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2018 NFL Draft - Mock Draft - Buffalo Bills Draft - Rankings

Buffalo Bills 2018 Draft Review

Anthony D. Macari

The Bills completed what will for good or bad likely be a franchise defining draft. They opened up with one anticipated bold move to trade up for the man they believe can be their franchise QB and then followed that up with another, surprise move up to land a 19 year old Linebacker to Quarterback the defense. They also added a Kyle Williams look alike to man the middle of the D-Line, a pair for the secondary, a much needed road grading guard and a pair of slot receiving, undersized but explosive prospects who have experience as returners.
While they did well to find talent at positions of need through the 7 rounds and 8 picks, this draft will likely forever be defined by the career of one Josh Allen.

The opinions on Allen in the pre-draft process were strong among the Bills Mafia on Twitter and on the local radio stations. Most fans are extremely skeptical a sub 60% college QB can improve at the NFL level. While I agree Allen breaks most of the golden rules for drafting a college QB, I spent the majority of my time on Twitter these past couple of months defending the possibility of the Bills drafting him. I did believe at the end of the day he would indeed be the pick because of his near perfect measurables despite the underwhelming production. One of the best arguments for Allen was his character and commitment to the game, but the reveal of several embarrassing insensitive twitter posts from high school when he was 15 brought even that into question. Indeed the twitter posts became a focus of all interviews with him and caused the Bills to conduct a 35 minute phone call with him to have him address the troublesome adolescent posts.

At the end of the day, the posts won't matter and the initial Bills Mafia criticism won't matter if he comes anywhere near fulfilling his incredible potential. He has a quiet determination, the intelligence and inner drive that I believe greatly improve the long odds to make the jump he needs to make. He also displayed a natural leadership that earned the love of his teammates and coaches every step he made along the path and that also will greatly aid him. This is no doubt a go big or go home selection by a Bills front office that has confidence in its ability to not only identify rare athletes, but to train them to dominate on Sundays. While Allen likely sits and learns for a season, Edmunds could compete for defensive rookie of the year honors, even though at 19, he is still also quite raw.

Watching the tape on all of these prospects, you see some common themes, athleticism, versatility, leadership and they all play the game with next level passion. This is an exciting time for the Bills as McDermott, Beane and the Pegulas have laid the foundation for the direction of this team for the next decade. Hopefully these high risk/ high reward selections will return the Bills to a level not seen since the Super Bowl run. If they do become a dominant force that competes year after year, this will be the draft to look to as where it all began.
1.7 (7) Buffalo Bills (Trade via Buccaneers)
2017 record: 9-7
Top needs: QB, ILB, O-Line

Josh Allen    QB    6047, 237    Wyoming
PFWR Big Board Rating - 4

The Bills make the much anticipated move up to go get their QB. Allen is the most physically gifted QB prospects I have ever evaluated with a howitzer for an arm, size, athleticism and high IQ. He is also one of the most maligned QB's I have ever seen. Most Bills fans abhor this pick because of his low completion percentage and inconsistent tape. While Allen has much to improve and being picked this high is more a product of his potential than his production, which normally is a losing formula, he has the kind of leadership and competitiveness that indicates he will work relentlessly to fulfill his near limitless potential.

While fans will need to be patient because he will need to redshirt a year and will have some growing pains when he finally does hit the field, he very well could reach pro-bowl/ MVP level production given proper training that will improve his footwork, vision and timing.

The reason to believe he can improve comes from seeing him make plays no other QB in this class or many in any class are capable of making. He has the ability to execute within the framework of the pocket using his 6'5 frame and rocket quick release to thread the needle down field and the ability to shrug off pressure, bounce outside and throw a dart downfield while off balance or on the run. He was particularly effective inside the redzone.

The drama of the pick was increased by the draft eve outing of several insensitive tweets made/retweeted by Allen from when he was in High School. The Bills ended up speaking to an emotional Allen for 30 minutes by phone draft day and were satisfied with his response.

While I understand the fans angst when they see a QB with a sub 60% completion rate with clips showing Allen sailing passes over the head of a receiver on a short pass but the fact he was in a system that was not at all QB friendly, surrounded by questionable talent but still managed to lift the program to its first back to back bowl seasons since the 80's speaks to his leadership ability. Wyoming's scoring doubled in his first season as starter and he found the endzone at a prolific rate both on the ground and in the air. His personal numbers did slip in 2017 when several seniors moved on to the NFL including their starting RB Brian Hill and #1 WR  Tanner Gentry. While Allen now is the prototypical size with one of the strongest arms ever to enter the draft, he was offered no scholarships coming out of college because he was a late bloomer coming from a small town school. The fact Allen has had to fight his way for recognition every step has given him that burning competitive edge needed to succeed at the next level. Allen breaks a lot of the conventional rules for drafting a QB, but he is th ekind of rare talent and rare person that I believe is worth the risk.

