Buffalo Bills Mock Watch 3.0: More Mayfield to the Bills
The NFL combine will begin next week as teams, the Buffalo Bills included, will head to Indianapolis for the festivities.
Draftee hopefuls will run around Lucas Oil Stadium in outfits close to underwear and will hope to make lasting impression on scouts. But the impact players hope to leave goes far beyond the field with team meetings and media availability.
With that all on the horizon, here’s a third look at national mock drafts ahead of the combine and who they believe the Bills could draft with their two first-round picks at 21 and 22, respectively:
No. 21: CB Mike Hughes, Central Florida:
With back-to-back picks here, could the Bills try to package these and move up for a quarterback? It would take both picks — and more — to get into the top 10. Hughes fills a big need opposite 2017 first-round pick Tre’Davious White, and he’s a great punt and kick returner, too. He had three touchdown returns last season. After playing at North Carolina in 2015 and a junior college in 2016, Hughes doesn’t have a ton of experience, but he emerged as a shutdown corner and important player for the Knights in 2017.
No. 22 (via Kansas City Chiefs): C James Daniels, Iowa:
Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst is a perfect fit in the Bills’ 4-3 — and my top-ranked 4-3 tackle — but the retirement of Eric Wood opens up a void at center in Buffalo, and the Bills could get the top prospect at a real position of need. Daniels is No. 1 on my board there. At 6-4, 296, he can move his feet and get to the second level as a true athlete. He is perfect as an anchor for today’s NFL. I wouldn’t be shocked if two centers went in the first round. Ohio State’s Billy Price is the other one.
No. 21: C Billy Price, Ohio State
The first priority for Buffalo should be to trade up to get a QB. If that doesn’t work out, then Price can replace Eric Wood at center.
No. 22: CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
The Bills get a bookend CB to pair with Tre’Davious White.
No. 21: DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama:
Head coach Sean McDermott’s background is defense, and Payne helps him continue to build from the inside out. Payne was a force in the CFB Playoff.
No. 22 (via Kansas City Chiefs): C Billy Price, Ohio State:
With the unfortunate news that Eric Wood’s career is coming to an end due to injury, Price could plug right in and help keep the Bills’ ground attack rolling. Ohio State has been cranking out quality centers in recent years.
TRADE — Bills trade with Denver for the fifth-overall pick: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma:
Mayfield isn’t your prototypical NFL quarterback. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and with a demeanor that can sometimes rub people the wrong way, he has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel. Mayfield is understandably bothered by this, but the Oklahoma star can play. And in Buffalo he could be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that made the playoffs in January for the first time since the 1999 season.
No. 21: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma:
To summarize for those of you who skip down to their team without reading the rest of the mock: We’re assuming that the Browns sign Kirk Cousins and the Broncos pursue some other veteran, thereby moving the top quarterback prospects down a few notches from where they appear in other mocks.
We’re also assuming that Baker Mayfield will rank fourth out of the top four prospects after the combine—because Josh Allen will look like a human missile-launcher throwing inside a windless dome, and both Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold will pass every eyeball test, while Mayfield will be the shortish dude whose spiral has a little wobble to it who spent the whole week explaining to a certain segment of the NFL media that he’s not just another Johnny Manziel.
And yes, it may take some finagling with these back-to-back picks for the Bills to move up and land Mayfield once the selections start flying. But Mayfield is the best quarterback for a team that (for better or worse) is overeager to move on from Tyrod Taylor. Mayfield is a highlight machine who can make plays with his legs (like Taylor) but isn’t afraid to force passes and take risks to make things happen (unlike Taylor).
Mayfield dropping to the Bills may look unlikely on the surface, but once you do the quarterback math and factor in all of the prospects and free agents, it’s entirely possible. And if the Bills do manage to keep both this pick and the next one, they can make the changes they want on defense as well as offense.
No. 22 (via Kansas City Chiefs): DT Taven Bryan, Florida:
The biggest mistake Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane made last year, of course, was letting the bottom of a #BillsMafia message board briefly take over the team and inserting the tragically unprepared Nate Peterman at quarterback in place of Tyrod Taylor.
Their second-biggest mistake was trading Marcell Dareus while the Bills were still in the playoff chase. Dareus’ replacements weren’t up to snuff, so the Bills run defense collapsed, nearly taking the team’s postseason chances with it.
McDermott and Beane should learn an important lesson from those two mistakes: Sometimes you have to look at what a uniquely talented player can do instead of fixating on what he cannot do. That’s especially true at hard-to-fill positions like quarterback and defensive tackle, where it might not matter how hard the next guy up tries or how much he “wants it.”
Taven Bryan is a uniquely talented player with an explosive first step and the quickness to slice into the backfield and cause chaos. He is raw and a little lean, but let’s not focus on what he can do. Rotate him at the 3-tech next to Kyle Williams, slide him to the nose in pass-rush situations and let him wreak havoc while the rest of his game develops.
So Bryan can bring an instant upgrade to the front seven, fill a position of need and erase a 2017 mistake. Not a bad way to use a spare first-round pick.
No. 21: QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State:
The Bills will likely explore a variety of trade-up options. Ultimately, the price will be too steep to move around 20 spots in this draft to pick a quarterback. They stay put, pick Rudolph and start to build around him with their glut of early-round picks.
No. 22 (via Kansas City Chiefs): WR James Washington, Oklahoma State
If you pick Rudolph, why not pair him with his ultra-productive downfield wideout? Washington has outstanding ball skills, body control, and some of the most electric deep speed in the class.
No. 21: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama:
The Bills traded for Kelvin Benjamin during the season and spent a second-round pick on Zay Jones last spring, but with Jordan Matthews failing, they’ll be in the market for another receiver.
Some will question why Buffalo isn’t selecting a quarterback at this juncture. I believe this is something the team will address prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. I could see the Bills throwing multiple draft picks at Philadelphia for Nick Foles.
No. 22 (via Kansas City Chiefs): CB Donte Jackson, LSU:
The Bills traded Ronald Darby to the Eagles this offseason after losing Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots. They’ll need to obtain another cornerback if E.J. Gaines, an impending free agent, heads for the open market.