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2016 NFL Draft: Ten players to know for the Bills’ tenth overall pick

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Ready to move on to draft season? Here are some names to be aware of.

The Buffalo Bills finished their 2016 season with a 7-9 record that pushed them up to tenth overall in this year’s NFL draft. Armed with six picks, Doug Whaley will have his work cut out for him replacing Buffalo’s 24 upcoming free agents.

Due in part to the huge number of players whose contract status is up in the air, the Bills have a nebulous set of needs. They could settle on a game manager at quarterback with Tyrod Taylor, aim to add a third option in the draft, or jettison Taylor and create a crying need for a new player on the roster. If Stephon Gilmore or Robert Woods leave in free agency, Buffalo will be down one starter at cornerback or wide receiver (and even if those players are re-signed, the depth behind them is decimated). They also have a serious lack of depth at safety.

Wondering who to watch as the draft comes closer? Here are ten possibilities for Buffalo’s tenth pick:

DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Kizer is one of three or four quarterbacks who will be in contention for the top five picks in the draft from now through April. A two-year starter for Notre Dame, Kizer stands 6’4” 230 pounds, and is a pocket passer with the athletic ability to escape the pocket and earn extra yardage. He throws with anticipation and does a great job reading the field, but slightly regressed this season in a down year for the Fighting Irish. His accuracy is usually good but reliant on having good mechanics.

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Trubisky is the hottest name in draft quarterback discussion these days, as the one-year starter decides if he should declare for the draft following a tremendous season. The former backup to Marquise Williams, Trubisky threw for an 8.4 YPA with 30 touchdowns against 6 interceptions this year. He’s an aggressive player with Eli Manning-esque confidence in his throws.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Last year, no quarterback was more desirable than Watson, who accumulated 487 yards of offense against the vaunted Crimson Tide in the National Championship Game. Could teams be suffering a bit of prospect fatigue from the Heisman Trophy winner? Watson has Aaron Rodgers-esque pocket mobility and is an outstanding playmaker, possessing the height to take full advantage of his passing talents. His accuracy is spotty right now, but he could potentially be the top dual threat quarterback in the NFL before long.

Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Hooker declared for the draft Monday, and he could be Buffalo’s most desired non-quarterback option. Hooker has the best combination of range and ball skills since Earl Thomas entered the draft, and he would dramatically upgrade Buffalo’s safety group - especially important if the team switches to a Cover 3 system next year.

Jamal Adams, S, LSU

If Hooker isn’t available, the 6’1” 213 pound Adams would be a heck of a consolation prize. His combination of instincts and athleticism make him the best all-around safety in this year’s draft, even if he doesn’t match Hooker as a centerfielder.

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

If Buffalo fails to re-sign their free agent wide receivers, they’ll be choosing between Walter Powell and Kolby Listenbee as the starter opposite Sammy Watkins. Seriously.

Or, they could draft the 6’3” 225 pounder from Clemson and finally solve their contested catching problem for good. A master of the back shoulder fade, Williams locates and adjusts to the ball lightning-quick, allowing his quarterback to throw him the ball in a hurry. His catch radius is tremendous.

John Ross, WR, Washington

Would the Bills prefer another explosive playmaker to go along with Watkins, LeSean McCoy, and Mike Gillislee? Then they could take the 5’11” 190 pound speedster from the Huskies. Ross is a contender for the fastest 40 yard dash time in this year’s draft. He caught 17 touchdowns for Washington this season, adding a return touchdown and a rushing touchdown on the year. He’s exceptionally skilled at running deep routes, and is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

One more option for the Bills sits halfway between the raw speed of Ross and the size advantages of Williams. At 6’3” and 215 pounds, with 4.4 speed, Davis was one of college football’s best playmakers for the last four seasons; he now holds the career record for receiving yards in Division I FBS football. A team leader and electric with the ball in his hands, he would be a great way to upgrade Buffalo’s weak receiving corps.

Jalen “Teez” Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor, or his teammate Quincy Wilson, could be the first cornerback off the board this spring. Tabor has nine career interceptions, including four this season. He has great size for the position, and played well in Florida’s off-man scheme.

Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

The senior Wolverine was one of the most lockdown defenders in college football over the past two seasons. During that time he has amassed 31 pass breakups and four interceptions. He has good field vision and the technique to stay in his receiver’s hip pocket. The only thing holding him back is his 5’10” height.