The Bills were busy on the final day of the 2021 draft, making five picks and one trade.
The opening pick was another mountain of an offensive tackle. Tommy Doyle is 6-8 and weighs 315 pounds. He joins third round pick Spencer Brown as 6-8 rookie tackles in Buffalo.
Doyle played at Miami of Ohio and made his first start at tackle in college against current Bills defensive end A.J. Epenesa. He’s from Minnesota and played hockey in high school before growing to a size where he realized football would be his path. He can play either tackle spot and projects as a likely swing or backup tackle in the NFL.
Buffalo traded their second 5th round pick to Houston. The trade was a bit curious because it happened about 15 spots before Buffalo got on the clock. The Bills sent pick 174 to the Texans for picks 203 and 212, which both fell in the 6th round and gave Buffalo three of 11 consecutive picks.
Bills GM Brandon Beane said he still had a variety of guys left on the board, so he felt comfortable moving down for more picks. The other concern was the lack of players available at the bottom of the draft and in undrafted free agency due to the NCAA granting a pandemic caused extra year of eligibility. Since the Bills roster is fairly stacked, Beane was concerned he would not be able to attract more free agents. Extra picks late allows for extra players that can be selected without a needing to persuade a signing.
The first of the three will likely end up the most intriguing choice of day three: wide receiver Marquez Stevenson from Houston.
He’s a blazer who might be best, at least initially, in the NFL as a return man. Stevenson had three kickoff return touchdowns in college. He ran a 4.45 40 yard dash at his pro day, but says he caught a bad, windy day for that run. Stevenson claims he ran in the 4.3 range throughout his draft prep.
Stevenson knows Bills star corner Tre’Davious White very well. Both are from Shreveport, Louisiana and Stevenson is good friends with White’s younger brother. Stevenson has spent lots of time around the former All-Pro.
White has often discussed how tough a place Shreveport is to grow up. Stevenson understands it, too. Many of his childhood friends have ended up in jail or dead.
“We face obstacles just walking outside,” Stevenson said.
He was inspired by White’s ascension to the NFL and says it means a lot that he’s made it, too. Stevenson certainly fits the Tyreek Hill short, superfast receiver mold and seems a pretty good shot to take in round six.
Stevenson was college roommates with current Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver. The two talked this week about Stevenson’s likely selection in the NFL Draft. He’s excited to reunited with Oliver in Buffalo.
The next two Buffalo picks were back to back in round six and both were defensive backs. The first was Pitt safety Damar Hamlin.
Like Stevenson, Hamlin was a college teammate of a current Bills player, but the connection goes much deeper. Hamlin and Dane Jackson have been friends since both were kids in the Pittsburgh area. Hamlin calls Jackson “my brother”.
As with many picks at this point in the draft, Hamlin is more likely to make the Bills roster as a special teamer. ESPN draft analyst said he “guarantees” Hamlin wins a job this way. That’s fine with him.
“I’m willing to do whatever to be a contributor. I don’t care if I have to pass out water,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin is a good hitter and strong tackler. He fits the special teamer mold.
The next pick was Rachad Wildgoose from Wisconsin. He says the unusual last name is courtesy a family that has both Bahamian and native American roots.
Wildgoose is comfortable playing both outside and inside at a nickel position. He played under former Bills safety Jim Leonhard, who is now the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Wildgoose called Leonhard a ‘brainiac’ and was grateful for all he was able to soak up playing for the Badgers.
A broken scapula ended Wildgoose’s 2020 season after only two games, but there’s no doubt that he’s fully healed.
The final Bills pick came early in the 7th round and spot number 236. Buffalo went inside on the offensive line and grabbed guard Jack Anderson from Texas Tech. Relative to the rest of this draft class, Anderson stands “only” 6-foot-5.
Anderson was named first team all Big 12 as a sophomore, suffered a devastating shoulder injury that ruined his junior season and came back to earn all Big 12 honors again as a senior in 2020.
He has a less direct Bills connection. Anderson shares an agent with former Buffalo interior offensive lineman Richie Incognito. They have the same agent and Anderson said he’s been Facetiming with Incognito. Says Richie is someone “he looks up to”.