Astro’s Bills Mock Draft – January Edition

Photo from thegamehaus.com.

I intend to put out a 2019 NFL Bills Mock Draft each month, based on where the Bills are scouting and who they visit throughout draft season. If you bookmark and follow my BillsMafia Draft Board here, you might be able to make your own “All-Visits Mock”.

Not everybody notices the tabs at the bottom: “By Round” shows where scouted players are likely to be drafted, per DraftTek’s Big Board. “By Game” shows you which games the Bills’ scouts have been to, and who I think they were watching. “By Team” shows you the top draft-eligible players on each team, and “By Position” shows you DraftTek’s positional priority for the Bills, which tells the DraftTek computer which positions to “shop for” first.

Here’s January’s best-guess draft.

Photo of Alabama’s OT Jonah Williams from rolltide.com.

RD1: OT Jonah Williams, Alabama – I should just say “Williams”, because if Quinnen or Greedy fall to here, they’re in the conversation (they didn’t in my simulation; Jonah did). Deciding upon Jonah Williams came down to this: Jonah would be out there on every offensive play while an addition to our platooned DL wouldn’t. Moreover, the Bills went 3-for-3 last year on selecting DBs, with Taron Johnson of Weber State in RD4, Siran Neal of Jackson State in RD5, and ‘Bama’s Levi Wallace in UDFA. The Beaner can afford to wait a round or two and still find a dominant zone CB if Johnson, Wallace, or Neal ain’t it. Quinnen Williams would be awesome, but there’s a reason the Bills have now been to the games of 22 of my top 22 DL players…so their guy might not be a first-rounder. Will the Bills look at OL in Free Agency? You betcha. A different Williams could be the result after FA.

Photo of Iowa’s TE TJ Hockenson from thegazette.com.

RD2: TE TJ Hockenson, Iowa – Surprised that he was here, but several factors were at play. This DL class is amazeballs, and teams are taking their pick early. Second, some draftniks have other TEs, notably Irv Smith Jr ranked above Hockenson, but Hockenson leads all tight ends in YPC vs AP-ranked teams (31.3 ypc), has athleticism and route-running skills some of the others don’t have, and can block extremely well, which earned him more playing time than Noah Fant, his teammate. He gives Josh Allen a 139.1 passer rating when targeted. Hockenson’s work ethic and all-around ability at the position earned him the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end. The Bills scouted the Iowa-Penn State game on 10-24-18, and Hockenson outplayed Fant (3-63-21.0).

Photo of Georgia’s WR Riley Ridley from AJC.com.

RD3: WR Riley Ridley, Georgia – The Bills’ front office loves fast WRs, and they need a #1 wideout with a high catch rate. Riley Ridley, Calvin Ridley’s brother, has already run a 4.48 forty, and aims to eclipse that at the Combine. Speed is nice, but you also have to catch the ball, and Ridley’s 67.57% career catch rate is top 5 in my 25 WRs (the others are Parris Campbell’s 76.79%, A.J. Brown’s 75.36%, Marquise Brown’s 71.74%, and Terry McLaurin’s 69.57%; Ridley’s just above Lil’ Jordan Humphrey’s 67.21%) . The Bills’ WRs had the lowest catch rate (50.8 percent) in the NFL despite Robert Foster’s team-best 65.4% catch rate since Week 10, so one of these catch-rate phenoms is coming to One Bills Drive.

Photo of WVU’s WR David Sills from ESPN.com.

RD4A: WR David Sills, WVU – GM Brandon Beane, Asst GM Schoen and Pete Harris Northeast Area Scout attended the Oklahoma-WVU game on 11-23-18. Many draftable players did well, including QB Kyler Murray, WRF Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (11 receptions for 243 yards and 2 TD), OLB Caleb Kelly (9 tkl, 5 asst, 1 sack), OG Bobby Evans, QB Will Grier (32/49, 539, 4 TD), and WR Gary Jennings* (7 for 225, 32.1, 2 TD). I’d argue that one will be a future Buffalo Bill. The “baddest dude on the field“, 6’4” David Sills (8 for 131, 16.4, 2 TD), has elevated the release from the line of scrimmage into an art form. He practically forces Beane and his entourage to take back-to-back wideouts.

Dec 29, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Trayveon Williams (5) scores the second touchdown during the first quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the 2017 Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

RD4B: RB Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M – A couple of factors led me to choose the unscouted Trayveon Williams over the scouted Benny Snell, who’d be a great “thunder” back choice here. The case for Snell? He’s Chris Ivory. You’d snare Snell for his high missed tackles forced, avoided tackles (39), and yards after contact (829 yds this year), just like Ivory brought to the table. Alas, Snell (20-73-3.7- 1 TD) was outplayed by RB Elijah Holyfield (18-115-6.4-1 TD) in the Kentucky vs Georgia game, attended by Bills scouts. Trayveon Williams is the McCoy type, a shifty “lightning” back who led the SEC in yards this year with 1,760 (7th all-time-highest). Trayveon caught 66 passes over his career to Snell’s 29, and carried the rock at a 6.5 ypc clip in 2018 to Snell’s 5.0. Tough choice when you have two 30-year-old RBs in the stable. The Bills plan to have McCoy back next year, but they have to plan for the future with one of these two backs. (Note: If Bryce Love‘s surgery drops him this far, he’d also be in the running for the “lightning” role.)

Photo of Kansas’ DL Daniel Wise from Hookem.com and Getty Images.

