During this week’s episode of “The Chop Up,” host Sterling Furrowh reunited with Anthony Romeo and Eric Brown of “The Hoof Podcast” to chat all things Buffalo Bills. To close the show, Sterls had the trio put on their general manager hats for the Bills, in what became a very interesting mock draft through Pro Football Focus (PFF). Sterls’ one caveat? The first-round pick could not be a defensive player.
Eliminating options from one side of the ball in Round 1 isn’t the most conventional approach, but throwing caution to the wind in a mock draft does no real harm despite the self-handicap.
When it came time for the trio to make Buffalo’s pick, they quickly realized how poorly the board had shaped up for them. Looking to add a wide receiver meant drafting Josh Downs in the first round. Drafting along the offensive line meant O’Cyrus Torrence or Dawand Jones. They decided a trade down was the best move, and began trying to work the board — with a fair bit of resistance from other teams. Eventually, they found a trade partner with the Arizona Cardinals. Sterls and crew sent the 27th pick to the Cardinals in exchange for picks 34, 96, and 105. The Bills were now out of the first round — and they were in for a surprise.
Eight picks later, notably gone now were Josh Downs and O’Cyrus Torrence. And they were still bound by picking on the offensive side of the ball at 34. Sterls, Anthony, and Eric all believed that it was best to target an upgrade over Spencer Brown at right tackle, despite flirting with the idea of adding an elite tight end prospect like Luke Musgrave to the mix.
With the 34th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Sterls, Anthony, and Eric select:
Dawand Jones, OT (Ohio State)
Matt’s take: Dawand Jones is a mountain of a man, standing 6’8” and 374 pounds. He excels in the run game due to his powerful ability to make defenders submit to his will. There are questions about Jones’ fit at the next level, with some analysts saying he’d be best served joining a gap (power) run scheme. Dawand Jones reminds me a bit of Howard “House” Ballard, but he lacks the same type of quickness and athleticism that Ballard played with in the NFL. The enticement of adding someone as physically imposing as Jones is easy to understand with this pick, but the Bills need to add starters and Jones may spend the year trying to hit a required weight and improve his footwork, while hoping to unseat Spencer Brown. There will be few players able to out-leverage Jones at the next level, but his lack of athleticism given his size could be problematic facing explosive and toolsy defensive linemen and edge rushers. If Jones finds the right coaching and scheme, he could become a great right tackle in the NFL for a decade or more. Whether he fits the Bills, is up for debate.
The remainder of the draft, Sterls, Anthony, and Eric tried to find the much-needed replacement at linebacker, with Tremaine Edmunds now in Chicago. They learned quickly that options were sparse, and didn’t manage to draft one until selecting Henry To’o To’o with their sixth pick (Round 4, Pick 130). To’o To’o is an intriguing prospect, but if the Bills seek to find someone similar to Edmunds it may not be To’o To’o — whose profile and traits read more in line with someone like Matt Milano. You can do worse than having a pair of Milanos on the field, for sure. The unknown is if that’s what general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott prefer.
Here’s how the rest of the mock draft unfolded, following the first pick:
- Round 2, Pick 59: Marvin Mims, WR (Oklahoma)
- Round 3, Pick 91: Luke Schoonmaker, TE (Michigan)
- Round 3, Pick 96 (from Arizona): Karl Brooks, EDGE (Bowling Green)
- Round 4, Pick 105 (from Arizona): Xavier Hutchinson, WR (Iowa State)
- Round 4, Pick 130: Henry To’o To’o, LB (Alabama)
- Round 5, Pick 137: Cam Jones, LB (Indiana)
- Round 6, Pick 205: Trevor Reid, OT (Louisville)
In the end, the opportunity to draft someone like Jack Campbell was passed up to bolster offense. Doing so brought them picks that allowed the Bills to add a scheme-diverse one-gap defensive tackle in Karl Brooks, and receiver depth with special teams upside in Xavier Hutchinson.
I like the idea of adding Marvin Mims to the fold at receiver, but he’s fairly undersized, thus likely destined for the slot — where Khalil Shakir and Deonte Harty appear set to vulture the bulk of snaps in 2023. Luke Schoonmaker’s pro comparison from NFL.com is none other than Dawson Knox. If offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey managed to scheme Knox and Schoonmaker on the field at the same time, it could prove deadly to opposing defenses. The Bills have not shown a preference for using multiple tight ends, so drafting Schoonmaker may be viewed as a redundant luxury.
Overall, Sterls and The Hoof Podcast guys did a decent job in landing a pair of offensive linemen, two linebackers, and three pass catchers. Sterls admits this was a challenging exercise, but did so in an effort to counter the Bills’ recent tendency to draft defense early.
If the 2023 NFL Draft plays out this way in the first round, it may behoove the Buffalo Bills to stay put and draft Tremaine Edmunds’ successor at MIKE linebacker.
Be sure to tune in and catch Sterling Furrowh each week on The Chop Up!
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