For the first time in five years the Bills do not have a first-round draft choice. But just because Buffalo's pick at 22 was sent to Minnesota as part of a package to acquire wide receiver Stefon Diggs doesn't mean they can't land some quality talent on days two and three of the draft with their seven selections.
Obviously, all of Buffalo's choices will be based on where the team's draft board indicates the value is when the team is on the clock, but positionally where will the value be best in rounds two through five?
Buffalobills.com sought the expertise of a handful of NFL draft analysts to lay out what positions will present the Bills and the other NFL clubs with high-quality talent in those middle rounds.
1. A bounty at receiver
By now anyone who has spent five minutes reading up on the talent in this year's draft class realizes that wide receiver is not only the deepest position but might be the best collection of wideouts since the famed 1996 class that included former Bills wideout Eric Moulds.
"I've got 27 wide receivers with top three-round grades in this draft," said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. "And consider on average 31 receivers are taken every year. We had a max of 35 taken in, I believe that was in 2017. So this is a really phenomenal group of wideouts. Not all those guys are going to go early. They'll end up spreading throughout the draft. But it's really a good group."
Based on most of the prospect rankings boards for wide receiver the best value is between rounds two and three. Some draft analysts believe you can still get a starting caliber receiver as late as round four this year, but examining the receiver rankings by CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and NFL.com an average of just over 11 receivers are expected to come off the board on day two.
"You'll obviously see the first-round guys get taken, the Jerry Jeudys and CeeDee Lambs of the world," said NFL Network analyst and former NFL front office exec, Marc Ross. "But there are lower tier guys, like Bryan Edwards, Jalen Reagor and Gabriel Davis who you're going to see in the second and third round and they're going to be starters."
Knowing positions which are in shorter supply will be poached for talent earlier in the draft, like offensive tackle and defensive end, it will only push the deep pool of receiver talent down the board.
"There are going to be second round receivers that are going to be available in the third, third-round receivers in the fourth," said The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler. "So wide receiver is easily at the top this year."
Buffalo's need to add a receiver is no longer pressing after the acquisition of Diggs, but there is one element missing from the Bills receiving corps.
"If you're building it like a basketball team, the Bills have the small guys so now add some size," said Ross. "There are plenty of those type of guys in the draft."
Of the 10 to 12 receivers expected to come off the board on day two of the draft, as many as nine stand 6-2 or taller and 10 are 205 pounds or more.
"Chase Claypool from Notre Dame is one of these receivers that is just so big and strong and physical," said Jeremiah. "He's a 50-50 ball guy. That's kind of his specialty. He's very tough, very aggressive, can really wall guys off in the red zone. He's a threat down there. The guy's 6-4 and change and 229 pounds.
"Antonio Gandy-Golden from Liberty is another. I thought he outplayed both Michael Pittman of USC and Claypool during the week at the Senior Bowl -- a big athletic receiver from Liberty. It just speaks of the depth of this class. It's just an incredible group."
"You think about a Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State," said ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper. "He has a really good play speed even though he runs around 4.5 and he has a 40-inch vertical. He keeps getting better and better and better. He's an early to mid-second round pick. Some guys like Antonio Gibson from Memphis, who can play receiver and some running back in the third round. Where does a Collin Johnson from Texas go with his kind of size at 6-6? Then you have the talented guys who didn't put the numbers expected like Michigan's Donovan Peoples-Jones."
Scroll through to view photos of prospects that some mock draft experts have Buffalo selecting in the second or third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
2. Help on the corner
With a strong influx of receiver talent via the draft the last few years, there has been almost an equally steady stream of players who can cover them. The situation is no different in the 2020 class as most analysts believe there is quality cornerback talent stretching into the early stages of day three.
"When you talk about middle rounds of the draft, I think that there's some good corners there," said Sirius XM NFL Radio analyst Gil Brandt. "I think we talk about guys like Noah Igbinoghene, the corner from Auburn. Troy Pride, who's a really fast guy from Notre Dame. They're really pretty good. I think that the corner that's got everybody a little bit enthused is the corner from Clemson, AJ Terrell. As people have looked at him closer, he's a guy that's really come up the charts."
Brugler sees round two as the sweet spot for cornerback value.
"Jeff Okudah is the top corner," he said. "CJ Henderson has established himself as that second corner, but then that next tier is... there's a lot of differing opinions. You ask five people and you might get five different answers. Who's that third corner in this draft? And then when does that next tier start? Is it late first? Is it early second? How long does it stretch from? Jeff Gladney, Jaylon Johnson, AJ Terrell, Trevon Diggs, Christian Fulton, Damon Arnette, Noah Igbinoghene. Those seven names or so they make up that tier and I think there's a good chance we could see him all gone in the top 60 picks. So it's anyone guess the order they'll come off the board, how early. That's an interesting group."
The reason the grades on each of those players will differ amongst teams is because there are different priorities when it comes to what one team is looking for in a corner compared to another.
"Not only scheme fit, but some teams will value length, much more than other teams," Brugler said. "Some teams are very stopwatch dependent when it comes to the cornerback position. So that's something that will factor in. Ball production in college is something that carries a lot of weight with some evaluators where others will care more about just the physical traits more so than the bulk production. It just comes down to your fundamental beliefs of the cornerback position, the traits that make up that position and what translates to the next level."
There are also a good number of slot corners in the class like Louisiana Tech's Amik Robertson, Michigan State's Josiah Scott and Auburn's Javaris Davis. All of them figure to come off the board between rounds three and four.
3. When will the run on running backs start?
The other position widely held as one offering depth of talent is running back. With the recent trend of few backs coming off the board in round one, the value figures to be solid at the position all the way through day two and beyond.
"The running back group, even though we might only have one in the first round, who is (D'Andre) Swift in my opinion, JK Dobbins from Ohio State is a stud. Jonathan Taylor's only running back in FBS history to rush for 1,900 plus yards in three consecutive years," said ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay. "Clyde Edwards-Helaire, no he didn't have a great 40 time, but is a darn good football player who can play in the slot, you can move him out wide. He does all the little things. So if you're looking for running back talent, this year's group is really good."
A key question is when will the run on running backs begin?
"It'll be interesting to see how many running backs go in the first two days to see who's left on day three, but every year we see it," said Brugler. "There are a few running backs that fall to day three or sometimes go undrafted, and then they end up being a productive part of a rotation or even a starter for a team. I think it'll be no different this year."
"There's some depth at that position," said Kiper of running back. "You look at Zack Moss from Utah, a Cam Akers, Florida State. 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 who I think is going to be a good player coming out."
Even on day three there figures to be some solid value at running back with a handful of players who can help a team with a committee backfield.
"A guy like Antonio Gibson from Memphis is that versatile player who can catch the ball and can create big plays," Brugler said. "He's a little different than AJ Dillon. He's a little different than James Robinson from Illinois State. DeeJay Dallas from Miami, he's going to have a chance to get on the field because he's one of the best pass protectors in this draft. So that could help him see some early reps. Raymond Calais from Louisiana, he's a 4.4 athlete and that speed in the right situation could end up getting him some playing time. So yeah this running back group… we're going to see some of these guys make some waves as rookies."