RD5A: iDL Daniel Wise, Kansas – Bills chatted with Daniel Wise at the Shrine Game. Wise has NFL bloodlines (The Pats’ Deatrich Wise is his brother, and his father also played pro football), a winning personality, and a relentless work ethic that’s too noticeable for McBeane to ignore. Wise has
1.02 tackles for loss per game played, joining only Ed Oliver and Quinnen Williams as inside defensive linemen with at least one TFL per game. The Bills, using a platoon system, need to replace Kyle Williams’ pressure on quarterbacks. Wise will climb draft boards after being noticed all week at the Shrine Game.

Photo of Texas A&M’s C Erik McCoy from 247sports.com.

RD5B: OC Erik McCoy, Texas A&M – The Bills need a keystone for that offensive line, someone quick on his feet as well as in communication of the line calls. Our OL Analyst at DraftTek, LongBall, had this to say about Erik McCoy: “Dandy technician, smart, recognizes and makes OL calls quickly . . . I have him as a Top-100 prospect”. An articulate scholar-athlete, McCoy started every game for A&M since redshirting in 2015, and has the spatial thinking that breaks down schemes quickly. In the film room, McCoy’s always the first to spot what to do or where to go. Oh, and he blocked for our young RB, Keith Ford and my RD4B pick, Trayveon Williams.

Photo of Iowa’s DE Anthony Nelson from thegazette.com.

RD6: DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa – The Bills scouted Penn State 30 -Iowa 27 on October 27, and they were looking at a handful of players:
Penn St CB Amani Oruwariye (3 tkl, 3 asst), Iowa SS Amani Hooker (6 solo tkl), Iowa DE Anthony Nelson (4 tkl, 1 asst, 1.5 sk), Iowa DE Parker Hesse (1 tkl, 3 asst, 1 sk), the above-drafted TE Hockenson (3-63-21.0), and TE Noah Fant (5-56-11.2). I re-watched the game, and there’s a lot to like about 6-7, 271-lb Anthony Nelson: While he’s not the most athletic DE in the draft by any means, Nelson’s not done improving his game. He’s very good at protecting the edge, is always around the ball, his motor runs nonstop, he was #2 in the Big10 in sacks this year with 9.5, and he has 31.5 tackles for loss over 3 years. He reminds me a bit in size and style of Trent Murphy.

Photo of Troy’s CB Blace Brown from troytrojans.com.

RD7A: CB Blace Brown, Troy – Like I said earlier, McBeane has already made some savvy choices in the defensive backfield, and Blace Brown, a sleeper prospect, would be no exception. Troy was unscouted by the Bills to my knowledge, but Brown was the BPA this late (I don’t expect him to be RD7 in April). He has the measurables (6-2,186, 4.44), a former WR’s nose for the ball (12 career INT), and an impressive career resume including a pick-six, two forced fumbles, and 111 total tackles. Can he be the next Levi Wallace or Taron Johnson?

Photo of Mississippi’s WR DaMarkus Lodge from 247sports.com.

RD7B: WR DaMarkus Lodge, Mississippi – I was shocked that the Ole Miss wideout was in my sim this late, as he led the team in yards per catch. Maybe it was because he didn’t play in the Shrine Game. He was injured on Wednesday and didn’t play. During earlier practices, he showed off great acceleration (especially vs CB Michael Jackson), body control, and extension for the ball.

Preferred Free Agents:

Photo of U. of N. Alabama’s FS Chris Johnson from herosports.com.

FS Chris Johnson, U. of N. Alabama – I’m sticking to my assertion that the Bills like Chris Johnson and have visited with coaches. There’s nothing that makes me think the transfer from SUNY Albany wouldn’t be available as a Preferred Free Agent (PFA), but his freak measurables (6-2, 200, 4.45) will appeal to Beane. He’s raw, but he’d be helpful right away on special teams. Johnson notched 50 tackles and intercepted 6 passes in his first season at UNA. [Draft Diamonds’ scouting report]

Photo of Wyoming’s RB Nico Evans from kfbcradio.com.

RB Nico Evans, Wyoming – How cool would it be to see QB Josh Allen with his old sidekick? The Bills trekked to Wyoming vs New Mexico State 8-25-18, likely to watch S Andrew Wingard (1 tkl 1 asst), and EDGE Carl Granderson (0 tkl 2 asst, 1 sack safety), but Evans just dominated (24 for 190 yds (7.9), 2 TD). He can be used in many different ways: the screen game, high-acceleration bursts up the middle, YAC yards, you name it.

Editor’s babble: On to the draft! Special thanks to Dean Kindig for giving us something else to focus our attention on instead of Super Bowl hype. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.

5 Replies to “Astro’s Bills Mock Draft – January Edition”

  1. Lol… actually love this draft including the free agents… good job.. enjoyed this

  2. I absolutely love this draft…I have all but two of the players you picked in my primary mock (I picked up Hakeem Butler vice Sills), but you’ve definitely captured the need and the direction that I think the Bills should go…The players that you’ve selected in your SIM definitely fit the process and are quietly the best of the bunch as I’ve been following them…Even Sills, but he was gone on my mock and that’s why I went with Butler. Man, I truly hope that the Bills flesh out need in FA and load up for future with these dynamic young players.

    • Thanks for your comments, Billy! Stay tuned for more of Dean’s “Astro Notes” leading up to the draft. I’ve learned so much from him. Have a great day!

      Robyn Mundy, Editor-in-Chief

    • I’m glad you liked this mock. Sills and Butler have the height, but had poor catch rates over their college careers. Sills catch rate is 58% while Butlers is 43%…The front office is most likely done with drops..