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Bills 2021 Draft - Overall Assessment


Bills 2021 Draft Grade  

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  1. 1. What is your initial overall grade of the Bills 2021 Draft?

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On 5/1/2021 at 6:23 PM, Coach Tuesday said:

Best draft of my lifetime.  They had a clear, sane strategy that makes perfect sense in today’s NFL where (i) you’ve got a franchise QB about to take up a big chunk of the cap; (ii) you need depth at premium positions (everyone does); and (iii) you did sober self-scouting to realize you weren’t affecting the passing game enough to beat your biggest obstacle to the Lombardi.  Super impressed with a well-executed PLAN.  This draft was the product of a clear strategic plan and I’ve literally been waiting decades to say that about this team’s draft.


Perfectly summed up. The Russ/Nix/Rex years are a distant memory. These guys are smart, and disciplined. This draft was “the process” put to action.

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Best draft of my lifetime.  They had a clear, sane strategy that makes perfect sense in today’s NFL where (i) you’ve got a franchise QB about to take up a big chunk of the cap; (ii) you need depth at

I like this draft because I see the intelligence of everything McBeane do.   They're confident and competent.  They're fearless.  They know what they want.   They know they aren't going to solve every

Overall my impression of this offseason in general, not just the draft:   Beane to DL and DL coach:  "You guys had better light your fires and get after the QB, or you're outta here and we'l

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Hapless Bills Fan said:

 

I think the Bills consider they have a logjam at WR with the guys they have signed.  I think they really like Hodgins. 

 

I think they may agree with Beasley that he has several more seasons in him.  You don't use a 1st round pick on a guy who's gonna sit for 1-2 seasons.  That's where you use a later round pick and hope you can develop the guy.

 

Their big gap was a speedy guy who can track the ball. 

 

 

 

If Rousseau is actually a non-athletic, 3 year project then the Bills made a mistake drafting him.

 

Who on the Bills WR do you think sits this year so Moore could play?

Moore would have to earn playing time...I would sprinkle him in at certain times, initially, to get his feet wet and  to try and create big plays...the more he proved himself the more playing time he would get...

 

You can’t say exactly who would sit at this time...it might be someone who wasn’t producing as well, or maybe even a combination of players...maybe Sanders starts to decline, or maybe Beasley? Who knows? Maybe Davis has a little bit of a sophomore slump...doesn’t have to be one guy...just a chance to create opportunities and mismatches for the offense imo...

 

And then we also can’t forget about potential injuries will likely occur...

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1 minute ago, JaCrispy said:

Moore would have to earn playing time...I would sprinkle him in at certain times, initially, to get his feet wet and  to try and create big plays...the more he proved himself the more playing time he would get...

 

You can’t say exactly who would sit at this time...it might be someone who wasn’t producing as well, or maybe even a combination of players...maybe Sanders starts to decline, or maybe Beasley? Who knows? Maybe Davis has a little bit of a sophomore slump...doesn’t have to be one guy...just a chance to create opportunities and mismatches for the offense imo...

 

But here's the thing....you mentioned Moore because you think  "we didn’t add any playmakers that are going make significant game changing plays- something we really could have used on both sides of the ball".  But in order to allow him to make that difference, you would have to pull time from guys who actually DID make significant game changing plays for the Bills last year - Beasley and Davis.  WR, especially rookies, seldom make "game changing plays" when sprinkled in.  Very soon the lineup starts telegraphing, as in 2019 when teams saw McKenzie and said "there's that Jet Sweep or Reverse again!".  It  lost effectiveness until McKenzie developed the ability (and timing/same page thinking with Josh) to broaden his route vocabulary.

How do you know that Rousseau isn't going to be sprinkled in at certain times to get his feet wet and try to create big plays, and get more playing time the more he proves himself? 

 

I think what your argument comes down to is the Bills didn't draft the guy you wanted, and you don't like the guy they did draft.  But the truth is we have a lot of depth at WR ahead of Moore so he likely wouldn't have made a huge immediate contribution, and we have starters ahead of Rousseau.  Both would have had limited impact, and both would have had to be sprinkled in and earn playing time. 

 

But last year, our receiving corps was overall one of the best in the league, even with Brown missing significant time and not himself when active.  Our pass rush and ability to pressure the QB, OTOH, was NOT.

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5 hours ago, Arm of Harm said:

If your biggest concern about the draft is the lack of a 1 tech, mine is no WR until the 6th round. Sanders and Beasley are both on the wrong side of 30, with Sanders in particular being especially old. Both are on one year deals. This draft had a ton of talent at WR. I'd wanted to see the Bills take a WR in the first or second, groom him for a year, then have him become a starter to take the place of the departing Sanders. 

