Mock drafts are thought exercises. Very rarely are they intended to be predictive before the week of the actual NFL Draft is upon us, and mock drafts before free agency are especially volatile. They are intended not just to generate clicks, but individual reactions to a multitude of different possibilities.
27. Buffalo Bills
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
The Bills might have vacancies on the defensive side of the ball, depending on how free agency plays out for linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and safety Jordan Poyer. But with Devin Singletary also on an expiring deal, Buffalo might look to jumpstart its run game with Gibbs, who rushed 151 times for 926 yards and caught 44 passes for another 444 last season. Bills running backs totaled 1,418 yards on the ground last season, 24th best in the NFL, and only four teams had fewer rushing TDs from that position group (seven).
Gibbs’ vision and shiftiness are outstanding, as he can string together multiple cuts to find daylight. The Bills could team him up with James Cook and Nyheim Hines to form a solid backfield and complement what quarterback Josh Allen does when he tucks and runs.
This article is titled “mock mocking or mock marveling” for a reason. It’s about the gut and initial reaction that I have to the player being selected for the Bills in the selected mock draft, and in this case, the coin lands on “mock.”
Selecting a running back in the first round in 2023 after spending a second-round pick and two third-round picks on the position in the last few years is bad asset allocation. If the running game was a serious sore spot for the Bills, it could be argued that my stance is representative of sunk-cost fallacy, but as a team, Buffalo was 11th in the NFL in rushing DVOA in 2022. Among running backs with 50 or more carries, rookie James Cook was third in the NFL in yards per carry at 5.7. The usage of raw numbers from running backs indicates how disinterested the Bills were in running the ball out of their backfield, not that they struggled with it. And all this efficiency was achieved behind an offensive line that looks to see at least one new starter in 2023 to replace left guard Rodger Saffold and housed another struggling young player in Spencer Brown.
Adding to this poor-value proposition is that Gibbs isn’t even seen as the consensus number-one back in this class. The circumstances, however unlikely they may appear to me, that have Bijan Robinson falling to 27 are far more debatable given his status as a player many believe to be a top-five talent in the class.
I’m having a difficult time imagining a set of circumstances that could transpire in free agency for me to feel comfortable with the Bills taking Jahmyr Gibbs at 27 overall, and I can’t picture it. Players on the board in this mock I’d feel better about selecting include Anton Harrison (OT, Oklahoma) and John Michael Schmitz (IOL, Minnesota).
The “mock or marvel” verdict is in on this particular choice, and my response is to mock it fervently.
...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!