The Buffalo Bills have weathered the first wave of 2023 NFL free agency about as well as could be expected. Perhaps its biggest blow, Buffalo lost talented MIKE linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who signed a multi-year deal to play for the Chicago Bears. That loss could prove detrimental to defensive success this season if the team struggles to find the right replacement. The Bills also saw safety Jaquan Johnson (Las Vegas Raiders), quarterback Case Keenum (Houston Texans), and running back Devin Singletary (Texans) quickly sign contracts with new teams. While able to retain several key free agents of their own to this point, particularly safety Jordan Poyer, Buffalo had to find new faces to offset the losses of Keenum and Singletary. General manager Brandon Beane has also made a concerted effort to add play makers to the wide receiver room (Deonte Harty / Trent Sherfield), and size to the running back room with Damien Harris.
Free agency isn’t over and One Bills Drive may still find opportunities to add new talent and re-sign free agents who played for them last season. But the 2023 NFL Draft is mere weeks away, and could represent the team’s best chance at adding sound talent to key position groups. Does Buffalo need to address their biggest roster hole early in the draft? Let’s see what Mel Kiper thinks. Kiper just dropped his post-free agency first-round NFL mock draft and his selection for the Bills is a juicy one.
27. Buffalo Bills Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
I keep coming back to Robinson being perfect for this Bills offense. He could be a security blanket for Josh Allen in the pass game, and he can rip off chunk plays as a ball carrier. He breaks a ton of tackles and has tremendous vision. He’s the most complete back in this class. As I’ve written before, Robinson is a top-10prospect on my board, but his positional value means he’s going to drop into the 20s. I know Buffalo has James Cook and just added Damien Harris on a one-year deal, but Robinson is on another level. This is a team that can afford to target a luxury position in Round 1.
It’s hard for me to argue with Kiper on the selection of Bijan Robinson. Running the ball has been an oft-discussed topic among Bills Mafia, radio shows, and NFL analysts around the country. Buffalo managed to field a fairly competent ground game last season thanks in very large part to quarterback Josh Allen. It remains unclear how much of that was due to chance and talent, and how much of it was by design and out of necessity. Yes, the Bills just brought in running back Damien Harris, to which many people think he immediately becomes the bruising, short-yardage back. Cursory analysis by Skarekrow might reveal surprises to that notion.
Yes, Buffalo just renegotiated Nyheim Hines’ contract, which portends a commitment to him this coming season, And yes, the Bills have invested fairly significant draft resources at the position often, most recently with the selection of James Cook at pick three of the second round in the 2022 NFL Draft.
So why would the Buffalo Bills want Bijan Robinson? He’s a complete back, who’d bring size, speed, agility, power, and more to the offense. He’s a player who wouldn’t require a change of pace to better influence the outcome of a down. His NFL comparison is Saquon Barkley, a player countless people pounded the table for the Bills to land in a trade with the New York Giants. Robinson is an elite prospect who, if he someone manages to fall to 27, would bring Buffalo the chance to add a top-ten talent to their offense.
The Buffalo Bills have other, far larger needs (hello MIKE LB). I’ll address those elsewhere as we close in on the draft and needs change. Bijan Robinson transcends need to the realm of incredible opportunity. For me, the Bills’ biggest need is to diversify on offense. That’s exactly what Robinson represents. Why should Bills Mafia want Buffalo to draft for need in the first round if the player isn’t elite — especially if it means passing up transcendent talent in one of the draft’s best prospects on offense?