 

That said, I realize the Bills didn't have the draft picks necessary to fill all their needs. I'm pleased with the collection of players they did acquire in this draft. 

 

Diggs and Davis are young.  The rookie Stevenson looks promising.  They seemed to be high on Hodgins before his injury last year.  McK is fairly young.

 

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21 minutes ago, Hapless Bills Fan said:

 

But here's the thing....you mentioned Moore because you think  "we didn’t add any playmakers that are going make significant game changing plays- something we really could have used on both sides of the ball".  But in order to allow him to make that difference, you would have to pull time from guys who actually DID make significant game changing plays for the Bills last year - Beasley and Davis.  WR, especially rookies, seldom make "game changing plays" when sprinkled in.  Very soon the lineup starts telegraphing, as in 2019 when teams saw McKenzie and said "there's that Jet Sweep or Reverse again!".  It  lost effectiveness until McKenzie developed the ability (and timing/same page thinking with Josh) to broaden his route vocabulary.

How do you know that Rousseau isn't going to be sprinkled in at certain times to get his feet wet and try to create big plays, and get more playing time the more he proves himself? 

 

I think what your argument comes down to is the Bills didn't draft the guy you wanted, and you don't like the guy they did draft.  But the truth is we have a lot of depth at WR ahead of Moore so he likely wouldn't have made a huge immediate contribution, and we have starters ahead of Rousseau.  Both would have had limited impact, and both would have had to be sprinkled in and earn playing time. 

 

But last year, our receiving corps was overall one of the best in the league, even with Brown missing significant time and not himself when active.  Our pass rush and ability to pressure the QB, OTOH, was NOT.

Another thing: they signed Sanders, who I expect will be good to very good this season. And literally every year now, the draft is LOADED with wide receiving talent. Next year will I’m sure feature a ton of Elijah Moores too. The passing game is not going to be the issue this season, so fix what needs fixing. There will always be good receivers to take given the nature of elite athlete sorting at the HS and college levels.

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34 minutes ago, Hapless Bills Fan said:

 

But here's the thing....you mentioned Moore because you think  "we didn’t add any playmakers that are going make significant game changing plays- something we really could have used on both sides of the ball".  But in order to allow him to make that difference, you would have to pull time from guys who actually DID make significant game changing plays for the Bills last year - Beasley and Davis.  WR, especially rookies, seldom make "game changing plays" when sprinkled in.  Very soon the lineup starts telegraphing, as in 2019 when teams saw McKenzie and said "there's that Jet Sweep or Reverse again!".  It  lost effectiveness until McKenzie developed the ability (and timing/same page thinking with Josh) to broaden his route vocabulary.

How do you know that Rousseau isn't going to be sprinkled in at certain times to get his feet wet and try to create big plays, and get more playing time the more he proves himself? 

 

I think what your argument comes down to is the Bills didn't draft the guy you wanted, and you don't like the guy they did draft.  But the truth is we have a lot of depth at WR ahead of Moore so he likely wouldn't have made a huge immediate contribution, and we have starters ahead of Rousseau.  Both would have had limited impact, and both would have had to be sprinkled in and earn playing time. 

 

But last year, our receiving corps was overall one of the best in the league, even with Brown missing significant time and not himself when active.  Our pass rush and ability to pressure the QB, OTOH, was NOT.

Well, you are correct that I didn’t want Rousseau...I did not think he was BPA...the way the board fell to us, I wanted one of:

 

JOK

Barmore 

Moore

Tryon

 

...or trade back...

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14 hours ago, oldmanfan said:

Nope.  Moore doesn’t crack our top 4 WRs. A CB doesn’t add that much over Jackson or Wallace.  We all saw the Super Bowl.  We want to beat Mahomes we need pressure from up front.  We got two DEs to help there.

I’m not saying we don’t need a better pass rush, we do.   But Sanders at this stage in his career is a redundant piece to Cole.  He’s not going to be a deep threat.  A quality WR draft pick, especially a speedy outside one, would start.  The problem with Moore is that he’s probably a slot only WR and we need an X.  And those were available well into the 3rd round.

 

But it does bring up an interesting question: Do the Bills really need someone to take the top off of the defense?  Conventional wisdom says, yes, that it always helps the short and intermediate passing games as well as the run game.  The Bills didn’t have a very good run game last season, but they did very well in the short and intermediate passing games.  So maybe they’re focused solely on receivers who can separate (ie our current top 4 WRs) and aren’t that concerned with taking the top off the defense.  Something to think about.

