Written by John Sparaco
Once draft day arrives on April 28, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott says there will be plenty of candy in the organization’s war room.
When slated to pick as late as 25th overall, it can be challenging to find ways to fill time as each team is awarded 10 minutes to decide on each selection. Waiting is nerve-wracking, but Bills general manager Brandon Beane, who has addressed almost every last weakness on his roster this offseason, seeks to make another sweet addition when it comes time to take the hand out of the candy jar and make the call.
An Aggressive Offseason
For Buffalo, the mission in free agency was simple – find a way to get after the opposing quarterback, and protect number 17.
Beane did both, manipulating the cap space to add several impact players on each side of the ball. They began bolstering the offensive line by signing Pro Bowl guard Rodger Saffold to a one-year deal. Additionally, the team retained key restricted free agent guard Ryan Bates, who was a crucial addition to the starting lineup down the stretch this past season.
Buffalo completely remodeled their trenches on the defensive side, bringing back old friends Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson, beefing up the interior with the additions of Tim Settle Jr. and DaQuan Jones, and of course, the bombshell move that brought Super Bowl 50 MVP and reigning Super Bowl LVI champion edge rusher Von Miller to the Bills on a six-year, $120 million contract.
Almost forgotten in all the free agency madness are the sneaky one-year signings of former Jets slot receiver Jamison Crowder and former Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard, who could both thrive with quarterback Josh Allen in this pass-happy offense.
After all of these additions, the Bills took care of Allen’s top target, Stefon Diggs, locking him into an extension that will keep him in Western New York through 2027.
Still more moves on the horizon?
As of this writing, the Bills currently sit with $9,077,724 in remaining cap space, according to the NFLPA salary cap report, which is updated daily.
Per Over The Cap, roughly $3.2 million of that will go to their upcoming draft class, which can vary depending on how many picks actually they end up making. That said, the Bills will still have enough money laying around to either sign a veteran free agent, such as cornerback Joe Haden or even work an extension for All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer, who is reportedly seeking a pay raise as he approaches the final year of his current deal.
When are the Bills on the clock?
Currently, the Buffalo Bills are in possession of eight draft selections:
Round 1: No. 25
Round 2: No. 57
Round 3: No. 89
Round 4: No. 130
Round 5: No. 168
Round 6: No. 185 (from CAR)
Round 6: No. 203
Round 7: No. 231 (from ATL)
Every team is allowed to bring in 30 prospects for official visits at their facilities prior to the NFL Draft. In recent years, players such as Josh Allen, Tremaine Edmunds, Ed Oliver and Dawson Knox were all brought in for top-30 visits before winding up in Buffalo. Here is the latest list of players who have reportedly met with the Bills this year, grouped by when they are projected to get picked:
Memphis OL Dylan Parham, UCLA OL Sean Rhyan, Ohio State OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely, Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller, Georgia RB James Cook, Alabama WR John Metchie III, Maryland S Nick Cross, Mississippi State CB Martin Emerson
Of course, not every visit has been reported. Other players that have been frequently linked to the Bills in mock drafts include Washington cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon, Alabama WR Jameson Williams, Penn State WR Jahan Dotson, Arkansas WR Treylon Burks, Utah LB Devin Lloyd, Florida CB Kaiir Elam, LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. and even San Diego State punter Matt Araiza in the mid-to-late rounds. You can look for the most updated list here, where Syracuse.com’s Ryan Talbot has logged each visit as they are reported.
“Less than 32 first-round grades”
The consensus belief throughout league circles is that this year’s draft class is weaker than years past, especially towards the top. Brandon Beane supported this claim on Wednesday, telling the media that he has less than 32 first-round grades this year based on their scouting department’s evaluations.
Granted, he did not have 32 last year either and still stayed put at pick number 30 to take Greg Rousseau, so anything is possible. The class is considered to be rather uninspiring at quarterback, yet extremely top-heavy at wide receiver.
Every team’s draft board looks a little different, but depending on how the dominoes fall, Beane and the Bills may be inclined to either package some excess picks to move up and secure who they believe to be a potential day one starter at a position of need, such as cornerback. On the contrary, they could also opt to move back and accumulate some more day two picks, where there is more valued depth at multiple positions.
The 2022 NFL Draft takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada and will be broadcasted on ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network. The first round will air on Thursday, April 28 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds 2-3 occur on April 29 at 7 p.m. while the remaining rounds 4-7 will start at noon on April 30.
Picks will be announced and prospects will have the opportunity to walk the stage at the heart of the Strip, next to the Caesars Forum convention center and between the High Roller Ferris wheel and LINQ Hotel.