The first wave of free agency has played out this week, and the Buffalo Bills have made a number of moves over the last few days. With the numerous re-signings by general manager Brandon Beane, the Bills can take a true “best player available” approach during the 2021 NFL Draft. I do realize the first pick is a bit polarizing and, as such, I share some additional context at the end of the article.
Pick 30 - Travis Etienne RB Clemson
I have flip-flopped on Etienne more than I care to admit in this space. In weeks past, it was easy to focus on linebacker and offensive line, as I had convinced myself that Matt Milano, Jon Feliciano and Daryl Williams would not be back in Buffalo. Now that all three have re-signed, the possibility of Etienne in round one becomes that much more intriguing. With no major holes on the Bills’ roster, I am fine with taking one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football.
Pick 61 - Ifeatu Melifonwu CB Syracuse
While Etienne is a bit of a luxury pick, Melifonwu gives the Bills a chance to upgrade at CB2. The Syracuse product could be a day-one starter, pushing Levi Wallace into a reserve role. The front office has not used early picks on defensive backs since 2017, and the time is right to draft a cornerback early.
Pick 93 - Tyler Shelvin IDL LSU
One thing I have learned this offseason is that Bills fans love Shelvin as a third-round option. While Star Lotulelei will be back this season, the team has a need to add some youth at the one-tech defensive tackle. Shelvin could be the eventual starter in 2022 after serving as a rotational piece during the 2021 season.
I realize this week’s mock did not address needs at defensive end, but the value doesn’t seem to align with where the Bills are scheduled to select. Any pass rusher available in the late first round is a bit of a project, which had me second guessing the position. I will remain hopeful that the Bills find a way to add defensive ends through the second wave of free agency, as I am not sold on this year’s draft prospects.