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2022 NFL Draft: Best available players heading into day 3

Keep an eye on these players

Two days of NFL Draft down, one more extra-long day to go! The Buffalo Bills (for now) don’t have a fourth round pick, but they do have SIX total picks available today (including four in the sixth round), which gives them ample opportunities to add interesting players to their roster.

For your benefit, here are the top names to track as the Bills finish filling in their roster this afternoon. Don’t be shocked when most of them are gone before Buffalo’s on the clock:

Quarterback

Sam Howell (North Carolina)

Before the 2021 football season, Howell was seen as a potential top overall pick. But with a weaker supporting cast, Howell’s season was the worst of his three-year career. He’s still a well-respected passer with plenty of arm talent, so if he fell to a Bills pick they should consider another Jake Fromm bid.

Running back

Isaiah Spiller (Texas A&M)

A natural zone runner with excellent vision, Spiller uses clean footwork and cuts to set up blocks and find positive yardage. He’s not a high-tier athlete (4.63” 40-yard dash and 33” vertical), which may push him down some draft boards.

Dameon Pierce (Florida)

A favorite sleeper for many watching the draft because of his absurdly efficient production and low usage at Florida. As a senior, had 790 yards and 16 TDs on only 119 touches. A violent runner who won’t hesitate to put his body on the line for another five yards. Shows some natural instincts for sifting through first- and second-level blocking lanes. Didn’t take many snaps, so may not be ready to contribute on the full spectrum of the playbook for a while.

Wide receiver

Calvin Austin III (Memphis)

A player on the spectrum of Tyreek Hill and Phillip Dorsett, the 5’8” 170-lb Austin was near the top of the group in pretty much every measured drill at the NFL Combine. Used mainly as a receiver but also took handoffs from time to time, and returned punts. He has a small catch radius and his catching technique is inconsistent, but the big-play ability may be worth it.

Khalil Shakir (Boise State)

Lance Zierlein notes him as a “coach’s dream” with “elite character.” A 6’0” 196-lb wide receiver, Shakir has excellent downfield speed and explosiveness. He has experience taking handoffs and jet sweeps. A physical player who can run and catch through contact, think of Shakir as something of a hybrid between Diontae Johnson and Robert Woods, albeit maybe not as athletic as either one.

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Standing 6’4” and 210 lbs, Ross is a former top receiver recruit with a basketball background who starred as a freshman when the Tigers won the National Championship. From 2018 to 2019, Ross had 112 catches for 1,865 yards and 17 TDs and looked like a first-round pick. Then he suffered a neck injury that required spinal fusion surgery and cost him the entire 2020 season. In 2021, he returned and had a solid season for a much worse Clemson team. There are concerns about his overall explosiveness, but he has smooth movements and a great catch radius.

Tight end

Charlie Kolar (Iowa State)

A towering presence and a four-year starter in the Big 12, Kolar represents a possible red zone presence from a team looking for a Y-tight end. He’s not the most agile or the best route runner, but he does win with physicality and profiles as a smooth athlete with upside as a route runner if he can hone in on his game. There are some options to split him out into the slot as a matchup concern. The likable traits exist if the Bills can unlock him.

Isaiah Likely (Coastal Carolina)

Likely is maybe the most fun pass catcher of any tight end in this class. On film he possesses ideal quickness and speed to separate at the NFL level despite playing lower quality of competition. He only ran a 4.82 40-yard dash at his pro day and there are strength concerns. For an F tight end, there are obvious concerns with how he tested in the pre-draft period despite the exciting playmaking he brought to the table in college.

Jake Ferguson (Wisconsin)

Ferguson presents himself as an ideal No. 2 or No. 3 option in an NFL offense as a plus-blocker inline with the mentality to do so. He is a bit undersized for what his role projects to be in the league, which could be why he is still on the board. There are some things to like with his ball skills in the passing game, but his ceiling is limited.

Cade Otton (Washington)

He looks to be somewhat of a projection at the next level due to minimal production in college (1,026 yards on 91 catches in career). Otton is coming off of ankle surgery and did not test in the pre-draft period. However, he’s one of the best route runners in the class for his position and he’s a competitive blocker. There is a lot to like here.

Offensive line

Daniel Faalele (Minnesota)

He will be one of the most imposing presences in the NFL from day one (6’8” 385 lbs). Faalele is a viciously strong player who generates movement simply because of his massive size. Athleticism will be a question and you just never see guys of his size as NFL prospects. Faalele will be limited to playing tackle at the next level. He is looking to be more of the exception to the rule from a sheer size standpoint. Day three seems the proper place to take the gamble.

Darian Kinnard (Kentucky)

Kinnard is a potential candidate to kick inside after playing tackle at Kentucky. He possesses ideal length with arms greater than 35”, but limited vertical athleticism will likely force him inside to guard. He needs to add refinement to his game, but the raw power and length is there for him to be a potential starter for an NFL team.

Chris Paul (Tulsa)

Paul is another tackle that projects to move inside to guard at the next level. He is a below-average athlete who wins with football IQ and excellent flexibility. He won’t impress with huge hand pop and grip strength, but he does do the most with what he has as a football player.

