Part of the fun of formulating any NFL mock draft are the combinations one can come up with en route to making it. A lot of the same names end up recycled to the same teams because, well, the fit just makes sense on paper. When you find the perfect player and team fit, it’s hard to get said player out of your head. But expanding on different names and ranges of outcomes is important when considering the draft.
The Buffalo Bills are no different when it comes to mock draft philosophy. Thinking of some new names that aren’t often mentioned as fits is important. It’s a much easier process to hone in on positions of premium interest for the Bills now that free agency has effectively ended. We’ve spent time in recent weeks talking about receiver, linebacker, and offensive line for primary positions that top-100 draft assets could be used on.
For this mock, let’s consider a couple of players I don’t see mentioned with the Bills quite as much as some of the same recycled familiar names in these exercises.
For this exercise, we’ll put a realistic scenario in place using a recent big board put together by The Athletic’s NFL Draft Writer Dane Brugler. Brugler is very plugged in to the league — with an enormous understanding of who the league’s personnel likes along with his own thoughts and opinions on prospects.
With the 27th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select...
Quentin Johnston, WR (TCU)
Johnston has been an oft-discussed about name in the general draft space for many months. The most basic (and reasonable) understanding of Johnston as a prospect is a ball of clay derived on height, weight (6’3”, 208 pounds), and speed. Johnston has plus ability with the ball in his hands and he’s one of the best on-the hoof-prospects in this draft class.
The Bills have expressed faith in Gabe Davis — their starting X-receiver who’s going into a contract year. But the truth of the matter is that Davis looked less than ready to be a full-time starter in 2022 after an incredible end to the 2021 season in the playoffs. Johnston presents a similar size profile with even more juice after the catch. He needs refinement, but his ceiling easily propels past Davis. With Davis set to make some money due to past production in 2024 free agency, it makes sense to seriously consider Johnston as the future X-receiver in the Bills’ offense.
With the 59th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select...
Jack Campbell, LB (Iowa)
If it’s not going to be Drew Sanders out of Arkansas in the first round, then I believe Campbell would make a lot of sense as a Day 2 option. Campbell has the size profile (6’5”, 250 pounds) the Bills once coveted in Tremaine Edmunds when they selected him in the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft. One of the big questions on Campbell as the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine approached was his functional athleticism. It’s not something that pops on his film, which had pushed him into later Day 2 discussion despite his size and production profile. That was until he ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, a 37.5” vertical jump, and a 10’8” broad and had folks buzzing about his performance.
Those numbers are great, but they’ll likely spark some conversation on why the athleticism doesn’t show up on his game film. Campbell offers the intrigue to now go during Day 2. Verified testing and size profile — check. Proven game production — check. Active on-field leader at a position that requires it — check. He’s not going to be a sexy pick if he were to be chosen, but the profile makes sense for what the Bills like in a MIKE linebacker. It’s a massive roster hole, and you get to fill it in the second round with a similar makeup of a player who’s now making $18 million per year.
We’ve talked about receiver and linebacker plenty in the past several weeks. The reality remains that both positions are priority needs heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. I believe that these two names in Johnston and Campbell are worthwhile to consider in the coming weeks when thinking of possible real targets on draft weekend. Johnston offers the juice to burn at the X-spot and Campbell fills a hole with a similar physical background of the recently departed Edmunds.