Buffalo Bills 2022 NFL Draft Recapby Christopher Gallagher May 5, 2022 0 comments
The Buffalo Bills have been knocking on the door of the Super Bowl for the last two seasons. After defeating the New England Patriots on Wild Card Weekend, they were eliminated by the Kansas City Chiefs once again in the postseason. As a result, the team held the 25th selection in the first round of the NFL Draft. After making two choices on night number two, the group made four more picks on Saturday. Looking to add to one of the most complete rosters in the game, the franchise had multiple needs as they hope to push through in the ultra-competitive AFC. This included cornerback, running back, wide receiver, and added depth along the offensive line.
Best Pick: Kaiir Elam (Round 1, Pick 23)
Choosing to move up two spots, the Bills sent picks 25 and 130 to the Baltimore Ravens for No. 23. Deciding on the Florida Gators’ cornerback, Buffalo gains added depth at the position. Offering length, quickness, and speed in coverage, he can get up into the face of opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. Furthermore, he shined in zone over his three years with the program with his ability to drive on the football. The team was in need of a true number two option behind All-Pro Tre’Davious White. They will likely be without White to start the season as he works his way back from a torn ACL. With Levi Wallace no longer with the franchise after inking a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency, this fills a significant need.
Worst Pick: Terrel Bernard (Round 3, Pick 89)
Buffalo released veteran A.J. Klein early on in the offseason. The Bills were in need of a third linebacker behind Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. A one-time Second Team All-Big 12 member in 2019, the 22-year-old has the range and physicality to make plays in the run game. He can also diagnose opposing route combinations quickly in pass coverage, allowing him to cover both tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Undersized at the position with just a 6’1″, 224-pound frame, he sometimes is unable to get off opposing blocks when contacted. The former three-star recruit can struggle to wrap up as a tackler with inconsistent form leading to a 14.8 percent missed tackle rate during his time with the Baylor Bears. Selected 89th overall in the third round, he likely should have been a day three pick.
Sleeper Pick: Khalil Shakir (Round 5, Pick 148)
Home to one of the best wide receiver corps around the league, the Bills are strong at the top. Led by All-Pro Stefon Diggs, the team also expects former fourth-round pick Gabriel Davis to make a substantial leap forward. Davis had a particularly strong showing in the team’s playoff loss to the Chiefs. Needing depth at the bottom to keep adding pass catchers for Josh Allen, general manager Brandon Beane chose not to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders while also releasing Cole Beasley. Fresh off his best season with the Boise State Broncos, Shakir hauled in 77 receptions for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns. Dynamic with the ball in his hands, he has the speed to run past opposing defensive backs down the sidelines while also being able to win in the middle of the field.
Already employing one of the best rosters in the game, Buffalo is expected to be among the premier Super Bowl contenders around the league again next season. The franchise added Elam to fill the hole at CB2 across from White. Looking to add a more dynamic option as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, James Cook is an excellent route runner and should be able to create mismatches for new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. Look for Shakir to earn a large chunk of playing time as a rookie. He can play both in the slot and on the boundary. Ultimately hitting on their two most glaring needs, they also upgraded at punter with the addition of Matt Araiza, making this one of the better draft classes in the NFL.
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