It sure feels like Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane sees an open window to compete with quarterback Josh Allen on a rookie contract and has made some aggressive moves this offseason to fortify the roster and build upon last year’s 10-win season.
Stefon Diggs has been added at the expense of the Bills’ first-round pick while Beane secured meaningful pieces to bolster the defensive line in Mario Addison, Quinton Jefferson and Vernon Butler.
Despite the Diggs’ trade, Buffalo is still armed with seven picks in the coming draft and enough salary cap space for a few more moves if Beane so chooses. Otherwise, there’s a fairly good chance that the bulk of roster construction has been completed and Buffalo can turn its attention to a class brimming with even more young talent that can be added to the mix.
Using our Mock Draft Machine, I generated the following scenario to tie a ribbon on Beane’s work to date this offseason.
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Round 2, Pick No. 54: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Beane has done a masterful job in free agency attacking needs and leaving very little necessary things to accomplish in the draft. But a meaningful running back to complement Devin Singletary is a must and Jonathan Taylor would be perfect. At 5-foot-10 and 226 pounds, Taylor is a physical runner but also brings rare explosiveness for his size, clocking a 4.39 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Taylor scored 55 touchdowns in three seasons at Wisconsin and would fill Beane’s need for a “touchdown maker.” A young running back platoon of Taylor and Singletary would give Buffalo one of the most dynamic backfields in the league.
Round 3, Pick No. 86: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
I’ve interviewed Bryce Hall on two different occasions, and it’s clear Sean McDermott is going to love him. Hall is a fit for Buffalo in every way. From his character and leadership to his ability as a zone corner who brings length, range, physicality and ball skills to the table, Hall has a chance to be a fixture opposite of Tre'Davious White.
Round 4, Pick No. 112: Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
TRADE: Buffalo moves up from No. 129, parting with No. 188
While Duke Williams is still in the mix, he needs competition as the size/catch radius player in the Bills’ receiving corps. Bryan Edwards provides exactly that. Edwards measures at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds and is fairly explosive and productive after the catch in addition to his alpha qualities at the catch point.
Round 5, Pick No. 167: Geno Stone, S, Iowa
The Bills feature one of the NFL’s top safety tandems in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde but the depth behind them can be improved. Geno Stone is one of my favorite sleepers in this year’s class. His processing skills are outstanding in deep zone coverage. Stone is physical and profiles well in Buffalo’s zone defense.
Round 6, Pick No: 207: Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M
The Bills haven’t had a decent punter since 2012 when Brian Moorman left and even then his game was in decline. Corey Bojorquez is highly inconsistent and Buffalo squanders way too many opportunities to flip the field positioning and pin teams deep because of Bojorquez’s erratic leg. Braden Mann has a chance to be the long-term answer for the Bills, who need to shore up the little things as they are primed to compete.
Round 7, Pick No. 239: Joe Reed, WR, Virginia
Joe Reed is another one of my favorite sleeper prospects in this year’s class. He measures at 6-foot, 224 pounds and clocked a 4.47 40-yard dash with a 38-inch vertical jump to showcase his explosive athletic profile for his size. Reed is an accomplished kick returner in college who took five to the house, caught 129 passes and logged 24 rushing attempts. He is a multifaceted weapon who hasn’t mastered any one position but he would be perfect for an upgrade to the Isaiah McKenzie role in Brian Daboll’s offense. Reed would thrive as a space player that offers some down field receiving upside while presenting a big body for Allen. Reed claimed a bigger role every year for Virginia and could develop into a multifaceted playmaker at the next level.
Bills Mid-Free Agency 55-Man Roster Projection
Quarterback (2): Josh Allen, Matt Barkley
Running Back (4): Devin Singletary, Jonathan Taylor (R), Taiwan Jones, Patrick DiMarco
Wide Receiver (7): Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Andre Roberts, Robert Foster, Bryan Edwards (R), Joe Reed (R)
Tight End (4): Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Tommy Sweeney, Lee Smith
Offensive Tackle (4): Dion Dawkins, Cody Ford, Ty Nsekhe, Ryan Bates
Interior Offensive Line (5): Mitch Morse, Quinton Spain, Jon Feliciano, Spencer Long, Ike Boettger
Defensive End (4): Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Trent Murphy, Darryl Johnson
Defensive Tackle (5): Ed Oliver, Star Lotulelei, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler, Harrison Phillips
Linebacker (6): Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, A.J. Klein, Corey Thompson, Tyler Matakevich, Vosean Joseph
Cornerback (6): Tre'Davious White, Levi Wallace, Josh Norman, Bryce Hall (R), Taron Johson, Siran Neal
Safety (5): Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Jaquan Johnson, Dean Marlowe, Geno Stone (R)
Specialists (3): Stephen Hauschka (K), Braden Mann (P), Reid Ferguson (LS)