What do Lamar Jackson, Hakeem Butler, Tim Tebow, Deshaun Watson, Rolando McClain and Luke Kuechly all have in common? At one point each of these guys was my draft crush for the Buffalo Bills. As you can tell by the list, some of these guys have done alright for themselves, while others have come up a bit short.
Making the pick for my draft crush this year is a bit different, as the Bills traded away their first-round pick to acquire wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings. There are no complaints from me that general manager Brandon Beane made this move—but it now gives me an endless list of possibilities to choose from.
Before the Diggs trade I had locked in on Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa as my choice, but the moves made in free agency and the lack of a first-round pick takes him off my board. And while I am okay with the Bills taking a running back at 54, I do not have a specific preference when it comes to the top names available [J.K. Dobbins (Ohio), Cam Akers (Florida State), Jonathan Taylor, (Wisconsin), or D’Andre Swift (Georgia)].
As I worked to narrow the field for my draft crush, there is one guy I keep coming back to for the Bills: Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault, Jr. My research on Shenault started early in the offseason. He was a popular name in early mock drafts for the Bills, as a likely first-round target for a team in need of a receiver. What I found was a dynamic athlete who can play outside or in the slot and has drawn comparisons to Sammy Watkins. While Watkins might be a polarizing topic of conversation for Bills fans, I would hope that we could all agree on a player of that caliber being taken with pick 22.
Now as we fast forward to the eve of the draft, a lot of things have changed for Shenault and the Bills. Shenault had surgery to repair a core muscle injury, which limited his participation at the NFL Combine. Since then his stock has dropped in most mocks, making Shenault a candidate to be taken in the second round. Receiver might not be as glaring of a need in Buffalo since the Diggs trade, but there is still plenty of room to add depth to the roster.
In my opinion, Shenault is exactly who the Bills need on offense. He is a receiver who has the flexibility to back up Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley. Brian Daboll can be creative with Shenault on sweeps and gadget plays, serving as an immediate upgrade to Isaiah Mckenzie. At 6’2” he adds size to the receiving corps, and the ability to make contested catches with strong hands. To get a player of his caliber at pick 54 would be an absolute steal for the Bills.
While Shenault is officially my 2020 NFL draft crush, I would love to get your thoughts on your choice. Feel free to share in the comments section below, and go Bills!