Round 1, No. 27 overall: Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
My take: In what proved to be an unpredictable first round for other teams, the Bills maneuvered as most expected they would. Buffalo traded down from No. 10, acquiring a 2018 first-round pick and 2017 third-rounder in the process -- and then drafted White at No. 27. It was an ideal marriage of value and need for the Bills. The 26th-rated prospect from Scouts Inc., White is considered to be best in the zone-coverage scheme used by coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. He might not become an immediate starter for Buffalo, but he is a solid pick and a high-character addition to McDermott's locker room. White was the valedictorian of his class at Green Oaks (Louisiana) High School and wore No. 18 during his final two years at LSU, a number awarded to Tigers who are known for being selfless team players.
Doubling up for 2018: The Bills have been short on draft selections in recent years, the result of trading up for players such as Sammy Watkins (first round, 2014) and Reggie Ragland (second round, 2016). Those trades seemed fueled by general manager Doug Whaley's quick-fix approach to getting the Bills to the playoffs, where they have not been since 1999. Buffalo's decision Thursday to trade down from No. 10 indicates a shift in philosophy to more of a long-term focus where building draft capital is important. McDermott said at the conclusion of the first round that he will sleep well Thursday night knowing he got White and a first-round pick. If the Bills want to move up in the 2018 first round to select a quarterback, they now have the chips to do it.
McDermott does not refute report: Pro Football Talk reported Wednesday that Bills scouts fear their jobs will be in jeopardy as early as next week. Asked about the report Thursday, McDermott did not refute it but simply said his focus was on the draft. Whaley has not spoken to reporters since the Senior Bowl in January; he was notably out of the spotlight Thursday night, when he typically reacts to draft choices. McDermott, who has stressed a "one voice" philosophy within the organization, only fueled speculation about Whaley's future by using the word "I" and not "we" when describing several decisions made Thursday night in the draft.
Round 2, No. 37: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
My take: If you're going to trade up to target a specific player, as the Bills did with Jones, it helps to have his former college position coach in the same role with his NFL team. Phil McGeoghan coached East Carolina's wide receivers last season and was hired for the same job by the Bills this offseason, giving Buffalo a rare level of familiarity with Jones. Ceding a third-round pick (No. 91) to the Rams to move up eight spots in the second round will sting for the Bills, who need as much young talent as they can get on their rebuilding roster. Yet it is hard to argue with the selection of Jones, who was No. 2 on Mel Kiper's best available players entering Day 2.
How he fits: The Bills had three glaring needs entering this draft: cornerback, wide receiver and linebacker after the losses of Stephon Gilmore, Robert Woods and Zach Brown in free agency. They addressed cornerback with their No. 27 selection, Tre'Davious White, and Jones gives the Bills a potential No. 2 target alongside Sammy Watkins. Jones set an FBS record for career receptions (399) and single-season receptions (158, in 2016) and said on a conference call immediately after being drafted that he has the best hands in this draft class of receivers. McDermott did not commit to Jones becoming an immediate starter at receiver, but he has the size and pass-catching ability to compete with free-agent pickup Andre Holmes for a role. While scouting reports indicate Jones lacks top-end playing speed and ability to escape after the catch, he offers potential to be a No. 1 wide receiver if the Bills do not exercise Watkins' fifth-year option for 2018 by next week's deadline. McDermott said the Bills' selection of Jones and Watkins' contract situation are unrelated.
Round 2, No. 63: Dion Dawkins, OL, Temple
My take: The Bills' decision to trade up 12 spots, from No. 75 to No. 63, is a debatable move that runs counter to the idea that Buffalo should prefer more selections in what is considered a deep draft. In dealing for No. 63, the Bills gave up picks Nos. 75 (third round), 149 and 156 (both fifth round). That leaves Buffalo without third- or fourth-round picks, likely necessitating using 2018 draft resources to move up for a player in those rounds. Dawkins has the potential to become a solid starter at right tackle, yet the Bills gave up significant draft capital and flexibility to get him.
