With the pre-draft free-agency frenzy now finished, all NFL teams including the Buffalo Bills can begin to refocus on the 2022 NFL Draft. Pro days have wrapped up as well, which means that the team has begun finalizing their draft board and hosting prospects for their official team visits.
While the team’s scouts and coaches are currently locked into debates within One Bills Drive regarding prospects, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has released yet another mock draft (subscription required), this time featuring two rounds worth of selections.
In a previous mock, coming after Cole Beasley was cut, Kiper saw Buffalo targeting a wide receiver at the bottom of the first round with former Penn State player Jahan Dotson. This time around, he has the team addressing its secondary, though not with a cornerback. Instead, he has the Bills snatching up former Michigan safety Daxton Hill. Then, in the second round, he has the team going back to the state of Michigan for former Spartan Kenneth Walker III. Here’s what the veteran draft evaluators had to say regarding his choices:
25. Buffalo Bills
Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan
I just moved Hill way up on my Big Board. NFL teams love his versatility — he played more than 550 snaps at nickelback in 2021 — and think he could play both corner and safety. He might be a slot corner if he ends up in Buffalo, which lost Levi Wallace in free agency and has Tre’Davious White returning from an ACL tear. Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson) and Kyler Gordon (Washington) are two other corners to keep an eye on. The Bills have one of the best rosters in the league.
57. Buffalo Bills
Bills fans would be thrilled with these two picks, right? Buffalo would address its hole in the secondary with Daxton Hill in Round 1, then get a starting-caliber late in Round 2. Walker is a bulldozer with some juice through the hole. He wasn’t used much as a receiver in college (just 19 career catches), so that’s a question mark. But for a team that needs to take pressure off its quarterback and has excellent receivers, Walker could thrive.
Kiper projects quite the run at wide receiver in this mock draft, with 12 going in the first two rounds and six before Buffalo’s selection at pick 25. That still left the team with Jahan Dotson available at the position (and Andrew Booth at corner) in the first round, but the ESPN analyst decided the better value could be found in grabbing the second-best safety rather than the seventh receiver. That’s fair reasoning on paper. Bills safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde have been team cornerstones since 2017, and both are over 30-years old and getting more expensive. A selection like Hill could maintain the pipeline of talent at the position, and Hill has the physical talent and versatility to take over for those two. [He won’t be the nickelback, at least while Taron Johnson is healthy.]
The selection of Walker is similar in that rather than pushing up a cornerback who may not deserve it, such as Cam Taylor-Britt, Buffalo grabs the second-best running back in Walker. The fit with Walker is questionable though. It was clear in the offseason that the offense was looking for solid pass-catchers at the position and, as Kiper mentioned, Walker is not one of those.