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1 hour ago, BarleyNY said:

I’m not saying we don’t need a better pass rush, we do.   But Sanders at this stage in his career is a redundant piece to Cole.  He’s not going to be a deep threat.  A quality WR draft pick, especially a speedy outside one, would start.  The problem with Moore is that he’s probably a slot only WR and we need an X.  And those were available well into the 3rd round.

 

But it does bring up an interesting question: Do the Bills really need someone to take the top off of the defense?  Conventional wisdom says, yes, that it always helps the short and intermediate passing games as well as the run game.  The Bills didn’t have a very good run game last season, but they did very well in the short and intermediate passing games.  So maybe they’re focused solely on receivers who can separate (ie our current top 4 WRs) and aren’t that concerned with taking the top off the defense.  Something to think about.

I think Sanders and Beasley don't play the same role.  You raise an interesting point about this.  I do think Davis can get deep and they can always send McKenzie deep as well (or the kid they drafted from Houston).    With our offense though I think separation is more pivotal.

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20 minutes ago, oldmanfan said:

I think Sanders and Beasley don't play the same role.  You raise an interesting point about this.  I do think Davis can get deep and they can always send McKenzie deep as well (or the kid they drafted from Houston).    With our offense though I think separation is more pivotal.

I’m going to wait and see on Sanders.  He’s 34 and only started 5 games for NO last season.  I think he’ll be a guy we can go to for first downs but not one who is going to stretch the field.  It’ll probably be one of the younger WRs you mentioned lining up outside opposite Diggs. 

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2 minutes ago, BarleyNY said:

I’m going to wait and see on Sanders.  He’s 34 and only started 5 games for NO last season.  I think he’ll be a guy we can go to for first downs but not one who is going to stretch the field.  It’ll probably be one of the younger WRs you mentioned lining up outside opposite Diggs. 

 

Sanders had 61 catches for 726 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. Just re-watched his highlights from last year and, while he did have plenty of catches finding short pockets, he actually killed teams in the intermediate-to-deep middle. He also was limited a bit by Brees' last-season-arm. I have high hopes for Sanders in this offense. 

 

This regime has coveted one trait above all others for WRs: separation.

 

Still, I think Diggs, Davis, McKenzie, and Stevenson all figure to contribute as deep threats here and there. 

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4 hours ago, Hapless Bills Fan said:

 

You have valid points about the Bills drafting for continuous improvement, not drafting Spiller-like splashy picks, but I don't think that's true that Brady was probably the only guy on TB who "was a star like Allen and Diggs".  You may not personally be aware of or follow their stars, but they're there.

 

He's been playing on a bad team, but Mike Evans has been in the league 7 years with QB the likes of Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, and Jamais Winston throwing to him.  He's got 7 - 1000+ yd seasons.  If he's not a "star", it's not because he doesn't deserve to be. 

 

Godwin had a Diggs like season last year and this year, with Brady throwing to him, his catch % was unreal

 

Gronk may be a fading star, but he's still a star

 

Lavonte David may be the best MLB in the game today.

 

Pierre-Paul may be a fading star, but still a star.  Devin White is a rising star.  Shaq Barrett is an impact player.

iInstead of "star" which has connotations of being a media figure who draws PR, let's use the term "significant impact player".

 

Tampa Bay had at least 7 significant impact players beyond Brady, 4 on offense counting Brady, 4 on defense.

I suspected I'd get this argument, and I thank you for making it.  It's not a point worth arguing about, and I hear what you're saying. 

 

I don't know David, but Evans is the only in that group that I'd consider trading taking in exchange for Diggs.   No way is Godwin in his class, nor Gronk today nor Pierre Paul today.  Those guys may be play makers but they aren't game changers.   Micah Hyde is a playmaker, but he isn't a star.  Hughes is a playmaker but not a star.  If the Bills had one the Super Bowl, people would have been talking about the plays those guys made.  If the Packers had beaten the Bucs, no one would be talking here about Godwin or Pierre-Paul (I don't say that to suggest that they aren't good players).  The Bucs were good, really good, because they collected a lot of talent and got themselves a great QB.  

 

My point was that you need good talent to win, but other than at QB, they don't need to be stars.  Aaron Donald doesn't make you a winner, Kahlil Mack doesn't, Budda Baker doesn't.  Heck, Mike Evans didn't until Brady showed up.  Hopkins doesn't make you a winner.  

