After the Buffalo Bills‘ demoralizing 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional round, the consensus seems to be that one of the biggest issues the team must address this offseason is acquiring a solid wide receiver to back up Stefon Diggs.
While Gabe Davis was projected to be the team’s WR2 following his breakout performance in the playoffs last season, he fell short of expectations. The 23-year-old wide receiver is still a valuable asset, but adding fresh legs to the receivers room would boost competition at the position.
In NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter’s latest mock draft, he predicts the Bills will swing big in the first round to land USC’s standout wide receiver Jordan Addison since quarterback “Josh Allen needs a legitimate deep threat to stretch out defenses, which would also help the team’s running game.”
With the Miami Dolphins losing their first-rounder, the Bills currently own the No. 27 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. In order for the Bills to land the 21-year-old receiver in this scenario, Bills general manager Brandon Beane would “climb seven spots, giving up three 2023 picks (a first, third, and fourth-rounder).”
Addison, who transferred to USC for the 2022 season, caught 59 passes for 875 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games. Despite suffering a left ankle injury that kept him out several games, Addison led the team in receiving yards and touchdown receptions, earning an impressive 81.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
The 6-foot, 175-pound prospect spent the first three years of his college career playing at Pittsburgh, during which he won the Biletnikoff Award for being the best wide receiver in the nation. During the 2021 season, he caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns in 14 games.
Being Hard Up Against the Salary Cap, Buffalo Must Rely on the Draft for Talent
While the Bills would need to give up a lot of draft capital in order to snag Addison in NFL.com’s mock draft, Beane said himself during his end-of-year press conference that they need to get “creative” in rebuilding for the 2023 season since they’re approximately $20 million over the salary cap for next year.
“There’s not going to be a Von Miller signing,” Beane said, referring to the $120 million they plunked down for the veteran edge rusher last year, but that doesn’t mean Buffalo won’t be active in the free agency market. “We’ll do things. We may have to rework a few contracts.”
“We gotta hit on draft picks, we gotta find low-cost free agents that can find roles, whether it’s key backup, a solid starter, whatever it is. It’ll be on me and our scouting staff to make the right moves,” he concluded.
Beane, who loves a versatile player, likely already has an eye on Addison. The highly sough-after receiver was praised by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. for having the “versatility to play both inside and outside the slot” and because he “just knows how to get open.”
Beane’s Draft Acumen Has Came Under Fire
While Beane will forever be lauded for trading up to draft Allen in 2018, New York Upstate‘s Matt Parrino pointed out that it’s been a while since he’s made a great pick, as Tre’Davious White, Matt Milano, and Dion Dawkins were selected before he was hired.
“Since 2019, Beane has drafted 31 players and only nine have become regular starters,” Parrino wrote. “There isn’t one Pro Bowler or All-Pro selection among that group. “Perhaps the biggest criticism of Beane in his tenure has been his sub-par track record on the offensive line in the draft. He selected Wyatt Teller and traded him away to Cleveland, where he blossomed into an All Pro.” Adding insult to injury, the Bills traded up to get Cody Ford in the second round in 2019, while wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown were still on the board. Just before the start of the 2022 NFL season, the Bills traded Ford to Arizona for a fifth-rounder.
The Bills have also faced some criticism for not fully integrating their top draft picks into their game plan. Rochester First‘s Thad Brown pointed out how “not one” of their 2021 picks “achieved better than rotational starter status.” If the Bills trade up for Addison, head coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey would be on the hook to immediately make him and Diggs a scary duo of weapons for Allen.
As it stands, the Bills have a total of six picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. They have a selection in each of the opening rounds, two picks in the fifth round, and zero in Round 6 and Round 7.