The 2016 NFL Draft is almost here, and all the speculation will finally be put aside. All 32 teams will have the chance to improve their roster, but the angling for where the players ultimately end up is still very much part of the equation.
The Buffalo Bills have the 19th overall pick, and would most likely prefer to add a defensive player with the first-round selection. Linebacker, defensive line, safety, and edge rushers are all under consideration for the 19th overall pick, but for the Bills to get the player they desire the most, they’ll need some things to go their way.
Regardless of the defensive position you find yourself wanting most — or even if you’d like the Bills to trade down and rack up picks — these are five things Bills fans should be rooting for in the Top 18 of the draft:
1) Paxton Lynch goes early, like, Top 10 early
- The most interesting name in the draft, now that we know the top two picks will be quarterbacks, is Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. There are multiple suitors that could use a player like him with a first-round pick, but now it’s just a matter of seeing which one actually takes the bait and drafts him. Dallas (4), San Francisco (7), Cleveland (8), Chicago (11), and New Orleans (12) are all Top 18 teams that could justifiably take Lynch, while the New York Jets (20), Arizona Cardinals (29), and Denver (31) could look to trade up to get him. The best case scenario is if Lynch gets selected at some point in the Top 10, which would not only likely push a defender out of the Top 10, but create more pressure on other quarterback hungry teams to get into position to draft Michigan State’s Connor Cook. The more non-defensive players that go, the better it is for the Bills.
2) Myles Jack’s rumored slide actually happens
- The UCLA linebacker is a fascinating case. By all indications, he’s likely ready to play this season and contribute right away to a team. The burning question is this: how long will he able to be an impact player before his knee condition becomes a problem — if it becomes a problem. There is a large amount of speculation that Jack would fall out of the Top 10 completely, and the longer he’s on the board, the better it is for the brass at One Bills Drive. Jack staying on the board drives the linebackers down the order, and if he lasts long enough, he might even be available at 19th overall for the Bills to take. With how important 2016 is, Jack would be a very real consideration for them.
3) A race for offensive tackles
- There is a consensus Top 3 of offensive tackles available in this year’s class which consists of Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss, Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley, and Michigan State’s Jack Conklin. Tunsil and Stanley have been getting Top 10 buzz for as long as the process has gone on, but Conklin is the name to watch. There are plenty of offensive tackle-hungry teams in the Top 10 of the draft, so the best bet for Bills fans is for Conklin to go as high as possible. There have been rumors that he could go as high as 8th overall, which of course would push defensive players down the list. Conceivably, it would push Taylor Decker higher up for teams in the teens that thought they’d have a good shot at Conklin. That run on offensive tackles is something the Bills are rooting for quite a bit.
4) Oakland passes on a linebacker
- This is a huge pick in the first round for the Bills. Oakland has needs at linebacker, edge rusher, cornerback, and safety. The Bills are likely holding out hope that linebackers will fall down the draft order, which could mean that they land someone like Ohio State’s Darron Lee, Alabama’s Reggie Ragland, or even Myles Jack. The best case scenario is for Oakland to go for a member of the defensive secondary, but with more depth at edge rusher later in the draft, the Bills could survive a hit to that position and still get a player they really want.
5) Some team trades up for Connor Cook
- If Paxton Lynch is gone somewhere in the Top 10, that means the next man up is Connor Cook. The Michigan State quarterback could be the key for the Bills to either have another defensive player fall into their lap at 19th overall. It could also be a situation for a team that is later in the order (Arizona, Denver), or, a team in the early second round that missed out on quarterbacks in the first round (Cleveland, Dallas, San Francisco) to trade back into the first round ahead of the New York Jets to make sure that they get Cook. Lynch is the biggest key, but interest in Cook may just help the Bills even more.