 

It's a simple formula - collect talent and get a great QB.   It was the Patriots formula, it was the Packers formula, the Saints formula, the Chiefs formula, the Bucs formula.  And it's the Bills formula.  

 

What I like about what the Bills are doing is they're collecting talent, and talent is talent.  

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3 hours ago, dave mcbride said:

Another thing: they signed Sanders, who I expect will be good to very good this season. And literally every year now, the draft is LOADED with wide receiving talent. Next year will I’m sure feature a ton of Elijah Moores too. The passing game is not going to be the issue this season, so fix what needs fixing. There will always be good receivers to take given the nature of elite athlete sorting at the HS and college levels.

We're absolutely fine at wr. We improved the #1 need which was young pass rushers. Next year I'm sure we'll target a fly route we along with a rb/te.

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1 hour ago, JohnBonhamRocks said:

 

Sanders had 61 catches for 726 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. Just re-watched his highlights from last year and, while he did have plenty of catches finding short pockets, he actually killed teams in the intermediate-to-deep middle. He also was limited a bit by Brees' last-season-arm. I have high hopes for Sanders in this offense. 

 

This regime has coveted one trait above all others for WRs: separation.

 

Still, I think Diggs, Davis, McKenzie, and Stevenson all figure to contribute as deep threats here and there. 

I agree with you about Sanders.  He's a sneaky deep threat.   

 

Interesting comment about the Bills and separation.  I suppose it's true for all teams, but you're right.   Separation is the difference between Brown and Sanders.   Brown didn't create separation as much as he was good at taking advantage of opportunities the defense presented.   Sanders is a smarter route runner than that. 

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2 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

I agree with you about Sanders.  He's a sneaky deep threat.   

 

Interesting comment about the Bills and separation.  I suppose it's true for all teams, but you're right.   Separation is the difference between Brown and Sanders.   Brown didn't create separation as much as he was good at taking advantage of opportunities the defense presented.   Sanders is a smarter route runner than that. 


Yeah, he’s definitely not what I’d call a “burner”, but his smart route running allows him to find open areas deep.

 

I think Diggs, Sanders, and Beasley have to be the best trio in the NFL in terms of route running and ability to create separation.
 

Brown seemed to be able to turn the respect DBs had to give his deep speed into separation moreso than technical route running, not that he’s bad at the latter. Edit: I think the decision to move on from him was more based on his injuries.
 

My guess is Stevenson is in the upper echelon for separation, too.

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6 hours ago, BarleyNY said:

I’m not saying we don’t need a better pass rush, we do.   But Sanders at this stage in his career is a redundant piece to Cole.  He’s not going to be a deep threat.  A quality WR draft pick, especially a speedy outside one, would start.  The problem with Moore is that he’s probably a slot only WR and we need an X.  And those were available well into the 3rd round.

 

But it does bring up an interesting question: Do the Bills really need someone to take the top off of the defense?  Conventional wisdom says, yes, that it always helps the short and intermediate passing games as well as the run game.  The Bills didn’t have a very good run game last season, but they did very well in the short and intermediate passing games.  So maybe they’re focused solely on receivers who can separate (ie our current top 4 WRs) and aren’t that concerned with taking the top off the defense.  Something to think about.

 

Ah.  So.  I think the Bills do want to take the top off the defense (more in a minute).  But I don't think they view Sanders potentially redundant skillset to Cole as redundant in their scheme.

 

Here's what I saw, I could be wrong.  In games where we were struggling against a pretty strong pass rush or pressure (Pittsburgh, for example), we didn't have time for the deeper routes Diggs was running to open up.  Pitts. was doing a good job of bracketing Beasley and taking him away on the intermediate/deep routes.  So, what we did was rearrange the route tree and put Diggs on that shorter quicker stuff.  They couldn't take away both Beasley and Diggs, and Diggs slaughtered them in the 2nd half of the Pittsburgh game, including YAC (66 yds AC, roughly half his yardage totals).

 

What I think the Bills wanted is a 2nd guy who's just as hard to cover as Beasley, to free up Diggs to run those intermediate to deep routes.  I think the Bills wanted a sure bet they could get their hands on.  They looked at the FAs and the draft reports and decided that without selling out their draft picks, their surest path to getting that guy was to sign Sanders.

 

Where some here differ from the Bills is that it's sometimes asserted that he doesn't have true burner speed because of his 4.46 40-time.  But top speedsters in the NFL these days are clocked (by GPS in their uniforms) running at top speeds of 21.7-23 mph.  I can't find a list of what he hits on the football field, but I can tell you Diggs has posted videos of himself hitting 22.6, 22.8. 23 (!) mph doing speed training off season.  He's faster than people think.

