Taking a look at the Buffalo Bills’ 2017 NFL Draft plans with a complete seven-round mock draft.
What will the Buffalo Bills be looking to do in the 2017 NFL Draft? This is an interesting team with a lot of upside going forward, but they have an uphill battle to compete with the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
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Rex Ryan is gone, and former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has been named as his replacement. McDermott is a well-thought of coach who should be able to come in and clean up the Bills’ issues. This is not a perfect roster, but they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.
The most interesting part of the McDermott hiring on the surface is his defensive scheme. McDermott has always been a 4-3 coach, and it is likely that he is bring his scheme with him to the BIlls. The Bills have primarily run a 3-4 defense in recent years, despite a majority of their players seemingly being a better fit for a 4-3.
The Bills are a talented team who seem to be a strong fit for their new head coach. That being said, there are some obvious holes for this team on both sides of the ball. They simply must address these positional issues in the 2017 NFL Draft.
How will the Bills attack their off season? Find out in this complete seven-round mock draft.
Dec 31, 2016; Orlando , FL, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
With the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills could go in a number of directions. Quarterback could be in play if they move on from Tyrod Taylor, landing a No. 1 receiver like Mike Williams or Corey Davis would make plenty of sense and I could also see them looking to add to their mix on the offensive line.
That being said, in this mock draft, the choice was fairly simple and it did not involve any of the positions mentioned above. Jamal Adams was clearly the top talent on the board, and he would come in and fill an immediate need for the Bills at safety.
Simply put, Adams is a big-time playmaker from the safety position. He shows great range and physicality on the back-end, consistently making plays on balls that he really has no business making.
In LSU’s defense, Adams typically played towards the line of scrimmage. He shows strong coverage skills, but his ability to come up and make plays against the run in the box is for real. Adams truly is a jack of all trades at the safety position.
The Bills defense struggled down the stretch in 2016, as they struggled to find a suitable replacement for injured safety Aaron Williams. Whether Williams comes back or not, adding Adams to the mix immediately solidifies an actual position of need. Having Adams on the back-end could help hides holes in other areas of the defense, namely their suspect cornerback play.
Oct 29, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes offensive lineman Garett Bolles (72) celebrates a touchdown by Utah Utes tight end Evan Moeai (not pictured) during the second half against the Washington Huskies at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Washington won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Tackle, Utah
Overall, the Bills have a strong offensive line to work with. Cordy Glenn is a strong left tackle, Richie Incognito is elite at left guard, Eric Wood is a solid center and John Miller performed well at right guard down the stretch. That being said, right tackle continues to be a huge mess for this team.
They simply cannot afford to go into 2017 with Jordan Mills as the expected starter at right tackle. Instead, the Bills would be wise to solidify their issue at the position in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here in the second round, they find an extremely promising prospect in Utah’s Garett Bolles.
Bolles is a junior college transfer who only spent one season at Utah. But that’s all it took to prove that he is a legitimate NFL caliber offensive lineman. Bolles is a physical, almost violent, offensive lineman who can absolutely dominate as a run blocker. Lining up at left tackle, the Utes were able to run behind Bolles with consistency in 2016.
While power and brute force is the name of Bolles’ game, he does show some quick feet as well. He is not overly athletic, but Bolles can reach the second level in the run game and does typically protect the quarterback well. It will be interesting to see how he performs against elite speed in pass protection, but he has the skill-set to at least a solid quarterback protector.
An NFL-ready player, Bolles is going to get some first round consideration based on his dominance as a run blocker. However, if he slips to the second round as he did in this mock, the Bills would be wise to make him a big-time target. Bolles could immediately come in and be a massive upgrade at right tackle.
Jan 2, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) makes a catch for a touchdown against Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Christian Campbell (1) during the third quarter of the 2017 Rose Bowl game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Wide Receiver, USC
The Bills had obvious needs at the safety and right tackle positions, but wide receiver may be their number one biggest draft need. The health of Sammy Watkins continues to be a concern and Robert Woods is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off season. Simply put, the Bills need bodies at the wide receiver position.
Here in the third round, they land JuJu Smith-Schuster, an incredibly productive wide receiver from USC. Smith-Schuster has been considered by some to be a first round talent, but his lack of speed and separation skills are a concern to many. That being said, there is a lot to like about his game.
Smith-Schuster is a power-based wide receiver who will out-muscle opposing defensive backs for the ball. Playing in a pro-style offense, Smith-Schuster shows advanced route running ability and an expanded route tree. He should be able to come in and make an immediate contribution as a rookie.
A big receiver who has nice overall athleticism, Smith-Schuster has some upside in the jump ball game. He is never going to be a major deep threat, but I could see him becoming a big-time weapon in the red zone.