How he fits: It was not among the Bills' most glaring needs, but right tackle was an area where Buffalo could improve. Jordan Mills, who started all 16 games last season, finished 64th among offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus grading. Top swing tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is recovering from offseason hip surgery and has struggled when tasked with starting at right tackle. Another option at the position, Seantrel Henderson, has five games remaining on a 10-game drug policy suspension. He has not started a game since 2015, when he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.
What's next: Buffalo is without a third-round pick after two trades Friday night. After selecting Dawkins, coach Sean McDermott said the Bills' draft room was not packing up for the night and would keep their trade options open. If no moves are made, the Bills will enter Saturday with no fourth-round pick. They own picks Nos. 163 and No. 171 in the fifth round, as well as No. 195 in the sixth round. Barring additional moves, this will be a thin draft class for Buffalo in terms of number of players added.
Round 5, No. 163: Matt Milano, LB, Boston College
My take: Milano was the No. 229-ranked prospect by ESPN, and the Bills selected him at No. 163, so there is a risk that they reached for him. Does he have the ceiling to eventually become a starter at weakside linebacker? That is the biggest question with Milano, who should contribute immediately on special teams. But linebacker was the Bills' most pressing need entering Day 3, and they addressed it with this pick.
How he fits: Coach Sean McDermott said at the owners meetings last month that Ramon Humber and Lorenzo Alexander are penciled in as his outside linebackers, with Reggie Ragland and Preston Brown projected to compete for a role at middle linebacker in his 4-3 scheme. Humber was primarily a special-teams player last season, so that is a spot where the Bills could have upgraded in the draft. As a fifth-round pick, Milano will have to impress in training camp to push for a starting role. Yet, his versatility -- Milano has experience at safety and on special teams -- should give him a role on the 46-man game-day roster this season.
Round 5, No. 171: Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh
My take: After Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season, the Bills selected only four quarterbacks until 2016: J.P. Losman (first round, 2004), Trent Edwards (third round, 2007), Levi Brown (seventh round, 2010) and EJ Manuel (first round, 2013). As a comparison, the Patriots drafted seven quarterbacks from 2002-14, when they took Jimmy Garoppolo despite already having Tom Brady. The Bills had been rightfully criticized for not taking enough swings at finding their long-sought franchise quarterback in the draft, but their philosophy seems to have shifted over the past two years. Buffalo is taking a flier on Peterman in the fifth round this year after selecting Cardale Jones in the fourth round in 2016.
How he fits: Peterman is not ready to compete for Tyrod Taylor's starting job, but he has a good shot to earn the No. 2 job in training camp. Peterman does not have a strong arm but is considered an adept short and intermediate passer who offers a different set of traits from Jones, who has an extremely strong arm but is often inaccurate. Depending on whether the Bills keep two or three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, Jones' roster spot could be in jeopardy. The Bills recently signed veteran T.J. Yates to add experience to the quarterback room, and he could factor into the 53-man roster mix. If Peterman develops quickly, he could be an option to start in 2018, when the Bills can release Taylor without significant salary-cap consequences.
Round 6, No. 195: Tanner Vallejo, OLB, Boise State
My take: This pick continues to address the Bills' glaring need at linebacker. As a sixth-round pick, Vallejo will not be expected to compete for a starting role as a rookie. He offers long-term upside at a position where coach Sean McDermott lacked speed and athleticism, which makes Vallejo a good addition. He is considered more of a coverage linebacker than a run-stuffer.
Where he fits: The Bills' linebacker depth chart was their thinnest of any position on the roster. Vallejo should make the 53-man roster, but his contributions will likely be limited to special teams in the short term. Vallejo once blocked a field goal and a punt in the same game at Boise State. Along with fifth-round pick Matt Milano, Vallejo give the Bills some young prospects to groom this season as they look to fill their linebacker needs in the long term.
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