Who will be available when the Bills draft? A look at the probabilities

April 16, 2017 - 4:49 pm

The Bills have the tenth overall pick in next week’s NFL Draft.  A good spot to be to get a very highly regarded prospect.  Of course, barring a trade, nine of them will already be off the board when it comes time to hand in their card, but plenty of others will remain in what is considered by most a fairly deep draft class.

What are the chances certain players will be available when the Bills are on the clock, presuming they stay at No. 10?  Going by a general gauge of mock drafts and overall talent evaluations, here's a general consensus of what could be the top 40 players taken and the most likely scenarios:

Virtual locks to be gone by pick #10

DE Myles Garrett
DE Solomon Thomas

If the Bills want either of these two players, they’ll have to move up, and most likely pay dearly to do so.  Both are regarded by many as the top two overall talents in this draft.  The Bills have Jerry Hughes and last year’s first-round pick Shaq Lawson on the edge of their new 4-3 defense, so they shouldn’t be looking to make a move like that next Thursday night.

More than likely to be gone by pick #10

DL Jonathan Allen
CB Marshon Lattimore
RB Leonard Fournette
QB Mitchell Trubisky
S Malik Hooker
S Jamal Adams

Any one of these players may be drafted from No. 2 through the top 7-8, whether by the team that currently holds that spot or another team that jumps up.  They are regarded as the best players at their positions and worthy of top-9 designation.  In the case of Trubisky, he will most likely be the first QB off the board and, regardless of where he ranks overall compared to the rest of the class, that’s what happens with the top QB, he almost always goes top-10.  In fact, only once in this millennium has a QB not been taken in the top-3.  That was in 2013, and we don’t need to revisit that.

If the Bills want to wait for one of these players to fall to them, they’ll most likely miss out and need to have another plan in place.  If they absolutely have to have one, it’s going to take some strategy and calculation on their part to know when the right time is to pull the trigger on a deal to move up.  Obviously the shorter the jump up the less they’d have to give up.

50/50 gone by pick #10

TE OJ Howard
RB Christian McCaffery
QB Deshaun Watson
WR Corey Davis
WR Mike Williams
LB Reuben Foster

This is going to be a really interesting group to watch.  Any one of them could go before the Bills select at No. 10, yet they all could not only still be there but even hang around for a few picks later.  A lot will determine that, including how badly teams want one of this year’s QBs and if Watson or even Patrick Mahomes climbs into the top nine.  If you take my first three lists above it adds up to fourteen players.  

If the Bills have the same fourteen (or close to it) players ranked at the top of their board, they’re guaranteed to have their pick of a few of them.  They can simply be patient and let the board fall to them.  If several players on the list below jump into these top three lists, leaving a solid 7-8 players available when the Bills select, they may very well want to trade down no more than that many spots, still assured of grabbing one of them.  The issue would then become how willing of a partner they would find to move up.  It won’t be easy in this draft to trade down, and if you find a team, it may be a lesser return than usual due to the depth at some positions in this class.

More than likely still available at pick #10

OT Cam Robinson
OT Garrett Bolles
DE Takkarist McKinley
DE Derek Barnett
QB Patrick Mahomes
S Jabrill Peppers
LB Haason Reddick
RB Dalvin Cook
WR John Ross
CB Gareon Conley

This is where the trade down idea really takes off.  If the Bills have any one of these players graded really high on their board, there’s a good chance they can move down, pick up an extra pick or two, and still grab him.  Mahomes would be the exception, because QBs generally get pushed up the board.  They go earlier than other positions related to their grade.  So if the Bills want him and he’s still there at ten, it may be too risky to move out of that spot because another team could draft him (especially by way of trade) very soon after.

This list isn’t sexy to most.  It’s filled with good players who many Bills fans might not even know much about, with an obvious exception to Ross and Peppers.  Ross made headlines by breaking the NFL Combine 40-yard dash record in early March.  Peppers is maybe the most polarizing player in this entire draft.  He was extremely versatile in college, playing multiple positions, including being an outstanding punt returner.  But does he even have a true NFL position to be able to play three downs on defense?  He could very well go in the top-10, but I have him on this list because it’s more likely that, even with his athleticism and versatility, he drops to a team that doesn’t have an immediate need at a certain position.

There are two offensive tackles on this list.  I think that’s an under-talked about spot the Bills could go with their first pick given their uncertainty at right tackle.  I can’t see them taking a running back, but Cook is listed here for the purposes of this exercise.  

Almost certainly still available at pick #10

CB Marlon Humphrey
CB Tre’Davious White
CB Kevin King
CB Adoree’ Jackson
CB Teez Tabor
OT Ryan Ramczyk
OG Forrest Lamp
DE Taco Charlton
TE David Njoku
DT Malik McDowell
LB Jarrad Davis
LB Zach Cunningham
OLB Charles Harris
S Budda Baker
QB Deshone Kizer

If the Bills stay at No. 10 and select one of these players, given what’s been talked and written about the players in thie group, and where most draftniks have them going, we’ll most likely hear they “reached” for that player.  And they very well may have if that’s the case.  But it only takes one team to love a guy to take him earlier than a consensus projection.  This group is loaded with cornerbacks, a testament to how deep the class is at that position.  But if they grab one of these CBs at ten, they either clearly loved him and didn’t want to miss out, or they couldn’t find a trade partner to move up, because with five potential first-rounder CBs on this list (in addition to the two others who should go even earlier listed above), they may be able to get one in the second round, where they pick 44th overall.  

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