Bills' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

Bills' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills enter the 2021 NFL draft looking to take the proverbial next step. They drafted quarterback Josh Allen in 2018, made the postseason in 2019 and advanced to the AFC Championship Game in 2020. Ideally, a successful draft will help Buffalo reach the Super Bowl in 2021.

    The drawback to making the conference title game is that Buffalo won't be picking highly in the early rounds. Currently, the Bills hold the 30th, 61st and 94th overall picks on Days 1 and 2. This means targeting some of the draft's biggest names—such as Ja'Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts and Micah Parsonsprobably isn't possible.

    However, this doesn't mean the Bills cannot have a successful draft. They'll just need to target players who perhaps haven't been receiving as much predraft buzz. We'll examine three prime targets for Buffalo here.

Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    While the Bills defense was solid in 2020—it ranked 14th overall—it produced just 38 sacks. Adding a pass-rusher in the draft could help the defense in a big way. The problem is that there isn't a "sure-thing" pass-rusher like Chase Young, Nick Bosa or Myles Garrett in this class.

    That's a bad thing for teams picking near the top of Round 1, but it should be less of a concern for Buffalo. Drafting at No. 30 would leave Buffalo out of the mix for a blue-chip pass-rusher anyway.

    However, Buffalo could still scoop up an early contributor at the bottom of Round 1 by targeting Michigan's Kwity Paye. The top-ranked edge-rusher on Bleacher Report's latest big board, Paye could slide because of his lack of polish. Paye has intriguing upside but may not be an early every-down difference-maker.

    "The traits and explosiveness are enticing, but the film says 'good' rather than 'great' at this time," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote.

    Paye could contribute as a situational edge-rusher early, and if the Bills believe they can unlock his athletic potential, they may even consider trading up to nab him.

Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    While adding a cornerback might not directly produce more sacks, it could help buy Buffalo's current front-level defenders more time to reach the quarterback. The Bills already have one elite cover corner in Tre'Davious White, and adding a prospect like Florida State's Asante Samuel Jr. could provide him with a long-term running mate.

    At just 5'10" and 180 pounds, Samuel isn't the biggest defensive back in the draft, but he is physical and has inside-outside potential.

    "Samuel Jr. is a competitive run defender and tackler that gets his work done and isn't a liability," Joe Marino of The Draft Network wrote. "While his frame may suggest to some that he's slot only in the NFL, he's in the mold of a Brandon Flowers/Denzel Ward and fully capable of playing wide in the NFL like he did in college."

    Samuel is a borderline first-round prospect—ESPN's Todd McShay recently mocked him 40th overall—so he should be available at No. 30. He could also be a premium trade-down target if another team calls looking to get back into the first round.

Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    The Bills may want to target a running back to help improve a rushing attack that only ranked 20th last season. However, doing so in the first round might not provide the best value. Buffalo added Matt Breida in free agency, so running back is more likely to be a Day 2 or Day 3 priority.

    If the Bills are willing to take a back as early as Round 2, North Carolina's Javonte Williams could be an ideal target. Though he hasn't gotten as much media attention as potential first-round picks such as Alabama's Najee Harris, Williams has the traits needed to be an every-down NFL back.

    "He will drop passes from time to time but has the route-running and protection toughness to take over as a three-down RB1 fairly early in his career," Zierlein wrote.

    Williams' physical, between-the-tackles running style could complement Allen in the backfield. If teams look to contain the mobile quarterback on the perimeter, Williams could pound them up the middle.