Bills' Team Needs to Fill in 2021 NFL DraftMarch 31, 2021
Bills' Team Needs to Fill in 2021 NFL Draft
The Buffalo Bills reside in an offseason position they have not been in for at least two decades.
Sean McDermott's team left the gridiron as the top contender in the AFC East, a title that has long been handed to the New England Patriots.
With the Patriots and Miami Dolphins making improvements, the Bills have to bolster their depth to ensure they have few holes on their roster.
The re-signings of Matt Milano and Daryl Williams eased some of that pressure and allowed the Bills to not have to focus on linebacker and offensive line in the 2021 NFL draft.
Instead, they can look at other spots to reinforce the already strong depth chart and maintain the spot atop the AFC East that the Patriots and Bills are gunning for.
Now that the Bills do not have to worry about the second layer of defense with Milano back in the fold, they should spend some time looking at defensive linemen.
Buffalo needs to add a bit more power on the edge to complement, or even overtake, Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison. It landed A.J. Epenesa in the 2020 draft, but more youth at the position would be welcome.
The hot name at the end of the first round should be Tulsa's Zaven Collins, who won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy out of the American Athletic Conference.
Collins, Miami's Jaelen Phillips and Jayson Oweh out of Penn State are the likely edge-rushers set to be available at No. 30.
Buffalo may look to the interior, but it may be overpaying for a defensive tackle in the first round with so many edge-rushers near the top of draft boards.
In the 2020 NFL draft, only two defensive ends and a pair of defensive tackles were chosen in the first round. Five defensive linemen were taken in the second round, one of them being Epenesa.
If the drafting trends carry over to 2021, Buffalo might be able to land a quality pass-rusher at No. 61, or trade up to the middle of the second round to land one, if there is a run on defensive lineman, like there was in last year's second round.
Buffalo does not need to land a top-tier corner with Tre'Davious White on the roster, but it could use some more depth on the edge of the secondary.
At the moment, White, Josh Norman and Levi Wallace are the top corners on the roster, but the Bills could use some extra help, especially if they run into the Kansas City Chiefs again in the postseason.
The deep wide receiver corps of the Chiefs and other AFC contenders should put the impetus on Buffalo to bolster its corner depth just to combat those offenses from every angle.
The Bills should hope that a massive run on corners does not occur as it did in the 2020 first round, when six corners were chosen in the first 31 picks.
If the Bills can wait until the second or third round, they could find some depth in the secondary. Most importantly for their sake, those potential picks would be able to learn under White and Norman without facing the pressure of being a starter right away.
The Bills could transition a Friday pick into a starting role in the coming years, but a player like Georgia's Tyson Campbell or Washington's Elijah Molden would be allowed to develop more before taking over a top spot on the depth chart.
If there is a weakness on the Buffalo offense, it is tight end.
Dawson Knox's overall production was not comparable to the other players at the position in the AFC, and the addition of Jacob Hollister will not significantly bolster production at that spot.
Outside of Florida's Kyle Pitts, there are not any elite tight ends in the draft class, so the Bills can wait until the second or third day to select a tight end.
Penn State's Pat Freiermuth and Miami's Brevin Jordan are two possible selections in the middle rounds for the Bills to consider.
In order to compete with the Chiefs, the Bills need to be as well-rounded as possible on offense, and a young playmaking tight end could be their best counter to Travis Kelce.
Buffalo already added to its wide receiver depth with the Emmanuel Sanders signing in free agency, and if it can land a dynamic pass-catcher across the middle, its chances to reach the Super Bowl could get even higher.