It is officially time for the NFL to look forward to the draft. This is a critical draft for the Buffalo Bills after breaking their playoff drought.
The Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Fans will look to the NFL Draft to build on last season’s success. Buffalo owns three picks in the top 60 and will need to nail those to get back into the playoffs in 2018.
For this exercise I utilized FanSpeak’s On The Clock, an exciting tool for any draft nuts out there.
Round 1 – Pick 21
Da’ron Payne, DT, Alabama
In this run of the mock draft the biggest need for Buffalo is off the board. Five quarterbacks went before the Bills could grab theirs. Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Mason Rudolph were all chosen in the top 15 picks. With no quarterback on the board, Buffalo looked to the interior of their defensive line. The trade that gave Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars depleted the interior defensive line for the Bills. Their run defense never recovered from the loss.
Enter Alabama defensive tackle Da’ron Payne. After a dominant performance in the national championship against Georgia all eyes were on Payne. As far as interior defensive lineman go, he is a great blend of power and strength.
After losing Dareus Buffalo’s run defense was one of the worst in the NFL. Plugging Payne into the defensive front give the Bills a space eating, athletics tackle who can make plays on three downs. At 6-foot-2 and 308 pounds, Payne is a physical specimen with NFL-caliber athleticism. His touchdown catch against Clemson is evidence of just how incredible of an athlete Payne is. It’s not a sexy pick, and it’s not a quarterback but rather than reach for a player like Lamar Jackson, grabbing Payne would go a long way with this team.
Round 1 – Pick 22
Billy Price, C, Ohio State
Not often do NFL teams own back to back picks in the first round. Buffalo is in this position thanks to the trade with Kansas City in last year’s draft that enabled the Chiefs to grab Patrick Mahomes. The Bills wound up with lock down corner Tre White in the deal, plus an extra first this year. It was a great trade for Buffalo, but they need to hit on this pick.
Watching Eric Wood retire from football had to be hard for Bills fans. He was an anchor for the team, even if the overall offensive line was shaky. With Wood’s unexpected retirement due to injury, a sudden need has opened up in the middle of the offensive line. Luckily for Buffalo the 2018 NFL draft is loaded with quality interior offensive lineman.
The smart pick for Buffalo would be Billy Price out of Ohio State. Starting at center for Ohio State this past season, after spending time at guard, Price is a plug-and-play starter. He follows in fellow Buckeyes interior offensive lineman Pat Elfein’s shoes. Elfein was a steal in the third round for the Vikings. Price may be better. He offers the positional versatility NFL teams love in offensive lineman.
Building inside-out would be a wise move for the Buffalo team that prides itself on running the ball and playing physical defense. Payne and Price are quality players who could make immediate impacts while shoring up holes on both sides of the ball.