The Bills need to find a receiver or two in the 2017 NFL Draft who can make an impact right away. Smith-Schuster may not get elite separation at the next level, but he is undoubtedly a talented football player who can become a consistent target. Landing him in the third round is a nice value selection.
Dec 23, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs wide receiver Carlos Henderson (1) runs after catching a pass against Navy Midshipmen cornerback Tyris Wooten (17) at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Louisiana Tech won 48-45. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Wide Receiver, Louisiana Tech
Since the Bills do not have a fourth-round selection (consequence of trade with the Chicago Bears last year to move into the second-round trade for Reggie Ragland), we skip ahead to the fifth round. After landing a stable receiver in Smith-Schuster in the third, the Bills go for broke on upside here in the fifth.
Carlos Henderson is a dynamic playmaker at the wide receiver position, who was an extremely important part of an explosive Louisiana Tech offense in 2016, piling up 23 touchdowns in only 13 games. Henderson is a guy who can take it to the house from anywhere on the field.
His ability as a deep receiver is legit. Henderson has elite-level speed and quickness that will undoubtedly play at the next level. He is not only a productive receiver who shines on tape, but Henderson will likely put up big numbers in testing.
Listed at 5-11, 191 pounds, Henderson is certainly a bit on the small side. That will undoubtedly hurt him in the 2017 NFL Draft process, but it does not change anything about his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands.
Henderson’s speed makes him an extremely exciting deep threat, but he has the quickness and elusive ability to make plays after the catch as well. Henderson is a slippery player who is difficult to bring down. That will play on Sundays.
While Henderson is a bit on the small side, his speed and athleticism is for real. He is also a tough player who is not afraid to go across the middle. He does not have the stature to take on massive NFL defender, but make no mistake about it, Henderson is not afraid and it shows on the field.
The Bills take big swing here, but if they connect with Henderson, they may find themselves with a huge offensive weapon at a position of need. He is undoubtedly worth the risk here in the fifth round.
October 22, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive back Fabian Moreau (10) defends but is called for pass interfence against Utah Utes wide receiver Tim Patrick (12) during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Bills picked up an extra fifth round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft in the Matt Cassel trade with the Dallas Cowboys last year. The trade also cost the Bills their 2017 seventh-round selection, but it put them in a position to find another strong fifth round prospect.
During the 2015 season, cornerback seemed to be a major position of strength for the Buffalo Bills. Their duo of Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby was extremely productive. However, neither played as well last season as they did in 2015.
Darby’s issues with locating the ball popped up more than ever before. Gilmore was a distraction in the locker room, and not the shut down corner that he once looked to be. Gilmore is an unrestricted free agent this off season, and the Bills will have an interesting decision to make on him. Whether they bring him back or not, the Bills would be wise to invest in the cornerback position in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Fabian Moreau is a long and aggressive cornerback prospect who plays tough man-to-man coverage on the outside. He shows great press coverage skills and typically excelled on an island in UCLA’s defense.
Moreau is a fluid athlete who has enough speed to compete at the next level. He also shows nice ball skill and a knack for knocking down passes. While it is not a major positive for a corner, Moreau’s tackling ability is impressive as well. He can set the edge against the run and does not miss many tackles.
The biggest knock on Moreau is probably his inability to create turnovers. He did have two interceptions in 2016, but only had one in 28 games the three seasons prior. Moreau is a good, solid coverage cornerback who will knock away passes, but do not expect him to make many big, game-changing plays.
Aug 20, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detailed view of Buffalo Bills helmet during the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Tight End, Drake
I would not call tight end a huge position of need for the Bills in the 2017 NFL Draft. Charles Clay is still a perfectly productive player at the position and Nick O’Leary still at least represents some upside. That being said, it is a position where they could use some depth.
With their sixth and final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills go deep into the small school pool of players to land Eric Saubert, a tight end from Drake University. Saubert had a product career at Drake, capped off with 56 receptions for 776 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior in 2016.
Saubert is a smooth athlete who shows nice speed and overall athletic ability for a tight end. He has good size for the position (listed at 6-5, 251 pounds) and can be a matchup issue in the middle of the field.
The measurable and overall skill-set are undoubtedly in place for Saubert to have success in the NFL. That being said, he is far from a perfect prospect. Saubert did struggle with drops in college and his blocking ability is far less than desirable. That being said, he is a talented player who has some nice receiving upside at the next level.
Saubert is catching a lot of buzz through Shrine Bowl practices this week, as scouts have been impressed by his natural receiving ability. Saubert is far from a sure-thing, but he is certainly a late-round guy to keep an eye on. The Bills may have found a nice sleeper prospect to cap off their draft in the sixth round.