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2021 NFL Draft: Trade-up assets for the Bills

These players could be used to sweeten any draft-night trades

The Buffalo Bills currently hold seven total selections ahead of Thursday’s 2021 NFL Draft. While they do hold the typical amount of picks, they are in fact missing their original fourth-round selection—and they have an extra fifth rounder to partially compensate. That means the team is a bit lacking in assets to potentially use for trading up in the draft—a pastime of which general manager Brandon Beane remains fond.

To sweeten any such deals, and prevent the costs of trades from becoming deleterious, the Bills’ front office could choose to dangle some of the team’s current assets as possibilities for other teams. While Buffalo is certainly trying to compete and win a Super Bowl next year, that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t have minor players they could lose and still be competitive. Below are four such options for the team.

OT Cody Ford

Nominally the team’s starter at one of the guard spots, Ford has been a disappointment for two straight seasons with the team and is coming off of a season-ending knee injury. However, he still has the same talent that saw him drafted in the second round and he still has two years on his cheap rookie contract. Moreover, Ford’s clearly demonstrated some versatility to play multiple spots. In the right scheme, he may even flourish, assuming he was able to stay healthy.

QB Jake Fromm

When Fromm was chosen in the fifth round of the 2020 Draft, Brandon Beane couched the selection as one of value. A “He wasn’t in the team’s plans” player, Beane felt that the value was there. Well, with the addition of backup Mitch Trubisky, the former Georgia Bulldog is looking at another season of being the team’s Emergency Quarterback. Beane may decide that Fromm just isn’t worth having around in that capacity and may decide that a guy like Davis Webb is more valuable to have around in the quarterback room.

LB A.J. Klein

Klein’s contract makes him a bit difficult to trade, but the veteran could become a solid addition to any team lacking much talent at the linebacker position. Used correctly, as a decent run defender who blitzes well, Klein has at least some value. Meanwhile, the Bills just added two other linebackers in free agency, Tyrell Adams and Marquel Lee, and still have the former underrated free agent Tyrel Dodson. Dodson especially has played sparingly, but remains an intriguing young player.

DT Harrison Phillips

It’s safe to say that Phillips was a bit over-hyped when he was drafted in the third round by the team in the 2018 NFL Draft. Through three seasons, the former Stanford Cardinal has 56 tackles and only a half sack in a part-time role. He’s been a solid run-defender at times, but just hasn’t been very impactful. He’s on the last year of his (cheap) rookie contract though and maybe a change of scenery and scheme would serve him well. The Bills, for their part, already have a capable replacement for Phillips on the roster in tackles Vernon Butler and/or Justin Zimmer.