RD1#20: CeeDee Lamb, WRF – Oklahoma
DraftTek’s computer even agrees with me! This week, DraftTek’s computer mock made the same pick for the Bills. The confluence of supply and demand at Tackle, the need for QBs at the top of the draft, and some standout defensive players caused CeeDee to fall into the 20s. In a league where separation has supplanted height as the prime factor in WR success, Josh Allen needs a receiver who makes himself this available on every play. CeeDee Lamb does it with separation, quicks, and speed. His 22.7 yards per catch in 2019 is the draft class’s highest (min. 6 catches). Lamb is 2nd among all returning WRs in PFF’s metric “QBR When Targeted”, with an eyebrow-raising 145.2 by getting YAC like this. That helps boost Josh Allen’s quarterback rating. Lamb’s tied with Omar Bayless in touchdowns this year with 13, despite a far-lower market share of targets. Daboll (or whoever’s the OC by then) will love this level of nasty when blocking downfield. Oh, and he’s a good punt returner, too.
RD2#52: Kenny Willekes, EDGE – Michigan State
Willekes has the size (6-4, 260) and the output (including the draft’s highest 1.16 TFLs per game plus 18.5 sacks) to be a difference-maker. While he’s having his best season, Jerry Hughes isn’t getting younger, and former RD1 Shaq Lawson isn’t getting better. The rest of our EDGE rushers are just a bunch of guys named Joe (or Trent). Picking up PFF’s third-best 4-3 EDGE here in the second round will keep the NFL’s Top Three defense stingy. Brandon Beane always brings in your replacement before your contract year, so the time is right for EDGE. Willekes (#48) was a walk-on who became an All-American with hard work, but he’s more than another great story. Okay, back to the offense…
RD3#84: K.J. Hamler, WRS – Penn State
The Bills double-dip at receiver here, taking this year’s Andy Isabella (Cardinals), who caught his first pass in Week 7 and hasn’t dropped a pass since. Like Isabella, redshirt sophomore Hamler’s waterbug-small and quick. In fact, DraftTek’s “WRS” designation is for these waterbugs; think of “Small, Speedy, Slot”, like Jalen Reagor and this guy. Hamler broke Saquon Barkley’s Penn State freshman record for all-purpose yards (1,237), upping it to 1,417. I envision him splitting time with Cole Beasley out of the slot, catching quick slants and deep routes. His 22 games as of this writing have produced 86 catches for 1,493 yards (that’s 17.4 yards per catch) and 13 TDs. Hamler’s also one of the best return guys in the FBS with a 23.2 ypr average on kick returns and 6.3 ypr on punts. If the Bills are sold on my pet cat, “Quick Nick” Easley, on our practice squad as Beasley’s backup, then OT gets the call here. LT Cole Van Lanen from Wisconsin is piquing my interest. He sure looked good in the 10/26/2019 game vs Ohio State, a game Brandon Beane attended.
RD4#116: Mekhi Becton, OT – Louisville
The Bills take one of the best power-run-blocking tackles in the draft with Becton. He has the highest run-blocking grade per PFF (73.7). An affable locker-room guy, Mekhi is energetic without being frenetic, and mammoth without being disproportionate (hard to accomplish when you’re heaviest on the board at 6-7, 355). Mekhi will feel even less disproportionate alongside Quinton Spain (6-5, 335) and Jon Feliciano (6-5, 324). Watch #73 LT Becton effortlessly turn his man here. He’s light on his feet, too. Becton serves up pancakes on both run and pass plays. Here, Becton talks about wanting to go harder for his brothers, and all I could think of was Buffalo. Don’t want back-to-back tackles?? If you took Van Lanen in RD3, then just flip-flop and take WR Chase Claypool here. Becton and Claypool were two impressive players in the Louisville 17, Notre Dame 35 game scouted by the Bills in September.
