After securing their first double-digit win season in two decades last year, the Buffalo Bills are expected to challenge for the AFC East in 2020. As they build around quarterback Josh Allen, I examine three way too early 2021 NFL Draft targets that will help them become the main competitor to the New England Patriots dominance in the AFC East.
Since the Bills last won an NFL post-season game in 1995 with Jim Kelly under center, a whole host of quarterbacks have held the starting job in Buffalo, including names like Doug Flutie, Ryan Fitzpatrick, E.J. Manuel, and Kyle Orton.
In Allen, the Bills appear to have found a quarterback for the future, and it’s time to build around him if they want to be a serious contender. The process began with the 2020 free agency acquisition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Bills added more weapons in the 2020 NFL Draft with Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Hodgins, and these early Bills 2021 NFL Draft targets will further solidify the team as a true contender.
Buffalo Bills early 2021 NFL Draft targets
Caleb Farley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
Having spent the introduction talking up the offensive side of the ball, the first of the early Bills 2021 NFL Draft targets is a defensive player. Buffalo has one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Tre’Davious White, who made the top 25 players in the Pro Football Network Top 100, but outside of White, the CB2 position is one of uncertainty.
Josh Norman was added in free agency, but is in the twilight of his career and is no longer the force in the league that he once was. His one-year deal will make him a free agent in 2021 alongside another off-season addition in E.J. Gaines, and incumbent CB2 Levi Wallace. Although the Bills added Dane Jackson late in the 2020 NFL Draft, there could be a significant number of departures from the cornerback room next year.
Caleb Farley offers significant upside over all those cornerbacks and would give the Bills a shutdown cornerback duo for the future.
At 6’2 and 207 pounds, Farley would give the Bills a cornerback with prototypical size at the position. Although White has shown that size isn’t everything at the cornerback position, Farley would provide a big cornerback that the Bills don’t currently have on the roster.
Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley(3) has the physical tools to be the next dominant shutdown corner. His ability to click and close is similar to 2020 CB1 Jeff Okudah’s. pic.twitter.com/Y7HHgcZLi6
— Matt Valdovinos (@MVScouting) June 9, 2020
Farley combines his size with good speed to provide a play-making threat in the secondary. As a former wide receiver, he displays excellent ball skills and has put them to good use so far in his college career. As a sophomore last year, he snagged four interceptions and added 12 passes defended.
Farley, who announced yesterday he is opting out of the 2020 college football season, had an ACL injury in 2017, which may throw up a red flag for some teams. However, he has played 23 games over the last two years and will be coming in after a year off, which should eradicate any concerns about his durability.
Wyatt Davis, Guard, Ohio State
After selecting Cody Ford in the 2019 NFL Draft, and adding several free agents to the offensive line that year, the Bills neglected the offensive line in the 2020 NFL Draft. You can expect them to bolster the unit, and as such, the next two players in the early Bills 2021 NFL Draft targets are on the offensive line.
The Bills are currently scheduled to lose several players from the interior offensive line to free agency in 2021. Although Quinton Spain recently signed a three-year $15 million dollar contract extension, guards Jon Feliciano and Spencer Long are in the final year of their contracts.
Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis would be a perfect addition to the Bills offensive line.
Capturing a guard of Davis’ talent would have multiple benefits for the Bills. As much as the future success of the Buffalo franchise is in the hands of Josh Allen, the Bills have invested heavily in the ground game by selecting Devin Singletary and Zack Moss in consecutive drafts.
Davis is powerful and aggressive as a run blocker. He has the size and strength to maul opposition lineman and create holes at the line of scrimmage while maintaining enough speed and athleticism to get out to the second level.
Look at 52 RG Wyatt Davis just maul this Michigan defender. Nasty pic.twitter.com/BaT08LCwpb
— The Buckeye Nut (@TheBuckeyeNut) December 5, 2019
While his ability as a run-blocking guard is to be admired, he also offers plenty in the way of pass blocking. What gives him an edge over some of the guards in the same draft range is his experience blocking for a mobile quarterback.
Aside from his arm strength, one of the key aspects of Allen’s game is his ability to extend the play with his mobility, and Davis spent last year playing in front of one of college football’s most dynamic quarterbacks in Justin Fields. Hopefully, he will have another year of experience doing that this year.
Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Tackle, Texas
With Cody Ford, Dion Dawkins, and Ty Nsekhe, the Bills appear to have decent depth at the offensive tackle position. However, Dawkins is in the final year of his rookie deal and although there seems to be an opinion that securing him to a long term deal is the main order of business, a potential drop in salary cap for next year may mean that proves to be problematic.
Finding a reliable long-term replacement in the 2021 NFL Draft would be advantageous whichever way the contract negotiations fall. Dawkins has been inconsistent during his Bills career although that may be attributed to the fluctuating abilities of the talent around him on the offensive line. Texas offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi would provide a versatile pass blocking option for the Bills.
Versatility is one of the key attributes that the NFL craves and Cosmi has shown he can seamlessly play at either right or left tackle. He made 13 starts as a Freshman All-American right tackle in 2018 before being selected as the second-team All-Big 12 left tackle after starting every game at the position in 2019.
At 6’7″, 307 pounds, Cosmi has the size and strength to play tackle in the NFL for many years. Cosmi has showcased both quick feet and hands at the position.
Although Cosmi is one of the best tackles in the nation ahead of the 2020 college football season, there is quite a range of opinions on where he will be taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. While some analysts have him as an early first-round prospect, he can be found in the third round using Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft Simulator. PFN draft analyst Matt Valdovinos has him ranked as his 10th best offensive tackle.