The Buffalo Bills have proven to be legitimate contenders over the last two seasons but still aren’t a Super Bowl team. With that in mind, general manager Brandon Beane enters this offseason needing to make calculated moves to get the team over the hump.
Boasting the No. 1 defense in the NFL and a top-five offense in 2021, the Bills are a complete football team but still have important decisions to make regarding pending free agents while adding to the roster.
The key for Beane is maximizing his available assets, which, considering the depth of the roster, could include a couple of trades up the board during the coming NFL draft. Beane hasn’t been shy about trading up in the past and he saw two of his draft picks from the 2021 Draft get plucked off the practice squad and onto other teams' rosters. With that said, perhaps the Bills don’t make all nine draft picks they are currently slated to have but use some of them to land specific targets.
In my latest 7-round projection for the Bills in the 2022 NFL Draft, two trades are made to present a scenario in how Buffalo can use its abundance of capital to come away with six logical prospects to add to the roster.
Round 1 (No. 25 overall): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Jameson Williams has no business being available at No. 25, but after tearing his ACL in the National Championship Game he could go later than his talent level suggests. Should that be the case, his floor should be the Bills’ pick.
I believe the Bills' biggest needs remain at the defensive line, but what Williams brings at receiver is exactly what Buffalo needs to keep its fastball and provide Josh Allen another dynamic weapon in the passing game. Williams is a sure-handed receiver with the ability to play outside and from the slot and features a dynamic vertical receiving skill set. He creates separation down the field and he pairs that with exceptional ball skills.
Averaging 20 yards per catch in 2021, Williams is a big-play machine. He also averaged more than 9.0 yards after the catch per reception, which is a skill that is sorely missing from the Bills' current receiving corps.
Williams may not be available to start the 2022 season, but he will be worth the wait. It’s reminiscent of when the Tennessee Titans landed Jeffery Simmons with the 19th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Simmons was easily a top-10 prospect but a February ACL tear while training for the draft pushed him down the board and the Titans found a steal. The Bills could do the same with Williams and make the passing offense even more lethal.
Round 2 (No. 39 overall): Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina
TRADE: Buffalo sends Nos. 57, 128, and 201 to Chicago for No. 39
Opting for a receiver in the first round means the Bills didn’t find help for the defensive line and it creates some urgency to find an answer on day two. Kingsley Enagbare is an explosive edge rusher with good length and contact balance. He is outstanding at converting speed to power and executes with a hot motor. He offers an appealing blend of speed and power.
While he has room to expand his pass-rushing arsenal and improve as a run defender, his size, length, power, and balance provide an exciting foundation of traits to develop from. Given Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, and Efe Obada are expiring contracts, the Bills need to find more answers at defensive end to go with the young trio of Greg Rousseau, AJ Epenesa, and Boogie Basham.
Round 3 (No. 89 overall): Mario Goodrich, CB, Clemson
The Bills have enjoyed incredible stability in the secondary but there are two major questions right now at cornerback. Firstly, Tre White is coming off an ACL tear, so how he recovers and when he will be available are both unclear at this point. Secondly, Levi Wallace is an expiring contract and, given his success, won’t likely be retained on a bargain deal as he has been in the past. Those dynamics make it necessary for the Bills to invest in the position and Mario Goodrich is an appealing prospect.
A first-team All-ACC selection, Goodrich’s 2021 campaign was as good as any corner in college football. Offering good size, length, athleticism, coverage instincts, physicality, and ball skills, Goodrich leaves very few boxes unchecked. The biggest question is that he was only a one-year starter at Clemson, so expanding his success across a larger sample size would be ideal. That said, Goodrich was dominant in 2021 and showed the promise of an impact playmaker in the NFL if he continues the path that he’s currently on. He will allow the Bills to play more man coverage and he’s an exceptional tackler.
Round 4 (No. 112 overall): John Ridgeway, IDL, Arkansas
TRADE: Buffalo sends Nos. 167 and 183 to Atlanta for No. 112
The lack of depth among the interior defensive linemen in the 2022 draft and the need on the Bills’ roster puts Buffalo in a spot where in order to find meaningful youth at all positions of need another trade-up is necessary. The only interior defensive linemen under contract right now in 2022 are Ed Oliver, Star Lotulelei, and El Ankou.
John Ridgeway profiles as an A-gap defender in the NFL where his size and run-stopping prowess would provide a boost to the Bills’ defense. He leveled up in competition and transferred from Illinois State to Arkansas ahead of the 2021 season and proved he belonged. He would provide the Bills depth behind Lotulelei and be a developmental starter to take over the role if Harrison Phillips is not retained.
Round 7 (No. 228 overall): Ty Chandler, RB, North Carolina
By the end of the 2021 season, it became clear that the Bills didn’t trust any running back not named Devin Singletary to carry the football with any degree of regularity. And while Singletary performed well, Buffalo needs more reliable options to contribute, so adding a veteran and using a draft pick on depth is necessary.
Ty Chandler has been a productive back and had a breakout season in 2021 for North Carolina, where he collected 1,097 rushing yards with 13 rushing touchdowns while averaging six yards per carry as the feature guy. He shared the workload in his previous years at Tennessee and is an experienced kick returner. Chandler is an elusive back with good speed and is a sufficient receiver out of the backfield.
Round 7 (No. 243 overall): Joshua Ezeudu, IOL, North Carolina
Entering the offseason, the Bills’ offensive line mostly remains intact from 2021 with the only expired contracts being Ike Boettger and Ryan Bates (who is a restricted free agent). While there are upgrade opportunities, it isn’t the Bills' most pressing need but it’s always smart to add something to the unit in every draft, and Joshua Ezeudu is a great late-round target.
A three-year starter for North Carolina, Ezeudu has notable experience at both tackle and guard but projects best to a role on the interior in the NFL. Despite plenty of inconsistency on the North Carolina offensive line, Ezeudu has been a steady and reliable presence for the Tar Heels. Ezeudu is an aggressive run blocker that gets after people and his anchor is firm in pass protection.