Zach Tom (Wake Forest)

Tom is one of the more versatile players at the offensive line position in this draft with his most ideal position being center. He would project favorably to Aaron Kromer’s zone blocking scheme where he thrives on the move. He more than held his own at left tackle at Wake despite sub-par arm length. This is a Bills target to watch throughout day three if they are looking for a player eerily similar to what Ryan Bates provides.

Defensive tackle

Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma)

The number-one JuCo recruit in 2020 played two years at Oklahoma. Winfrey has ideal size and speed for a defensive tackle. Didn’t have a high-impact college career, playing many positions along the d-line, but did dominate the Senior Bowl and made scouts take notice.

Kalia Davis (UCF)

A sleeper prospect who’s barely played in the last two years, Davis is a 6’1” 302-lb DT with a great wingspan for his size. He opted out of the 2020 season during the pandemic and tore his ACL after only five games of the 2021 season. Showed lots of athletic flashes as a former linebacker, but will be a project DT for whatever team he joins.

Defensive end

Dominique Robinson (Miami [OH])

Recruited as a wideout, Robinson converted to defense in 2020, and in three games of a pandemic-shortened year, he notched two sacks and 2.5 TFLs. A situational pass rusher in 2021, Robinson had 28 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, and 4.5 sacks. A very raw, explosive athlete still growing into his 6’5” 253-lb frame, Robinson has a long developmental road ahead of him, but could become a starting edge rusher if he makes it to the end.

Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina)

6’4” and 258 lbs with a looooong wingspan, Enagbare shows the most flashes as a power rusher and edge setter. More of a linear athlete, he might not have the full arsenal of moves to be a pass rusher off the edge, but teams could consider having him play as a contain end, a 3-4 defensive end, or try converting him to defensive tackle.

Linebacker

Damone Clark (LSU)

Clark was projected to be a Day 2 pick before an NFL Combine medical check revealed that he would need spinal fusion surgery that will likely cost him at least his rookie season in the NFL. There are a lot of positives to like with Clark’s game as a high-energy player with plus athleticism. If he recovers fully from spinal surgery, Clark will look like a value pick on day three.

Darrian Beavers (Cincinnati)

A three-sport athlete and WR/S in high school, Beavers would eventually become a 6’4” 237-lb linebacker for the Bearcats. Steadily improved his impact each year of his college career. Has a well-regarded character and plays with physicality, but there are some concerns about his ability to cover sideline-to-sideline.

Brandon Smith (Penn State)

A former five-star recruit, Smith has all the size and athleticism you’d ever want in a middle linebacker, but he never lived up to that promise for Linebacker U. His instincts are poor, he doesn’t play with much physicality, and he was often blocked out of plays. He’s a high-risk, high-reward project linebacker.

Cornerback

Tariq Woolen (UTSA)

The theme for many of these top cornerbacks is “project player.” You can’t tell me that, even with Kaiir Elam onboard, general manager Brandon Beane wouldn’t look at one or two of these guys and say “we need him.” Woolen, who only converted to CB a couple years ago, is 6’4” and 205 lbs, and ran a 4.26 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Zyon McCollum (Sam Houston State)

The “most athletic” cornerback in this draft is arguably McCollum, a 6’2” 199-lb phenom. He “only” had a 4.33 40-yard dash and 39” vertical, but his 3.94 short shuttle and 6.48 three-cone drill are unbelievable times. He also has great ball skills, with 13 career interceptions and 54 pass breakups.

Joshua Williams (Fayetteville State)

A Division II standout who was invited to the Senior Bowl, the 6’3” 195-lb Williams has nearly 33” arms. A 4.53 40-yard dash and 10’4” broad jump give him adequate explosiveness to play cornerback. He’s experienced in off-man coverage but needs to improve his footwork and get used to a massive leap in competition.

Coby Bryant (Cincinnati)

Played opposite Sauce Gardner and more than held his own for the Cincinnati Bearcats. A 6’1” 193-lb CB, he’s not quite the athlete of the other three, but he’s a four-year starter with a good football IQ. His tackling technique is a negative.

Safety

Verone McKinley III (Oregon)

McKinley has some of the best ball production in the draft. He’s undersized at 5’10” and under 200 lbs, but he has an elite trait of attacking the football in the air that should see him selected on the draft’s final day. Below-average athleticism (4.65 40-yard dash) could make it difficult for McKinley to find what his role is at the next level.

Smoke Monday (Auburn)

Has the chops to be an impact player on special teams from day one in the NFL. He put up a ton of production in the SEC lining up in multiple alignments from the slot, in the box, and in deep shells. He has some position questions in regards to where he aligns in the NFL due to a lot of stiffness in his coverage drops. Monday will be a valuable add if the Bills are looking for a special teams-hungry safety.

Punter

Matt Araiza (San Diego State)

You know him as “Punt God.” This punter (who also kicked field goals for his team) was maybe the most valuable player on his team, using his booming leg to win field position that the 115th-ranked passing attack couldn’t. He had a 60-yard punt in ten of his 14 games this season.

Jordan Stout (Penn State)

Challenging Araiza for punt supremacy, Stout definitely doesn’t have Araiza’s rocket leg, but he does share his counterpart’s experience as both a kicker and a punter. Teams love his precision. He has great hang time on his kicks and a knack for dropping them right near the end zone, even on shorter punts that need more precision.