Unfortunately, 13 seconds will haunt the Buffalo Bills and Bills Mafia until they can hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
In a thrilling back-and-forth AFC Divisional Round game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bills could not hold a three-point lead with a mere 13 seconds left when they kicked off to the trailing hosts. After a touchback, the Chiefs quickly marched into game-tying field-goal range, won the overtime coin toss, and promptly scored the game-winning touchdown.
Despite the gut-wrenching outcome, the Bills were one of the top NFL teams last year. They’re the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl at most sportsbooks this year. Josh Allen is one of the game’s top quarterbacks, and he’s helped make Buffalo an attractive landing spot for free agents.
Moreover, the Bills have aggressively shoved some chips to the middle of the table, making a splashy signing by bringing in two-time Super Bowl champion Von Miller. In addition, they’ve further fortified their roster with multiple veteran signings.
Unfortunately, as has been the case with most successful organizations, the Bills have lost integral members of their front office and coaching staff to vacancies elsewhere in the NFL.
Namely, their offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, was hired by the New York Giants as their head coach, joining Buffalo’s former assistant general manager and new Big Blue general manager Joe Schoen in the Garden State.
Still, the Bills’ offense may remain similar with passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Ken Dorsey, getting promoted to offensive coordinator. But, most importantly, as long as Allen continues to perform like a top-five signal-caller, the Bills will be a championship contender for the foreseeable future.
Here’s a recap of the Bills’ 2022 NFL Draft class.
Bills NFL Draft Picks 2022
- Round 1, Pick 23 (23rd Overall): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
- Round 2, Pick 31 (63rd Overall): James Cook, RB, Georgia
- Round 3, Pick 25 (89th Overall): Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor
- Round 5, Pick 5, (148th Overall): Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State
- Round 6, Pick 1 (180th Overall): Matt Ariaza, P, San Diego State
- Round 6, Pick 6 (185th Overall): Christian Benford, CB, Villanova
- Round 6, Pick 31 (209th Overall): Luke Tenuta, OT, Virginia Tech
- Round 7, Pick 10 (231st Overall): Baylon Spector, LB, Clemson
The Bills traded up two spots on Day 1 to address their biggest positional need, selecting Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam with the 23rd overall pick. Elam was the third corner off the board and should immediately line up opposite Tre’Davious White in Buffalo’s secondary.
After being rumored to take a running back in the first round, Buffalo selected Georgia tailback James Cook in the second round. Cook will provide a spark to a backfield that struggled mightily last season, as leading rusher Devin Singletary (870 yards) barely outgained Josh Allen (763 yards).
The Bills also added another position of need in the third round, drafting linebacker Terrel Bernard out of Baylor. Buffalo cut ties with veteran A.J. Klein in the offseason, creating another void on the defensive side of the ball.
With five picks on Day 3, Bills GM Brandon Beane continued to add depth at linebacker and corner, as well as wide receiver with the selection of Boise State playmaker Khalil Shakir.
Matt Ariaza, nicknamed the “Punt God," was certainly one of the most intriguing picks in the latter rounds. He is known to connect on 80-yard punts and averaged an NCAA-record 51.19 yards per punt last season.
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Note: The Bills NFL Draft predictions below were published before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pre-Draft Bills NFL Mock Draft Predictions 2022
- Round 1, Pick 25 (25th Overall): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
- Round 2, Pick 25 (57th Overall): Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
- Round 3, Pick 25 (89th Overall): Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
More Possible Bills Draft Targets: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington; Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida; Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington; Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama; Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State; Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State; George Pickens, WR, Georgia; Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah; Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State; Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Pre-Draft Bills Team Needs 2022
It wouldn’t have been an exaggeration for me to have listed cornerback as the Bills’ first, second, and third need in the draft. It’s the most glaring weakness on the team by a country mile.
The reason for the need isn’t headlined by a free-agent departure, retirement, or trading away a player at the position. Instead, it’s the most pressing need because Tre’Davious White tore his ACL on Thanksgiving. Sure, he might be ready early in the season. However, that’s not a shoo-in, and he might need time to round back into pre-injury form.
Further, Levi Wallace was Buffalo’s other perimeter corner and departed via free agency. Therefore, the only incumbent cornerbacks that played meaningful coverage snaps in 2021 for the Bills are slot corner Taron Johnson and Dane Jackson, a 2020 seventh-round pick.
I will be floored if the Bills don’t select at least one cornerback in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, perhaps double-dipping on the position as they did at defensive end in last year’s draft.
Finally, Sean McDermott mentioned Buffalo’s need to get faster on defense after their playoff exit, perhaps sprinkling bread crumbs for what they’ll do in the draft.
2. Wide Receiver
Wide receiver replaces guard as the second-biggest need on the Bills after the team matched a four-year offer from the Chicago Bears to RFA Ryan Bates. In addition, the Bills also re-signed guard Ike Boettger and inked Rodger Saffold to a pair one-year deals. So, the team might select a guard in the middle rounds, but I’d be shocked to see them snap one up in the first two rounds.
On the wide receiver front, Emmanuel Sanders is still a free agent and the team cut Cole Beasley. Buffalo addressed the slot spot by re-signing Isaiah McKenzie and adding Jamison Crowder on a one-year deal, but perimeter options are lacking behind Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis.
Between top-30 visits, the NFL Draft Combine, private workouts, and the Senior Bowl, the Bills have met with receivers John Metchie, Charleston Rambo, Treylon Burks, Jameson Williams, Jahan Dotson, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Calvin Austin III, per Cover 1.
Many draft pundits are lauding the options at receiver in the late first round, the second round, and even later in the draft. So, the Bills are in the sweet spot for picking a wideout to give Josh Allen another weapon. I think Buffalo will address the position, potentially as early as its first pick. Moreover, given the lack of substantial needs, the Bills might be a candidate to trade up to address the cornerback or receiver position.
The team cut A.J. Klein at linebacker, and Tremaine Edmonds is playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal. Edmonds might be a trade candidate if the organization is unsure about giving him a long-term contract. Additionally, the Bills might draft an heir apparent and allow Edmonds to play out the final year of his deal.
The Bills have met with a few linebackers, specifically Chad Muma and Troy Anderson at both the Senior Bowl and NFL Draft Combine. Muma and Anderson are potential fits with the Bills at the end of the second round or early in the third round if they’re willing to move up.
Bills May Also Consider Drafting: Running Back, Guard, Safety, Tight End, Punter