Buffalo Bills 7-round mock draft 2021: Trade up lands ‘freak’ edge rusher

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The NFL Draft is less than two weeks away and the Buffalo Bills will get their chance to add players that could help them compete for another AFC East title in 2021.

Before we get to the picks – and the trades (yes, there’s two) – let’s pinpoint some positional needs for the Bills heading into this draft.

There is no universal position that fans or media seem to be in agreement upon that the Bills should address at pick 30 or early in this year’s draft. Cornerback and edge rusher are the two most popular, but a consensus doesn’t seem to exist. The Bills used their top selection (pick no. 54 in the second round) last year on edge defender A.J. Epenesa. Since Buffalo selected Tre’Davious White in 2017, general manager Brandon Beane hasn’t used a Day 1 or 2 pick on a defensive back in any of his three drafts since. Conversely, the Bills have drafted a defensive linemen on Day 1 or 2 in all three of Beane’s drafts.

So the Bills go cornerback early in this year’s draft, right?

No, and I’ll elaborate on why below.

FIRST ROUND

**TRADE**

Bills get: pick 25

Jacksonville Jaguars get: picks 30, 161 (5th), 2022 5th

25. Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State

H/W: 6-foot-5, 257 pounds

The way things shook out in this mock the top four cornerbacks were off the board by the 23rd pick.

12. Eagles: Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

14. Vikings: Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

16. Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, South Carolina

20. Bears: Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

After these four CBs, the talent level of the next tier takes a dip far enough to remove consideration for the position in the first round. Unless Brandon Beane’s scouting staff has a first-round grade on another player. But for our purposes let’s proceed as if they don’t. The next position of interest is edge rusher and four have already come off the board when Jacksonville goes on the clock.

10. Cowboys: Jaelan Phillips, Miami

11. Giants: Kwity Paye, Michigan

18. Dolphins: Gregory Rousseau, Miami

22. Titans: Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

The Bills watch both the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers pass on an edge rusher and Beane gets aggressive, picking up the phone to move up five spots to draft Oweh.

When it comes to NFL-ready pass rushers, Oweh doesn’t rank very high in relation to some of his contemporaries in this draft. He didn’t record a single sack last season at Penn State in seven games. But his pro day numbers were eye-popping (4.36 40-yard dash, 39.5 vertical).

The Bills are in a Super Bowl window after finishing last season in the AFC title game and there’s a valid argument that their first-round pick should be able to compete for a starting job. Oweh may not be more than situational pass rusher as a rookie.

But the Bills need to look beyond 2021 when it comes to their defensive line. Jerry Hughes turns 33 and Mario Addison turns 34 before the start of this season. Epenesa showed promise down the stretch last season but Oweh is the type of developmental talent that could potentially yield a star at the position in a few seasons. Draft him now and let him learn behind the veterans while letting respected d-line coach Eric Washington groom him to take over.

SECOND ROUND

**TRADE**

Bills get: picks 74, 82, 124

Washington Football Team get: picks 61, 93

This trade pushes the Bills out of the second round but yields an additional pick in the third round, an 11-spot jump later in the third, and a fourth-round pick (Buffalo traded its pick in the fourth this season to Minnesota in last year’s Stefon Diggs trade).

THIRD ROUND

74. Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech

H/W: 6-foot-3, 226 pounds

The Bills need to find more answers for when they face high octane offenses like the Kansas City Chiefs, and Deablo is the kind of fast, explosive tackler that fits the bill. The 22-year-old said that teams have expressed interest in using him as a linebacker. He comes with the kind of position flexibility and moldable traits that Sean McDermott should be excited to try and develop.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote that Deablo “makes himself wide as tackler with a spider-web radius,” and “quick to recognize downfield throw and peel off his coverage.” Many members of Bills Mafia have had their eyes on Hamsah Nasirldeen out of Florida State throughout draft season. He’s another option if the Bills want to add size in the box and in their nickel package. Deablo seems to be the better tackler based on surveying experts, and that’s a prerequisite for McDermott’s defense. Deablo’s cover skills also make him an intriguing addition.

82. Alim McNeill, DT, NC State

H/W: 6-foot-2, 317 pounds

Star Lotulelei is expected back this season after opting out in 2020. But getting younger and more athletic at the 1-technique defensive tackle position should be on the Bills’ wish list in this draft. If McNeill, 20, is on the board at this spot it’s a nice value and a great position for him to come in and learn behind Lotulelei before ultimately replacing him.

McNeill was a superstar baseball player in high school and has next-level athleticism for the position he’ll play in the NFL. After 5.5 sacks as a sophomore, he finished with 26 tackles, 4.5 for a loss and one sack last season. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote that McNeill is an “explosive big man and routinely the first lineman out of his stance … resets the line of scrimmage with his power.”

FOURTH ROUND

124. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

H/W: 6-foot-1, 196 pounds

Bills have reportedly done their due diligence on Wade and he makes a ton of sense as a value pick in the fourth round. He can play inside and outside, granted not great on the boundary in 2020. He is the kind of player that could thrive under McDermott and Bills DBs coach John Butler. Wade, 22,20

was projected to be a Day 2 pick at least before last season but a turf toe injury really impacted his final season at Ohio State. Bills get value here and can try and find the best way to use him.

FIFTH ROUND

176. Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska

H/W: 6-foot-5, 298 pounds

This may be a bit of wishful thinking with Jaimes, depending on how many teams fall in love with his tape. With Ty Nsekhe now in Dallas and Trey Adams announcing his retirement last week, the Bills need to start finding some talent at depth tackle. Jaimes, 21, was a four-year starter and could serve as the team’s swing tackle in 2021 as he develops under Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams.

Bleacher Report’s Brandon Thorn was recently on The Athletic Football podcast with Robert Mays, and he’s extremely high on Jaimes.

“He’s very athletic,” Thorn said. “His foot quickness is there but not just that – the actual patterns he’s executing in his pass set are very efficient. His hands are very good and he’s consistently using his hands to reestablish position on pass rushers. He just gets guys blocked consistently and he’s faced very good competition.”

SIXTH ROUND

213. Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State

H/W: 5-foot-11, 188 pounds

Hall, 20, has met with the Bills multiple times and is the kind of aggressive tackler that may catch the Bills’ eyes. For as much as fans want some of the top tier names at cornerback, the Bills have confidence in Levi Wallace if they need to use him and Dane Jackson, a seventh-round pick last season, has made some noise this offseason with the impression he made on Beane last year. Hall is a guy who could be a versatile piece and someone who could be developed slowly.

SEVENTH ROUND

236. Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, Illinois

H/W: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

The Bills could add a running back at this spot but I think they’re much higher on Antonio Williams than anyone wants to admit. Imatorbhebhe can absolutely jump out of the gym, posting an unreal 46.5 vertical at his pro day. Buffalo is all about adding different flavors to their wide receivers room and this kind of athletic ability should be fun in Brian Daboll’s hands.

READ MORE

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