With the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills are now firmly in possession of the 30th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
It’s a position that the team hasn’t found itself in for a while, and frankly should change fans’ expectations of the draft moving forward. Picking so late in the round virtually ensures that any ‘elite’ prospects are long gone, and that the top-tier prospects left over are most assuredly going to be from the less impactful positions, like guards, running backs, or tight ends. Trading down also becomes a logical possibility and increased lower-round talent can often make up for a lack of high-quality drafted talent.
With that in mind, ESPN’s Mel Kiper just dropped his newest mock draft, the first to include Buffalo owning the 30th pick (subscription required). The king of mocks and terrible hair choices, Kiper witnessed a Bills playoff team that failed to run the ball consistently. As such, he has the Bills selecting former Alabama workhorse running back Najee Harris. Here’s what Kiper had to say regarding the choice:
30. Buffalo Bills
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Buffalo’s running game was so ineffective this season that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll cooked up a few game plans that required very few runs. Josh Allen was the Bills’ leading rusher in the postseason — by 82 yards. They should upgrade with Harris, who had a dominant season for the Crimson Tide and could also help in the passing game. With rookie Zack Moss coming off an ankle injury and Devin Singletary not an every-down player, this is where the Bills can get better immediately in 2021. And we’ve seen rookies come in right away and make a big impact. Offensive line is a position to watch for Buffalo; I thought about Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield here.
Let’s start with the fact that Harris is truly a much more talented tailback than either Zack Moss or Devin Singletary. A highly experienced college player, he’s more balanced and has better flexibility than Moss, and brings more overall speed and big-play ability to the table than Singletary. To me, he is the best running back in the draft. However, a related question with these mock drafts is always need and value, and a pick of Harris at 30 just doesn’t fit well in either category.
One of the arguments of the offseason is going to be the exact cause of the team’s struggles with rushing, with some pointing to an offensive line and others to the running backs themselves. Watching all of Zack Moss’s snaps throughout the year for my Rookie Report series, the conclusion for me is more so the former rather than the latter. Ergo, a newer, better running back won’t make the team’s rushing problems disappear. On top of that, there were some equally impactful prospects available to take at that spot, including edge rusher Joe Tryon, who was taken right after the Bills’ pick, or one of the top interior linemen.