RD5#137: J.R. Reed, SS – Georgia
How is a guy with this much DNA still on the board?? Jake Rashaan Reed is the son of Jake Reed, that WR with 12 years’ service with the Vikes and Saints, not to mention 450 receptions, 6,999 yards, and 36 TDs. J.R.’s uncle is Dale Carter, a 1992 RD1#20 draft pick by the Chiefs and a four-time Pro-Bowl selection who played 14 seasons. J.R. has come up big in big games, including 9 stops + a red-zone INT vs Alabama; the Sugar Bowl vs. Texas (8 tackles); at Missouri (8 tackles); LSU (9 stops), and this year vs Notre Dame (7 tackles and INT). He knows how to “Reed” an offense, too. Watch #20 here, the opportunistic safety at the bottom of your screen. Reincarnation of Micah Hyde? Start him on special teams so he can do this.
RD5#147: Najee Harris, RB – Alabama
Why take another running back when we have Singletary and Gore?? Five reasons. First off, Harris will be the thunder to Singletary’s lightning, weighing a svelte 230 pounds. Second, Harris’s 7.5 yards per carry against AP-ranked teams is second in his class to 5-11, 221-lb Jonathan Taylor’s 7.7. Third, Harris’s dogged work ethic is such a fit for McBeane’s Dream Team. Fourth, his 37 missed tackles forced and 512 yards after contact last season make him just unstoppable on a rainy day. He’s answered questions about receiving ability this year. Finally, Daboll has had his eyes on him since his time at Tuscaloosa. Harris has converted 44.0% of his rushes into a first down or touchdown this season, easily the best mark in the SEC.
RD6#169: John Houston Jr., OLB – USC
Brandon Beane scouted the USC 35, Colorado 31 game personally, and I know his original intent was to check out big WRs, and I bet he wasn’t disappointed. Michael Pittman (6-4, 215) had a great day, with 7-156-22.3 ypc, 2TD. Laviska Shenault (6-2, 220) had loads of YAC and a 9-catch, 172- yard (19.1 ypc), 1-TD day. Even Tyler Vaughns (6-2, 185) did well, with a 8-104-13.0 ypc, 1-TD stat line. Pittman netted the most interest, but for me, the new face was USC fifth-year senior LB John Houston Jr, with quick closing speed, functional strength (watch #10’s rip move here), savvy coverage, and textbook wrap-up tackles. In the YouTube interviews I watched, you see reflective self-study –part of The Process. He led USC in tackles in this game from the OLB position (#10 in the video), and was ESPN’s #1 ILB when he committed to the Trojans. He’s smart and articulate, too; he’s finishing up his second degree at USC. Beane often drafts special teamers with upside on Day 3, and Houston is a hidden gem (Not the city).
RD6#179: Cam Brown, ILB – Penn State
Brandon Beane looks for depth behind key players and special teams aces on Day 3, and Cam Brown would back up what I feel is a thin LB room. Arguably the hardest hitter in the Big Ten, the 6-5 Brown has long arms and nonstop motor. He’s smart, a good leader, and affable in the locker room. It’s palpable; he has the D in the palm of his hand. Watch his Buffalo and Pitt games. He’ll end Penn State’s six years since a Penn State LB has been drafted. He’s a few wings short of an ideal weight, though. Hope we can fix that.
RD6#191: Dominik Eberle, PK – Utah State
Was anybody else doing the math in the Bills’ 19-16 loss to Cleveland? Two field goals from a kicker would have changed the narrative. Eberle is DraftTek’s number one kicker this year, and he’s still on the board. So far this season, Eberle is 30-30 on extra points, 14 of 16 on FG tries, and 4 for 6 on 50 yarders. As of this writing, Eberle is perfect on extra points, 122 of 122. He’s been the Mountain West’s Player of the Week two times in 2019, kicking the game-winner in Week 11 over Fresno State. Coulda used that in Cleveland.
Editor’s babble: I love this mock draft, but then there’s a reason we have the Draft Dean contributing to our blog because he’s so good at it and we thank him for all his hard work. You can find Dean on Twitter @TCBILLS_Astro.