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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Buffalo Bills boost linebacker corps

With the 27th overall pick in the 2023 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, Buffalo Bills GM EHyungNim selects ...

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Nebraska at Iowa Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa

Hi everyone! The day has finally arrived…I am called to make a public-facing mock draft pick for my future mother-in-law’s favorite teams. Wish me luck with this one!

With the 27th pick of the 2023 BGN Community Mock Draft, the Buffalo Bills select (ideally to trade back to take FULL advantage of someone wanting a 5th year of control on Hendon Hooker, but no trades allowed!) Jack Campbell, Inside Linebacker, University of Iowa.

This one might make the positional value aristocrats lose their absolute friggin minds, I know. Look at this guy, taking an off-ball backer in the first round…But hear me out. The Bills’ run defense went to pieces when DaQuan Jones got hurt, and their rush defense stats in 2 of their last 3 games (Week 17 vs. the Patriots, and the Divisional Round loss to Cinncinnati) were…not great. Against the Pats, they gave up 102 yards on just 19 carries by running backs (5.4 YPC) and against the Bengals, they gave up 172 on 34 carries (5.1 YPC). As those of us who remember the later Mike Patterson/Broderick Bunkley days of my high school and early undergrad years, or the Corey Simon/Darwin Walker days of yore, bad run defense is unsustainable in the NFL. Sure, we remember the late-Jim Johnson’s salad days with great fondness, but there were some real bad run defenses back in those days too. If you don’t believe me, there’s a lot of Reid-era tape out there on YouTube…we put some really nice Tiki Barber and Ahman Green highlight tape out there. How’s that for some intrusive memories from the past?

Now, part of this fix will need to be some interior line help (thinking Mazi Smith or Keeanu Benton, if we want guys who have some late 1st round buzz). I usually pound the table for building your defense from the front four backwards, and specifically from the inside-outward because special/versatile DTs like early-mid career Fletcher Cox or Ndamukong Suh just break games in half. However, in this particular draft, there is simply so much depth and versatility at defensive tackle that there just isn’t at off-ball backer, especially if you want someone who is scheme-agnostic and who can play both run and pass well. Drew Sanders going the pick ahead of this one does not help matters, and while I disagree with Sanders this early based on what I’d call one year of real, draftable tape, the cold-hard truth of the community mock is that ILB just got thinner.

The Quick Hits on Jack Campbell

Age in Fall: 23 y.o.

Dimensions: 6’5”, 249lbs, ~32” arms

Trophy Case

  • 2021, 2022 First Team All-Big Ten
  • 2022 Nagurski-Woodson DPoY (Big Ten DPoY)
  • 2022 Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year (Big Ten LB of the Year)
  • 2022 Butkus Award (CFB Best LB)
  • 2022 William V. Campbell Trophy (“Academic Heisman”)
  • 2022 Unanimous All-American

Athletic Testing

  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.65 (1.59 10-yard split)
  • 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.24
  • 3-Cone Drill: 6.74
  • Vertical Jump: 37.5”
  • Broad Jump: 10’8”

Here’s the Raw Athletic Score per Kent Lee Platte:

The tl;dr here is that Campbell is built like an old-school thumper, but he moves like a new school Swiss Army Backer. If we got to the tape, he also plays with really good instincts, reads the field effectively, tackles effectively, and – perhaps most importantly for someone with his tools – he always looks for work and rarely gets caught guarding grass in coverage.

The big sell here for me, for the people I watch/read about the draft, and most likely for NFL linebacker coaches everywhere, is that Campbell is the master of stance and motion efficiency. As a former offensive lineman, one of the hardest for me to get was how to get [knees inside ankles inside toes] right on a consistent basis, and this is something that linebackers also need to master to avoid false steps that can put them in catchup mode before the play really kicks off. Campbell – somehow – just…doesn’t have that issue? All of his motions are purposeful and technically sound. He doesn’t make stance/body mistakes. When he flows, he is always flowing on-time. Part of why so many linebackers nowadays need to test well at the Combine and the pro days is because they have to make up for their own embodied desynchronization. JUST LOOK AT THE LINES, Y’ALL.

