*1 - Brooks latest mock following Bills and Jets trades *The past week has been busy for the AFC East, as both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets made separate trades to move up in the 2018 NFL Draft. For the time being, the Jets first pick will be third overall and the Bills will be at No. 12.
In wake of these maneuvers up the draft board, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks revealed his mock draft 3.0. Brooks' top-five picks were: Sam Darnold (Browns), Quenton Nelson (Giants), Josh Rosen (Jets), Saquon Barkley (Browns), and Denzel Ward (Broncos).
Darnold to Cleveland was the first quarterback off the board, Rosen to the NYJ was the second QB taken, and then Buffalo with the 12th pick was the next team to take a signal-caller. At No. 12, Brooks projects the Bills will take Josh Allen from Wyoming.
Allen, a 6-5, 233-pound QB, is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft. In his three years (2015-2017) at Wyoming, he showed that he has the tools to be a tremendous option behind center in the NFL.
In 27 career collegiate games, Allen threw for 5,066 yards, 44 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. Even with his large stature, on the ground he added 237 carries for 767 yards and 12 TDs.
Here's what Brooks had to say about Buffalo bulking up at the QB position with the 12th overall pick.
The Bills might have to climb into the top five to get their guy, but in this scenario, Allen falls to them outside of the top 10. The Wyoming standout flashes some Cam Newton-like playmaking skills as an athletic passer with A-plus arm talent.
After making Allen a member of the Bills, the team still owns the 22nd overall pick in the draft. Brooks thinks Buffalo will lean towards taking a linebacker, and in this case he has them selecting Rashaan Evans out of Alabama.
Evans spent four seasons (2014-2017) at 'Bama and won the College Football Playoff National Championship in two of those years. In 42 career games with the Crimson Tide, he had 150 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks, five passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
This is what Brooks had to say about adding Evans after the Bills lost a LB in free agency.
*The Bills need to find a rugged tackling machine to fill the void created by Preston Brown's departure. *
The addition of Allen and Evans would immediately better Buffalo's roster for the coming season. After those selections, the team still owns picks No. 53, 56, 65, 96, 121, 166, and 187 in this year's draft.
2 - Lotulelei landing with Bills labeled a perfect fitArguably the Bills biggest free agent addition was Star Lotulelei, a 6-2, 315-pound defensive tackle. He'll anchor a defensive line that's looking to improve from a season ago.
Lotulelei was listed in ESPN's '10 NFL free agents who landed in perfect spots.' Here's what ESPN staff writer Matt Bowen had to say about the Bills bringing in a premier DT.
*Landing Lotulelei is a bonus for the Bills, who re-signed veteran leader Kyle Williams on the defensive front. In 2017, the Bills ranked No. 29 in rushing defense, giving up an average of 124.6 yards per game. *
Leading up to Lotulelei's signing with the Bills, he spent five seasons (2013-2017) in Carolina with the Panthers. In 76 career games (75 starts), he recorded 150 tackles, 11.5 sacks, five passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
What doesn't necessarily show up on the stat sheet is Lotulelei's importance in run defense. In his final three seasons in Carolina, two of which Bills head coach Sean McDermott was the defensive coordinator, the Panthers were a top-six unit in defending the run.
Bowen had this to say about what Lotulelei will bring at the center of Buffalo's defensive line.
*With Lotulelei, Buffalo gets a 312-pound space-eater in the middle of the defense to plug running lanes and eat up blockers. Let those linebackers run and finish. *
*Plus, after playing for Bills coach Sean McDermott in Carolina, expect Lotulelei to be put in a position that maximizes his impact in the game plan. This is a smart signing by the Bills at a position of need that is directly tied to improving their porous run defense.
With the 2018 free agency period officially open, here's a look at Buffalo's pickups.
3 - What's Buffalo's smartest offseason decision so far?The Bills have made a bunch of moves this offseason and have given fans plenty to be excited about. However, which decision is being viewed as the smartest with the new NFL league year well underway?
Bleacher Report listed every NFL team's smartest offseason decision so far. For the Bills, they believe the best decision was moving up in the 2018 NFL Draft.
How can you blame them? The Bills climbed up significantly further in the first-round, while holding onto both picks in round one. In addition, they have two second-round selections, two third-round picks, and a pick in rounds four, five, and six.
Here's what Ian Wharton of B/R had to say about Buffalo's intriguing amount of draft capital.
*It's been a strong offseason for the Buffalo Bills as the new regime looks to put its fingerprints on the roster rebuild. Trading incumbent quarterback Tyrod Taylor and left tackle Cordy Glenn freed up $15.9 million in cap space… But the assets they acquired in those two trades were just as important, as the 12th overall pick and third-round pick in the draft will help them land their franchise quarterback. *
Armed with six of the top 96 selections, Buffalo has plenty of assets to get into the top four and grab one of the best signal-caller prospects… There's not much to dislike about the Bills' strategy thus far.
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