By Paul Peck, Buffalo Sports Page
Even though they’re not picking a quarterback like last year, there is still excitement and intrigue about who the Bills will select with their first round pick in tonight’s NFL Draft.
Will they fortify the offensive line? Will they grab a tight end called the next Gronk? Will they slide into this defense-heavy draft by adding a pass rusher or defensive tackle? Or will they trade up or down?
We asked the Buffalo Sports Page staff and contributors for their predictions about who the Bills will take with the 9th pick in the first round.
From what I understand, they want either Jonah Williams the tackle from Alabama or tight end T.J. Hockenson from Iowa. I do not know who they would prefer if both are there.
Williams is a warrior who is a plug and play guy at left tackle. If they took him they could move Dawkins inside to guard or move him over to right tackle.
Hockenson is a future Pro Bowl tight end who gives the offense a tight end who can create mis-matches as well as help the run game because he is a better blocker than they have had at the position over the last few years.
I have no idea what they will do if both are gone and that is a possibility. Could go with Hockenson’s teammate Noah Fant, who has freakish athleticism as a TE…or tackle Andre Dillard, who may be the best pass blocker of all the tackles this year.
T.J. Hockenson, Tight End, Iowa.
I think the Bills need an X factor and go-to target for Josh Allen.
I want them to take Montez Sweat of Mississippi State. Reason is I think he will be the best pass rusher on the board for them to take. I think Ed Oliver will be gone along with Bosa, Allen and Williams. Sweat does have a heart condition and might not be on the Bills board because of it. I still think he is a stud pass rusher and would love the Bills to take him. With Jerry Hughes in the final year of his contract the Bills need a stud pass rusher.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills take one of the two safe picks. These are the highest character guys that are thought to go around nine. They are Jonah Williams the tackle from Alabama and Christian Wilkens the DT from Clemson. The Bills are very big on character and these guys are on top of the list when it comes to quality character. You should be able to trade back a few spots and still get one of these guys. For the people that want to trade back these two names are very attractive because they should still be around between if the Bills trade back a few slots.
Bills: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama.
There are two basic principles that I bring to each NFL draft.
1. You win with good linemen.
2. It’s never a bad idea to trade down if you can.
As for number one, the Bills have a young quarterback. I would much prefer him to be in the pocket, looking for open receivers, than running for his life. Therefore, picking Williams or Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor make a lot of sense to me. If defense lineman Ed Oliver is available at No. 9, he would give the Bills something to think about.
Concerning number two, the draft is like buying lottery tickets – the more tickets you have, the better your chances of finding a winner. If the Bills could fall less than ten spots and pick up another third-round draft choice, great. And if wide receiver D.K. Metcalf of Mississippi were available in that new position in the first round, all the better. If you have a quarterback that can throw the ball out of the stadium, which the Bills do, it will be great to have someone who is waiting for the ball when it comes back to earth.
#9. T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
While the Bills paid plenty of attention to shoring up the offensive line in free agency, bringing in an offensive tackle on a 4 year guaranteed contract still seems to be the safer move here. But if TE T.J. Hockenson is still on the board at #9, I’d love to see Brandon Beane reach a little and make this the pick. While trading back to stock up more draft fuel has value, it sounds like too many teams around the Bills at #9 are in the market for Hockenson, including the Lions at #8.
f I could guess, the Bills are going to continue to surround Josh Allen with weapons first, then protection second, or a combination of both in the case of their first pick. I still have a flashback to Charles Clay coming up short on Allen’s desperation pass down in Miami, as the Bills came up short in a comeback effort to knock of the Fish late last season. Here’s hoping if the same scenario happens this upcoming season, it’s rookie Tight End T.J. Hockenson making the winning catch… and hopefully many more. Jim Kelly, if you remember early in his career, developed a comfortable relationship with his tight end Pete Metzalaars, before he had chemistry with #83. In 2019’s NFL, tight ends are difference makers, so I think Buffalo goes TE first, and offensive lineman second. What ever happened to Tony Hunter, Budd?
Jonah Williams, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The Bills haven’t taken an offensive lineman in the first round since 2009. They haven’t taken an offensive tackle since 2002. It’s time. You have a young quarterback with a forced habit of running for his life. That’s not how you win. So give him the protection he needs to not run, and stay in the pocket. Williams should be able to start right away at one of the tackle spots. If it’s left, you move Dawkins over to right. If it’s right for Williams, leave Dawkins at left until Williams is ready. Williams would be a major upgrade over Nsekhe, the current penciled in starting right tackle. Williams is pro-ready having played at Alabama. He’s high character, mean and nasty. The Bills need all of that.
I love adding a potential game changing tight end. The Bills haven’t taken one of those in the first round since 1983. But it’s risky. Everybody loves Hockenson, but to compare him to Gronk is a big reach. So go with the safer and equally needy pick in Williams.
Agree? Disagree? Want to discuss these picks, argue about them or just call us names for making them? Join the Buffalo Sports Page crew for our annual Draft Night Party TONIGHT at the Grill at the Dome in Tonawanda. The excitement and analysis gets started at 7:30pm.