The Bills are in an interesting position this year. The 2017 draft-day trade with Kansas City and this offseason’s Cordy Glenn trade gives them picks 12 and 22. For a team with the weakest starting quarterback in the league as of now (whether it’s AJ McCarron or Nathan Peterman), they look primed to package those picks and trade up. But will the Bills trade up? And if they do, who will they draft?
Restraints On A Bills Trade
I think we can be fairly certain the Browns aren’t trading out of the first overall pick. I also think they’ll avoid trading out of fourth overall, almost for new GM John Dorsey to demonstrate a difference between the apparently pick-stockpiling strategy of previous GM Sashi Brown. Even though safe money would’ve had Brown this year using all the picks he worked so hard to accrue. It’s also pretty likely the Jets aren’t trading down from number 3, given they only just traded up to get it.
First things first: where can the Bills trade up to? We know that when discussing trades, teams tend to work more with the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart. Some use more modern charts such as Chase Stuart’s, which are often considered to more accurately represent what players drafted at different levels have contributed in the league, but the norm is still the Johnson model. With that in mind, the two Bills first-rounders land them somewhere between the third and fourth pick in the draft.
So Who Might The Bills Trade With?
So that leaves the Giants, Broncos and Colts in the top 6. And it’s going to be a competitive market. At the very least, I imagine Arizona and Miami will be eyeing up a trade. Outside bets would include Washington (though they may wait a year or two), New Orleans (though they lack draft capital), and even New England.
To get the Giants’ second overall pick, a Bills trade would probably include at least picks 12, 22, 53 and 65. A bidding war might inflate that, but because of the picks they’ve stocked, that would still leave the Bills with a late second-round and a late third-round pick. Even sending pick 56 instead of 65 would probably make it a pill worth swallowing. So don’t rule it out.
If that pick isn’t traded, and so if no-one else has traded into the top 5 by the time Denver pick, that bidding war will just exacerbate. Although, counter-intuitively, Buffalo would give up less. Pick #5 could cost Buffalo their two first round picks. Though if the market’s lighter, Buffalo may get a mid-round pick in return. For #6? Let’s say picks 12, 53 and 121.
So, that leaves who to target with a Bills trade?
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
I’ll assume Sam Darnold goes first overall to Cleveland. If Buffalo’s second-rated quarterback is a fair lick above their third-rated, the Giants’ spot is more valuable. Either way, I think Josh Allen is just about the likeliest candidate for their pick. Allen looks more like a prototypical quarterback than any quarterback ever. At 6’5” and 233 lbs, he is hard to tackle, tough and tall. He’s from a small town who took the junior college route to – of all places – Wyoming. The whole thing about him screams “blue collar work ethic”. And he’s got a cannon for an arm.
Thing about cannons though. Ever tried to play of those games that lets you simulate medieval or early modern warfare? The more realistic of them will show you that cannons are a pain in the arse to direct, or rely on in general. But when they hit the mark, they really hit the mark. Saying Josh Allen has a cannon for an arm might well be the most accurate metaphor I’ve ever seen in draft coverage. There are concerns over Allen’s decision-making too, and that he didn’t excel in college against not just top-level opposition, but also some of Wyoming’s mid-major opposition.
That said, Allen has all the tools and might just need the right coaching to become Our Supreme Quarterbacking Overlord. His physical potential is off-the-charts. Given how often Buffalo play in cold weather, I can see why a big-armed quarterback might hold more lustre.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
(Kirby Lee/ USA TODAY Sport)
Baker Mayfield is simultaneously Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel. If ever you needed a reminder that we don’t have a clue about quarterback scouting, Mayfield is that. He’s the hyper-productive, hyper-accurate, hyper-controversial Heisman Trophy winner. So what can he do? He’s got a good arm, with the best accuracy of any of this year’s prospects, particularly outside the pocket. He’s nimble and agile when scrambling. He doesn’t just read the field quickly, he’s pretty adept at looking safeties off, then firing to a receiver before the defender’s fully engaged in coverage. Whatever needed to be done last year, he just did. It’s no wonder he’s the apple of PFF’s eye. He’s not quite as quick as you might think, so he’s escaping the pocket to make a throw more often than to run.
If all that makes him look unstoppable, he comes with baggage. Where Russell Wilson at worst looks piously insincere, Mayfield at his worst looks rather volatile. The crotch-grab against Kansas sticks out. Not just the fact that it’s a lewd gesture, to that I mean, whatever, but also – it’s against Kansas. They’re terrible and you’re thrashing them. There’s just no need.
But there are football concerns too. Mayfield is going to need the right offensive coordinator, someone who can cope with him reverting to improvisation before other quarterbacks might think a play’s broken down. And Mayfield is going to have to polish his pocket play for when he is stuck in it. Mayfield looks a bit wobbly when he throws from the pocket. That’s a footwork issue, but still one that needs to be coached out.
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
I like Rosen a lot, but at this stage something about the idea of Buffalo drafting him just doesn’t seem right. But what’s good about Rosen? Well, he’s probably the most pro-ready of this year’s quarterback crop. Rosen has a good arm, displayed good accuracy and can make a nice wide variety of NFL throws. Most importantly, Rosen has the kind of cerebral approach to the game common to most elite quarterbacks. That shows in how he reads the field well, and seems to adjust his play seamlessly to attack different coverages and defences.
So why might he not go to Buffalo? I can’t entirely put my finger on why I don’t believe it. I know there’s an injury history including – but not limited to – concussions. Buffalo seemed somewhat pig-sick of having a slightly injury-prone QB in Tyrod Taylor last season. He doesn’t move tremendously well in the pocket – and given Buffalo traded away their left tackle… Beyond that? I dunno. There is something about Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott that seems a bit…old school? Given Rosen’s typecasting as the Platonic Millenial, if Hollywood pitted him against Gruff Old Man McDermott, it’d be with a pretty fraught script. Or am I being unfair here? Who knows.
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