The gap among teams in the AFC East could be tighter than usual during the 2020 season.
While the New England Patriots have dominated the division for much of the last two decades, the departure of quarterback Tom Brady (among others) have called the division into question.
And that makes the 2020 NFL Draft all the more important. So here’s how one of the Patriots’ AFC East rivals — the Buffalo Bills — graded in the draft, according to five NFL analysts.
Here are Buffalo’s selections:
Round 1: (Traded pick to Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs pre-draft)
Round 2: DE A.J. Epenesa
Round 3: RB Zack Moss
Round 4: WR Gabriel Davis
Round 5: QB Jake Fromm
Round 6: K Tyler Bass (sixth) WR Isaiah Hodgins
Round 7: CB Dane Jackson
NFL.com’s Chad Reuter
Trading for Stefon Diggs before the draft was a risk worth taking given his age and production. The Bills gave up their first-round pick in that deal, but they were still able to find good players in the second (Epenesa) and third (Moss) rounds. They added some downfield threats to complement Diggs and Co. in Davis and Hodgins. Taking Fromm in the fifth round could turn out to be a good investment. Who knows? An injury to Josh Allen could open the door for Fromm like the injury to Jacob Eason did at Georgia. Bass has a great leg and was selected in about the area I expected. Jackson’s coverage skills are much better than his seventh-round selection indicates, and the Bills will utilize those skills right away.
Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit
It was a deep wide receiver class, yes, but trading a first-rounder for Stefon Diggs was still shrewd. The Bills were one quality receiver away from having an offense with no weakness.
In the second round, the Bills went defense. You wonder if they might run into the same problem with A.J. Epenesa that they had with former first-rounder Shaq Lawson: a lack of top-flight explosiveness… Still, with Buffalo’s one-gap attacking 4-3 scheme, this doesn’t appear to be an ideal player and scheme fit. But if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s Bills GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott.
Pro Football Focus
A.J. Epenesa, PFF’s 20th-ranked prospect and EDGE2, fell right into the Bills’ laps at pick No. 54. While there’s some concern with how his below-average athleticism and lack of burst off the line will translate to the NFL, we still very much viewed Epenesa as a first-round talent in this draft… There wasn’t a more elusive running back in the 2020 NFL Draft than Zack Moss. He broke 0.33 tackles per rush attempt ever since his emergence as a true sophomore in 2017 and has broken 33 tackles on 66 catches in his career.
Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer
The Bills didn’t have a lot of desperate needs. Keep in mind, they essentially got Stefon Diggs with their first-rounder. Brandon Beane could afford to be more speculative after getting terrific value for edge-rushing depth in Epenesa and a perfect complementary back to Devin Singletary in Moss. Davis and Hodgins will help when they stretch the field. Fromm was a weird developmental pick, but his winning makeup will help Josh Allen in the QB room.
USA Today’s Nate Davis
Probably overpaid for Stefon Diggs, surrendering their first-round pick plus three mid-rounders for a seventh and a wideout who’s never made a Pro Bowl … and in a receiver-heavy draft. But there’s something to be said for certainty … assuming Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane are certain Diggs won’t pout. But with the picks the Bills did retain, they selected nice players, second-rounder A.J. Epenesa freshening the pass rush and third-rounder Zack Moss capable of providing far more than Frank Gore did as part of the run game committee. Boost this grade if they’re able to stream fifth-round QB Jake Fromm’s football mind into starter Josh Allen’s helmet.
The Bills are coming off a playoff season and added what seems to be a good draft class, if anyone take the AFC East crown coach Bill Belichick’s shelf in New England, they could be the team poised to do so.