New York State In-depth

Another defensive ending? That’s what Mel Kiper Jr. gives to the Buffalo Bills in his first mock draft of 2023

The Buffalo Bills invested heavily in the defensive line during general manager Bandon Beane’s tenure.

Beane has used a pair of first-round draft picks (on Ed Oliver and Greg Rousseau) and a pair of second-round picks (on AJ Epenesa and Boogie Basham) during his five years leading the Bills draft.

The results of this selection were mixed at best. Since the team busted out Sunday after the postseason, it’s officially a mock draft season. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., the godfather of the pre-draft forecasters, nonetheless lets the Bills go on the defensive line again in his first taunt of 2023.

Kiper has the Bills pick Derick Hall, a defensive end/outside linebacker from Auburn, with the 27th pick of the first round.

“The Bills have one of the best rosters in the league but they could lose a few freehand defenders including Jordan Poyer, Tremaine Edmunds and Shaq Lawson,” Kiper wrote in his rationale for the election. “They have to fill up in this draft. And while Buffalo has used first- and second-round picks on Greg Rousseau, Boogie Basham and AJ Epenesa in the last three drafts, its depth around the edges needs to improve. That’s why I see Hall, who’s had 15.5 sacks for the last two seasons, as a standout on Day 1. He could become a bargain here.”

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“Josh Allen is a unicorn – he can run over or through defenders and make every throw on the field. But he needs more help than General Manager Brandon Beane gave him in the 2022 season,” writes Jay Skurski.

Kiper mentions an alternative that will likely be far more popular with Bills fans — by offering better protection to quarterback Josh Allen.

“On the other side of the ball, I almost went with offensive tackle Cody Mauch (North Dakota State) who was able to play guard early in his career before becoming the team’s long-term left tackle,” he wrote. “Guard O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida) could be another option.”

Given the defense-heavy investments recently made by the draft, better protection – or a different weapon – is Allen’s more popular choice for Bill’s Mafia.

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