Mock drafts don’t generally agree on an actual prospect for a team, especially a team that is selecting a player in the second half of the draft. That said, you’ll usually see some consistency in terms of positions for a team.
For the Buffalo Bills, many mock drafts have the Bills addressing their front seven. Defensive linemen, edge rushers, and inside linebackers have been linked to the Bills more than any other positions but these aren’t the only positions Buffalo could address in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.
Two positions that aren’t being talked about enough as possibilities for the Bills? Offensive tackle and cornerback. Although the front seven, or even wide receiver, makes the most sense for Buffalo, it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see Buffalo address these positions. Who could Buffalo target at tackle and cornerback at pick 19? Here are the likeliest options.
Jack Conklin, Michigan State
Conklin has been mocked to the Bills by some draft analysts, so it’s not as though he’d be a major surprise. However, not enough people are considering Conklin has a possible target for the Bills.
Look at any scouting report on Conklin and you’re likely to see words like “mauler” or “feisty” when describing the offensive tackle. Conklin’s skill-set also fits the Bills offense as he’s viewed as one of the best run blockers in the NFL draft.
Conklin is a great fit for Buffalo’s run first offense. In 2016, Conklin could compete against Seantrel Henderson, Jordan Mills, and Cyrus Kouandjio at right tackle. By 2017, Conklin could be the team’s starting left tackle. Buffalo placed the franchise tag on Cordy Glenn this offseason, but they could let Glenn walk next year if they feel he’s not worth the amount of money he’s asking for from the team.
The Bills are expected to have more than enough cap room to possibly extend Glenn, Stephon Gilmore, and Tyrod Taylor in 2017, but it doesn’t mean that all three will get large contracts from the Bills. Quarterback is obviously the most important position in football and on a Rex Ryan coached team, you could argue that Gilmore is more of a priority than Glenn. By drafting Conklin, Buffalo could improve their overall line play in 2016 and have a player waiting in the wings to possibly start at left tackle in 2017.
Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
Rex Ryan loves cornerbacks and he loves Clemson. Of course, these aren’t actual reasons that the Bills could target Alexander, but the cornerback’s skill-set could have him high on Buffalo’s big board.
Alexander was outstanding in coverage for Clemson. According to NFL.com, Alexander only allowed 29.6 percent of passes for completions and did not allow any touchdowns. He didn’t record any interceptions in his two seasons with the Tigers, but it’s clear that opposing teams didn’t have much success against the cornerback.
Currently, the Bills are short-handed at cornerback. Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby are a terrific starting duo, and the team has Nickell Robey and Mario Butler slotted as the nickel cornerback and top reserve. After those four corners, Buffalo has the following players: Bud Noel, Sammy Seamster, Cam Thomas, and Javier Arenas. That’s a bit worrisome and corner should certainly be addressed at some point in the draft.
By selecting Alexander in round one, the Bills instantly add to their talent at the position and could have the Clemson product compete for the starting nickel cornerback job.
Cornerback wouldn’t be a popular choice in round one, but it’d make plenty of sense for the Bills. Rex Ryan’s defenses need strong cornerback play and Alexander would only make the unit better.