Here they come—this year’s Bills draft picks are one week away from their first appearance on the field in Buffalo.The Bills start their rookie minicamp Friday, May 11—a three-day camp to introduce the draft picks and undrafted rookies to Buffalo, the Bills playbook and life in the NFL. Before they get to town, here’s a guess on the possible impact the rookie draft picks will have on the roster:
First round draft pick Josh Allen will start as number three on the three-man QB depth chart when he arrives next week. GM Brandon Beane made that clear earlier this week. The Bills plan on giving all three quarterbacks currently on the roster a chance to win the starting job in the months ahead.
That’s the plan, according to GM Brandon Beane.
“The great thing for Josh is that bringing A.J. [McCarron] here, who has NFL experience, who has won at every level he’s been at except the pros because he’s been mainly a backup, and then I think Nathan Peterman, he’s not scared of the challenge so I think that’ll give Josh the time to come in and learn from these guys. There’s going to be competition. There’s going to be a very competitive room in there.”
And if Josh Allen surprises everyone and looks ready to play, the Bills are ready to adjust their plan.
“We’re not going to rush him,” Beane says, “but if he somehow wins the job then he wins it.“
Buffalo’s other first round draft pick looks to have a legitimate crack at the starting lineup. Tremaine Edmunds played “mike” linebacker for the most part at Virginia Tech and there appears to be a need at that position for the Bills.
Edmunds will likely get an early look at the MLB spot, but he’s ready to go anywhere he’s needed.
“Well, in my opinion, I’m an athletic guy; I’m a versatile player, I can move around,” Edmunds said last week. “Any of those linebacker spots, I really feel like I can play. Just coming off stack linebacker, kind of going sideline to sideline. Just find a way to get to the ball.”
If he stays in the middle, Edmunds would compete with second year LBs Tanner Vallejo and Xavier Woodson-Luster. Vallejo, Buffalo’s 6th round pick a year ago, was a backup in 15 games last year, seeing most of his action on special teams. Woodson-Luster played most of last year with the Raiders.
Third round pick Harrison Phillips will likely see plenty of snaps in a suddenly-deep rotation at defensive tackle for the Bills.
Phillips is slated to back up Star Lotulelei inside, but he’s likely to see plenty of snaps in a healthy rotation of Bills DTs.
“He’s more of what we’ll call one technique,” said Bills Coach Sean McDermott. “[He’s] extremely strong, which is important to anchor down the middle of our defense, run defense, [and] the power that goes along with that.”
The Bills have Kyle Williams and Lotulelei ready to line up on the interior of the defensive line now, with Phillips, and young veterans Adolphus Washington, Tenny Palepoi, and Rickey Hatley behind them. They’ll have plenty of options to choose from on the inside.
Fourth round draft pick Taron Johnson steps into a cornerback depth chart that has had some significant turnover. Veterans E.J. Gaines, Shareece Wright and Leonard Johnson combined for a total of 23 starts among them last year. They’re all gone.
Johnson, from Weber State, is expected to contend for the nickel corner spot that Johnson held down last season (making seven starts as the third CB). Tre White will try to pick up where he left off after his sensational rookie season and former Dolphins 1st rounder Vontae Davis is expected to take over on the other side.
Unrestricted free agent signee Phillip Gaines and two returning CBs, Lafayette Pitts and Breon Borders, are also expected to compete for snaps.
The picture at safety is much more familiar with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer back to start. 5th round pick Siran Neal will provide depth and a shot of youthful vitality to the safety position. McDermott says Neal’s drive impressed him when they met at the Senior Bowl in January, and his size (6-0, 206 pounds) provides the Bills with some versatility on how to use him.
“He offers flexibility,” McDermott says. “We’re going to get him in here in a couple weeks and see, really, where we want to put him first.
A couple of unexpected retirements have opened up vacancies and opportunity in the middle of the Bills offensive line.
5th round draft pick Wyatt Teller from Virginia Tech has the potential to step in and get significant snaps at guard this year, maybe even a starting job.
Ryan Groy and John Miller return to the Bills, as does last year’s starter at RG, Vlad Ducasse. But Teller’s three years as an OL starter for the Hokies, and his weight room excellence, make him a player to watch once practice begins. The Bills seem determined to find him a spot.
“He’s played tackle, he’s played guard, we see him probably his first position here as a guard,” Brandon Beane said after drafting Teller. “We like him, we think he’s going to come in here and compete, and we’re happy. Again, he provides us depth and he’ll get to come in here and compete and who knows what will happen.”
Bills Draft Picks' Careers in Photos
Check out photos from Buffalo's 2018 NFL Draft picks from rounds three through seven.
The Bills went into the draft with needs at wide receiver and they came out of it with two of them. But they seem to be two different styles of wideouts who probably have two different paths to significant playing time.
6th rounder Ray-Ray McCloud from Clemson may get his best shot as a return specialist. He had 50-career punt returns for 485 yards in college.
Fellow 7th rounder Austin Proehl measures up as a likely candidate for the slot receiver position joining free agent signee Jeremy Kerley.
The Bills have 11 WRs on the roster as of now, and only three of them (Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Andre Holmes) logged significant playing time with Buffalo last year.