The Bills walked away from the 2020 NFL Draft with some talented players despite not having a first round pick due to the trade for Stefon Diggs. Surely their first few picks will play a role on this year's team, but who will make an immediate impact? Who will have the biggest role? Here are four rookies who might make an impact on the team right away.
DE A.J. Epenesa
A.J. Epenesa was the first pick from the Bills 2020 draft. Epenesa was drafted in the second round with the 54th overall pick. Many argued the defensive end should have been drafted in the first round and was the obvious best available at the time Buffalo was on the clock. After drafting Epenesa, it was easy to see how genuinely excited the coaching staff was to grab a player with that type of talent outside of the first 32.
Buffalo will definitely have a plan to use the defensive lineman in his first season. He is capable of having an impact based off of his versatility. The coaching staff has made it clear that Epenesa will be used on the inside and the outside, with his size being used as an advantage.
On "What’s Next with Eric Wood?" former Bill and current Bills radio analyst Eric Wood's podcast, McDermott described what he would like to see from Epenesa in his rookie year.
"In a perfect world, he'll play a backup position the first season, potentially to move inside on rush situations," McDermott said. "That's asking a lot at this point. Learning as you know, learning two positions just in your first season and adjusting all the while to life in the NFL is a challenge. So, we'll just focus on one position for now. But the more he can do, the better for us and for his future."
The Iowa product was a force on the outside in college, racking up 26.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and eight passes defended. Epenesa will get the opportunity to showcase his length, power and quickness in year one.
RB Zack Moss
Few draft analysts predicted the Bills would draft a running back higher than the fourth or fifth round after drafting Devin Singletary in the third round last year. That all changed when running back Zack Moss was still available in the third round. With the departure of Frank Gore, a running back who could replace his style of play and workload made total sense. Turn on Moss' tape and you'll quickly figure out why the Bills couldn't do without him.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll thinks Moss will bring a certain type of toughness to the team.
"Zack was a very productive," Daboll said. "He really did a good job on his college tape demonstrating some of the qualities that we're looking for in a running back. He's tough, hard-nosed, downhill guy that for being a bigger body guy still has the ability to make people miss in short spaces. We really, really like that the toughness that he ran with."
Moss will be used in a way where he can have an immediate influence. The Bills need someone who can get tough yards whether that be in the red zone or short yardage situations. The Utah product can be that guy. Moss broke several records at Utah including touchdowns with 38, racking up 4,067 career rushing yards and totaling 18 games where he rushed for 100 yards or more.
With this opportunity, the rookie will not just help himself. Moss' skillset complements Singletary. The former Utah star will take care of getting those tough yards up the middle, while Singletary uses his vision and speed to break off big run plays.
WR Gabriel Davis
If you look at the Bills wide receiver group from last season there was an obvious need heading into 2020. No, not Stefon Diggs. It was the need for size. John Brown was the tallest out of the starters at 5-11. In the fourth round of the draft Buffalo addressed this need by picking Gabriel Davis. The wide receiver is 6-2 and adds another wrinkle to the offense.
"Big player, vertical stretch, can go up, high point the ball, [catch] contested balls," general manager Brandon Beane said. "And again, a size guy. He's a strong guy. He's got some run after catch. We just liked the way he competes, thought he had a really good year. I thought his hands were one of his strong points."
Heading into the offseason, it was obvious the Bills needed to score more points. Davis is a red zone target who knows how to score. When Davis gets the opportunity he can prove why he's a necessary weapon on offense. The former UCF player amassed 2,447 receiving yards on 152 receptions. He scored 23 times and average 16.1 yards per reception during his collegiate career. Davis addresses a physical need, and with the ability to be a big play receiver, can help Josh Allen be more productive in his third season.
K Tyler Bass
One pick many of us didn't expect during the draft was a kicker. But there's a reason behind every one of Beane's picks. The Bills drafted Tyler Bass in the sixth round with the 188th overall pick. Beane explained they drafted Bass because of his leg strength, which is a necessity in Buffalo.
Not too quick though, it's not Bass' job. Special teams coordinator Heath Farwell made it clear there would be a competition for the starting spot.
"It's going to be a great competition because they both bring different things," Farwell said. "It's Steve's [Hauschka] accuracy, we love where he's at inside 49 yards. His leadership, his big kicks in playoff games, that's a big thing that he brings. Then you have a young player like Tyler who is loaded with talent. He has a lot of ton of upside, but he's got to prove it in the preseason and training camp."
Bass showed off his strength during the Senior Bowl, which turned a lot of heads. He played at Georgia Southern where he went 54 of 68 on field goal attempts, completing 79.4% of his field goals. Bass' longest field goal was from 50 yards. The kicker has shown his potential, and he will get the chance to prove he can be consistent by competing for the starting job. If Bass wins the job he will be expected to make an immediate impact come Week 1.