The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft is complete, and the Buffalo Bills have added a shiny new edge rusher to their collection, selecting Clemson end Shaq Lawson with the No. 19 overall pick.
Lawson was a major talent boost for this defense, but there are still significant holes in the roster that need filling. Luckily, the way the draft board has fallen is very favorable to the team. With the Bills having the No. 18 pick in the second round of the draft, here are 18 names that will be on Buffalo's radar tonight as they make their next selection.
1. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Potentially the most talented player in this draft, Jack could be a massive upgrade to Buffalo's linebacking corps. The catch: He has a degenerating injury in his knee which is expected to require microfracture surgery (among the riskiest surgeries for an athlete to undergo) at some point in the next few years. That red flag is the reason he fell below Lawson on Buffalo's board, and why he's down in the second round. If the team thinks his value mitigates the risk in round two, he's the best possible addition.
2. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Same type of situation, different specifics. The 6'2" 240 pound Smith, when healthy, is even more fluid around the field than Jack, and would be a potentially elite coverage linebacker in the NFL. A knee injury that also caused nerve damage is not expected to end with long term problems, but it is expected to take up to the entire 2016 season to rehab. The Bills did say that Smith was on their radar depending on injury news at their pre-draft luncheon.
3. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
It's very likely we see Cook's name called early tonight, with both the Cleveland Browns (picking first) and the Dallas Cowboys (picking third) looking to add a quarterback to the roster. If he fell to Buffalo's pick, it could be that his leadership concerns are very real, but he's by far the most polished and talented quarterback left on the board.
4. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Ragland was in line for Buffalo's first round pick yesterday, and he should still be in the cards today. A concerning medical report leaked yesterday that said Ragland has an enlarged aorta in his heart. That should affect his playing career, but it would just need to be a situation he monitors over the years. That, combined with Ragland's somewhat limited scheme fit, contributed to his fall. If he landed with the Bills, he'd give them their own version of David Harris.
5. Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Having added one talented athlete to the defensive front seven, you have to be thinking that Rex Ryan is salivating at the thought of the 6'6" 310 pounder who can play anywhere from nose tackle to five-technique end joining his roster. Jones is a former five-star recruit and has the athletic talent to show it, but inconsistency in college dropped him out of the first round. The Bills brought in his teammate Dak Prescott for a pre-draft visit.
6. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
While Jones represents the maximum upside available, Reed is the paragon of block eating and run defense. The team was clearly interested in him, as Tyler Dunne's pre-draft profile suggested, but they ultimately passed on him to take the player with pass-rushing ability first. If Reed is still on the board, he would give them a two-gapping defensive lineman who could rotate around the line with the team's talented veterans.
7. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Another victim of the numbers game on draft day, Alexander is a very talented cornerback who never allowed a touchdown in college. He's available on day two because of his less-than-ideal 5'10" stature and the fact that he also failed to record an interception at Clemson. Could the team double-dip on Tigers to start their draft?
8. A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Often playing next to Reed, Robinson is considered to have more athleticism, a little more pass rushing upside, albeit with less polish. He'd be yet another versatile, two-gap lineman that the Bills could add to their roster in round two.
9. Su'a Cravens, LB, USC
The Bills spoke highly of Cravens at their pre-draft luncheon, calling him a "four down player." His versatility and size could make him the player they want playing next to Brown on Sundays.
10. Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor
Sensing a theme yet? There are a lot of talented defensive tackles on the board with a specialty in run stuffing. Billings is a bit short, standing only six-foot-even, but is a champion weight lifter and fairly nimble for his build.
11. Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
If the team is still looking for a safety after missing out on Karl Joseph, they still have options available. Thompson is another skilled turnover generator that can play the run or the pass, and would instantly upgrade their safety position. The team interviewed his teammate Kamalei Correa at the Combine.
12. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
If Thompson's not quite their preference, the team brought this Ohio State safety in for a pre-draft visit. He was a key cog of the team's excellent defense for the last several years.
13. Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
Here's a defensive tackle with a little more pass rushing upside. The 6'3", 300 pounder played a few different defensive line positions at Ohio State. He saw his most success as a pass rushing three technique. His athletic upside is limited, but he was a pre-draft visitor to the team, so he's clearly on their radar.
14. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Bills were connected with his brother Kyle a couple years ago, and some think the 6'0" 187 pound Kendall can be the better player. He's still young, still developing, and wasn't able to work out this offseason while rehabbing a meniscus injury. But he would give them some talented depth to develop behind Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby.
15. Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
One more nose tackle for you. Johnson is another big, powerful defensive tackle that would give the Bills a hole-clogger in the middle. If all else fails, stop the run, right?
16. Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State
Somewhat of an outside shot for round two, as Perry has usually been projected in the third or fourth round leading up to the draft. That said, some team might fall in love with his athleticism - a ten-foot-four broad jump and 4.68-40 time (at 6'4" 255 pounds) - and take him a little earlier than that.
17. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Round two is almost certainly too early to be grabbing the Ohio State quarterback, but he's definitely in play tonight. With the team bringing him in for a pre-draft visit and spending extra time with him at his pro day, there's interest here. Furthermore, the 6'5" 250 pound Jones is just the type of athlete the Bills have paid attention to in the past with Doug Whaley on board. Love him or hate him (or somewhere in between), the team is watching Jones closely.
18. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Loathe as I am to come to terms with the NFL's fascination with this tall, strong armed white QB who can adjust protections while failing at the actual parts of the game that need success (throwing the ball with accuracy), I can't deny that Hackenberg has been on the Bills' radar throughout the pre-draft process. There's a very real possibility we see him picked by Buffalo tonight, if not one of the other quarterbacks on this list.
- Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
- Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
- Kamalei Correa, DE, Boise State
- Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
These players are all solid talents, and have been connected to Buffalo in the pre-draft process, but the team's selection of Lawson, a pass rusher who could also flex to five-technique, likely crosses them off the list.