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NFL mock drafts rarely reflect reality

Lets compare mocks in recent years to Buffalo’s actual picks

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Fiesta Bowl - LSU v UCF Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 2023 NFL Draft arriving next week NFL analysts have started compiling their final mock drafts. Industry experts Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network along with ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay tend to publish some of the most-viewed mocks. There’s always debate over who each project to head to the Buffalo Bills. As always, there’s the group of fans that agree with those projections and of course those that think these analysts have no idea what they’re talking about.

Ahead of the draft, we felt it would be fun to look back at projections made by Jeremiah, Kiper, and McShay for the Bills’ first-round pick versus what the team actually did the last few seasons. We’ll leave out 2020 because Buffalo didn’t have a first-round pick after trading for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Spoiler alert: The main takeaway is that you never really know where the Buffalo Bills will go with their pick, and recent history shows general manager Brandon Beane straying from mock projections.


YEAR Actual Pick Daniel Jeremiah Todd McShay Mel Kiper
YEAR Actual Pick Daniel Jeremiah Todd McShay Mel Kiper
2022 CB Kaiir Elam RB Breece Hall RB Breece Hall CB Kaiir Elam
2021 DE Greg Rosseau CB Asante Samuel Jr. RB Travis Etienne CB Tyson Campbell
2020 None
2019 DE Ed Oliver TE T.J. Hockenson OT Jawaan Taylor G Jonah Williams
2018 QB Josh Allen/ LB Tremaine Edmunds QB Josh Allen OB Josh Allen/ G Isaiah Wynn QB Josh Rosen/CB Jaire Alexander
2017 CB Tre'Davious White S Jamal Adams LB Reuben Foster LB Haason Reddick

A couple of these years stand out for a various reasons. When you look at last year, Kiper was able to nail the Elam pick. However, there was a good chunk of Bills Mafia that agreed with Jeremiah and McShay, wanting Breece Hall. The explosive back is now with the New York Jets while Buffalo was able to snag a running back in Round 2 — that, of course, being James Cook.

2019 was a fun year because no one thought that Ed Oliver would fall to Buffalo, evidenced by the projections. Some felt Hockenson would have been a big addition to the offense at tight end, but the team did alright drafting Dawson Knox in the third round.

2018 was the year of the future for Buffalo, holding those two first-round picks with the team obviously using one of them on a certain quarterback. Jeremiah projected Allen but had the Bills trading up to do so and using their other first-round pick as a trade piece. McShay also had Allen going to Buffalo and had the other first-round pick being used on Isaiah Wynn. Kiper had Josh Rosen going to Buffalo because Allen was off the board at that point in his mock, and the other first rounder being used on Jaire Alexander. That certainly would have been intriguing looking back, if Buffalo had Tre’Davious White and Alexander on each side of the field.

Our look back ends with the 2017 NFL Draft, where the Bills traded back in the first round with the Kansas City Chiefs so KC could pick quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This draft paved the way for Brandon Beane to work his magic the following year, bringing quarterback Josh Allen to Buffalo in his first year as the team’s general manager. If Buffalo didn’t trade back in the first round, the mock picks weren’t really appealing aside for maybe Jamal Adams.