Now that the draft order is almost perfectly set, we’re starting to see the first series of mock drafts roll off the presses. ESPN’s Mel Kiper is the king of NFL Draft discussion, so it’s only natural that he recently released his 1.0 mock draft. With the Buffalo Bills firmly in possession of the 22nd pick of the first round and plenty of different positions to choose from, Kiper has the Bills selecting former Colorado wide receiver, Laviska Shenault Jr. Here’s what Kiper had to say regarding the choice:
22. Buffalo Bills
Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
General manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott used the 2019 offseason to build a competent offense around quarterback Josh Allen, and it worked — the Bills went 10-6 and made the playoffs, with some help from a great defense. Now, though, they have to figure out how to get over the Patriots hump and take the next step. One way is to keep giving Allen targets who can get open, and that’s Shenault, a Swiss Army knife who plays receiver like a running back. He’s great after the catch and versatile enough to play inside or out. Shenault could nicely complement John Brown and Cole Beasley.
Buffalo’s need for a wide receiver with size, physicality and strong hands is very well known, so mock drafters have been quick to pair players like Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Shenault with the team. However, not every receiver taller than 6’2” is created equal. Shenault has size and displays jack-of-all-trades ability—it’s true—but what he lacks is full route-tree prowess and capability to stay healthy and on the field.
He’s a physical runner with the ball in his hands but, possibly as a result, the junior receiver nursed injuries for most of 2019, and injured college players tend to stay that way in the pros. Then there’s his lack of polish at the position. With a complicated offensive scheme that asks its receivers to run option routes, there could be a concern with Shenault’s transition to the NFL. Buffalo could always scheme touches for big receiver, but should you have to do that for your first-round pick?