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Sean McDermott
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Draft Analysis

NFL Draft Needs: Bills

by Evan Silva

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is Rotoworld's Senior NFL Editor, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) is Rotoworld's lead Draft Analyst. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in April’s draft.

For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.

Notable Pre-Draft Additions: C Mitch Morse, WR John Brown, WR Cole Beasley, TE Tyler Kroft, T/G Ty Nsekhe, G/C Spencer Long, G/C Jon Feliciano, CB Kevin Johnson, WR/KR Andre Roberts, OT LaAdrian Waddle, RB Frank Gore.

Starting Offense

QB: Josh Allen
RB: LeSean McCoy
FB: Patrick DiMarco
WR1: John Brown
WR2: Robert Foster
SLWR: Cole Beasley
TE: Tyler Kroft
LT: Dion Dawkins
LG: Jon Feliciano
C: Mitch Morse
RG: Spencer Long
RT: Ty Nsekhe

Starting Defense

RE: Jerry Hughes
LE: Trent Murphy
DT: Star Lotulelei
DT: Jordan Phillips
MLB: Tremaine Edmunds
WLB: Matt Milano
SLB: Lorenzo Alexander
LCB: Tre’Davious White
RCB: Kevin Johnson
SCB: Taron Johnson
FS: Micah Hyde
SS: Jordan Poyer

Team Needs

Silva's Analysis

Defensive Line: The defensive trenches are the only area on Buffalo’s roster GM Brandon Beane failed to upgrade in free agency. Difference-maker RE Jerry Hughes is entering his contract year, LE Trent Murphy was a predictable 2018 free agent dud and depth is lacking across the front. Last year’s Bills defended the run well but finished 21st in QB hits (88) and 26th in sacks (36).

Offensive Line: Although Beane signed six offensive linemen in free agency, Morse is the lone likely difference maker, and his injury history is long. Nsekhe has a chance to be a sneaky short-term gem but turns 34 later this year. As Buffalo is a run-first team and Josh Allen requires his line to pass protect longer than most quarterbacks, Beane needs to add another stud blocker, ideally at left guard. Last year’s Bills quarterbacks were hit at the NFL’s eighth-highest rate (19.3%). Allen individually was pressured at the league’s second-highest clip (43.4%) behind only Deshaun Watson (44.9%).

Tight End: Kroft is capable of handling in-line blocking and short-area possession receiving, but has averaged under 10 career yards per catch. As Allen dialed up 20-plus-yard passes at the NFL’s highest rate (19.7%) as a rookie, the Bills would be smart to give him a true vertical threat at tight end.

 

Bills 2019 Draft Picks

Norris' Options

1 (9). iDL Christian Wilkins, Clemson - Last year we knew that Sean McDermott needed an anchor at linebacker in order to run his ideal defense. Now, in order for the linebackers to thrive they need space. Star Lotulelei was brought in last year to offer some, but adding a talent like Wilkins who can disrupt from the interior makes a ton of sense.

2 (40). WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina - I know the Bills added John Brown and Cole Beasley, but their aim was obviously much higher. Samuel can win vertically and create big plays, but he’s also a dangerous weapon with the ball in his hands. I can easily envision him winning outside of structure with Josh Allen on the move. His 92nd percentile athletic profile certainly shows up.

3 (74). iOL Nate Davis, Charlotte - With both tackle and guard experience, Davis is a really fun player. He blocks with power and might have the lowest stance of all time. He projects to the interior and would help cement the fabric of the Bills’ pocket.

4 (112). CB Mike Jackson, Miami - I know Levi Wallace filled in admirably as a UDFA, and the team signed Kevin Johnson, but Jackson has legit starter talent in likely a third-day package thanks to a down 2018 season. He has fantastic length (32.5-inch arms) and tested in the 95th percentile. His 2017 work is very impressive.

4 (131). Acquired from Chiefs for LB Reggie Ragland - LB Sione Takitaki, BYU - There is a massive drop-off after the first two linebackers in this class. Takitaki has a chance to be a third-day gem. Sean McDermott prioritizes athleticism at linebacker, and Takitaki tested in the 74th percentile. Matt Milano finished the season injured.

5 (147). TE Josh Oliver, San Jose State - It’s not often that a tight end leads his team in receiving, but that’s exactly what Oliver did in 2018 while averaging 12.7 yards per catch. As Evan notes above, Kroft can operate as an in-line option while Oliver can also be used in-line or split out.

5 (158). Acquired from Raiders for QB A.J. McCarron - EDGE Ronheen Bingham, Arkansas State - Finding pass rushers on the third day is nearly impossible. However, Bingham has experience in a variety of alignments and recorded 18.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 2018. He did finish the year with an injured knee.

6 (181). CB Jimmy Moreland, James Madison - A talented player who likely projects inside who could still be on the board in the later rounds due to his height, weight and arm length. All sub-optimal.

7 (225). S Chris Johnson, North Alabama - Small school safety with some real range and hitting power. He anticipates the back end very well and is often near the ball at the catch point.

7 (228). Acquired from Panthers in Kaelin Clay-Kevon Seymour trade - RB Ty Johnson, Maryland - Carries and touches will be difficult to find out of the Bills backfield, but back in 2017 Ty Johnson looked explosive and showcased big play ability.

Evan Silva
Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .