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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Buffalo Bills boost defensive line

With the 30th overall pick in the 2021 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, Buffalo Bills GM doublefry selects ...

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

Note: I realize that trades are not a part of this mock draft, but I feel I should mention that if I were actually running the Bills, I would strongly consider trading back into the early 2nd round. Especially if I could pick up a former pro bowl tight end in the process…

For those unfamiliar with the reigning AFC East Champions, the Bills have few needs that require immediate addressing in this year’s draft. After reviewing their roster, seeing what the ‘experts’ had to say, and discussing the team with a close friend and die-hard Bills fan, the team needs, in order, are edge rusher, interior defensive line, cornerback, tight end, and running back.

Some would say CB is the most pressing need, as they should look to upgrade CB2 opposite Tre’Davious White (Levi Wallace was the starter last season and was… not great. PFF gave him a 60.1 overall grade for last season, and he was 74th in receptions allowed.) But I believe the Bills should focus on the defensive line, which is currently riddled with aging vets. Their projected line for next season includes:

  • Jerry Hughes (32 years old, 4.5 sacks, and 4 TFL in 15 starts in 2020)
  • Mario Addison (33 years old, 5 sacks (led the team) and 7 TFL in 15 games (7 starts) in 2020)
  • Star Lotulelei (31, 2020 opt out, 2 sacks, and 3 TFL in 16 starts in 2019)

That’s not to say their line is entirely comprised of vets, notable under 30 defensive linemen returning next year are:

  • A.J. Epenesa (2nd round pick in the 2020 draft) (1 sack, 3 TFL in 14 games (1 start) as a rookie)
  • Ed Oliver (2019 1st round pick) (3 sacks, 6 TFL in 16 starts in 2020)
  • Vernon Butler (0 sacks, 5 TFL in 14 games (9 starts) in 2020).

That’s not a great combination of age and production from the defending AFC East champs, and helps explain why the defense fell to 14th overall last season and 15th in sacks (38) after being 3rd overall and 12 in sacks (44) the year before.

The Bills' other positions of need, tight end, and running back, strike me as more luxury needs than the defensive needs they have. Their top two backs from last season, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are both just 23 years old and could benefit from a healthy offensive line next season. They also signed 26-year-old Matt Breida this offseason who underwhelmed in Miami last year after three years of solid, yet unspectacular production in San Francisco. I wouldn’t be shocked if they take a back at some point in the draft, but not in the first round. As for tight end, 2020 breakout candidate Dawson Knox disappointed in his second pro season, but he’s still just 24, and I think taking any tight end not named Kyle Pitts in the first round this year is a bit of a reach.

So as the draft began, I decided that I would go after a defensive lineman or a corner, depending on how the board fell. Well, after Green Bay took who I viewed to be the last corner worthy of a 1st round pick, I was left with three clear options, Jayson Oweh, Gregory Rousseau, and Christian Barmore. What made the decision tough from there was need vs best player available, as I believe Barmore to be the best, most complete lineman of the three, but the Bills need an edge rusher more than a defensive tackle. Oweh and Rousseau could both become great players, but they are also both something of a project with concerns. Oweh had zero sacks in 2019 and is not a refined rusher. Rousseau had an eye-grabbing 15.5 sacks in 2019 before opting out last season, but I am concerned over the sustainability of his production at the next level, with many of his sacks coming from speed rushing inferior interior linemen. This brings me to the Defensive MVP of the College Football Playoff Championship Game, and the 30th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft… Christian Barmore.

The third-team All-American and first-team All-SEC DT led Alabama with 8 sacks last season, along with 9.5 TFL and 3 forced fumbles. He projects as a pass-rushing DT, who excels at finding his blocker’s edge and getting past them. He is explosive and has quick, violent hands. He also has great instincts to either punch out the ball or swat it down when he can’t get home as a rusher. He also transitions well when his first move is blocked.

The Philadelphia native should make plenty of noise early on in his career as a part of the Buffalo’s D-line rotation, and pairing him with Ed Oliver could keep offensive line coaches and opposing quarterbacks up at night.

He doesn’t have a ton of experience playing the run, mostly because Alabama asked him to rush the passer more often than not (a logical choice given his occasional dominance in that area). But his lateral quickness and instincts suggest he’ll be able to do both at a high level once he fully develops his game. His pro comps include Gerald McCoy (PFF) and former Bill Marcell Dareus (NFL.com). The Bills should be pleased if they’re able to get the best DT in the draft at the back end of the first round.

Poll

Do you approve of this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Yes
    (204 votes)
  • 18%
    No
    (45 votes)
249 votes total Vote Now

2021 BGN Mock Draft Order

1) Jaguars (Phoenix X Minimus): QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets (eagles.north.of.the.border): QB Zach Wilson
3) 49ers (I Need a Username): QB Trey Lance
4) Falcons (chewy wellington): OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals (Dr_Horrible): WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins (20Safety_Hazard): TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions (drc242): WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers (wildcatlh): QB Justin Fields
9) Broncos (ItownBallers22): CB Patrick Surtain II
10) Cowboys (Kephas): OT Rashawn Slater
11) Giants (Billmington): WR Jaylen Waddle
12) Eagles (ablesser88): CB Jaycee Horn
13) Chargers (Georgia_eagle): LB Micah Parsons
14) Vikings (Philliesandthebees): OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
15) Patriots (SakPrescott): QB Mac Jones
16) Cardinals (Carson Wentzs ACL): CB Greg Newsome II
17) Raiders (dshelton5): LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
18) Dolphins (J. Wil): DE Kwity Paye
19) Football Team (Negadelphia Norm): LB Nick Bolton
20) Bears (Happy24): CB Caleb Farley
21) Colts (Fly Like An Eagle): OT Christian Darrisaw
22) Titans (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan): LB Zaven Collins
23) Jets (Asap Stocky): OT Teven Jenkins
24) Steelers (Gregnado): OT Samuel Cosmi
25) Jaguars (“Snax”): DE Jaelen Phillips
26) Browns (gerouxman1956): LB Jamin Davis
27) Ravens (Brendanekstrom): DE Azeez Ojulari
28) Saints (grantspectations): S Trevon Moehrig
29) Packers (Philly_Philly): CB Asante Samuel Jr.
30) Bills (doublefry): DT Christian Barmore
31) Ravens (Leo Bedio):
32) Buccaneers (phuckdallas):


Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2021 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.

Poll

Who should the Buffalo Bills draft at No. 30?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    DE Gregory Rousseau
    (29 votes)
  • 16%
    DE Jaelan Phillips
    (34 votes)
  • 14%
    DE Jayson Oweh
    (29 votes)
  • 20%
    DE Azeez Ojulari
    (42 votes)
  • 21%
    CB Asante Samuel Jr.
    (44 votes)
  • 3%
    CB Eric Stokes
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    CB Tyson Campbell
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    C Landon Dickerson
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    OT Jalen Mayfield
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    OT Liam Eichenberg
    (5 votes)
205 votes total Vote Now

1) Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets: QB Zach Wilson:
3) 49ers: QB Justin Fields
4) Falcons: OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins: TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions: WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers: OT Rashawn Slater
9) Broncos: QB Trey Lance
10) Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II
11) Giants: LB Micah Parsons
12) Eagles: WR Jaylen Waddle
13) Chargers: CB Jaycee Horn
14) Vikings: OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
15) Patriots: QB Mac Jones
16) Cardinals: CB Caleb Farley
17) Raiders: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
18) Dolphins: RB Najee Harris
19) Football Team: OT Christian Darrisaw
20) Bears: OT Teven Jenkins
21) Colts: DE Kwity Paye
22) Titans: CB Greg Newsome II
23) Jets: OT Samuel Cosmi
24) Steelers: RB Travis Etienne
25) Jaguars: DT Christian Barmore
26) Browns: LB Jamin Davis
27) Ravens: WR Rashod Bateman
28) Saints: S Trevon Moehrig
29) Packers: WR Kadarius Toney
30) Bills: