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NFL Draft analysts believe these positions are in play when the Bills make the 30th overall pick

CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern (left), edge rusher, Jayson Oweh, Penn State (middle), tackle Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State (right).
CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern (left), edge rusher, Jayson Oweh, Penn State (middle), tackle Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State (right).

It will be close to midnight by the time the Buffalo Bills select their first round pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. It might seem like a long night for fans as they wait in anticipation to meet the newest Bill, but there won't be any signs of fatigue in Buffalo's draft room.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane isn't worried about watching 29 teams pick before him because he views No. 30 as a great spot to pick.

"It's a good problem," Beane said. "I wish we were picking 32. That's the goal."

The Bills can inch closer to that goal by having success in this year's draft.


Why No. 30 is a luxury

Beane isn't alone in believing the Bills are in a nice spot. After talking with a few analysts, they agree Buffalo is in a position other teams dream of with the 30th overall pick.

"The Bills are in a really great spot because they don't really need anything," NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund said. "Of course you always need things for the future, but you're not missing a quarterback. You're not missing a very important piece in any position. That's a really nice spot to be in. I think the Bills have so much flexibility, which is very important."

Flexibility is the key word here. Buffalo doesn't have to be married to one position when it's their turn to draft because of the holes they filled during free agency.

"The goal is to try and fill as many spots as we can so that we're not going into this draft with a void somewhere," Beane said of free agency. "If we hadn't been able to sign those guys (Matt Milano, Daryl Williams, Jon Feliciano) and if they left and we didn't find proper replacements, it's not fun going into the draft going, 'Man we can't get out of day two without this player.' 

"It puts a lot of pressure on you, and sometimes you're reaching a little bit."

Due to their free agent acquisitions, the Bills should have the freedom to pick the best available at No. 30. 

Another thing Buffalo, and many teams, have in their favor is the amount of quarterbacks that could go off the board early.

"I fully expect there to be five quarterbacks going in the first round," Fox Sports Draft Analyst Rob Rang explained. "That just means there's going to be that many more talented players who may fall into Buffalo's lap."

Scroll through to view photos of some of the top prospects that some draft analysts have projected the Bills to take in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Where depth lies in the 2021 NFL Draft

I'm sure Bills Mafia would love for five quarterbacks to be taken early in hopes that a talented player falls to the end of the first round. But when you're talking about No. 30 and beyond, where is the depth in this year's draft and how does that help Buffalo?

"I think offensive line is a really good class in general this season," The Ringer's Danny Kelly said. "I think there's a lot of really good corners, generally speaking nickel backs and cornerbacks. I think it's a deep class. With the receivers there's going to be really good players still out there, I believe, in second and third round."

"I also think there's a strong contingent of specialty linebackers," Frelund explained. "They're not necessarily a normal linebacker. They may be more of a coverage linebacker like a Swiss Army Knife who can possibly even provide you some help in slot coverage. Those kind of specialty players is where the Bills scouting department have done really well.

"They find the guys that could be average, if you measure them against the league. But in the Bills system, they're able to be above average because Buffalo's system is playing towards their strengths."

Knowing that there's depth at multiple positions, Buffalo could have several options at No. 30 and into Day 2.

The cornerback and defensive back class

According to more than 130 mock drafts we've tracked on, the favorite position for Buffalo to draft in the first round is cornerback. Kelly’s most recent mock draft has Northwestern corner Greg Newsome II heading to Buffalo.

"One position I've really been sort of focused on with the Bills in the mock drafts that I've done is corner," Kelly said. "I think you could get a starting caliber corner in the late first round this year, so if they want to improve the depth of the cornerback spot. I think they don't have any glaring holes, but I think everybody needs more corners."

"I think the one everybody's kind of buzzing about is Greg Newsome II from Northwestern," Rang said. "Northwestern kind of has a reputation of being really smart guys, but not necessarily great athletes. Newsome is smart, as well as a terrific athlete. One of the reasons why I believe he could still be on the board, is that he has struggled with durability over his career. So you're talking about a top 15 talent that because he's missed a couple of games each of his last three seasons, he might be available."

If the Bills go corner or defensive back in the first or second round, there are several types that could be available based on size, scheme and fit.

"You also have players like Elijah Molden from Washington, Asante Samuel Jr. from Florida State who's really explosive, twitchy," Kelly said. "A good athlete and an instinctive player, but the question marks around him are is he big enough to play on the outside and be a high pick to go into NFL and play on the outside. Or is he just going to be a slot guy? That might make him fall a little bit.

"You even have a guy like Ifeatu Melifonwu from Syracuse who's really long. He's 6'3, so it just kind of depends on what teams are looking for."

The edge rusher class

If the Bills are looking for a pass rusher, there's unfortunately no Chase Young in this year's NFL Draft. If there was, he definitely wouldn't be there at No. 30. But, this year's crop of edge rushers are identified as being full of raw talent.

"I would tack on the edge class, which it's not a top heavy group," Kelly said. "There's no one or two clear elite players. It's kind of pick your flavor, pick your style of player. But I think there's going to be some really good guys that can come in and contribute. You'll be able to find these guys in the second and third round."

"The perception at least was that Josh Allen was raw," Rang added. "And because of that, Brandon Beane might think we've got the coaching staff in place here and we can take a relatively raw player. We have the culture and the coaches in place to be able to really harness this young player's talent.

"I think some of those developmental players or so called developmental players like a Jayson Oweh or Joe Tryon for example might scare some teams off. I don't think it's going scare off the Buffalo Bills. I think they're going to be excited about the upside those players possess."

The offensive line class

Due to the depth in this year's class, the offensive line won't be a position you have to roll the dice on.

"If you have a concern along the offensive line, I don't believe that you have to take one at number 30," Rang said. "I think you can wait around and still be able to get a really quality player in the second or third round as well."

"I like a lot of these tackles," Frelund shared. "There's a lot of preferences that you don't necessarily even see from some of these tackles, and obviously whoever is going to design the offense will have some preferences. The thing that I liked was the resume that Teven Jenkins had was against a high caliber of opponents. He had a lot of plays that were things that the Bills tend to like to run."

Hopes for Day 1 and Day 2

Whoever the Bills pick in the first, second and third round, Bills fans should know there's enough depth in the draft to expect a couple new difference makers on this year's roster. Beane is hoping the second and third round can provide just that.

"You're still hoping to get two players, maybe they're starters, maybe they're not," Beane said of Day 2 selections. "But you're hoping they're vital contributors if not immediately, through their career, depending on who they're backing up and what position it is. So it's very important for us to hit on those."

It doesn't matter if it's Day 1, 2 or 3 of the NFL Draft, Beane and the scouting department have put the tireless work in to construct their board to show who will fit best in Buffalo. You better believe they'll trust that board when they're on the clock.

"I really do think they're one of those teams that can just take the best player available," Kelly said. "They don't have to reach on a guy to fill a position, they don't have any of these glaring holes that they have to fill in the draft so that gives them an advantage."

Soak it up Bills fans. It's a luxury to pick late in the first round with no blatant holes on the roster.

"When you're a team like Buffalo that is right on the cusp of really special things and they already have the young quarterback in place, then they truly are in a position to make a splashy move number 30 because there's going to be a really good player," Rang explained.

No matter the position, the 30th pick will have an opportunity to help take this Bills team to the next level.

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