The Buffalo Bills managed to maintain most of their roster that brought them to the AFC Championship Game, but their defense wasn’t able to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Maybe the solution is to choose defenders early and often in the 2021 NFL Draft? That’s the tactic taken by ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay in their new three-round mock draft. Kiper and McShay were alternating picks as they worked down the list, which might have resulted in some strange combinations of players. Check out the list (and our opinion) of the picks below:
Round 1: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
McShay: “Collins can cover, shoot gaps in run defense and rush the passer. He’d fit nicely next to Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano at the second level and help shore up Buffalo’s middle-of-the-pack pass rush.”
Dan’s take: Talent-wise, I’m all over Collins, the productive and athletic linebacker from the Golden Hurricanes. The question is if there’s a role for him on the Bills’ defense. Taron Johnson played 77 percent of snaps for a very nickel-heavy scheme, so it doesn’t seem like Collins fits as a third linebacker. He’s untested as a defensive end, with almost all of his career work off the ball. If the team thinks he can be a successful project edge rusher, then I’d buy it. That said, defensive end Azeez Ojulari was also available, and would be a better fit for Buffalo’s needs.
Round 2: Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF
Kiper: “I thought about tight end here, but Robinson has the potential to be a starter opposite Tre’Davious White. He’s also an outstanding tackler, which is underrated for corners.”
Dan’s take: The 5’11” 186-lb Robinson could potentially work either as an outside cornerback or in the slot for the Bills. A good athlete who doesn’t mind mixing it up in run support, he would compete to start for the Bills. That said, Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu was also on the board, and seems like a closer match for Buffalo’s prototype. Offensive linemen Quinn Meinerz and Jackson Carman also seem like good fits with the versatility the Bills love.
Round 3: Patrick Johnson, OLB, Tulane
McShay: “This makes it all defense in the first three rounds for the Bills, who need to get younger on the edge. Johnson had 24.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He could be a third-down pass-rusher here.”
Dan’s take: This pick, of a 6’2” 240-lb edge rusher, doesn’t seem to fit Buffalo’s prototype—and it makes even less sense in the context of the earlier Collins pick. If the draftniks were set on an all-defense draft, Iowa DT Daviyon Nixon would spread the wealth a little better. So could Florida State S/LB Hamsah Nasirildeen, who would give the team a “big nickel” player who could clarify the role for Collins and Robinson.