With six picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills find themselves in a difficult situation. Needs on the offensive line, in the defensive secondary, at the linebacker position, and at receiver are all exacerbated by the possibility that the team will take a quarterback early in the draft, thereby trading a hole on the current roster for a swing at a possible “franchise quarterback” for the future.
While the ideal scenario for Doug Whaley and company probably involves trading down, SB Nation’s Dan Kadar provided a solid two-round mock draft without trades earlier today. He has Buffalo nabbing two ultra-talented players who stand to help the team right away.
In the first round, with Buffalo Rumblings Staff first-round choice Corey Davis still on the board, Kadar has the Bills opting for Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. The 6’6”, 251-pounder is a freak athlete, running a 4.51 second 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. In his career with the Crimson Tide, Howard caught 114 passes for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns over four years. While those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, some scouts and personnel men believe that Howard’s lack of counting stats was more a product of coaching scheme than overall talent. In the National Title game played during his junior year, Howard caught 5 passes for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns, repeatedly showing his blazing speed and talent as a match-up nightmare.
While selecting Howard is more an example of picking the “best player available” than it is filling a need, Kadar has the Bills addressing a tremendous need in round two with the selection of Florida’s Quincy Wilson. The 6’1”, 211-pound Wilson is not the fastest corner in the draft (4.54 in the 40), nor does he have the best vertical (32 inches), but his competitive nature and physicality, combined with his prototypical size, make him an excellent add for any NFL team. His combine numbers suggest that he may be better suited for a zone scheme or a switch to safety, and NFL.com notes his strengths to include “plus anticipation in coverage,” but one of the best things about Wilson is his success as a tackler. Any time a corner is described as “willing to be the hammer and not the nail when challenging running backs,” count me in on him.
While Howard and Wilson (not to be confused with Houston corner Howard Wilson) would be a strong haul for the Bills, Kadar leaves some talented players at positions of need on the board when the Bills pick. Both Haason Reddick and Reuben Foster would slot as immediate starters for the Bills, and he has them going at 15 and 17, respectively. Selecting a linebacker early would obviously eliminate a player of Howard’s caliber from the possible pool of players to select, but tight end is less a need than some other positions on the field. The possibility of combining Howard and incumbent starter Charles Clay in Rick Dennison’s offense, however, is an enticing proposition.
Quincy Wilson is a strong selection, but the Bills also left plenty of talent on the board at the same position in Kadar’s mock. Cordrea Tankersley goes 61 to the Green Bay Packers, and both players are comparable athletes, with Tankersley possessing better speed. Also on the board are safeties Obi Melifonwu and Budda Baker, who go 48 and 49, respectively. Of those listed above, Melifonwu is the player I’d most like to see the Bills take in that spot, just due to his freakish athleticism and the possibilities that come with it. A dark-horse candidate in that spot is Sidney Jones, the Washington corner who tore his Achilles tendon at his pro day. In Kadar’s mock, the Arizona Cardinals select him one spot after the Bills nab Wilson.
Just two and a half weeks until mock draft season ends, Bills fans, and the real draft commences.