As Buffalo Bills fans, we understand that mock drafts are little more than thought exercises, even when presented by someone well-connected with the league. There are far too many variables to reliably predict almost any draft selection with real accuracy — be it shifting needs, unexpected runs on position groups, or trades forward or back by teams attempting to leverage the draft to their liking.
That last point, trades, brings us to NFL.com Draft Analyst Chad Reuter and his latest mock draft. Reuter has general manager Brandon Beane and the Bills pulling off a trade with the Seattle Seahawks to land at 20. Who does Reuter have One Bills Drive selecting?
It’s a curious pick:
Pittsburgh · DT · Junior (RS)
PROJECTED TRADE WITH SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
GM Brandon Beane moves up to get the strong and quick-footed Kancey. There’s already social-media chatter about former first-round pick Ed Oliver’s future as he enters a contract year. The team needs another active tackle on the roster to take the reins sooner or later.”
The idea that the Bills would give up resources to move up yet again for a defensive player might send shock waves through Bills Mafia. NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein’s NFL Draft profile compares Kancey to legendary Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame DT John Randle. Next Gen Stats Score Breakdown grades rank Kancey second in Production Score (77), first in Athleticism Score (94), and second in Total Score (82) among defensive tackles at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. Among Zierlein’s noted strengths of Kancey are:
- “Terror in the pocket as a pass rusher.
- Laser-sharp focus on fastest possible way into the pocket.
- Gets to quarterbacks with a top-flight closing kick.”
Calijah Kancey, who measured in at 6’1” and 281 pounds, brings a wealth of potential as an undersized one-gap defensive tackle at the next level. He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and a 1.64-second 10-yard split. His lack of prototypical size for an NFL defensive tackle could require defensive coordinators to scheme creatively to best-utilize his talents.
Chad Reuter’s picks for the Bills in Rounds 2-4 are as follows:
- Round 2, Pick 59 — Drew Sanders, LB (Arkansas)
- Round 3 — No selection (likely involved in the trade up for Calijah Kancey)
- Round 4, Pick 130 — McClendon Curtis, OG (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
Yes, drafting the next John Randle would be a coup for Beane and the Buffalo Bills, but Kancey has yet to play a down in the NFL and John Randle clones don’t grow on trees. To Reuter’s point, the Bills do have a situation brewing at the defensive tackle position, with Ed Oliver playing on the final year of his rookie contract. It’s wise to question the Buffalo Bills’ long-term plans at the position, but is it such a priority to maneuver up the draft board in the first round this season? When you discover the next player chosen (Pick 21 by the Los Angeles Chargers) was Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the pick seems even more suspect.
The Bills have met with five receiver prospects to this point (absent among them, Smith-Njigba), and zero defensive tackles. Buffalo has shown interest in free-agent defensive tackle Poona Ford, but news beyond initial interest has yet to materialize.
While Brandon Beane has never been shy about aggressively moving around the draft board, Buffalo only has six selections in April. The idea of giving up a third-round pick for Kancey who would have to beat out those ahead of him on the depth chart doesn’t feel like the chess move to make this season.
With Buffalo’s original selection at Pick 27, the Seattle Seahawks drafted offensive lineman Cody Mauch in Reuter’s four-round mock.