It is going to be interesting to see what the Buffalo Bills do, to say the least. After placing last in the division last year, and continuing their 15-year drought without a playoff appearance, the Buffalo faithful are desperate to see an improvement.
The Buffalo Bills have made under the radar movements in free agency to help plug certain holes on the roster, but needless to say, they still need a well-planned draft to improve this squad. The defense has taken a step back somewhat, while losing newly hired head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Mike Pettine, as their defensive coordinator. This does not also include the loss of possibly the best safety in the league, Jairus Byrd, in free agency to the New Orleans Saints. The Bills moved quickly to solve the issue with the hiring of former head coach of the Detroit Lions, Jim Schwartz, but does this really improve their overall defensive coaching? While at the helm of the Detroit Lions, Schwartz manned a somewhat underachieving defense in Detroit. Schwartz’s Tennessee days as a coordinator were not half bad, so only time will tell if the former head coach can really bolster the Buffalo Bills’ defense.
The Bills sought free agent middle linebacker, Brandon Spikes, in free agency to shore up their run defense, along with signing former New York Giants player Keith Rivers. Rivers is hardly the answer as strong side linebacker. As a former first-round pick by the Bengals, Rivers has failed to reach the 80 tackle mark in any season; he has only played a full season just once in his career. Spikes has been known to be a liability in pass defense, but still has room to grow in pass coverage, leaving Kiko Alonso their only one true three down linebacker on the team. As a rookie, Alonso established himself as one of the rising stars in the league, and as a core player the Buffalo Bills can build around for the future.
So, this leaves the NFL Draft Daily with a conundrum: Who is going to star alongside Alonso? It may be a little far-fetched that the NFL Draft Daily has this certain player not being selected until now, but one team’s loss is only the Bills to gain. That man is Khalil Mack, Mike Mayock’s number one overall player on his board.
It is a weird coincidence that Khalil Mack would stay in the city he played college football in, but this is not a prediction based on location. The Buffalo Bills can ill afford to pass up the biggest play maker left on the board with their pick. Mack has been nothing but productive, and nothing short of amazing, playing at the University of Buffalo. The guy has been a sack and turnover machine playing for the Bulls, and used his first senior game against Ohio State as his coming out party for anyone who had never heard of him before. Mack is purely built to star at the strong side position at linebacker and would become an adequate counterpart in pass coverage with Kiko Alonso. The Bills need to address multiple positions on the roster, like a franchise left tackle or a possible replacement for Byrd at the safety position. They may go many ways, as our projections are not bullet proof, but with the two top tackles on our list, Robinson and Matthews, already gone, that leaves Mack as the best player on the board for them.
The Buffalo Bills may use this position to trade back, or they may even take the third best tackle in the draft in Taylor Lewan. One of the few reasons we do not have Lewan as high on the board anymore is because of his recent field struggles, making it hard for any organization to pick him this high in the draft. Many reports have Buffalo Bills looking to running back depth, wide receiver depth, and a possible starting tight end. The Bills would be fortunate enough to have a possible tight end like Jace Amaro, drop to them in the second round or possible second or third rounders like Jimmie Ward or possibly a tackle like Richardson. Possibilities are endless for the Bills in the position, this arguably being one of the deepest drafts in years.
With many positions to fill and high picks to address them, look for Khalil Mack to become a potential difference maker if Mack falls far enough for the Bills to nab him.
This article is one in a series, published daily, providing analysis, insight and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman