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2020 NFL Draft: Draft this, not that

Lower-round draft picks that can fill the same roles as some of the more highly touted prospects.

Following the trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs, the Buffalo Bills were left with the typical number of 2020 NFL Draft selections with seven. However, more than half of those selections are after the middle part of the draft. This situation means that general manager Brandon Beane and company need to be smart in the way they allocate valuable draft capital. To that end, I wanted to highlight prospects that can fill similar niches to much more hyped counterparts, and won’t cost as much draft capital to boot.

Draft DeeJay Dallas RB (Miami) in the fifth, not AJ Dillon RB (Boston College) in the third

Dallas was the University of Miami’s primary weapon in the 2019 season, despite being a late-comer to the running back position after being recruited as a wide receiver. Like Dillon from Boston College, he’s a 215+ lb back who’s difficult to bring down, but unlike Dillon offers a bit more in the passing game and on special teams. Being such a late bloomer to the position also means that the former Miami back has much more tread on his tires and just a higher ceiling than his counterpart from Boston College. If you’re looking for a rotational, developmental player at the position, you can do worse than Dallas.

Draft Jason Strowbridge EDGE (North Carolina) in the fourth, not Bradlee Anae DE (Utah) in the second

It’s difficult to find an impact pass rusher in the middle rounds, but there are reasons why teams may like Strowbridge’s potential over a player like Anae. Strowbridge has all the physical tools you want in a defensive end: He’s tall, long and strong. Unlike Anae, he has the weight and strength to hold up as a full-time defender. Now, Anae has him clearly beat as a pass rusher, but with the right coaching the former Tar Heel makes sense as a developmental, high-ceiling option at the position.

Draft Darnell Mooney WR (Tulane) in the fifth, not KJ Hamler WR (Penn State) in the second

Both receivers are small, fast targets from the slot, who were the designated deep-ball specialists for their respective teams. However, despite only being 5’10”, Mooney was much more physical at the catch point than Hamler, whose highlights are riddled with wide-open throws and catches. Mooney has had a fair share of criticism levied at him thanks to some key drops, but the tape shows that may have more to do with concentration, rather than technique deficiencies.

Draft Matt Peart OL (UConn) in the fourth, not Ezra Cleveland OL (Boise State) in the third

In this day and age, offensive tackles taken after the first round are not expected to be finished products. That said, both Cleveland and Peart are expected to develop into full-time starters a year down the line. Although while Peart has an ideal frame at 6’7” and 318 lbs with 36” arms, Cleveland is smaller and a substantially shorter wingspan. Cleveland is a much better athlete, but it’s questionable if he has the pure strength to stand up to NFL pass rushers and not get bullied off his spot. If you’re looking for a middle-round swing, bet on traits.

Draft Ashtyn Davis S (California) in the third, not Grant Delpit S (LSU) in the second

When evaluating players fit can be just as important as athletic talent, and Davis is a phenomenal fit for Buffalo. A former cornerback who nonetheless possesses a great deal of physicality, he has a similar background to current safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer and can play all over the field. On the surface, Delpit is similar in his ability to play in multiple areas, but is much less disciplined as a tackler and much less experienced when asked to play in a single-high role.