The 2023 NFL Draft is so close now we can nearly taste it. What better way to celebrate than with a seven-round mock draft for the Buffalo Bills? The team is scheduled to have six selections in this year’s draft. That means a limited amount of tosses at the dartboard for general manager Brandon Beane and company. The Bills have sneakily stacked a few mediocre draft classes for several years now, which only adds to the strain of competing for Super Bowls. Hitting on this draft class must happen if you’re the current Bills regime.
One Bills Drive will have their own selection in each of the first four rounds of the draft (27, 59, 91, and 130). They also own the Arizona Cardinals’ fifth-round selection (137) as a result of the Cody Ford trade that sent the offensive guard from Buffalo to the desert. The team is scheduled to wrap their draft up with their own sixth round selection at pick 205.
For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll base our seven-round mock on a big board courtesy of The Athletic’s Dane Brugler who notably just dropped “The Beast” — a ranking of 1,700 prospects culminated over nearly a year of research and work. Brugler has access to pro-day testing data as well as detailed background to prospects to build the best overall big board in the business.
Below will be a listing of each Bills selection with a small blurb on each of the selections and what they bring to the table. No trades in this mock because it’s an impossible notion to project before it happens.
Round 1, Pick 27 — Darnell Wright, OT (Tennessee)
I can’t be sold on the idea that the Buffalo Bills still believe in right tackle Spencer Brown as much as they say so in the public. I’ve learned not to always believe everything that Brandon Beane pumps up in the offseason. Brown has underwhelmed and there is a lot to be excited about with Wright’s game on tape. He did a fantastic job against potential top-three selection Will Anderson Jr. this past season where he flashed signs of what could be coming. Settling on mediocre trench play doesn’t have to be normalized for this franchise.
Round 2, Pick 59 — Jack Campbell, LB (Iowa)
Campbell tested way better at the NFL Combine than anyone thought he would going into the event in March. The Hawkeyes standout presents a very similar size and verified athletic profile to former Bills linebacker and draftee, Tremaine Edmunds. Getting Campbell in the second round is a nice consolation if the team doesn’t elect to go for a player like Drew Sanders from Arkansas in the first.
Round 3, Pick 91 — Jayden Reed, WR (Michigan State)
The Bills get a dude at wide receiver who creates issues for opposing defensive backs with acceleration and route-running ability in the late third round. Reed doesn’t have an impressive size profile and there are some frustrating drops on his tape, but he has a nuanced ability at receiver that others going in Round 3 won’t have. Reed can be a contributor right away and he brings special teams ability as a punt and kick returner in college. Reed has legitimate inside-out versatility despite his size concerns.
Round 4, Pick 130 — K.J. Henry, EDGE (Clemson)
It’s imperative that the Bills continue to invest resources in the trenches. Fans had the chance to see first-hand how badly the loss of Von Miller hurt the team last year when he was lost due to a season-ending knee injury. A fourth-round selection isn’t going to replace Miller, but Henry can bring some juice off the edge. Henry is a former five-star recruit who hasn’t quite lived up to his potential. But what Henry does is offer high energy and burst off the edge. There are plenty of athletic quarterbacks in the AFC who are hard to get on the ground. Henry offers some immediate assistance with that effort and motor while getting some opportunity to hone his skill as a pass rusher.
Round 5, Pick 137 — Zack Kuntz, TE (Old Dominion)
It’s draft and stash time. This is the perfect time in the fifth round to take a shot at a player who can be drafted to a room light on numbers in Buffalo. Kuntz has unbelievable athleticism waiting to be unleashed in the NFL. He also has a former Power Five pedigree as a transfer from Penn State. There is refinement needed in his game as a route runner and run blocking may not ever be there due to his frame (long and lanky more than bulk). Kuntz could be a chess piece two years down the line, but he would be a very limited spot player as a rookie.
Round 6, Pick 205 — Jay Ward, DB (LSU)
I like Ward as a versatile chess piece very late in the draft. Teams will question his weight as he played undersized from the safety position at LSU. Ward has played corner, nickel, and safety in college. He’s also had success on special teams in the past. This makes a lot of sense in Round 6 where you get the versatility the Bills covet so much along with a player who brings tenacity at the point of contact. Ward is a player I could actually see contributing in the secondary at one point or another in the future while providing special times value early on in his career.
One position I wish was addressed in this mock is defensive tackle, but I could never find the point for the right fit. This class has a fair bit of tweeners and, after the Ed Oliver experience, I think the team may look to find physical prospects who are more imposing on a down-to-down basis. The Buffalo Bills remain a deep team that needs to find value wherever they can. This mock does that in multiple different ways. Thoughts, Bills Mafia?