Here’s November’s attempt at a Bills mock draft. FanSpeak’s On The Clock Premium three years ago, and have maintained my annual subscription ($9.95 for each year; now wondering if it’s deductible). Nothing is more soothing after a Bills loss. Even beats alcohol. The advantage of FanSpeak Premium is that it allows you to make sensible trades. And no, I don’t work for them.
My intent is to do a monthly Bills mock draft, explaining my choices.
I’d love it if you replied with your own FanSpeak draft, either on Twitter or in the comments below. Saying that “such-and-such a player won’t be there at that pick” isn’t worth my argument; they clearly were available at that pick, and that’s why I picked them!
This month, I’m looking for difference-makers on the offensive side of the ball on Day 1 and Day 2, although a case could easily be made for picking some answers to the Bills’ offensive ‘crapalanche’ in Free Agency.
The Bills’ needs as I see them coincide with the sheer number of scouted players at WR, OT, and RB, with TE and QB the second tier. On defense, the most-scouted players occur at CB and OLB, with EDGE, SS, and 1-tech DT, especially if he can also play 5-tech better than Adolphus Washington (low bar there).
Here we go.
Round 1, Pick 3 (#3 Overall): OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
I was offered a trade from the Bucs (4 picks for our one), but I turned it down and ran the simulation. I was offered similar trades from the Lions and Jaguars, but the prize was too great. The alternatives were tempting, as QB Justin Herbert and CB Greedy Williams were also available – but Josh’s concussion, his elbow injury, and Jordan Mills caused me to stick with October’s pick.
I expect the Bills to stick with Brian Daboll and give him talent on the offensive side. The list of scouted players seems to underscore that decision. Daboll coached him last year, and loves that he keeps a notebook listing three things he’ll be working on in practice that day. Wow.
The Colts offered me Round 2 Pick 9 and Round 3 Pick 8 in exchange for our third pick, and I accepted. The Bills’ scouts are excellent, contrary to what you read on Twitter, and Brandon Beane banks on it here.
Round 2 Pick 9 (#41 Overall): TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
Smith’s the draft’s top tight end. Think of a 1″ taller, faster Charles Clay who’s less brittle, and adds lots more YAC to the passing game. Daboll knows him. Smith’s height-speed ratio is in the top echelon, as is his athleticism and route-running.
Why not grab one of Tua Tagovailoa’s favorite targets? If it doesn’t work I’d be surprised, but if it doesn’t, just grab Tua next year! Irv Smith, Jr. is an excellent blocker out of the gate, and would allow Daboll to disguise his intent on every play.
Two numbers impress me: 21.4 (the percentage of targets that were TDs) and 18.5 (his yards per catch against AP-ranked teams). We’ll still pick up a receiver with one of our two RD3 picks, thanks to the Colts.
Round 3, Pick 2 (#66 Overall): WR Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
This is not a “homer” pick! With Johnson, the Bills get the highest scouted WR on my draft board. Against Miami of Ohio (8 catches, 238 yards, 29.8 average ypc, 3 TD), we’ve begun to see why eyes will be on this prize.
Last year, Johnson posted a stat line of 76/1,356/14 TD and a 124.2 passer rating when targeted. That rating would instantly give Josh Allen the best chance for success among those in the WR room.
Daboll uses plenty of hitches in his scheme, and Johnson leads the FBS with 136.1 passer rating when on hitches. His 17.8 yards per rec was tops in the MAC. The DNA is there; he has three cousins in the NFL, including Jadeveon Clowney.
Round 3 Pick 8 (#72 Overall): Center Jesse Burkett, Stanford
I was right. At 6-3, 304 pounds and a 5.14 forty time, as well as his head coach calling him “doggone smart”, Burkett is in Eric Wood’s league physically and intellectually. DraftTek’s OL Analyst Longball says “Burkett is ny #1 Center due to his intelligence.
He is real quick at line calls, fairly athletic, but looks even more so due to his outstanding technique. Burkett’s taking a double major in symbolic systems and Japanese. At Stanford. He has the Top 5 percentile intelligence that McBeane wants. “You try to use the word ‘brilliant’ very cautiously,” says Head Coach David Shaw. “He’s so doggone smart.” I just wouldn’t use those labels on Ducasse.
