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2021 NFL Draft: Draft this, not that

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

The Buffalo Bills are currently one of the more complete teams in the NFL following their recent AFC East Division title and AFC Championship appearance. General manager Brandon Beane has kept the team well-stocked with talent, thanks to both free agency but most importantly the draft. However, to maintain that level of talent, the team needs to be smart in the way they allocate their now less-valuable draft capital. To that end, the draft has several prospects who could be considered overrated that I believe the Bills should stay away from, and should subsequently look to other, similar players who can fill similar niches to their far greater-hyped counterparts.

Draft Javian Hawkins RB (Louisville) in the fifth, not Kenneth Gainwell RB (Memphis) in the third

Athletically, both players are virtually identical based on the results from their respective pro days. They share identical 40 times, share the same quickness to make defenders miss in the hole and both project well as fits in one-cut zone schemes or spread-type offenses. However, while Gainwell has 20 lbs on Hawkins, the running back from Louisville demonstrates much more decisiveness when choosing his cuts and has the better acceleration to boot (1.53 10-yard split). Hawkins is guaranteed to be under-drafted mostly because of his slighter frame.

Draft David Moore OG (Grambling) in the fourth, not Deonte Brown OG (Alabama) in the second

Brown has his strengths, which is being a massive, overwhelming blocker at 6’3” and 344 lbs, but that is really his only strength as a lineman. Moore is just as massive—he was reportedly 350 pounds in college—but he’s also more compact at only 6’1”, which allows him to have better leverage. Moore also has much better lateral agility to deal with speed rushers along the interior, which is something Brown struggled with at Senior Bowl practices. Not only will that make Moore the potentially superior pass protector, but also more versatile as a potential fit at either guard or center.

Draft Dayo Odeyingbo EDGE (Vanderbilt) in the third, not Gregory Rousseau EDGE (Miami) in the first

Rousseau isn’t a unique athletic specimen and isn’t all there yet from a technique perspective, so most seem to point to his size and length at 6’6” and 266 lbs as his one really elite trait. The senior from Vanderbilt though has him beat on overall wingspan, thanks to Odeyingbo’s 35.5” talons. Then you add in Odeyingbo’s superior experience in college, his initial burst and his more massive girth at 285 lbs—which would allow him to hold his ground in the run game—and you wonder if teams aren’t just better off waiting for him during the draft’s second day.

Draft Shi Smith WR (South Carolina) in the fourth, not Rondale Moore WR (Purdue) in the second

There’s no disputing that Rondale Moore has been one of the most electrifying players in college football for the past few years with the ball in his hands—when healthy. Health though has been an ongoing issue for the former Boilermaker. Those questions, along with the negatives that he’s not the most natural catcher of the football (as he was force-fed touches on sweeps and quick screens) will cause him to drop to the second round. Meanwhile, Smith is a much more natural projection to the NFL slot receiver role thanks to his experience in South Carolina’s system, is just as physical as a runner with the football, and is fast enough with a 4.43 40-yard dash.

Draft James Wiggins S (Cincinnati) in the fourth, not Ar’Darius Washington S (TCU) in the third

Praised for his toughness and physicality in Gary Patterson’s TCU defense, Washington nonetheless had massively underwhelming testing results that didn’t exactly pair well with his lack of size at only 5’8”. Wiggins is the much better athlete, offers superior size and better versatility against the run or pass. Because of his recent ACL tear and his age (24), Wiggins is likely to go on the third day of the draft. But some team is going to get a steal with the senior from Cincinnati.