The 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs, and pinpoints their potential 2021 NFL Draft targets.
The Buffalo Bills are the subject of today’s 2021 NFL Draft profile.
In 2020-21 the Buffalo Bills unseated the New England Patriots and won the AFC East for the first time since 1995. Not only did the Bills win the AFC East but their 13-3 record was tied (with the Green Bay Packers) for the second-best record in the NFL. Throughout most of the season. Buffalo was considered a top-2 team in the NFL.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen had a breakout season. He threw for career highs with 4,544 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns. On top of that, he rushed for 421 yards and had eight rushing touchdowns. His 45 scrimmage touchdowns almost won him the MVP. Allen was the runner-up to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The strength of the Buffalo Bills offense this past season was their receiving core. Buffalo started last offseason trading their first-round pick (that ended up being Justin Jefferson) to the Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs. In his first season in Buffalo Diggs broke out and led the league in receptions and receiving with 127 catches and 1,535 receiving yards. Cole Beasley finally gained recognition as one of the league’s best slot receivers. Beasley had 82 catches for 967 yards which earned him Second Team All-Pro honors.
Buffalo’s running back committee was made up of their third-round picks the past two years Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. After showing the potential of being a star running back as a rookie Singletary disappointed putting up 687 yards and two touchdowns. Moss barely out rushed Josh Allen rushing for 481 yards and four touchdowns. If both Singletary and Moss’s numbers are combined it gets 1,168 yards and six touchdowns which is solid for a workhorse back to have during a season. That would be good for fourth in the NFL a yard behind Jonathan Taylor and above Aaron Jones.
On the defensive side of the ball, Buffalo appeared to take a step back. After being a consistent top ten defense the last few seasons Buffalo was more of a middle-of-the-pack team in 2020-21. This is a slight shock considering they didn’t lose any major playmakers. The Bills struggled to defend against the pass this past season. They struggled to generate a pass rush despite adding Mario Addison and A.J. Epenesa last offseason.
The Bills had a very busy offseason. Somehow they managed to retain Matt Milano and Daryl Williams before free agency started. Both were expected to be premium players at their respective positions to hit the market. They also retained Levi Wallace, Isaiah McKenzie, Jon Feliciano, and Taiwan Jones. Buffalo also signed veterans like Mitch Trubisky, Matt Breida, Emmanuel Sanders, Efe Obada, Jacob Hollister, Forrest Lamp, Marquel Lee, and Bobby Hart to increase the depth they have at some of their most important positions.
But the Bills lost a few key free agents as well this offseason. To begin the offseason they released John Brown and Quinton Jefferson who were both previously major signings by Buffalo. Other players like Andre Roberts, Brian Winters, Tyler Kroft, and Ty Nsekhhe left the team as well.
2021 NFL Picks
Buffalo will have eight picks to use in the 2021 NFL Draft
First Round (one pick): No. 30
Second Round (one pick): No. 61
Third Round (one pick): No. 94
Fourth Round (zero picks):
Fifth Round (two picks): No. 162, No. 175
Sixth Round (one pick): No. 214
Seventh Round (one picks): No. 237
Cornerback- The Buffalo Bills are still struggling to find that second cornerback to play opposite Tre’Davious White. Taron Johnson is okay, but the Bills could find a better player earlier in the draft to fill that void. Also, it is worth noting that Levi Wallace is expected to hit the open market next offseason.
Defensive End- Buffalo just needs to keep swinging at defensive end until they hit something. They have four serviceable defensive ends on their roster. But it wouldn’t be crazy for any of them to finish the season with less than eight sacks. Buffalo needs to find a defensive end that could generate the pressure and potentially be a double-digit sack player for them down the road.
Defensive Tackle- Similar to defensive end, the defensive tackles for Buffalo have been disappointing. Especially Ed Oliver, who coming out of Houston many thought was going to be the next great pass-rushing interior defensive lineman. Adding a player who can pressure the quarterback from the interior and take attention away from other pass rushers could open up lanes for players like Oliver and the players on the edge to get to the quarterback.
Running back- Last year the Bills’ most dominant rusher was Josh Allen. That speaks for how great Allen is using his legs but also how poor Devin Singletary and Zack Moss played last season. If a potential workhorse running back is available for them early in the draft they may have to add him to add a true dominant rusher to their backfield.
Wide Receiver- Even though the Bills brought in Emmanuel Sanders they should evaluate their long-term answer at receiver. Both Sanders and Cole Beasley are on the wrong side of 30 and may not be in the Bills’ plans down the road. A young developmental receiver could give the Bills the option to move on from one or both of these players as soon as next season.
Safety- Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are one of the best safety duos in the NFL. But both are starting to get older and the Bills neither have a young player on their roster who could develop into a starter down the road or could be a sufficient backup. This is a position the Bills could address in the middle rounds.
2021 Draft Targets
Pick No. 30: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
One of the largest losers of the NFL Draft process this last season is Gregory Rousseau. The once deemed top-5 pick is now considered a top-50 selection after having a rough Pro Day. Rousseau’s Pro Day was so important because he only had one full season worth of tape at college and is extremely raw at the defensive end position. His drop is similar to what happened to Bills’ second-round pick edge rusher A.J. Epenesa last season. If Buffalo took a chance on Rousseau in the first round they wouldn’t have to expect much this season. Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Efe Odbada, and Epenesa would be expected to be the team’s primary pass rushers. The Bills would take Rousseau because they are betting on his upside to become an elite pass rusher. Rousseau could be a situational pass rusher early in his career in Buffalo that develops into a starter after refining his skills. That could help him potentially become the player many thought he would become after his 15.5 sack 2019-20 season at Miami.
Pick No. 61: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
Kelvin Joseph feels like a player who could boom or bust depending on where he lands. He had some issues at LSU that resulted in him transferring to Kentucky. He also is raw at the position. However, Joseph has the traits and skill set of a starting NFL cornerback. A team like Buffalo feels like a good fit for Joseph where he could eventually develop into the Bills secondary outside cornerback.
Pick No. 99: Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
Adding Shi Smith to the Bills’ offense would help replicate the speed lost when cutting John Brown. Like Brown, Smith can play both on the outside and slot. He also is considered a burner receiver who makes plays with his speed. He could sit behind Diggs, Beasley, and Sanders for a year or two before becoming a primary receiver on this offense. Josh Allen could develop great chemistry with a deep ball threat like Smith. He has all the skills that Allen loved about Brown, but Smith is only 22 years old and would be on a rookie contract.