Some of the best players in college football will take the field today for the Senior Bowl (2:30 PM, NFL Network). The Buffalo Bills will be watching closely as many of these players are on Buffalo’s draft radar. Here are five of my favorite players in the game that Bills fans should watch closely.
Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
The Bills need help at inside linebacker and Ragland is the best ILB in college football. If you’ve ever watched any Alabama games this season, Ragland was everywhere on the field. In Buffalo, Ragland would be an instant starter and the team’s best inside linebacker.
Ragland is a three down linebacker but questions have come up in regards to his speed. His 40-yard dash time at the combine and at Alabama’s pro day will be monitored closely. Here’s a look at Ragland against his teammate during a blitz pickup drill. Drake never stood a chance.
If Buffalo re-signs Nigel Bradham or pursues Demario Davis in free agency, it’s possible that the Bills decide against taking an inside linebacker early in the draft. That said, neither player has the skillset of Ragland. The Alabama product is a terrific open field tackler and his instincts are second to none.
Projected round: 1st
Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
Miller is one of my favorite prospects in this draft class and seemed like an ideal target for the Bills in the second or third round of the draft. Unfortunately for the Bills, Miller has put on a show this week at Senior Bowl practices. Despite only transitioning over to wide receiver this season, Miller has shown excellent footwork and route running this week. Miller has been a human highlight reel this week.
Don’t be surprised if he’s the second wide receiver taken in the draft this year.
In Buffalo, Miller would be Buffalo’s No. 2 wide receiver. He has the athletic ability to take pressure off of Sammy Watkins and Greg Roman could also utilize him as a rusher and passer on gadget plays. Miller has the ability to develop into a superstar in the NFL. Call him (a healthy) Percy Harvin version 2.0.
Projected round: 1st-2nd
Noah Spence, EDGE, Eastern Kentucky
Rex Ryan would love to add another edge rusher like Spence. Talent-wise, Spence is a top 15 player. However, he may fall out of that range as there’s some risk to drafting Spence. Spence failed two drug tests while he was at Ohio State. With that said, a talented player like Spence won’t fall too far down in the draft.
This year, Spence played as a 4-3 DE at Eastern Kentucky and finished the season with 11.5 sacks. At Ohio State, Spence played DE and OLB in their 3-4 defense.
Spence’s skillset makes him an option for the Bills at pick 19. If Buffalo were to pass on Spence, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Jets take him one pick later.
Projected round: 1st- 2nd
Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
Butler has had a great week at the Senior Bowl. Even before his outstanding practices this week, Butler drew comparisons to Mo Wilkerson from Josh Norris of Rotoworld and NBC Sports.
There’s no telling what the Bills think of Butler, but if Rex Ryan agrees with Norris’ assessment, Buffalo could pounce on him early in the draft. Butler moves extremely well considering his size (6’4”, 325 lb) and reportedly showed tremendous speed at practice this week and no one can question his power.
If Butler is on the board when the Bills pick in the second round, he may be the choice.
Projected round: 2nd
KJ Dillon, S, West Virginia
Dillon really opened up some eyes at the Senior Bowl this week. In my eyes, he’s still a day three pick in the 2016 NFL draft, but it may be early in day three now. The West Virginia product had 20 passes defensed in the last two seasons and five interceptions. He looks the part on the field and has shown good athleticism in his career and at the Senior Bowl.
Here’s a look at Dillon (29) laying the boom on Tyler Ervin this week.
Dillon describes himself as “savage” so it sounds like he’d fit right in with the Bills as this is a name the secondary has used to describe themselves.
Buffalo has some questions at safety. Aaron Williams has been cleared to play but is uncertain as to what his future holds. He said he’ll know after he takes his first hit at training camp. In addition to Williams, the Bills have Corey Graham and Bacarri Rambo. The team certainly needs to add some depth and talent at safety and Dillon would be a great option. In Buffalo, Dillon would get coached by Ed Reed, one of the best safeties in NFL history.
Projected round: 4th-5thnull