Bills' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2022

Bills' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills fell just shy of reaching the AFC title game in 2021 when they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime in the divisional round.

    Not only did Buffalo's close loss prompt a change to NFL overtime rules, but it should also leave fans with high expectations for 2022. Had the Bills gotten the ball first in overtime, they might have won and subsequently fared better than Kansas City in the AFC Championship.

    Buffalo's expectations were further raised by a strong foray into free agency. It extended Stefon Diggs and Mitch Morse while adding tight end O.J. Howard and pass-rusher Von Miller. This is a team that ranked third in scoring and first in points allowed last season, and it's one that has few real holes heading into this week's draft.

    The Bills can afford to go with the best player available with the 25th overall pick, but a few prospects stand out among the pack.

    Here, you'll find three prospects Buffalo should be targeting in Round 1, based on factors such as proven production, upside and projected draft range.

Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    If Buffalo is going to target a specific position in Round 1, it should be cornerback. It's not a dire need for the Bills, which ranked first in passing yards allowed, but added depth would be valuable.

    Star corner Tre'Davious White suffered a torn ACL in late November, and general manager Brandon Beane said the 27-year-old is "on schedule" in his recovery, per Matt Warren of SB Nation. That doesn't mean he'll be ready to return by Week 1, though.

    Washington's Trent McDuffie is the 19th-ranked prospect on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's big board and arguably the top corner who could fall into Buffalo's draft range. He's on the smaller side at 5'10" and 193 pounds, but he has the tools to be an early starter.

    "His versatility is his biggest strength as the draft gets closer. There are few cornerbacks who can perform as well in both man and zone coverage. That will help separate him from others in this class," Cory Giddings of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    McDuffie is also a physical corner who can aid Buffalo in run support. Last season, he logged four tackles for loss and a sack to go with 25 solo stops.

    While the 21-year-old wouldn't outright replace White as a lockdown cover man, he could provide Buffalo with an early-season boost on the perimeter or at nickel.

Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    Clemson's Andrew Booth Jr. is another high-end cornerback prospect the Bills should consider at No. 25.

    The 25th-ranked prospect on the B/R board, he should be the primary target if McDuffie doesn't slide into Buffalo's draft range.

    Though not as polished or as versatile as the Washington Huskies player, Booth has the size (6'0", 194 lbs), physicality and ball skills needed to start on the perimeter.

    "Though he has good press-man skills, Booth works best when he can see routes develop in front of him. With the ball in the air, he has shown the ball skills needed to defend short and deep passes as well as the ability to play through the receiver," Giddings wrote.

    Last season, the 21-year-old tallied 26 solo stops, five passes defended and three interceptions. He should help provide some big-play potential to Buffalo's secondary, though he isn't the most consistent tackler in run support.

    While Booth still has room for development and might not be ready to start in Week 1, he could help fill the void left by White on a rotational basis. And if White is able to return early in the season, Booth's length, play strength and vision still make him an excellent long-term prospect for Buffalo.

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    If the Bills don't go with a cornerback in Round 1, adding another receiver to the mix would make plenty of sense. Diggs isn't going anywhere and Jamison Crowder was added in free agency, but the Bills have yet to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders or Cole Beasley.

    Last season, Sanders and Beasley contributed 124 receptions, 1,319 yards and five touchdowns to the passing attack.

    Several receivers—including USC's Drake London and Ohio State's Chris Olave are expected to go in Round 1. However, Penn State's Jahan Dotson is the perfect fit for Buffalo because of his positional versatility and after-the-catch ability.

    "Jahan Dotson is a receiver who aligns both inside and outside and also returned punts during his college career," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. "Although he has below-average size, his ability to consistently win versus press coverage will allow him to continue to align wherever an NFL team wants him."

    The 22-year-old (5'10", 178 lbs) isn't the biggest receiver, but he can attack all areas of the field from a variety of spots in the lineup.

    With Diggs as the top perimeter target and Howard and Dawson Knox creating mismatches at tight end, Dotson could add a new element to the passing attack by moving around the formation and exploiting the holes in coverage they create.