Compensatory picks have been issued and the Buffalo Bills now have eight picks in the 2016 NFL draft. Although the team hasn’t been very active in free agency, the Bills kept their offensive line intact by bringing back Cordy Glenn and Richie Incognito. While the line will remain in place, Buffalo has lost some starters and depth that will need to be addressed in the draft. Keeping that in mind, here’s a look at Buffalo Football Report’s Bills Mock Draft Version 4.0.
1(19) Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
This is the second time that Coleman lands as Buffalo’s top choice in the 2016 NFL draft. Talent-wise, you can argue that Coleman is the best wide receiver in this year’s draft class. The wide receiver is a playmaker with blazing speed. Coleman can create separation on the field and adds value as a possible return man. At the combine, Coleman showed off a 40.5 inch vertical just two months out of sports hernia surgery. In the NFL, he’ll keep defenses honest.
Why should Buffalo target a wide receiver in round one? This year’s class isn’t nearly as deep at the position and it’s well known that this year’s draft class is superior on the defensive side of the ball. Plenty of defensive talent will fall down the draft board into the second and third rounds, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a receiver as talented as Coleman at pick 49 or 80. Buffalo is looking for a No. 2 WR and the team isn’t necessarily sold on Robert Woods. The former USC product will also be a free agent after the 2016 season and it’s possible that he leaves in free agency. Adding Coleman gives Buffalo an affordable complement to Watkins for the next four to five seasons.
2(49) Austin Johnson, NT, Penn State
Johnson is another returning candidate from a previous mock draft. As mentioned above, this year’s draft class is loaded with defensive talent and a player like Johnson will fall simply due to talent around him.
Johnson is a talented nose tackle who can take on blockers and free things up for linebackers behind him. He’s not a true pass rushing option but he’s strong against the run.
In Buffalo, Johnson would compete to start at nose tackle immediately. A defensive front involving Johnson and Marcell Dareus would make things very difficult up front for opposing offenses.
3(80) Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State
Yes, another returning mock draft player. Fackrell’s draft stock is all over the place but he’s fallen into the third round on multiple draft sites. The biggest knock against Fackrell is that he’ll turn 25 in November, which is old for a rookie. That said, Fackrell proved to be a talented edge rusher in Utah State’s 3-4 defense. That’s certainly an area that Buffalo is looking for in the draft.
Fackrell has been praised for his athleticism at Utah State. In addition to rushing the passer, he has experience dropping into coverage. At 6’5” and 245 pounds, Fackrell already has a solid NFL frame. In addition to his frame, Fackrell ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds and showed off a 34.5 inch vertical jump.
In Buffalo’s 3-4 defense, Fackrell can do everything that Rex Ryan looks for in an edge rusher. He can get after the quarterback (36 career TFL and 13 sacks in three seasons) and he’s willing to drop into coverage. If Fackrell lasts until the third round, the Bills would be getting a potential steal of the draft.
4(117) Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Buffalo has already stated that they’re adding another quarterback to their roster but they shouldn’t waste one of their top three picks on a QB. Obviously, that means that the Bills won’t get any of the top tier quarterbacks and at this point, Dak Prescott, a QB the Bills really seem to like, may be off the board. That could leave Buffalo looking at Jones.
At Ohio State’s Pro Day, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and QBs coach David Lee watched Jones closely.
In Buffalo, Jones could sit behind Tyrod Taylor while learning Roman’s offense. In terms of positives, Jones is athletic, has a rocket for an arm, and has the size you look for in QB (6’5”, 250 pounds). The biggest knock on the QB is his accuracy. This may make Bills fans think of EJ Manuel, but the Bills aren’t looking at Jones in the first round. In round four, Jones is a project quarterback that Buffalo can develop.
4(139) T.J. Green, S, Clemson
Buffalo has shown plenty of interest in Clemson players. Rex Ryan likes Clemson players and knows plenty about the roster as his son plays for the team.
Green is an intriguing prospect. He stands in at 6’2” and 210 pounds, which is tall for a safety. However, he’s also a terrific athlete. Green is a former wide receiver and showed off good speed by running the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds. His speed will allow him to cover quite a bit of ground on the field. In Buffalo, Green wouldn’t be put in a spot to contribute immediately on defense. He could sit and learn from players such as Corey Graham and Aaron Williams, as well as coach Ed Reed. As a rookie, Green could contribute on special teams.
5(156) James Bradberry, CB, Samford
Bradberry’s size (6’1”) stands out instantly. He has long arms (33 3/8”) and used the press technique often at Samford. He’s a physical cornerback and is worth a shot in round five.
There are questions about the competition Bradberry faced at Samford and some scouts believe he’d be better as a safety in the NFL.
Best case scenario? Bradberry proves he can fill in as a valuable depth at cornerback for the Bills. Worst case scenario? He’s moved to safety.
6(192) Jared Norris, LB, Utah
Look for the Bills to address inside linebacker in free agency by signing a veteran. However, adding a rookie late as a project isn’t the worst idea for the Bills. Norris had a strong career at Utah and racked up 269 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and seven sacks in his four seasons.
In the NFL, Norris projects as a 3-4 ILB but he has his limitations as an athlete. In round six, it’s okay to take a shot on a player like Norris.
6(218) Nick Ritcher, OT, Richmond
Drafting the son of a former Bills lineman? In round six, there’s no reason why Buffalo shouldn’t consider the move. Ritcher, a large man at 6’5” and 304 pounds, is coming off of a season where he was named an American Football Coaches Association All-American, an AP FCS First-Team All-American, and a STATS Third-Team All American.
Buffalo’s right tackle competition is open and there’s an outside chance that the rookie could win the job. More realistically, he could compete for a depth role or work on his game on Buffalo’s practice squad.