Trade details: Buccaneers receive Picks 12, 53 & 56  / Bills receive Pick 7, 255

Final Mock: Anthony D. Macari

5. Buffalo Bills (projected Trade via Broncos)
2017 record: 9-7
Top needs: QB, ILB, O-Line

Josh Allen    CB    6047, 237    Wyoming

The Bills make the much anticipated move up to go get their QB. Allen is the most physically gifted QB prospects I have ever evaluated with a howitzer for an arm, size, athleticism and high IQ. He is also one of the most maligned QB's I have ever seen. Most Bills fans will abhor this pick because of his low completion percentage and inconstant tape. While Allen has much to improve and being picked this high is more a product of his potential than his production, which normally is a losing formula, he has the kind of leadership and competitiveness that indicates he will work relentlessly to fulfill his near limitless potential.

While fans will need to be patient because he will need to redshirt a year and will have some growing pains when he finally does hit the field, he very well could reach pro-bowl/ MVP level production given proper training that will improve his footwork, vision and timing.

The reason to believe he can improve comes from seeing him make plays no other QB in this class or many in any class are capable of making. He has the ability to execute within the framework of the pocket using his 6'5 frame and rocket quick release to thread the needle down field and the ability to shrug off pressure, bounce outside and throw a dart downfield while off balance or on the run. He was particularly effective inside the redzone.

While I understand the fans angst when they see a QB with a sub 60% completion rate with clips showing Allen sailing passes over the head of a receiver on a short pass but the fact he was in a system that was not at all QB friendly, surrounded by questionable talent but still managed to lift the program to its first back to back bowl seasons since the 80's speaks to his leadership ability. Wyoming's scoring doubled in his first season as starter and he found the endzone at a prolific rate both on the ground and in the air. His personal numbers did slip in 2017 when several seniors moved on to the NFL including their starting RB Brian Hill and #1 WR  Tanner Gentry. While Allen now is the prototypical size with one of the strongest arms ever to enter the draft, he was offered no scholarships coming out of college because he was a late bloomer coming from a small town school. The fact Allen has had to fight his way for recognition every step has given him that burning competitive edge needed to succeed at the next level. Allen breaks a lot of the conventional rules for drafting a QB, but he is th ekind of rare talent and rare person that I believe is worth the risk.

Trade details: Broncos receive Picks 12, 22 & 96 (2,096 pts) / Bills receive Pick #5 (1700)

2018 QB Rankings, Reviews & Projections

QB Rank
 Overall Rank
 Name
 College
 Height
 Weight
 1
1
Sam Darnold
 USC
 6033
 221
 2
3
Baker Mayfield
  Oklahoma
 6005
 215
 3
4
Josh Allen
 Wyoming
 6047
 237
 4
17
Josh Rosen
  UCLA
 6040
 226
 5
18
Lamar Jackson
 Louisville
 6022
 216
 6
 32
 Mike White
 Western Kentucky
 6045
 224
 7
 54
 Mason Rudolph
 Oklahoma State
 6045
 235
1. Sam Darnold USC
Height: 6033 Weight: 221
40: 4.85 Hand: 9 3/8 Arm: 31
Wonderlic: 28 - Velocity: Did not throw at combine

In
a year with 4 QBs in the mix as the top QB prospect and a potential for 6 to go in the first round, Darnold is at the top not because he is best in any one area, but because he is the most complete. He has NFL size, arm strength, football IQ, leadership intangibles with a clean off-field record, durable and had a high level of production. Again, there may be a prospect in this draft better in each of those individual categories, but none other than Darnold are in the top grouping in every one, thus making him the safest pick at the position in the draft.

Darnold is very young (20) and has only little more than a season and half of experience. He has had trouble protecting the ball both passing and in the pocket due to lapses in decision making and the fact he has a long and looping pitcher's arm motion that exposes the ball. The long motion is where he gets much of his velocity so it would not be something to try to change entirely but he did show it could be tightened up at his pro-day, where he showed a much improved, tighter release. It remains to be seen if he reverts back in live situations so this just may be something he will have to work around.

Despite the mechanical problem, Darnold is able to throw to all levels with velocity, timing and accuracy. He has prototypical size and football IQ. He has exceptional pocket presence and can shift, step up or tuck the ball away for plus yardage when pressured in a manner reminiscent of Andrew Luck. He is a tough leader who teammates respond to and play hard for. Bottom line, Darnold is a solid future franchise QB that may not be able to lift a team up on his shoulders right away, but with a strong supporting cast can be the face of an organization for a decade plus.

