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If the Bills’ top targets are drafted before pick No. 30, Asante Samuel Jr. is a nice consolation prize

Samuel has the athleticism and skill set to earn a starting job early on with the Bills.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The first-round selections to this point in SB Nation’s NFL writers’ mock draft weren’t kind to the Bills, who had to watch and wait as talented players were snapped up by other teams. That’s how it goes when picking at the end of the round, which is unfamiliar territory for this franchise.

Though Brandon Beane re-signed nearly every contributor to last year’s squad that appeared in the AFC Championship, and added key depth and pieces like Emmanuel Sanders, the team still needs to upgrade where it can, if it hopes to conquer the AFC and compete for the Super Bowl.

The Bills don’t have obvious roster holes; just divots here and there. Cornerback Levi Wallace has been fine for three seasons, but the team could use an upgrade. The same goes with the offensive line, aside from Dion Dawkins. Though Cody Ford, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano, and Daryl Williams make up the remainder of a solid unit, Buffalo might want a new player to challenge for a starting role.

On the defensive line, their starting ends are 33 and 34 years old this year. Their tackles were a weak point, even though Star Lotulelei returns to the mix after sitting out the 2020 season. Finally, an offensive weapon isn’t out of the question. Sanders is 34 and Cole Beasley is 32, and the team’s starting running backs, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, aren’t big-play threats.

Back to the board. Three edge rushers (Jaelan Phillips, Kwity Paye, Azeez Ojulari) gone. The top defensive tackle in a weak draft (Christian Barmore) picked. Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, Caleb Farley, and Greg Newsome all taken at cornerback. Newsome, picked one slot before the Bills, was a killer — his size and skillset is exactly what Buffalo would covet.

Buffalo could’ve chosen a project edge rusher like Jayson Oweh or Gregory Rousseau. Both players flashed like top NFL prospects, albeit in short college careers. The problem is they might not be able to help with a Super Bowl run this year. Kadarius Toney or Elijah Moore could give the Bills a dangerous all-purpose weapon on offense. Or they could’ve taken a lineman like Creed Humphrey and hoped he wins a starting role in camp. Ultimately, they went with a defensive back with NFL bloodlines who fell due to his small size.

From Buffalo Rumblings’ Matt Rich Warren:

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has closed all of the team’s holes heading into the Draft, so it’s about upgrading, improving, and planning ahead. Our top pass rushers were gone and we targeted Greg Newsome, but then he was picked at 29. The only guy left on each of our experts’ short lists was Samuel, though he was only the top choice on one. Pairing him with Tre’Davious White significantly upgrades their CB2 spot for years to come and he’ll likely be able to start Week 1 or at least some point in the season.

Samuel might be the most “pro-ready” cornerback out of the remaining bunch. His lack of length is an issue, but the Bills found great success with 5’11, 192-pound Tre’Davious White. A fierce competitor and one of the few bright spots on a terrible defense, Samuel has the mentality to earn a starting job out of training camp.

The Bills defense is filled with underrated talent like Jordan Poyer, Jerry Hughes, and Matt Milano. Samuel will fit right in. His smooth footwork could also earn him a nickel role over Taron Johnson, if the Bills decide they prefer Wallace’s size on the outside.

Top prospects remaining:

  • Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
  • Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
  • Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
  • Nick Bolton, ILB, Missouri
  • Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss