When Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott took over the organization in 2017, the former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator selected current star cornerback Tre’Davious White with his first draft pick as a head coach.
Now, four years later, McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane might be bringing in another cornerback with their first-round pick.
In the most recent Pro Football Focus mock draft, which was released Monday morning, the Bills were predicted to select Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.
This past season, Samuel played in eight games, tallied 31 total tackles, and picked off three passes, while also breaking up six. Samuel also recovered two fumbles and forced another. As a sophomore, Samuel, who stands at 5-foot-10, 184 pounds, started all 12 games for the Seminoles and recorded 48 total tackles, picked off one pass, and recorded 14 pass breakups. He was named third-team All-ACC.
With both Josh Norman and Levi Wallace being free agents this offseason, the Bills only have White and former Pitt Panther Dane Jackson coming back for sure next season. Beane already said Jackson could slot into the No. 2 role next season, but the Bills have brought in at least one veteran cornerback the last few seasons.
With White, Jackson, and possibly Wallace in the mix, Samuel could provide the secondary with even more depth this offseason. PFF also believes he could provide the Bills with the versatility to play both on the outside and in the slot.
For what Samuel lacks in size, he makes up for in quicks. The 5-foot-10 corner is instinctive and was in hip pockets often throughout his time at Florida State. He was an absolute playmaker, as well, with 30 forced incompletions over the past three years (second-most in the Power Five).
Samuel’s read-and-react ability and overall athleticism give us hope that he can handle the outside at the NFL level, but putting him in the slot wouldn’t be the end of the world for Buffalo, either. Regardless, we believe he can play at a high level in the NFL.
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Bills Select Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield With 2nd Round Pick
In the second round of their mock draft, Pro Football Focus predicts that the Bills will select Michigan tackle/guard Jalen Mayfield.
Throughout this season, the Bills offensive line showed how important it was to have offensive linemen who can play multiple positions. Jon Feliciano moved from guard to center at times and before his season-ending injury, Cody Ford also showed off his versatility. PFF projects Mayfield as a tackle-to-guard convert and could be a bit of a project as well.
“He is young and has the physical makeup that gives him a lot of upside,” Pro Football Focus said about Mayfield. “Prior to playing in a couple of games in 2020, Mayfield was a bit of a roller coaster at Michigan. He was inconsistent throughout his 2019 campaign, flashing high-end reps but also constantly showing how unrefined he is technically. That year, he gave up 27 pressures en route to a 70.2 PFF grade.”
The Offensive Line Should Be Buffalo’s Focus this Offseason
With five offensive linemen entering free agency this offseason, it’s definitely another area that the Bills will need to address. Feliciano came out about two weeks ago and said he doesn’t see himself going anywhere other than Buffalo, but the Bills still have other needs.
In his end of the season press conference, McDermott said the Bills need to be able to run the ball better and that starts with the offensive line. PFF believes it’s one area that they will address this offseason as well.
“Adding more talent to the offensive line should not only improve the running game, but it should also improve (Josh) Allen’s protection on one of the pass-heaviest offenses in the NFL,” Pro Football Focus said during their article offseason preview article. “With multiple starters set to hit free agency, the offensive line should be Buffalo’s focus on offense this offseason rather than the running back position.”
Bills offensive linemen Daryl Williams, Ike Boettger, Ty Nsekhe, Brian Winters, along with Feliciano are all free agents this offseason, and the Bills will have to manage who they bring back and who they let go.