The Buffalo Bills went into the 2019 NFL Draft with a specific plan, and they executed that plan quite well throughout the entire draft weekend. Entering the weekend, the Bills had ten selections in the draft. When the dust settled and the draft picks were official, Buffalo added eight new players to their roster.
While the team made plenty of solid choices, their second-round pick, Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford, stood out as the best “value” pick of the Bills’ draft. By nearly universal consensus, Ford was thought to be a first-round pick. He was mocked to the Minnesota Vikings in multiple publications, including the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Weekly, The Draft Network, and SB Nation. The Daily Norseman had a beautiful breakdown of all of Minnesota’s picks, with Ford being mocked to them in 26% of mock drafts surveyed.
In his breakdown of Ford’s traits for NFL.com, Lance Zierlein was high on the offensive lineman. Zierlein graded Ford at 6.04, which is an “instant starter” grade. Ford was ranked 28th among all prospects in this year’s draft. Zierlein said that “Ford offers a rare combination of physical and athletic traits that will have NFL teams dreaming of his upside.” Zierlein called Ford a high risk/high reward prospect at tackle, saying that the better route may be to play him at guard.
This confusion about Ford’s positional fit may have caused him to drop a bit lower than expected in the draft. Ford can play both right tackle and either guard position, which gives him the versatility Buffalo covets in its offensive linemen. However, Ford also has the athleticism and upside that makes him a fantastic prospect no matter the spot on the offensive line he plays.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay gave the Bills kudos for standing pat to select Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, noting that the gap penetrator was, in his estimation, Buffalo’s best value pick. However, all Buffalo did was what it was supposed to do in that situation—they had an elite player fall to them in the draft, and they took him. With Ford, they saw a player they coveted in a free fall, and they acted accordingly, trading up two spots with minimal loss of draft capital (a fifth-round choice, 158th overall) to secure an elite prospect who fits an immediate need.
The Carolina Panthers traded up to draft offensive tackle Greg Little, who was the 45th overall prospect on NFL.com’s board. Buffalo selected Ford one spot after Little, drafting prospect number 28 at 38 overall. Oliver, whom the Bills drafted ninth overall, was the eighth-best prospect in this year’s draft per NFL.com’s grading system.
Buffalo definitely made some great choices in the 2019 Draft, but when it comes to value, the best choice they made was in drafting Cody Ford.