Projection: Round 1 - Pick 1 to Browns

Anthony D. Macari
2. Baker Mayfield Oklahoma
Height: 6005 Weight: 215
40: 4.84 Hand: 9 1/4 Arm: 30 1/4
Wonderlic: 25 - Velocity: 59 (left)/ 60 (right)

Baker Mayfield is 6 feet 215 pounds of competitive fire. Off-putting to opponents but a take no prisoners leader on and off the field. He went from Walk-on to the Heisman with one of the most accomplished resume's in recent college history. He is the darling of the scouts that rely on analytics.

Mayfield had a run in with the law for being young, drunk and stupid, but the off-field Manziel type issues begin and end with that one isolated incidence. On the field, he also had some controversial moments, notably planting the Oklahoma flag at mid-field at Ohio State after a hard fought upset victory and a lewd gesture after he was disrespected at the coin toss and being targeted with multiple head hunting cheap shots vs Kansas. On the field the biggest question mark comes not from a lack of production, but from his limited height. He may have challenges to find visible lanes to throw in a traditional NFL offense, unlike the spread offense that opened up lanes at Oklahoma. He will be best on a team with a solid pass protecting interior line that can keep him clean in his face. While he throws with good rpm's and velocity he does not have the natural arm strength as some of the others in this class and he puts maximum effort in every throw to generate his velocity. This works sufficiently in the short and intermediary levels and deep in a clean pocket, but in a crowded pocket may struggle some.

While Mayfield may lack the prototypical height of an NFL QB, he has the kind of elite competitive fire that all the greats share. He has a live arm and has experience working through progressions and expertly dissecting a defense. He makes on target and in rhythm throws both in the pocket and on the run to the short and intermediary levels, both inside and outside. Mayfield's redzone production, where the speed and tight windows best translate to Sunday, Mayfield's production was head and shoulders above the other QB prospects in this class with an 80% adjusted completion percentage and 114.7 passer rating according to @PFF_College. While he is, from an analytics perspective, a near perfect prospect, there is plenty there on tape for the traditional scout to like as well. He makes plays both within the offense but even more impressively he often burned defenses when forced to improvise, throw off platform, when he was flushed from the pocket or when a play initially broke down. He has remarkable awareness and the vision of a point guard with the ability to make split second decisions and translate that into an accurate throw or productive scramble.

Baker Mayfield is the kind of player opponents hate but fans and teammates will want in their fox hole and leading the charge. He has the swagger, athletic instinct and competitive edge found in all the greats. Fact is, if he was 2 inches taller he would be the highest graded QB to come out since Luck, but given the lack of height, a coach may need to adjust an offense slightly to help open up sight lanes and make sure there is talent across the line for him. My projection is now pick 3 to the Jets but my hope is that he ends up in Buffalo as the new leader of the #Billsmafia. With Flutie's athletic instinct and Kelly's competitive fire and toughness, he may just be the QB Bills fans have wanted for years. I think McDermott will embrace Mayfield's passion and use it to further change the culture in Buffalo, like Mayfield did at Oklahoma. It will take a move up to 2 to guaranty getting Mayfield and at 2 the Bills may prefer Darnold if there or Allen.
Round 1 - Pick 3 to NY Jets

3. Josh Allen Wyoming


Height: 6047 Weight: 237
40: 4.75 Hand: 10 1/8 Arm: 33 1/4
Wonderlic: 37 Velocity: 62 (left)/ 62 (right)


Anyone who even casually follows the draft knows Allen has a howitzer for an arm. They likely also have heard about the low completion percentage and accuracy issues. No doubt both are true, but the crowd that has written him off simply because his completion percentage is below 60% likely are undervaluing Allen as a prospect.


Where Mayfield is the darling of the analytics crowd, Allen has the kind of measurables traditional scouts drool over. In fact, if you try to develop the prototypical QB in a lab, you probably couldn't do much better than Allen. He was clocked at 62 mph to both the left and right throwing at the combine, scored the highest on the Wonderlic among the QBs with a score of 37 and at nearly 6' 5" 237 lbs has plus athleticism and the frame to be a force to take down in the pocket. Despite the inconsistency throwing the ball, he has flashed big play-making ability and has the kind of intangibles and leadership qualities the team that selects him could rely on to carry a franchise. 


Allen statistics are poor in multiple areas, especially his completion percentage. His numbers dropped significantly this year from last, which is not what you want to see out of a developing QB. There are times he shows extremely poor mechanics even when not pressured. He flees the pocket too soon at times and there are a handful of balls a game he throws that sail far over the intended targets head, usually due to failing to properly set his feet and drive the ball. This likely is because his arm strength is so strong, he often can get away with an arm throw without driving from his lower body.


