Cleat Geeks

Buffalo Bills Have Multiple Options To Take In The 2018 NFL Draft

When rebuilding a franchise, many chances and opportunities must be taken to ensure that the team is properly building for the future. After making it to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, the Buffalo Bills are now looking to expand on their recent success and advance further in the playoffs. Although the Bills got to the playoffs due to the late blunder from the Baltimore Ravens, General Manager Brandon Beane and Head Coach Sean McDermott are now taking that newfound success and expanding on their consistency of wins and advancement in the playoffs.

One of the next biggest opportunities for the Bills is having two consecutive 1st round picks in this upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. The Buffalo Bills own the 21st and the 22nd picks in the 2018 NFL Draft with the 22nd pick coming from the Kansas City Chiefs in last year’s Draft where Kansas City traded up for Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes II. The Bills also have two 2nd round picks in this 2018 Draft by owning their 53rd pick and the 56th pick they acquired from the Los Angeles Rams. That trade involved the trading of a 6th round pick in this year’s draft and WR Sammy Watkins in return for the 56th pick and CB E.J. Gaines. Although there are many options the Bills could take including trading for a needed position, the smart thing to do is draft with as many high Draft picks as possible with young talent.

 

Outside of RB LeSean McCoy, the Buffalo Bill have many problems on offense

This past season, the Bills were not statically superior when it came to other playoff contending teams. Buffalo was ranked 6th in the league in rushing yards per game (126.1 yards), thanks once again to their speedy and elusive Running Back in LeSean McCoy. This past season, McCoy rushed for 1,138 yards and 55 1st downs, and 6 touchdowns on 287 rushes. McCoy was a powerhouse behind a talented Offensive Line. One of the biggest problems for the Bills to deal with this offseason is finding a suitable replacement for Center Eric Wood. The former Bills Center had to retire prematurely from the NFL due to a neck injury that is close to his spinal cord. Not only do the Bills need a Center in the Offensive Line but they need a Tackle, specifically at the Right side of the line. The Bills were tied for tied 7th most in the NFL with allowed sacks (47) as well as 29th in total yards per game (302.6) and 22nd in points per game (18.9).

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Above all the problems on offense continues to the instability at the Quarterback position. Despite some inconsistencies with QB Tyrod Taylor, the Bills and Taylor signed a 2-year extension worth $30.5 million after agreeing to a pay cut starting last season. Taylor is the most expensive player on the Bills roster and he is on the last year of his contract. This past season, the Buffalo Bills were ranked 31st in the league (next to last) in passing yards per game (176.6). This past season, Taylor threw for 2,799 yards on 263 completion (out of 420 attempts) for 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. His total passing yards accounted for is the 25th highest in the league, he also averages 187 yards per game, which is the 30th highest of the 32 qualified Quarterbacks. The Bills have remained patient with the terms of finding a long-term franchise Quarterback but this new success might force them to look for an efficient long-term leader of the offense in this 2018 NFL Draft.

The problem in the passing game doesn’t just revolve around the Quarterback position. Buffalo has two solid Tight Ends in Charles Clay (leads team in reception yards with 558 yards) and Nick O’Leary. RB LeSean McCoy was also solid as a Receiver with a team-leading 59 receptions and 448 yards (2nd on team). 3 of the top 4 leading Receivers for the Buffalo Bills are not Wide Receivers. Only WR Deonte Thompson is ranked 3rd on the team in receiving yards with 430 yards on 27 receptions and 1 touchdown. The Bills will need to have more impact in the passing game with more reliable Wide Receivers especially with Thompson now an unrestricted free agent. Last season, rookie WR Zay Jones reportedly played most the season with a torn labrum. Jones accounted for only 316 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on 27 receptions while targeted 74 times. The offseason will give more time for Kelvin Benjamin to fit in more with the team after he was traded in the middle of the season from the Carolina Panthers. One of the four picks within the first 2 rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft might be very useful on a Wide Receiver especially if a new starting Quarterback is under Center.

