In the National Football League, the offseason is already flying by, and believe it or not, we're only a little over a month away from the 2016 NFL Draft. Free agency has started and some teams were more active than others, filling up some needs they had so they could bring in some talent at different positions through the draft.
As for the Buffalo Bills, their situation with the salary cap in 2016 made it so they could not be active in the early stages of free agency, and subsequently, they'll need this year's draft to inject an impact player on to the roster.
So, who might they be after in the 2016 NFL Draft?
A look at how the first two rounds could shake out for the Bills:
***(Reminder: Mock drafts are, and should always be, for entertainment purposes only.)
1) - OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
- With DeMarco Murray and Rishard Matthews in the fold to complement Marcus Mariota on offense, they'll want to protect those big assets with the top offensive tackle in the draft. Jalen Ramsey and Joey Bosa are both tempting, but, the "protect the goods" line of thinking wins out.
2) ? - QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
- Long-range potential and no rush to start in 2016... it reads like a perfect scenario for Wentz and the Browns, who both need some seasoning -- even if the talent on the roster is depleting seemingly by the day. With quarterbacks, trust in Hue Jackson.
3) ? - CB/S Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
- Ronnie Stanley is a consideration here, and Tunsil is an even stronger consideration if he were to drop to this point in the draft. However, the Chargers could use some help in the secondary, whether it be at cornerback or safety. Ramsey can play a hybrid role for any type of defense, and can start immediately for San Diego.
4) **TRADE? (from DAL) - DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon
- Rather than sitting back and hoping to get a crack at the defensive lineman, the 49ers move up to secure the services of the freakishly large Buckner. This remains one of the most talent-barren rosters in the NFL, so building from the inside-out would make sense for Chip Kelly and company.
Trade details: SF gets 4th overall, 67th overall. DAL gets 7th overall, 39th overall
5) - LB Myles Jack, UCLA
- When in doubt, take the most talented player on the board -- and in this case, that's Myles Jack. He can play any linebacker role and can cover tight ends with the best of them. Ultimately, he could make the overrated Paul Posluszny -- who has a $4.6 million cap hit in 2016, and a $5.1 million cap hit in 2017 -- expendable for an up-and-coming Jaguars team.
6) ? - DE/OLB Joey Bosa, Ohio State
- With a clear hole at one of the pass rushing spots, the Ravens welcome in Bosa as he falls out of the Top 5. Bosa can fit both odd and even man fronts as a pass rusher.
7) ? (from SF) - HB Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State
- The Cowboys just weren't the same offensively last year even with Tony Romo behind center, and need to have that punch in the running game. The Cowboys move down, add a draft pick, and take the best runner available in 2016.
8) (from MIA) - DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson
- In the shift back to a 4-3 defense, the Eagles will need some heat off the edge. Both Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham will attempt to transition back to a more traditional defensive end role, but Lawson can come in and start for the Eagles at right defensive end.
9) - CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
- Alterraun Verner has not lived up to his contract, and Brent Grimes is only one man. The Buccaneers need help in the secondary, and Hargreaves is the clear-cut second-best defensive back in the draft.
10) - QB Jared Goff, Cal
- The Giants have rebuilt the entire defensive line through free agency, and even added to the secondary as well. They could go for Ronnie Stanley here to add to the offensive tackle group, but Ereck Flowers was just selected in the first round last year. The Goff pick makes more sense than you'd think. Head coach Ben McAdoo comes from Green Bay, where he saw first hand the benefits of drafting a talented young passer early far before he's needed. Eli Manning won't have any pressure to play as long as he's effective, and they can groom Goff for the future. Their free agency spending has given them the flexibility to do something like this.
11) - OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
- They signed Bobby Massie in free agency, and still have Charles Leno who is a serviceable option, but they get a potential stud at left tackle in Ronnie Stanley. This would allow the Bears to shift Kyle Long back inside to guard, where he is a much more effective player.
12) - DE Kevin Dodd, Clemson
- Some may think it's a bit early for Dodd, but he's got loads of potential after his one great season with Clemson. During the pre-draft process, he's also shown to be a versatile player from one scheme to the next. At the very least, John Jenkins was serviceable, whereas the pass rushing from the Saints in 2015 was putrid -- and they haven't addressed it in free agency.
13) (from PHI) - CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
14) - LB Darron Lee, Ohio State
15) - QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis
- Case Keenum and Nick Foles? Yeah, they need some new life injected into the quarterback group.
16) - OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
17) - ILB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
- The Falcons have a pretty talented roster that they've helped with some additions in free agency. However, a replacement for middle linebacker Paul Worrilow is needed.
18) - LB Leonard Floyd, Goergia
19) - DE/OLB Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
The Bills are in desperate need of another starting caliber player at outside linebacker that can offer some heat on opposing quarterbacks, as opposed to just staying with what they have on the roster in Manny Lawson, Jarius Wynn, or Max Valles. If everything checks out from an off-the-field perspective, the second-chance giving Rex Ryan will look at Spence's tape and see a player he can work with for his defensive scheme. Among all the options available, Spence would offer a bigger impact than anyone else they could find at 19th overall.
20) - DL Jarran Reed, Alabama
21) - DL Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
22) - WR Corey Coleman, Baylor
- A big armed quarterback needs a deep threat, and for Brock Osweiler, that will be the speedy Corey Coleman. He clocked a 4.3 40-yard dash within the past year.
23) - WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
24) - WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame
- The Bengals lost both Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in free agency, so, they replenish the position with Will Fuller, who has stood out so far in the pre-draft process.
25) - CB Eli Apple, Ohio State
26) - OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State
27) - NT Andrew Billings, Baylor
- B.J. Raji didn't play well last year and is an unrestricted free agent, which gives the Packers double the incentive to take a player like Billings.
28) - G Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
29) - DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State
30) - OT Shon Coleman, Auburn
31) - DL Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
32) - OT Jason Spriggs, Indiana
33) - CB William Jackson III, Houston
34) - DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
35) - DL A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
36) - G Joshua Garnett, Stanford
37) (from SF) - LB Joshua Perry, Ohio State
38) - S Vonn Bell, Ohio State
39) - DE Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
40) - HB Derrick Henry, Alabama
41) - QB Connor Cook, Michigan State
- Some team could fly up and take Cook near the end of the first round or in the early second round, but, if he's available, the Bears could look to groom him while still having Jay Cutler as a more than viable option for 2016.
42) - G Vadal Alexander, LSU
43) (from PHI) - C Ryan Kelly, Alabama
44) - S Jeremy Cash, Duke
45) - CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
46) - OT Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech
47) - DT Kenny Clark, UCLA
48) - OT/G Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
49) - LB Su'a Cravens, USC
- Quick, list the inside linebackers on the Bills roster outside of Preston Brown. No, not Nigel Bradham -- he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Not Ty Powell, either, he wasn't picked up as a restricted free agent by the Bills and is now still sitting on the open market. Past Brown, the Bills have Kevin Reddick, Tony Steward, and A.J. Tarpley -- a trio of players that not only lack a starter to play next to Preston Brown, but one that lacks good depth in case a starter goes down to an injury. That's why Cravens -- who seems tailor-made for a Rex Ryan defense as a weakside inside linebacker -- is not only a humongous need, but a great value for the Bills in the second round if he's available. He can blitz effectively, he's good at diagnosing the play, he can cover players in the open-field, and he'd be able to bridge the gap when they have to go from the base 3-4 defense to a smaller, nickel role. He'd be a Day One starter for the Bills.
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