If you saw those few passes and the completion percentage, you might write him off as a prospect. If you did, you would be completely missing on a kid with Elway type potential. Of course there is certainly a long way to go from where Allen is to have anything close to an Elway type career, but as a junior, Elway was not that far ahead of where I see Allen right now as a junior. Some QB's are late bloomers and I believe Allen has the kind of work ethic that I believe he will continue to develop his raw natural ability and come close to maxing out his potential. Yes, that means a certain leap of faith, but its not like Allen hasn't already displayed some of his vast potential. In fact, even the analytics crowd have to admit his redzone numbers are impressive. That's significant because inside the redzone, windows are tighter and the pace quickens, most like what a QB will see at the NFL level. According to @pff_college Allen had the highest percentage of positively graded redzone attempts, the second highest redzone passer rating and the third highest adjusted redzone completion percentage among the top 6 QB draft prospects this year. Allen also was able to lead a team with questionable talent to two straight Bowl game appearances including an explosive performance in a Bowl win over Central Michigan in December. It's also somewhat telling when a QB goes out of the lineup, to see how the team performs without him, and when Allen went down at the end of the regular season, Wyoming lost both games. 


While Allen had statistically a season far below where you want a top QB prospect to be, he also made enough spectacular plays and shows the kind of leadership to believe he will develop into a transformative QB for a franchise. He simply can do things on a football field a rare few QB prospects can do, both throwing the ball and escaping a rush. It will not happen overnight, so he needs to go to a team willing to be patient and is capable of continuing to develop him but I do feel in 3 years, he likely will be the best QB in this class. Unfortunately for him, I am projecting him to the Jets with pick 3 where he will be joining a franchise that hasn't a clue how to develop a QB in a city that will have very little patience for a developing young QB. 


Projection: Round 1 - Pick 2 to Bills via Trade

4. Josh Rosen UCLA

Height: 6040 Weight: 226
40: 4.92 Hand: 9 7/8 Arm: 31 3/4
Wonderlic: 29 Velocity: 57 (left)/ 59 (right)

One of the things about this draft class is every prospect has a set of skills and characteristics that some teams, fans and scouts will love and most of them also have a set of things that others will hate. It really is an eye of the beholder draft and Rosen is no exception. Some see the beautiful polished mechanics, the pin point accuracy on most throws, the plus arm strength and a unique outspoken intelligence and they rate him at the top of the class. Others see a QB who needs a clean pocket, warm weather, a strong supporting cast, coaches who don't mind be challenged, a top level training staff to keep him on the field and an outspoken personality that might alienate some in the locker room or in the stands.

On the field, Rosen does many tings exceptionally, but he was at the bottom of this class in redzone efficiency and accuracy. While in a clean pocket, his mechanics are flawless and has exceptional footwork to shift in the pocket, but he seems to be almost over trained and mechanical lacking the natural athletic instinct to make plays when things break down. He tends to force throws when pressured relying on his arm talent and often takes big hits that have knocked him out of games with a shoulder injury and multiple concussions. His thin frame and playing style may not withstand the pounding he may take at the next level. He's a player who often puts up good stats in losing efforts. Is that because he is a good player on a bad team or is it because he cares more about his personal performance and numbers than the team's success. His own former coach said he would take Darnold over Rosen if he was making the decision in Cleveland because Darnold has
 "that blue-collar, gritty attitude." that his teammates will love and will always say the right things. Did that mean Mora doesn't believe Rosen is a blue collar gritty player who teammates will love and won't always say the right thing?

In the right situation, on a team with an exceptional offensive line, Rosen can be a franchise QB. In shorts playing touch football, he is the best QB in this class, and the way the NFL is moving with rule changes the game may soon more resemble touch than tackle anyway.  However, i would not be surprised to see Rosen being the biggest disappointment in this class and move on to bigger and better things out of the league sooner rather than later.

Projection: Pick 11 - Miami Dolphins

Top 5’s For October: QB

Mike Watkins

@merk256

10/17/17

 

1. J.Allen, Wyoming

2. S.Darnold, USC

3. J.Rosen, UCLA

4. C.Thorson, Northwestern

5. W.Grier, West Virginia


 

Thoughts


-Every pass is way over analyzed for each of these QB’s and its definitely making for some entertaining hot takes on Twitter. The reality is one play will not define any of these players. I love the debate that is going on however. It’s interesting to see what everyone looks for in a QB and how people latch on to their guy


-I have all of these guys graded pretty close especially the top 3. If they all declare you could legitimately see all 5 of them go in the first round.


-If you are looking for a Andrew Luck/Peyton Manning Type QB in this class you won’t find them. I actually think that’s where a lot of teams make mistakes and are afraid to pull the trigger. Generational QB’s like that are the clear cut number 1 pick only come around about every decade or so. If you are waiting for them and then compound it with being in the position to draft said QB you’ll be waiting a very long time. While there is no clear cut number 1 there will be a lot of good starters who emerge from this class


-Late Round Prospect I like is Jake Browning from Washington. He is going to get knocked down for his size and arm strength as well as inevitably draw comparisons to Matt Barkley. I think he’s a gamer though and if I was selecting a QB from the 3rd round on he’d be the one I bet on