With only three games left in what is an obviously disappointing season for the Buffalo Bills, it’s time to start looking ahead.
Sitting at 4-9, the Bills are playing for draft position right now. As they sit, they would be slotted into the eighth overall pick in May’s draft, up one spot from last week. They’re tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns, and could see their position fluctuate as tiebreakers come into effect.
First overall seems all but locked up by the Houston Texans, who sport an abysmal 2-11 record that has seen them drop a franchise-record 11-straight games after starting the season 2-0. They’ll likely be in search of a quarterback with the first pick, something that doesn’t concern the Bills after they used their first round pick last year on E.J. Manuel.
The Bills play the Jaguars on Sunday, the Browns have the Chicago Bears at home, the Bucs have the San Francisco 49ers at home and the Raiders have the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Also in the discussion: the 3-10 Atlanta Falcons have a date with the abysmal Washington Redskins while the Minnesota Vikings (3-9-1) have the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles.
All that said, who might the Bills be eyeing come May? Let’s take a quick, early look at who may be there and who the Bills could take.
Khalil Mack, OLB Buffalo
This pick would certainly be a hit with the hometown crowd, but more importantly, it would also fill a need. Outside of Kiko Alonso, the Bills don’t have much at linebacker. Adding a player like Mack would give them a three-down backer on the outside who can drop into coverage and rush the passer.
The Bills have done a good job of adding talent to their defense over the last couple of seasons and shoring up a glaring weakness at linebacker while also bolstering the pass rush would be a big addition for the defense. If he can help solve the defense’s troubles with the ground game, even better.
Taylor Lewan, OT Michigan
I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many offensive linemen in the NFL these days. Those guys take the biggest beating in the trenches and the attrition is often the greatest along the offensive line.
The Bills have a solid left tackle in Cordy Glenn, but can you imagine the strength of the line if they could slide him to right tackle and slot in the 6-foot-7 Michigan tackle? Combined with Eric Wood, the Bills would have a solid offensive line for the foreseeable future and protecting Manuel should be priority No. 1.
Cyrus Kouandijo, OT Alabama
Sticking with the offensive line theme here. Plays a very similar game to Glenn – both are mauling tackles who can punish linemen in the running game, but are quick and fluid enough to handle speed rushers. You can never have enough nasty in the trenches and the combo of Glenn and Kouandijo would be one that opposing defensive linemen would fear.
Mike Evans, WR TAMU
It’s not a certainty that the Bills will keep Stevie Johnson around next year and the team could be looking to add someone opposite Robert Woods. Evans is a big body who excels at going up to get the ball at its highest point.
Not a burner by any stretch, Evans is a receiver that just catches the ball. After playing the burner game with a number of deep threats who haven’t panned out, the Bills would welcome someone who is a reliable target and give Manuel another weapon to make the most of.
It’s still a long way until April, but the Bills’ draft board looks to be taking shape already.