 

Which brings me back to the "top off the defense".  To my eyes, the problem with Brown as a deep threat was that he could be neutralized by good enough press man and "sticky" coverage, especially after he maybe struggled this season with injuries.  You mention we need an X, I imagine you know this but as one breakdown puts it "in most formations, the X receiver is tethered to the line of scrimmage.  He cannot go in motion, so  the cornerback can jam him at the line. So, your X receiver, he .... better have the quickness to get away from the corner, and he better be good coming off a press."  It's not a clear thing IMO that these guys in the 3rd round were going to translate on that immediately at the NFL level.  To be a speed guy at the NFL level, you got to be able to separate, too.

 

 

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2 hours ago, JohnBonhamRocks said:

Brown seemed to be able to turn the respect DBs had to give his deep speed into separation moreso than technical route running, not that he’s bad at the latter. Edit: I think the decision to move on from him was more based on his injuries.

 

I think the problem with Brown is that physical press man coverage has always been able to neutralize him to some extent.  Also, he's a good route-running technician, but I don't remember watching a Brown highlight where I was like "Smoke!!!! Have Mercy, that guy's got a family!"  which you can definitely find on Sanders and on Diggs without too much trouble. 

 

In addition to injury concerns, the plays where Brown was thrown the opportunity to swing the game (maybe not a perfect pass but a catchable one) and failed to put it away, were mounting up.

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6 minutes ago, Hapless Bills Fan said:

 

Ah.  So.  I think the Bills do want to take the top off the defense (more in a minute).  But I don't think they view Sanders potentially redundant skillset to Cole as redundant in their scheme.

 

Here's what I saw, I could be wrong.  In games where we were struggling against a pretty strong pass rush or pressure (Pittsburgh, for example), we didn't have time for the deeper routes Diggs was running to open up.  Pitts. was doing a good job of bracketing Beasley and taking him away on the intermediate/deep routes.  So, what we did was rearrange the route tree and put Diggs on that shorter quicker stuff.  They couldn't take away both Beasley and Diggs, and Diggs slaughtered them in the 2nd half of the Pittsburgh game, including YAC (66 yds AC, roughly half his yardage totals).

 

What I think the Bills wanted is a 2nd guy who's just as hard to cover as Beasley, to free up Diggs to run those intermediate to deep routes.  I think the Bills wanted a sure bet they could get their hands on.  They looked at the FAs and the draft reports and decided that without selling out their draft picks, their surest path to getting that guy was to sign Sanders.

 

Where some here differ from the Bills is that it's sometimes asserted that he doesn't have true burner speed because of his 4.46 40-time.  But top speedsters in the NFL these days are clocked (by GPS in their uniforms) running at top speeds of 21.7-23 mph.  I can't find a list of what he hits on the football field, but I can tell you Diggs has posted videos of himself hitting 22.6, 22.8. 23 (!) mph doing speed training off season.  He's faster than people think.

 

Which brings me back to the "top off the defense".  To my eyes, the problem with Brown as a deep threat was that he could be neutralized by good enough press man and "sticky" coverage, especially after he maybe struggled this season with injuries.  You mention we need an X, I imagine you know this but as one breakdown puts it "in most formations, the X receiver is tethered to the line of scrimmage.  He cannot go in motion, so  the cornerback can jam him at the line. So, your X receiver, he .... better have the quickness to get away from the corner, and he better be good coming off a press."  It's not a clear thing IMO that these guys in the 3rd round were going to translate on that immediately at the NFL level.  To be a speed guy at the NFL level, you got to be able to separate, too.

 

 

Nice post.  I definitely see Sanders and Beasley in the field together too.  I didn’t mean to imply that ALL he would do is back up Cole, but I do think that Beasley getting injured and not having anyone to do his job played into it. 

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1 minute ago, BarleyNY said:

Nice post.  I definitely see Sanders and Beasley in the field together too.  I didn’t mean to imply that ALL he would do is back up Cole, but I do think that Beasley getting injured and not having anyone to do his job played into it. 

 

Agreed. 

 

McDermott's mouth said "we have full confidence in Isaiah McKenzie to take over for Cole" but when you play a guy with an actual broken leg in 3 playoff games over his backup, well, your actions speak loudly.

 

My point was I think they view Diggs and Sanders as more interchangeable than you might think, and I think they view having Sanders and Cole on the field together as a way to free Diggs to play deeper....but you're absolutely right that having a backup plan for Beasley's route-running vocabulary played into it.

 

 

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