The Bills have been at the games of a whopping 18 cornerbacks, the highest number of players at any position. The bookend for Tre White is going to be big and fast (Mullen’s 6-2, 190, 4.49), a good tackler who has a nose for the ball (check), and will definitely be a Top-100 pick.
Mullen matches the size and speed of the Bills’ CBs, and would be the tallest in the DB room. We know from the Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds selections that size matters.
Only 5 draftable WRs on my board have yards-per-catch averages over 16.5: D.K. Metcalf, Jaylen Smith, Riley Ridley, and juniors Michael Pittman and Hakeem Butler. Only one of the five has had scouts at a game. Riley is intense, just like his older brother Calvin Ridley and the Bills need some of that in the WR room.
With Marcus Murphy’s size and jukes more reminiscent of Shady, Snell (5-11, 223, 4.56) gives the Bills a younger Chris Ivory (6-0, 222, 4.48). Maybe we draft two, or get one in Free Agency.
Kentucky’s offense has been terrific, but remember that they’re also breaking in a new quarterback. Kentucky’s success has fallen squarely on the big shoulders of Snell.
After rushing for 1,091 yards and 13 TD as a freshman in 2016, Snell rushed for 1,333 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017 and is on the same pace in 2018. Snell’s ypc against AP-ranked teams (6.5) is right up there with leaders Damien Harris, Dexter Williams, and juniors Justice Hill and Zach Moss.
Round 5, Pick 24 (#157 Overall): OG Alex Bars, Notre Dame
Bars currently is a LG following in the RD1 footsteps of Quenton Nelson, but Bars (6-6, 315) has started at RG and RT over his 25 games. Says Longball: “This is a guy I could really see the Bills targeting. Good position flex and might be available early RD5.”
Sure enough, the Bills scouted the Notre Dame-Pitt game on October 13. Bars is a team captain and is a mature guy. I also like the upside of developing linemen the Bills already have in the room, Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger.
Round 6, Pick 3 (#177 Overall): EDGE Carl Granderson, Wyoming
Josh Allen’s teammate at WyomIng, Granderson tore his ACL in 2016, but attacked his rehab. The following year, Granderson led the Mountain West Conference with 16 TFL. He finished second with 8.5 sacks on the year, as well.
At one point, Chris Trapasso had him No. 65 on his list of top 100 prospects. Granderson is a team-first guy with an affable personality, bound to be a locker-room favorite. Like Hughes, he’s twitchy and athletic, like Trent Murphy, he’s long, and like Josh Allen, he’s a Wyoming Cowboy.
Round 7, Pick 3 (#221 Overall): DL5T/1T Rashard Lawrence LSU
This pick is the confluence of several factors. The Bills have scouted scads of interior D-Linemen, and this front office adores drafting them. What’s interesting is that ten of them are 1-techs who can double at 5-tech. nine of them are 5-techs that can play 1-tech.
Rashard Lawrence, one of the latter, is on a team scouted at two games as of this writing. Both DT5T and DT1T are P3 needs on my DraftTek positionals (Day 3 priorities), and I expect they’ll take at least one interior guy with Kyle Williams retiring soon. The Bills want to get an Adolphus Washington (Whaley’s RD3) with a higher-revving motor and more production, both in sacks and pressures.
Other possibilities here who’ve also been seen by Bills scouts are DL Albert Huggins of Clemson (scouted 1x, and in that game he had 4 tackles, 2 of them for loss, and a sack against Florida State. He had more TFL than Dexter Lawrence last year), and Raequan Williams of Michigan State, whose amazing story will tug at the heartstrings of GMs.
Round 7, Pick 26 (#244 Overall): SS Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Equally comfortable against the run or the pass, Edwards offers late-round consistency behind Micah Hyde. Bills scouted him 11/3 against Georgia.
Editor’s babble: Love this mock draft. My two favorites are OT Jesse Burkett from Stanford and (of course) EDGE Carl Granderson from Wyoming. Thanks to Dean Kindig for keeping us up to speed on who to look for when the 2019 NFL Draft rolls around. You can follow Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.