 

Buffalo has areas to address on defense to build more efficiency

Two of the four biggest team areas to address is on defense where the Buffalo Bills showed flashes of efficiency but still needs potency. The Bills were ranked 18th in the league in points allowed per game (22.4) and 29th in rushing yards allowed per game (124.6). The pass defense played very well despite some of the inefficiencies of the rush defense, particularly at the line of scrimmage. The Bills had 3 Defensive Backs that finished in Pro Football Focus’ top 101 players including rookie CB Tre’Davious White, who had multiple votes as 2017-2018 NFL Defensive rookie of the year. One of the ultimate problems was the lack of consistent penetration in the backfield and pass rush. The Bills were tied for 29th in the league in total sacks accounted for (27 sacks). DE/OLB Shaq Lawson and DE Jerry Hughes were the team’s leaders in sacks with 4 sacks. Most of the impact came from the exterior of the defense in Ends and Outside Linebackers but not a lot came from the interior of the Defensive Line. A reliable Defensive Tackle who can disrupt run plays, both at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield, and pressure/sack the opposing Quarterback would be needed on defense. While Kyle Williams is still creating productivity, he will be 35 in June and is an unrestricted free agent. Williams earned 8.3 million on last year alone, which might make resign an aging Defensive Lineman with an expensive contract a problem.

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In a 4-3 defensive front, teams need great playmaking Linebackers to make tackles in open spaces especially if they send an Outside Backer on a blitz. ILB Preston Brown led the NFL in total tackles 144 and also accounted for 83 solo tackles. The Bills do not only have much depth at the Linebacker position but they also do not have much productive talent to help elevate the defense. An early pick on an all-around Linebacker would be great for the Bills defense. This is 2018 NFL Draft is the best opportunity to do so with multiple players that can tackle in open, pressure the opposing Quarterback, and be an asset in defending the pass. Another talented Cornerback is needed at some point in the Draft. With the Bills having 4 picks in the first 2 rounds that might be an area to address especially a player or key position under the Bills’ radar just got off the board.

 

2018 NFL Draft prospects for the Buffalo Bills to keep on an eye on

The Buffalo Bills have 9 total picks in the 2018 NFL Draft with two in the 1st round, two in the 2nd round, and two in the 5th round. Teams might entice the Bills to trade a high pick (1st to 4th round) for a veteran player. While a free agent Quarterback like Kirk Cousins or Nick Foles might seem like a great opportunity, there is limited availability of acquiring them. Likely Cousins will go to a team like the Denver Broncos to get an expensive contract and help the Broncos become immediate Super Bowl caliber team. The Buffalo Bills have a more likely chance to excel in selecting a young, talented player with a high Draft pick than take the opportunity in free agency.

This NFL Draft class is loaded with talent at many positions but the biggest area to address will be the Quarterback position. This might be a problem for the Bills to address as there are many teams in this Draft looking to acquire a franchise Quarterback. There are 8 teams in the Draft before the Bills can make a selection that might have an interest in selecting a Quarterback in the 1st round. Five of the eight have serious questions at Quarterback including the Cleveland Browns (who have the 1st & 4th pick in the Draft), New York Giants, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and the Arizona Cardinals. This is without the impact of free agency starting on March 12th for teams to inquire about unrestricted free agents.

Quarterbacks

There is certainly an opportunity for the Bills to select a Quarterback in the 1st round with the 21st or 22nd pick in the Draft. Likely Sam Darnold (USC), Josh Rosen (UCLA), and 2017 Heisman Trophy winner in Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) will be off the board. While Josh Allen (Wyoming) has been getting a high amount of attention, there might be NFL teams really cautious of his accuracy especially in the middle of the field on crossing routes. If Allen is still on the board, then Buffalo should not hesitate to select him with the high level of talent and potential he has. One of the biggest differences between the Bills and the Wyoming Cowboys is that the Bills have more trusted and talented Receivers.

