In March, the Buffalo Bills traded the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft as part of the package to acquire Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Bills are banking on Diggs to make an immediate impact as they use the final two years of quarterback Josh Allen’s rookie deal to make a push for postseason glory.
That leaves the Bills out of all the first-round mock drafts. Here at SB Nation, we do a yearly rundown where the local blogs select for their team, and this year the writers showed exactly why general manager Brandon Beane traded for Diggs.
Here is how the SB Nation Writers mock has shaken out so far:
- Cincinnati Bengals - LSU QB Joe Burrow
- Washington - Ohio State DE Chase Young
- Detroit Lions - Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah
- New York Giants - Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs
- Miami Dolphins - Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa
- Los Angeles Chargers - Clemson DL Isaiah Simmons
- Carolina Panthers - Auburn DT Derrick Brown
- Arizona Cardinals - Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Georgia OT Andrew Thomas
- Cleveland Browns - Louisville OT Mekhi Becton
- New York Jets - Alabama OT Jedrick Wills Jr.
- Las Vegas Raiders - Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy
- San Francisco 49ers - South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Utah State QB Jordan Love
- Denver Broncos - Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III
- Atlanta Falcons - Florida CB CJ Henderson
- Dallas Cowboys - LSU EDGE K’lavon Chaisson
- Miami Dolphins - Alabama S Xavier McKinney
- Las Vegas Raiders - LSU CB Kristian Fulton
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Iowa DL A.J. Epenesa
- Philadelphia Eagles - LSU WR Justin Jefferson
At pick 22, the Bills could pick the fifth-best wide receiver, the fourth-best cornerback, the fourth-best pass rusher, or a player at a host of other positions. Instead they traded for a player who has been there, done that, and proven his worth at the NFL level (not to mention will be asked to perform on a shortened offseason timeline).
If this is how the draft board had fallen, who would you be selecting? Dan Lavoie and Andrew Griffin give their takes below:
This is as close to a worst-case scenario as the Bills could experience. The top four receivers are all taken, and a relatively balanced set of picks doesn’t leave any standout names on the board (aside from quarterback Justin Herbert, who’s out of the discussion).
In my opinion, running back should be left out, too. There aren’t any transcendent talents like a Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott in this draft, and it’s important to consider that a first round rookie could shake up the locker room after Devin Singletary’s emergence.
Here’s who I’d be deciding between given the situation:
- Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE Penn State - In a no-Diggs world, I consider Buffalo’s top needs as WR, EDGE, and CB. At edge rusher, Jerry Hughes will be 32 and Mario Addison 33. Let’s add some youth. At 6’5” and 266 lbs, YGM has the prototypical defensive end build. He’s explosive and bendy, has a promising foundation of handfighting techniques, and you love the production: 17.5 sacks and 35 TFL in the past two seasons.
- Grant Delpit S LSU - But the Bills just extended Jordan Poyer! Sure, but in a Best Player Available situation, I’d take Delpit; there’s a way to use him. A 6’2”, 213-lb enforcer who could play deep, in the box, or at nickel. He did a little of everything for the Tigers, with aggression, hard hitting, ball skills, and instincts. While a high ankle sprain set him back in 2019, I’d bet on him as the team’s new Big Nickel.
- Jeff Gladney CB TCU - Denzel Mims says Gladney’s the best corner he ever faced. The 5’10”, 191-lb Gladney is athletic and aggressive. He has the twitch to stick with anyone in man, and always fights for the ball with 27 pass breakups in the past two seasons. He’s a willing tackler, even if he sometimes struggles against bigger players. But he has starting traits and upside, along with the versatility to play in the slot or outside.
This scenario is likely what Brandon Beane wanted to avoid by trading the 22nd pick to the Vikings for Diggs. There was a run on wide receivers, with four being taken between picks eight and 21, and the prospects leftover at the position aren’t exactly game-changers nor deserving of such a high pick. That rules out the team’s biggest need by far. Outside of wide receiver, the team really doesn’t have many overt needs, so my philosophy was to grab high-ceiling players who can be expected to replace pricey veterans the team is currently relying on.
- Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE Penn State - An above-average athlete with ideal size for a 4-3 defensive end, Gross-Matos is exactly the prospect the Bills need along the defensive line. A bit raw with his hands and technique, the rookie could be brought along slowly thanks to the team having Trent Murphy and Mario Addison in front of him. With some teaching and development, Gross-Matos would look to replace both players in the starting lineup in his second season, allowing the team to move on from the pricey veterans.
- Zack Baun LB Wisconsin - The closest prospect to Lorenzo Alexander in this draft, Baun would play a similar role to the recently retired veteran leader. He has the athleticism to cover short areas of the field on early downs as a SAM linebacker, and then has the pass-rushing chops (12.5 sacks his senior year) to transition to a situational pass-rushing role on obvious passing downs. Not only that, by all accounts Baun is a “process-type” leader in the locker room that McDermott would immediately appreciate.
- Josh Jones OT Houston - Ed Oliver’s former teammate, Jones is similar to the defensive tackle coming out, in that he’s agile and has great feet but needs to learn the finer points of his position. The need for development with Jones is obvious, but he would allow the team to push Cody Ford inside, and learn from either Ty Nsehke or Daryl Williams for a year.