Buffalo Bills 2021 NFL Draft Recapby Christopher Gallagher May 3, 2021 0 comments
Selecting 30th overall after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills headed into the 2021 NFL Draft with needs at edge, cornerback, running back, and wide receiver. Rumored to be interested in moving up before the start of the first round, general manager Brandon Beane ultimately decided to stay put at the second last selection of the round by selecting Miami pass rusher Gregory Rousseau.
Following that pick, the Bills doubled down on addressing their aging defensive line on the second night of the draft. Holding the 29th selection in the second round, the team selected defensive end, Carlos Basham Jr., out of Wake Forest. Closing out their 2021 draft class, Buffalo opted to stay with the theme of winning in the trenches by selecting three offensive linemen, along with bolstering their secondary with safety Damar Hamlin and cornerback Rachad Wildgoose.
Make sure to check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft Team Recaps.
Best Pick: Spencer Brown (Round 3, Pick 93)
Offering rare length at the tackle position, Brown possesses the athleticism at 6’8″ to be an eventual starting right tackle in the NFL. Nasty snap in and snap out, the redshirt senior displays strong balance and footwork when setting against rushers on the edge. Furthermore, Brown also offers a high football IQ while being able to pull in the run game.
Needing to add depth along the offensive line, the Bills head into next season with longtime Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Daryl Williams and standout left tackle Dion Dawkins as their projected starters. However, with Williams set to turn 31 years old at the end of his new contract extension, Brown offers the team a long-term viable replacement option at the right tackle position.
For more on Brown, check out our scouting report on him here
Worst Pick: Tommy Doyle (Round 5, Pick 161)
A two-and-a-half-year starter with the Miami Redhawks in the MAC, Doyle, like Brown, offers length and athleticism at the tackle spot. Physical and aggressive from whistle to whistle, Doyle often plays high while displaying poor footwork and technique. In addition to this, the 320 pounder will often lose leverage at the point of attack while also taking poor angles as a run blocker.
Picked in the middle of the fifth round, cornerbacks Keith Taylor, Avery Williams, Nate Hobbs, and Shemar Jean-Charles went picks after him, leaving the cornerback position thin for the Bills to address later in the draft. With Brown likely to enter next season as the swing tackle, Doyle will likely remain a draft and develop talent in Buffalo’s suddenly crowded offensive line room.
Sleeper Pick: Damar Hamlin (Round 6, Pick 212)
Earning All-ACC second-team honors after his stellar 2020 campaign, Hamlin racked up seven pass breakups, two interceptions, and 3.5 tackles for a loss in 10 games for the Pittsburgh Panthers. Displaying great instincts and feel for the game, he constantly takes strong angles to the ball while also remaining disciplined with his assignments on the field.
Loaded at the safety spot, the Bills head into next season with perennial pro bowlers Micah Hyde, and Jordan Poyer set to lead the team’s defense once again. However, with the team offering little depth at the position, look for him to earn snaps as a rookie in sub-packages. Furthermore, with experience in the gunner role in punt and kick coverages, look for Hamlin to also contribute to special teams.
For more on Hamlin, check out our scouting report on him here
Finishing the 2020 season tied for 15th in the NFL with 38 sacks, the draft strategy for Beane and company appeared to be clear, with a focus on bolstering the Bills pass rush. Remaining raw based on their technique and experience in college football, look for Rousseau and Basham to sit and develop behind starters Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison while also earning snaps in certain situations.
However, with Hughes set to hit free agency at the end of next season and the team’s ability to move on from Addison, the Bills’ first two selections remain primarily based on the future. Along with this, look for Brown to operate as the primary swing tackle along the offensive line next season while Hamlin, Wildgoose, and Stevenson should all earn time as depth roster pieces and on special teams.
Overall Grade: B+