The Buffalo Bills weren’t able to make any notable moves during the 2016 NFL Free Agency period due to a lack of salary cap space, so it’s imperative that General Manager Doug Whaley and the rest of the front office have success in the upcoming NFL Draft. The team will look to bolster the defensive side of the ball with players that fit within Rex Ryan’s system, while looking to put the finishing touches on an offense that showed high potential last season. Here’s my post-combine Buffalo Bills Mock Draft.
Round One, Pick No. 19
LB/EDGE Leonard Floyd, Georgia
The “SAM” linebacker position has many responsibilities within Rex Ryan’s scheme, being tasked with setting the edge against the run, dropping into coverage as well as rushing the passer. Georgia’s Leonard Floyd has experience playing in both a two or three-point stance on the edge as well as lining up as an inside linebacker. Floyd stands 6’6” and weighs 240 pounds and showcases the athletic ability to run the seam with tight ends in man coverage and displays solid awareness in zone. Manny Lawson is 31 and Floyd could be a solid replacement for him down the road, while beginning as a situational pass rusher.
Round Two, Pick No. 49
DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State
Chris Jones is a raw, yet extremely talented player that fits the mold of the big, athletic and versatile defensive lineman that Rex Ryan covets. Jones stands 6’6” and weighs 310 pounds with ridiculously long 34 ½” arms. He played all over the defensive front for the Bulldogs and projects well as a five-technique defensive end in the Buffalo Bills’ multiple defense.
Round Three, Pick No. 80
TE Austin Hooper, Stanford
The Bills’ offense utilizes multiple tight ends regularly and they need to have the ability to contribute as pass catchers in the middle of the field, as well as hold their own as blockers in the run game. Austin Hooper played in a system very similar to that of the Bills’ during his time at Stanford—where Greg Roman used to coach tight ends and coordinated the offense. Hooper is an underrated player that’s pretty young, but he’s a strong and willing blocker with underrated athleticism and route running ability.
Round Four, Pick No. 118
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
The Bills select another Bulldog here with quarterback Dak Prescott. He’s had some off-field issues over the last year, getting in a brawl on the beach during last year’s Spring Break and was recently arrested for a DUI. Prescott has a strong arm and his ability to work from the pocket gets overlooked by the offensive system he ran at Mississippi State. He’d be a great option to sit and develop behind Tyrod Taylor and has the potential to grow into a solid player.
Round Four, Pick No. 139 (Compensatory)
WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
Malcolm Mitchell is one of the more underrated wide receiver prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft. The 6’0” 198 pounder runs a 4.45 40-yard dash and is a tough, physical player for his size. The four-year starter finished his career with 174 receptions for 2,350 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has good speed, is tough over the middle and can make contested catches despite his lack of height and bulk.
Round Five, Pick No. 157
S Deon Bush, Miami
Deon Bush is a physical, hard hitting safety that had a solid, yet unspectacular career for an underwhelming Miami Hurricanes defense. He played in 45 games, starting 32 and recorded 168 tackles, 10 for a loss, five sacks, forced nine fumbles, broke up 13 passes and intercepted four. He’s best suited as a strong safety where he can move around the box, but he has enough athletic ability to play in deep coverage. His awareness of route combinations will need to improve, but Bush is one of those players that will likely have a better pro career than he did in college.
Round Six, Pick No. 192
CB Cre’von LeBlanc, Florida Atlantic
Cre’Von LeBlanc is a talented and physical cornerback that stands 5’10” and weighs 190 pounds, but he was highly productive in his four seasons with the Owls, racking up 180 tackles, six interceptions and 23 pass breakups. As a senior, he allowed just 34% of passes to be completed against him while missing only two tackles. He has the talent to play on the boundary, but his ability against the run and as a blitzer makes him an attractive option as a nickel corner as well.
Round Six, Pick No. 218 (Compensatory)
LB B.J. Goodson, Clemson
The Bills keep their tradition of selecting Clemson players alive, taking inside linebacker B.J. Goodson. The 6’0” 250 pounder is pretty athletic for his size and was impressive in his first year as a starter. He’s a force against the run and has underrated coverage skills, but he’ll likely begin his career as a special teamer.
Here’s how the team’s depth chart would look heading into training camp after this Buffalo Bills Mock Draft.