Receiver or the field? Analyzing what positions the Buffalo Bills will focus on in Round 1

2022 NFL Draft Buffalo Bills

Jameson Williams. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Treylon Burks.

If Buffalo fans weren’t familiar with those names before, they undoubtedly are now as it’s hard to find a mock draft that doesn’t have the Bills taking one of the top receivers in the first round of the upcoming draft.

It’s easy to understand why.

Emmanuel Sanders will soon turn 35 years old and is an unrestricted free agent. Cole Beasley will be 33 by the time next season starts, and he was recently granted the OK to seek out a trade, according to ESPN.

But the continued development of Gabriel Davis and the depth of the receiving class are reasons to believe Buffalo will look elsewhere with the No. 25 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Coach Sean McDermott sang Davis’ praises during the recently completed Combine, calling the third-year player “our type of guy.” From McDermott, via the ABC affiliate Channel 7 WKBW: “He has tremendous DNA. He’s a winner. He’s a player that in Year 2, really in Year 1, our backup in Year 1 had a good season and came back and followed it up in Year 2, which is not easy to do. And then he continues to get better and better. And that’s what I’m looking forward to seeing when he comes back in Year 3 now this offseason. He’s quickly becoming one of our leaders in our locker room at such a young age, which is unique to say for a young player.”

Davis, a 2020 fourth-round pick out of Central Florida, finished the season with 35 receptions for 549 yards and 6 touchdowns – remarkably similar to his rookie numbers of 35-599-7. But it was his play in the playoff loss to Kansas City that turned heads after Davis caught 8 passes for 201 yards and 4 TDs.

Draft analysts say as many as six receivers could go in the first round – and it’s possible all will be gone before Buffalo is on the clock.

That doesn’t mean Buffalo will ignore the position altogether, as it’s considered a deep class with incredible speed. Looking for a starter on Day 2? There are 15 receivers ranked among the top 100 prospects in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board and 31 ranked among the top 264 players. Looking for speed burner? Nine ran a sub-4.4 40 at the Combine, led by Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton, who ran a blazing 4.28 40. Overall, 18 receivers ran a sub-4.5 40.

Therefore, if Buffalo doesn’t take a receiver on Day 1, the team could still potentially find a starter on Day 2 or even Day 3, ala Davis from a few seasons ago.

Here’s a look at three other positions the Bills are reportedly considering with their first-round pick:


Positional overview

The top three CBs should be long gone by pick No. 25, as there’s a bit of a dropoff after Washington’s Trent McDuffie (No. 7), Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner (No. 8) and LSU’s Derek Stingley (No. 9). However, eight CBs are ranked in the top 56 – Buffalo picks at No. 57 overall in the second round – and 12 are ranked in the second- to early-third round range. And, like the receivers, it’s an incredibly fast group, with 10 who ran a sub-4.4 40 and 19 who ran a sub-4.5. Baylor’s Kalon Barnes’ 4.23 40 was the second-fastest time ever recorded at the Combine.

Why it’s a need

Levi Wallace is an unrestricted free agent and All-Pro Tre’Davious White went down with a torn ACL on Thanksgiving.

Why the team might pass on CB in Round 1

There’s not a huge talent gap among the second-tier group of CBs, meaning, the team could just as easily find a starting cornerback in the second round as it could among the available corners late in the first round.

Potential wildcard

If UTSA’s Tariq Woolen played for Alabama or Ohio State, then we might be talking about him as a top-10 player, as the 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior had one of the best Combine’s of any player at any position. His 4.26-second was the second-fastest and was tied for the fourth-fastest ever at the event. He also had an incredible 42-inch vertical jump and his arms were measured at 33 5/8-inches. From Pro Football Network: “He’s like a ‘create-a-cornerback’ who can’t possibly be real.”

Related Articles

No offense: The Buffalo Bills could focus on defense with its first two picks

What do you give the team that finished with the No. 1-ranked defense last season? More defensive players,…

Read More about No offense: The Buffalo Bills could focus on defense with its first two picks

When it comes to drafting a QB, the Pittsburgh Steelers might just have to rely on luck

It’s a weird year to need a quarterback. There are teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers that desperately need…

Read More about When it comes to drafting a QB, the Pittsburgh Steelers might just have to rely on luck