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2023 NFL mock draft: Bills add a playmaker on offense

The Bills roll the dice on a “one-year wonder”

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Seemingly every fan of the Buffalo Bills has shared their opinion on the team’s biggest roster holes and needs heading into the offseason. This, of course, comes after having more than a week to let the sting simmer from the Bills’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Among the best ways to fill major roster holes is through the early rounds of the NFL Draft. Barring a trade, the Bills are locked in to select at No. 27 overall (previously would have been 28th if not for the forfeiture of the Miami Dolphins’ first-round draft selection) in the 2023 NFL Draft. Because the Bills have a very expensive quarterback under contract, more holes are going to pop up naturally due to the franchise being a bit more strapped against the salary cap.

The biggest position that Bills fans are clamoring for is another wide receiver — a weapon for quarterback Josh Allen to utilize in the passing game. Offensive line and a couple of spots on defense also look like major needs at this time. They’d certainly be well within their right to address offensive line or safety in the first round. For the sake of the fans, let’s attempt to give the people what they want and help the Bills in the same breath.

We used the 2023 NFL Mock Draft Simulator from Pro Football Focus to complete a realistic first-round mock draft. As mentioned above, the Bills are selecting at No. 27 in this year’s draft.

With the 27th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select...

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Here’s a name that was all the buzz prior to the 2022 college football season. Some preseason mock drafts had him as the first receiver off the board. That never felt likely due to his lack of elite physical traits. His standing at this spot requires some context and a bit of imagination. Missing nearly his entire junior season means that eyeballs haven’t been laid on a perfectly healthy Smith-Njigba since he torched Utah for one of the best games by a wide receiver in the history of college football — putting up 347 receiving yards and three touchdowns against the Utes in the Rose Bowl. That was over a year ago — New Year’s Day of 2022. The next time we may see him is at the NFL Scouting Combine in March. That’s not likely to be a setting where he lights the on-field workouts up so much due to the aforementioned lack of physical traits. Thus, he’s available here and that’s a lovely development for the Bills.

During his sophomore campaign for the Buckeyes, Smith-Njigba became the film watcher’s dream as a wide receiver. He may barely scratch 6’ tall and will likely weigh under 200-pounds at the NFL Combine. He’s also a candidate to run well into the 4.5s. That doesn’t sound fantastic off the rip, but what Smith-Njigba does do is separate from the slot. His brain is different from every receiver in this draft class — playing well beyond his years with sight adjustments and ball-tracking ability. There’s just so much to love about him as a player. He does everything you could ever want from a technical standpoint out of the slot.

The Bills had a previous affinity for a slot technician in Cole Beasley. To help Allen in 2022, they brought him back to the practice squad to spark a sort of “easy button” for Allen, who too often found himself living and dying by the big play. Smith-Njigba is that easy button, with more size and catch radius to work with. If Bills fans want a player to replicate what Beasley offered this team when Allen was at his best, look no further than the Ohio State star who has blipped off the radar for those who haven’t dusted off his film recently.