If this year is another Quarterback heavy Draft then dual-threat playmaker in the 2016 Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson (Louisville) might be the best available franchise Quarterback for Buffalo. While the Bills have been cautious of dual-threat playmaker Tyrod Taylor has their Quarterback, Jackson is an outstanding passing, especially in the pocket. Lamar is also one of the most athletic players in this 2018 NFL Draft. Last season, Jackson was quietly one of the best passers in the nation by passing for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns. Lamar Jackson would also be great in new Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll’s new offensive system, who is used to the RPO’s (run-pass-option) like he did with the Alabama Crimson Tide last season. Jackson could likely find himself as a 1st round selection with a great NFL Scouting Combine or might still be a Bill in the 2nd round with the 53rd or 56th pick if he doesn’t excel in the combine and his Pro Day.

 

Defensive Tackle

34-year old DT Kyle Williams is likely playing for another team this offseason. Even if he isn’t, the Bills will need more depth and talent at the position regardless. There is a diverse set of Defensive Tackles in this NFL Draft especially with the Bills having the 4-3 defense. One of the best options for the Bills to take in the 1st round is DT Maurice Hurst (Michigan) at the 3-technique. In his senior season at Michigan, Hurst accounted for 59 total tackles, 27 solo tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. The previous season he accounted for 11.5 tackles for loss. Not only is Hurst consistent at the line of scrimmage but he is also explosive enough to create chaos in the backfield often. If Hurst is selected before Buffalo’s turn then a player like NT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama) could be suitable at the 1-technique as he was one of the best run stoppers in College Football’s top-ranked rush defense. A day 2 (round 2 or 3) Defensive Tackle like Harrison Phillips (Stanford) would be a great addition to the Bills they couldn’t get Payne or Hurst in the 1st round.

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Linebacker

This is the position that requires the most depth but for the right opportunity, Buffalo couldn’t refuse to select an all-around playmaker that might slip in the Draft. Georgia ILB Roquan Smith might be too high on the Bills’ radar but there are still plenty of options for Buffalo to draft a Linebacker who play consistently while in zone coverage as well as create pressure. At 6’5, 250 lbs, Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) is a freak of nature who is one of the most consistent tacklers and can also make the tackles for loss needed. Last season, Edmunds accounted for 108 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. Rashaan Evans (Alabama) is another Linebacker who might be on the Bills’ radar as is he not only faster and more aggressive but he can play multiple positions. Last season with the Crimson Tide, Evans accounted for 74 total tackles, 35 solo tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks. There is a chance that Evans could fall in the Draft due to some injury concerns but is ultimately a tough prospect. If the Bills take a gamble, they could wait to see if Edmunds or Evans falls to the 2nd round but their potential is too great to pass up.Image result for billy price ohio state

 

Center

The retirement of Eric Wood due to injury is a major concern for the Buffalo Bills offensive line which has allowed 47 sacks on an elusive Quarterback like Tyrod Taylor. Not only will they need to find a replacement in Wood but they only need a player who can efficiently run block and pass protect. If the Bills were to use one of their 1st round picks on a Center, a dynamic and efficient blocker like 2017 All-American Billy Price (Ohio State) would a great addition to the Bills’ offense. This Draft is loaded with talent at the Center position, however, so if the Bills miss out on Price then Frank Ragnow (Arkansas) would be a great 2nd round selection with one of Buffalo’s 2nd round picks.

 

Wide Receiver

The Bills might want to find a reliable Wide Receiver either in round 2 or 3 of the Draft, especially if they draft a new Quarterback. 2017 All-American WR Anthony Miller (Memphis) is a Receiver that is often overlooked due to other high-profile Receivers in this Draft. Miller accounted for 1,462 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns on 96 receptions this past season at Memphis. The season before, he accounted for 1,434 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 95 receptions. The Bills would get a steal if Anthony Miller would still be available in the 2nd round. Otherwise, a player like Michael Gallup (Colorado State) would be a Receiver to take most of the bulk like he did at Colorado State.

 

 

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