His Walk On Then Run website encourages reading. He’s a Horrible Harry in the classroom, too, with a 4.35 GPA. That might help with Daboll’s intricate offense. His only ding is the 15 games over 4 years.  Fit For Bills: A

Chris James Jr. Wisconsin
5-10, 208, 4.44
31 gm over 3 yrs.
2.3 ypc vs AP-ranked teams
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The stats won’t tell the whole story of Chris James Jr. –Here’s why. A transfer from Pitt after 2 seasons with Paul Chryst, James followed Chryst to Wisconsin when he left. It meant redshirting in 2016. James has decent speed, but his toughness and quicks are more the story than his 4.44 forty time. Moreover, teammates love him due to his infectious personality, boosting him up the McBeane-O-Meter. I expect James will be more involved in the passing game this year as he has better receiving ability than his numbers show. Unfortunately, James will share touches with Jonathan Taylor and Bradrick Shaw, good RBs in their own right, but it’s another reason not to let stats tell you the whole story. I admire James’s balance and vision; watch thisFit For Bills: A