Draft Coverage

How will Buffalo's 2020 NFL draft plans shift after free agency

BBMKT-04329 - 2020 NFL Draft - Pick Order Graphic-Update_V2

The Buffalo Bills offseason to-do list following the 2019 campaign had scoring more points on offense at the top. Ranking 30th and 23rd in points per game the last two seasons, they knew they needed to add a dynamic point producer who could lift a passing game that ranked 31st and 26th in 2018 and 2019 into the top half of the league.

So general manager Brandon Beane swung big to land an elite receiver in Stefon Diggs with a trade that had the Bills part with their first-round pick this year along with a fifth and sixth in 2020.

Buffalo successfully filled a sizable void in their passing attack. Diggs' 23 touchdowns the last three seasons is tied for fifth-highest in the league over that span.

But acquisitions of this magnitude come at a price, and now Beane and his college scouting staff must recalibrate their approach to the 2020 NFL draft knowing their work likely won't even begin until day two.

What's still in the draft bank?

Buffalo went from nine total selections in the 2020 draft to seven after the Diggs trade, with the Bills getting a seventh rounder back from Minnesota.

Their first pick is in round two at 54th overall, followed by pick 86 in round three. After that their remaining five selections sit in rounds four through seven (128, 167, 188, 207, 239).

It's enough day three draft capital to move up or down the board a bit as Beane has been known to do in the last two drafts he's overseen for the Bills. But major moves are not likely to be in the cards.

"To me, I think you look at Buffalo right now, they don't really need a lot. I mean on paper they're right there where they need to be. They were a playoff team last year." ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper

What positional holes remain for Buffalo?

Up until late last week Buffalo was in need of some depth at cornerback and at offensive tackle, but those were addressed to some degree with cornerback E.J. Gaines and offensive lineman Daryl Williams in free agency.

"To me, I think you look at Buffalo right now, they don't really need a lot," said ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper. "I mean on paper they're right there where they need to be. They were a playoff team last year. They certainly have helped Josh Allen with the addition of Diggs. Another offensive tackle certainly wouldn't hurt to put into that mix there. Maybe a running back at some point. There's some depth at that position in the draft as well."

What is not known is whether the Bills see Williams as more of a guard or a tackle. The answer could be both knowing how much Buffalo covets position flexibility in their players and Williams has NFL starts at both positions.

Youth at cornerback is still on the list knowing the position can be expensive and only figures to command more of the team's salary cap total when Tre'Davious White is signed to a multi-year extension. Grooming a young cornerback while on a rookie salary could make good financial sense.

And then there's the question of pass rusher. Beane stated at the NFL combine that he's always looking for pass rush talent. He even went so far as to say that even if the club was able to re-sign Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips, he'd still consider taking a pass rusher in the draft.

Scroll through to view the latest updates on Buffalo's reported additions to the roster through free agency.

What should be available on day two?

There is a good level of consensus among the draftniks that the strongest depth after the receiver position lies at cornerback and running back. Those are two areas the Bills could target for depth with offensive tackle and pass rusher likely to be on the list as well.

Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle, who believes cornerback should be a consideration for the Bills on day two, sees options for Buffalo at pick 54.

"I think this is a very deep cornerback class," Gayle said. "I know they have Tre'Davious White and others, but it's going to be hard to pass up on guys like Cameron Dantzler from Mississippi State and Jeff Gladney from TCU. There's a ton of talent at corner where the Bills should be licking their chops at the depth they're going to be able to attack on days two and three."

Kiper believes there could be as many as five corners coming off the board in round two.

"Kristian Fulton is a guy you ask why hasn't he generated more buzz given the combine and what he put together at LSU," he said. "He ran a 4.46, solid athlete and did have a good year. I have him going in the second round. I have him right now as the seventh best corner. He's essentially graded the same as the fourth corner, so fourth to the seventh, eighth corner there's not much of a difference. So they're going to all be second-round corners the way I see it right now."

Knowing offensive tackle and the pass rusher role might be a bit thinner, it could convince the Bills to more heavily consider one of those prospects when they're on the clock on day two provided the value matches up to their selection.

"I think the edge rusher, that's something where (the Bills) could add," Kiper said. "Yes, (Mario) Addison steps in, but could you add somebody there? So what about someone like a Jonathan Greenard? Where does he go out of Florida after not running great at the combine how far does he drop? He's a good player.

"His teammate Jabari Zuniga out of Florida has good pass rush ability. Bradley Anae from Utah, where does he fall coming out from out of Utah? Julian Okwarah from Notre Dame. He had the injury this year, but he played really well two years ago. So I think there are some pass rushers that I think they could find on day two or three, that can help their football team."

Among the offensive tackle prospects that Kiper felt could fall into the round two to three range were Houston's Josh Jones, Boise State's Ezra Cleveland, USC's Austin Jackson and UConn's Matt Peart.

Running back depth is another area where Buffalo could scoop up talent on day two according to Kiper.

"I think you look at Zack Moss from Utah, a Cam Akers, Florida State," he said. "AJ Dillon from Boston College has moved up and Joshua Kelley from UCLA is a little underrated. Darrynton Evans from Appalachian State is another guy. I know they already got a good one out of Florida Atlantic last year with (Devin) Singletary. But Evans I think is going to be a good player coming out of App State."

Scroll through to view photos of some of the top prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine that some draft analysts have projected the Bills to take in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Draft outlook

Once again, Buffalo's personnel boss has done a solid job of filling many positional holes in free agency allowing the Bills to adhere to their best player available selection strategy. It provides Beane with the peace of mind that they're not ignoring some positional need by going with the best prospect on their board when they're on the clock.

Armed with seven picks the Bills should have enough capital to put some promising young talent in the team's pipeline and address positions in need of some depth. They just have to sit out night one of the draft before they can get started.

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