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Bills 7-round mock draft | Pre-Combine edition

Kyle Crabbs

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Sep 2, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Rashaan Evans (32) reacts after a play against the Florida State Seminoles in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills enjoyed a successful 2017 campaign despite the lowered expectations of shuttling away star players such as receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby. Now, coach Sean McDermott enters his second season as the team’s head coach poised to find a franchise quarterback and shore up the interior run defense. Fortunately, Buffalo has a good deal of draft capital in the bank.

Using the FanSpeak On The Clock Mock Draft Simulator, here is one realistic scenario that would make sense for the Bills.

Round 1, pick 21: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

What a terrific upgrade this would be for the Bills in the middle! The Buffalo run defense was repeatedly gashed in 2017, so a physical presence like Evans will go a long way in stuffing up those interior gaps. Plus, Evans has some versatility. Unlike former Bill draft selection Reggie Ragland, this Alabama linebacker actually does have prowess rushing the passer and will be a valuable addition to the pass defense as he continues to become more consistent with his run reads.

Round 1, pick 22: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

That sound is the collective groan of Bill fans everywhere when no quarterback is selected here. In this Fanspeak simulation, quarterbacks Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson are all off the board. There’s zero excuse to fit a square peg (Mason Rudolph) into a round hole (first-round selection).

Instead, the Bills get a second terrific piece of the puzzle to play on the defensive interior. Vea is a physical freak who has some similarities to departed D-lineman Marcell Dareus. Both are physically imposing players with suddenness to play as penetration players when given the chance to play that way. Vea needs to be played in a single gap. Buffalo would be wise to implement him in a role that encourages him to get into the backfield, unlike what it did with Dareus.

Round 2, pick 53: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

The Bills missed out on Mason Rudolph in this simulation, since he was selected in a run of picks between Vea and this pick. Don’t panic, Bill fans. The unfortunate truth is your youthful team isn’t quite ready to make that deep postseason run in 2018 as is, so there’s no need to force the pick. With a strong draft in 2018, this team can get aggressive and find a franchise QB in 2019. In the meantime, there are plenty of veteran signal callers to bring in.

Washington will be a favorite of whichever QB the Bills do roll with in 2018. Highly effective as a deep receiver, Washington brings the same elements to the passing attack that Sammy Watkins was supposed to.

Round 2, pick 56: James Daniels, C, Iowa

The untimely retirement of veteran center Eric Wood leaves the Bills with one more need entering the draft then they had when the clock hit zeros for the final game.

Daniels has the ability to step in immediately and offer very good power next to guard Richie Incognito. Iowa’s OL has been one of the most consistent in the country for several seasons, thanks in part to the efforts of Daniels.

Sep 16, 2017; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Nathan Stanley (4) looks over offensive lineman James Daniels (78) during the game against the North Texas Mean Green at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, pick 96: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State

Here’s hoping that Shaq Lawson can be a fully healthy force in 2018. Whether he’s able to stay on the field and perform highly or not, there’s more depth needed from the defensive end group and Sweat is a great fit.

A speedy rusher with nice length, Sweat can learn from veteran DE Jerry Hughes, who enters this upcoming season at 30 years of age. Keeping Hughes fresh will be paramount to keeping him productive. Sweat can help on that front as well.

Round 4, pick 123: Kurt Benkert, QB, Virginia

Benkert has more of a live arm than 2017 rookie Nathan Peterman, a trait which should give him the chance to push the Pitt product for ranking on the depth chart. Among Benkert, Peterman and a veteran, Buffalo’s QB room can stand firm in 2018 and stress the same things the coaching staff did in 2017: Protect the football!

Round 5, pick 160: Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State

Holy cow, is this kid fun! Hines is lightning in a bottle and possesses some of the most electric jukes in the class. With low usage out of N.C. State, Hines will come into the league with little tread on his tires and a proven track record as a receiving back (89 receptions).

With LeSean McCoy set to go over the dreaded 30-year barrier for running backs and having a tough go in 2017 (his 4.0 ypc is the lowest of his entire career), some fresh legs in the backfield can be a positive.

Round 5, pick 168: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame

Smythe had a terrific showing at the Senior Bowl, which was his chance to illustrate that he isn’t *just* a blocking TE. With Nick O’Leary and flex weapon Charles Clay holding down the TE group, some blocking prowess would be useful going forward.

*NOTE: The Bills do not currently own a sixth or seventh round pick

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Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.

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