Buffalo will be back.
Who could fathom the turn-around quarterback Josh Allen has endured in his three seasons with the Buffalo Bills? From a questionable bust to a Pro Bowl selection and an MVP candidate in 2020, Allen has become one of the NFL’s young-guns who now has Buffalo as one of the AFC’s prime contenders for seasons to come.
The acquisition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs loomed larger than life for head coach Sean McDermott, who, alongside coveted offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, developed one of the league’s top quarterback-receiver duos. As Allen’s WR1, Diggs led the league in receiving yards (1,535) and receptions (127), proving just how lethal a weapon he is on the outside.
At the end of the day, the Bills have now officially entered the offseason after their first AFC Championship Game in almost three decades. So with that, using our Mock Draft Machine, I looked at which prospects Buffalo could target this April when the annual NFL draft rolls around. Here is my seven-round mock, including scheme fit, on each prospect:
Round 1 (No. 30 overall): Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
In this situation, I see Alex Leatherwood at right tackle taking over for stop-gap Daryl Williams. There are questions looming up front for Buffalo, and as I did with the Los Angeles Rams, the Bills must address the lack of talent on the offensive line to protect their most important asset: Allen.
How he fits: Dion Dawkins just re-upped to protect Allen’s blindside for the foreseeable future. Inside, 2019 second-round selection Cody Ford is primed to return and should sure up the interior alongside Mitch Morse—if he returns—creating one of the more experienced units in the AFC East. Leatherwood fits the mold in Buffalo. He’s tough. He touts elite collegiate experience, and he’s versatile if needed to slide inside to guard or move opposite to left tackle. His only knocks have come on his lower-half where he lacks ideal mobility and quickness. But with Allen’s ability to maneuver in the pocket, I don’t see any issues that would cause general manager Brandon Beane to go elsewhere if Leatherwood is on the board here.
Round 2 (No. 62 overall): Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
I’m not sold on Shaun Wade out of Ohio State. He continues to fall on my board, but Paulson Adebo, on the other hand, is rising. At 6-foot-1, he offers nice length to complement elite cover and ball skills.
How he fits: Tre'Davious White is a stud. However, on the other side, the Bills lack talent. Josh Norman has been thrown around since his arrival; Levi Wallace hasn’t shown the skills necessary to be a true CB2; and with that, an influx of youth will be welcomed within defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s unit. Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde make up an elite unit on the backend with White. With the addition of Adebo, a prospect who can work both in man and zone sufficiently, the Bills add talent to a position in need of many pieces this offseason.
Round 3 (No. 93 overall): Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
Baron Browning was also on the board here and as much as I wanted to go with Browning out of Ohio State, he’s more of a project than Monty Rice. At 6-foot-1, Rice provides average size at the position. He has an extremely athletic frame who doesn’t have many negatives in his game as a B-level defender. According to The Draft Network’s scout Drae Harris, Rice demonstrates a very good explosion in the 5-10 yard range as an inside rusher. He has good instincts to locate the football and good pop in his hips and hands. Although Rice lacks great length, he can disengage and defeat blocks with speed to get to the football.
How he fits: Tremaine Edmunds is a stud in the middle of Buffalo’s defense. Edmunds, a two-time Pro Bowl player, is still just 22. Matt Milano, on the other hand, has become one of the league’s most under-appreciated linebackers, but he’s expected to move on and garner a large pay-day outside of Buffalo via free agency. Enter Rice, who will be an immediate impact player for Frazier’s unit. His ability to play the run, blitz, and cover, will see him become a fan favorite (like Milano) in western New York.
Round 5 (No. 160 overall): Marlon Williams, WR, UCF
Outside of Allen and Diggs, there is no one defenses have to prepare for within Buffalo’s offense. Cole Beasley outplayed himself in 2020, earning a second-team All-Pro selection along the way. Marlon Williams offers a typical mold in a true WR2. His frame is NFL-ready at 6-foot, 222 pounds, and his game looks to be too.
How he fits: He has elite hands complimented with yards-after-catch ability not replicated by many of his stature within this draft class. Opposite Diggs with Beasley in the slot, Williams’ addition offers Allen another weapon to use at his expense.
Round 5 (No. 173 overall): Joshua Kaindoh, EDGE, Florida State
How much juice does Jerry Hughes have left in the tank? Joshua Kaindoh is a force at 6-foot-7. He’s wiry and agile, and questions have been raised regarding playing weight—he’s listed at just 247 pounds—but if he’s able to put it all together, the Bills have a steal here in the fifth.
How he fits: Kaindoh’s game is loaded with elite traits from a pass-rush perspective, but he’s not limited to his hand in the dirt. With his long strides, Kaidoh eats up ground in coverage and could excel in Frazier’s 4-3 scheme with the correct allotted reps.
Round 6 (No. 210 overall): Jimmy Morrissey, IOL, Pitt
Jimmy Morrissey, a former walk-on to team captain at Pitt, consistently won with his hands and power against some of the ACC’s top interior defensive lineman.
How he fits: Morrissey is a two-time All-Conference selection and could replace Morse if he does indeed leave in free agency. Morrissey offers prototypical size for an NFL center at 6-foot-3 with a clean, agile build at 300-pounds. He is rarely ever off-balance, and when his anchor is in, good luck getting by.
In 2020, the Bills enjoyed a slice as one of the AFC’s premier teams. Moving forward, with a productive rookie class, Buffalo could prove to be just a few additions away from enjoying the whole pie.