When you’re stacked up like this, you can put all of your focus on the 9 billion other things that happen in an NFL football game. Formations; opponents’ line and receiver splits; Quarterbacks’ eyes; pressure tells on offensive linemen’s knuckles that can key run or pass; whether or not Julio Jones is strapping his gloves up pre-snap because he knows he’s gonna get the ball…these things can get more of your bandwidth when you can trust your stance and your body to react just as quickly as you want it to. Trust the stance. Trust Jack. Be deeply saddened if he doesn’t make it to 30th overall.

Fit and Future

For me, Cambell fits logically with the Bills because, while Matt Milano is an excellent linebacker, he is also only one player, and their next off-ball guy in the depth charts looks like Tyrel Dodson, who should shine mainly as a special teams contributor. Unless you really feel like Terrel Bernard, Tyler Matakevich, or Baylon Spector, the Bills need another impact player at that position. With many good defensive tackles like Gervon Dexter, Kobie Turner, and Moro Ojomo available in mid or later rounds, why not go out there and get a dude who combines size, athletic upside, football instincts, and consummate stance technique?

Weirdly enough, the NFL continues to undervalue off-ball backer and safety, two defensive positions that, in my opinion, ask you to be the most complete football player in order to be successful in this league. So getting a guy like Campbell here, in my mind, is MASSIVE value for pick. Can you imagine getting the top player at his position at 27th overall for any other spot on the field other than safety? The only real competitor is running back, but we consistently see teams take shots at top RBs in the late teens and early 20s.

If you read any of my offseason fanposts last year, you’ll remember that I’m a Brett Kollmann/EJ Snyder truther (after all, they put me onto the Reed Blankenship hype train last year), so if you’re interested in some of the influences on me for taking Campbell here, Brett did a great (if short) breakdown on him in his Detroit Lions offseason rebuild video above. Brett mocks Campbell to the Lions in round 2, but he also adds the qualification that this is an idealized scenario that he’s pretty sure won’t happen because Campbell will go in the back end of round 1. If you believe, you believe, and Santa brings some good Koll every single year.

So, there we go. A run on off-ball backers. What a wild community mock world we live in. I’m curious for everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and thinking noises on this one, so let us know in the comments!




Do you approve of this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    (141 votes)
  • 30%
    (62 votes)
203 votes total Vote Now

2023 BGN Mock Draft Order

1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop): DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum): DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders (joey2arms): OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons (Kephas): CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears (chewy wellington): OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles (Philly21): CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans (RachAttack): WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans (Domonate): WR Quentin Johnston
13) Jets (JawnJam): OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion): CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers (bdawk4ever): QB Will Levis
16) Commanders (the dog did it): OT Darnell Wright
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen): CB Deonte Banks
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco): DT Adetomiwa Adebawore
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton): DT Calijah Kancey
20) Seahawks (wardbell92): DE Myles Murphy
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom): TE Dalton Kincaid
22) Ravens (Rollinpin): RB Bijan Robinson
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65): DE Lukas Van Ness
24) Jaguars (Leo Bedio): DB Brian Branch
25) Giants (dkays): WR Jordan Addison
26) Cowboys (w.connell4): LB Drew Sanders
27) Bills (EHyungNim): LB Jack Campbell
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)

Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.


Who should the Bills pick at No. 27?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    LB Jack Campbell
    (51 votes)
  • 2%
    LB Trenton Simpson
    (4 votes)
  • 15%
    OG O’Cyrus Torrence
    (27 votes)
  • 5%
    TE Dalton Kincaid
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    TE Darnell Washington
    (6 votes)
  • 10%
    RB Jahmyr Gibbs
    (19 votes)
  • 1%
    DE Will McDonald IV
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    DT Bryan Bresee
    (19 votes)
  • 16%
    WR Zay Flowers
    (30 votes)
  • 4%
    OT Anton Harrison
    (8 votes)
177 votes total Vote Now

1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts: QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks: DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions: DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons: CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears: OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles: CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans: DE Myles Murphy
13) Jets: OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots: CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers: DE Nolan Smith
16) Commanders: OT Darnell Wright
17) Steelers: CB Deonte Banks
18) Lions: DT Calijah Kancey
19) Buccaneers: QB Will Levis
20) Seahawks: DE Lukas Van Ness
21) Chargers: RB Bijan Robinson
22) Ravens: WR Quentin Johnston
23) Vikings: QB Hendon Hooker
24) Jaguars: DB Brian Branch
25) Giants: WR Jordan Addison
26) Cowboys: TE Michael Mayer
27) Bills:

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