Welcome to the final mock draft exercise ahead of tonight’s 2022 NFL Draft.
All the smoke screens will finally cease at 8 pm when the prospects start finding new homes. The Buffalo Bills have several positions general manager Brandon Beane needs to address.
Beane said last week that he’s not comfortable at a lot of positions with about 20 roster spots left to fill before the start of training camp. Most fans agree that cornerback and wide receiver are the most desirable positions early in the draft, but there’s a subset of Bills Mafia pounding the table for a running back.
READ MORE: Ryan Talbot’s final 7-round Bills mock draft
Let’s follow the board in this mock draft and see what the options are as we go through the draft.
A couple of trades shake up the Top 10 as the Philadelphia Eagles go up 10 spots to select Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The New York Jets didn’t want to take a chance that both tackles — Evan Neal and Ickey Ekwonu — were gone by the time they pick at 10. So they moved up two spots to get one.
From a Bills perspective, the three prime trade-up targets in the draft for Beane are off the board. Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton went to the Giants at 7, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. went 3rd overall to the Houston Texans and Gardner went to Philadelphia.
If one of those three players falls out of the Top 10 in the actual draft, keep an eye on the Bills as a potential trade up candidate. There’s no immediate need at safety with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde on the roster, but Hamilton might be a generational player at the position and worth giving up some assets to move up and take him.
A trade up into the Top 10 is costly and unlikely. But if Beane loves the player and is worried about what the board will look like at 25, don’t be shocked if he makes a big-time move.
Let’s get to picks 11-21.
The next 11 picks happen and the Bills sit tight and watch it all unfold. The Green Bay Packers watch Alabama receiver Jameson Williams slip to 18 and trade up four spots to get their replacement for Davante Adams. The first quarterback goes at 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers (Malik Willis), and then the New England Patriots take Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam.
Beane and the Bills are going to have plenty of options when we get to pick 25. There are three cornerbacks on the board who would be fits for the Bills: Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. and Washington teammates Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon.
Can’t see the Bills’ pick? Don’t worry – you don’t need glasses. They’ve traded out of the first round in this mock draft.
After McDuffie went off the board at 23, the Bills had their pick of Booth or Gordon. They could also select interior offensive lineman Kenyon Green or even a receiver like Skyy Moore or Treylon Burks. With so many options – including the polarizing running back in Round 1, Beane gets a call from his old buddy Joe Schoen, who is now the general manager of the New York Giants. NY trades up to get one of the draft’s top linebackers in Georgia’s Quay Walker and gives the Bills picks 36 (2nd round) and No 67 (3rd round).
**TRADE: Bills send pick 25 to the New York Giants for picks 36 and 67**
ROUND 2 – Pick No 36 Bills select Kyler Gordon, CB (Washington)
The pick here could be the running back if the gamble doesn’t pay off for Beane. He traded back 11 spots and Booth goes to the Chiefs at 30. When Gordon falls into his hands at 36, it’s a massive win. Gordon’s athletic profile is arguably the greatest at the position in this draft. He’ll immediately add another dimension to the Bills’ defensive backfield with his ability to close in on the ball, make tackles, and operate on the field with aggression. Gordon may end up being a first-round pick and the Bills could consider him at 25. But in this scenario, Beane gets his CB2 and is able to add a pick that’ll help in a moment.
**TRADE: Bills send picks 57, 130, and 203 to the Atlanta Falcons for pick 43**
ROUND 2 – Pick No 43: Bills select Breece Hall, RB (Iowa State)
As the draft continues, Beane has his eyes locked on the running backs. There have been several reports linking the Bills and Hall throughout the past few weeks. Once the Falcons appear on the clock, Beane strikes fast to move up and get Hall. One of the marching orders Beane has given his scouts over the past few seasons — pro and college staff — is to find speed at the playmaker positions to help quarterback Josh Allen. Hall blazed a 4.39 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine. He brings elite production with him from Iowa State, where he scored 50 touchdowns in three seasons and rushed for nearly 4,000 yards. Devin Singletary is entering the final year of his contract and Hall gives the Bills an option if he isn’t back in 2023.
ROUND 3 – Pick No 67 Bills select Dylan Parham, IOL (Memphis)
The Bills brought Parham in for a Top 30 visit and the 6-foot-2, 311-pound guard adds depth and competition at one of the areas of need on the roster. The Bills signed Rodger Saffold after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans, but he’ll be 34 before the start of the season. Parham can be his understudy in 2022 and work his way into a starting role as early as 2023. One common note on Parham’s scouting reports is that he has excellent quickness and the ability to stay balanced while keeping defensive linemen off balance.
ROUND 3 – Pick No 89: Bills select Danny Gray, wide receiver (SMU)
Gray ran a 4.33 40 at the combine and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah said that he thinks the 5-foot-11, 186-pound SMU receiver can run even faster than that. Gray projects as a developmental slot receiver with limitless potential once he develops as a route runner and gains valuable experience. Jamison Crowder signed with the Bills on a one-year deal and Isaiah McKenzie is under contract for the same amount of time. Gray could be the succession plan.
ROUND 5 – Pick 168; Bills select Matt Araiza, P (San Diego State)
This pick is for all Bills Mafia who’ve been blowing up the comment section in the live podcast shows. The fans want an upgrade from Matt Haack and this would certainly be that. Some experts think he could go as high as the third round, but if he’s available here, he’ll be the pick for the Bills.
ROUND 6 – Pick 185; Bills select Damon Clark, LB (LSU)
If Clark didn’t have spinal fusion surgery in March, he’d certainly not be available here in the sixth round. He won’t play in 2022. But that’s a good thing for the Bills, who don’t have a ton of available roster spots. Clark has the potential to play special teams right away when healthy and potentially develop into a three-down linebacker. Tremaine Edmunds is entering a contract year and could potentially price himself out of Buffalo with a monster season. Clark adds some insurance in case the Bills don’t bring him back.
ROUND 7 – Pick 23 Bills select Marquis Hayes, IOL (Oklahoma)
Isn’t it a little too soon to go back to well at Oklahoma for interior offensive line help? Cody Ford has struggled to find his footing in the NFL, but Hayes is tremendous value here. The report on Hayes is that he’s raw and still needs to develop in all areas of his game. But he has great strength, a mauling play style, and he has a chance to offer a team above average play as a pass and run blocker down the line.
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