To be the best, you have to beat the best. For the Buffalo Bills that means beating the Kansas City Chiefs to show the world they’re legit Super Bowl contenders. To this point that’s proven to be too big a challenge.
During the 2020 season, the Bills were dismantled by the Chiefs in two games (by score of 64-41)—and neither game was even as close as the score showed. So just how can Buffalo get over the hump and defeat this powerhouse? Many would point to pressure up front and making Patrick Mahomes uncomfortable. On Tuesday in comments made to the media, general manager Brandon Beane discussed three potential draft positions that could help defeat Mahomes and the Chiefs. To little surprise, he named secondary, speed at linebacker, and help up front on the defensive line. Easy enough, or not.
These comments echo those of Dan Morgan, one of Beane’s top lieutenants, on a recent podcast interview. We covered that earlier this month and you can read the full breakdown here.
With that in mind, let’s look further into these three position groups as it relates to current personnel.
We saw what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did up front in the Super Bowl to manhandle Mahomes. Dropping back 56 times to pass, he faced pressure on 29 attempts with only two coming via the Bucs sending more than four rushers. Being able to get to Mahomes with only a few linemen allows the rest of the defense to cover up the receiving threats in a short amount of time. The problem is that in 2020 Buffalo was among the league’s bottom half in getting to opposing quarterbacks without blitzing. Look for the Bills to address this need in the draft next week. Talent is need with the only notable player added to the defensive line in 2021 being Star Lotulelei—who you may recall is returning after opting out last season.
The next part in the blue print for stopping the Chiefs is finding the perfect linebacker to take away Travis Kelce—arguably the best tight end in the league. In the first game against Buffalo last season, Kelce had five catches and two touchdowns in relatively easy fashion. Many fans thought the AFC Championship game would be a different story since Matt Milano was back after missing the first matchup. That, of course, was not the case as Kelce had 13 catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns against a very good coverage linebacker.
Cornerback may not stand out as an obvious choice because we know Tre’Davious White is a lock-down player. However, there’s more than one impact receiver on the Chiefs, and the Bills don’t seem to have their CB2 role settled. In the AFC Title game, Mahomes passed for over 300 yards and threw three touchdowns without really breaking a sweat. Tyreek Hill almost had 200 yards receiving by himself. You cannot draft a cornerback who is only good in the passing game either. He needs to have transcendent speed. With all the misdirection and jet sweeps head coach Andy Reid runs, teams need a CB who can neutralize Kansas City’s team speed and prevent receivers from reaching the outside—like we saw with Mecole Hardman who took a sweep for 50 yards.