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Reassessing top 2024 NFL Draft needs for Buffalo Bills

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By: Maxwell Owens

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It’s time to reassess primary needs remaining for the Bills

The Buffalo Bills have begun their next phase of reconstruction with the opening stages of free agency in the books. The team has made multiple moves to formulate their 2024 roster, but a limited resource count has a bit of a stranglehold on their ability to replenish roster holes from the free-agent ranks.

The team has made meaningful moves this offseason on both lines of scrimmage, safety, and receiver to change the picture of what those groups will look like in 2024. Let’s reset what this team’s biggest needs are as we tail off from free agency into the NFL Draft with the franchise changing direction to get younger and cheaper all around.

Interior Offensive Line

A position that has suddenly turned up a notch from a need perspective in recent weeks is the interior of the Bills’ offensive line, which has seen a sudden and sizable shift. The team started the change with the trade of longtime meaningful depth (and one-time starter) Ryan Bates being traded to the Chicago Bears for a 2024 fifth-round pick. Bates is one of the best utility lineman in the NFL for his ability to be a true stop gap to play all five spots.

The Bills weren’t done with their transition from there. Some assumed that a parting of ways with Ryan Bates all but assured a return for longtime starting center Mitch Morse. That proved to be incorrect as the team released the soon to be 32-year old Morse. He then signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars thereafter. That move prompted NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport to drop a report that the Bills were planning on sliding 2023 starting left guard Connor McGovern to center in 2024 along with recently re-signed guard David Edwards moving into a starting role on the left side.

It’s hard to know who the primary interior offensive line depth even is at this point for the Bills with Edwards in line to start and Bates also gone with Morse. There has been no replacement for either Bates or Morse signed, which has damaged a previous strength of depth up front. This isn’t a position that should be counted out for a first-round investment especially with a player who has guard-center versatility with a primary focus on center.

Wide Receiver

The Bills made a decent splash in free agency with the signing of former Washington Commanders and Carolina Panthers receiver Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal that guarantees $15 million. Samuel is a gadget option who has produced inside and out at the NFL level in the short and intermediate areas. The Bills continue trying to stock up on yards-after-catch and explosive options at the position.

The team lost Gabe Davis and Trent Sherfield in free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings respectively, in addition to releasing veteran return man Deonte Harty after one year in Buffalo.

To help replenish depth, the team also signed Mack Hollins to a one-year deal as a downfield ball winner. There are now four players who are very likely to be on the team in 2024 in Stefon Diggs, Samuel, Khalil Shakir, and Hollins. Second-year fifth-round draft selection Justin Shorter is a wild card to watch as well.

It seems likely the Bills invest at least one draft selection in a receiver despite the notable addition of Samuel. Diggs is going to be 31 years old during this coming season and it remains to be seen what kind of step Shakir can take into a prominent role in 2024. The Bills previously believed Gabe Davis could be a WR2 based on one strong playoff performance, but Davis was often as miss as he was hit. Unfortunately, it was an incorrect assumption without proof of concept. It’s not the weakest point on the team, but this wide receiver draft class is special. You want a piece of that as a decision maker and talent evaluator. You also want to keep quarterback Josh Allen happy with a full cupboard. So this spot is definitely still under heavy consideration.

Edge Rusher

This is still a position that needs to be watched closely heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. Yes — the team did bring back A.J. Epenesa on a notable two-year deal that includes $10 million guaranteed. But there are real questions about whether Epenesa can be a true starter across from Greg Rousseau going into 2024. Epenesa had an encouraging season a year ago and bringing a young player back is an overall positive for the franchise.

The wild card for this team in 2024 remains Von Miller. He’s getting paid a significant amount of money and was a complete non-factor in 2023 despite being deemed “healthy” for over half of the season. Unless the team knows something about Miller the general viewer doesn’t, there’s simply no way to trust Miller to give anything this coming season. Miller is still with the team in part because of a volunteered pay cut and what the incurred dead-cap number (over $23 million) will be for the team if they were to release him this league year.

Casey Toohill was added for depth purposes on the edge, but he’s not a player to be expecting much from with any sort of consistency other than an energy play as a fourth/fifth option. The Bills have done enough so as not to have to absolutely draft an edge rusher early in this class. That said, it should most definitely remain an option on the table due to it being a premium position and the questionable status of Miller moving forward.

Defensive Tackle

DaQuan Jones is back at 1-tech on a two-year deal and will be the starting defensive tackle alongside Ed Oliver in 2024 — which is music to Bills Mafia’s ears. Jones has been terrific when he’s been available and healthy. He’ll be 32 years old this season so it should be expected that the Bills try to invest in future plans at that spot as early as this draft class.

Behind Jones and Oliver, Buffalo just inked defensive tackle Austin Johnson to a one-year deal this past week. Further down the list you’ll find a lack of true NFL-caliber players — at least in terms of those with a vast amount of experience and opportunity at the professional level. There are still pressing needs for meaningful depth at both the one-technique and three-technique spots for 2024 whether that be in the form of free agency or the draft. Money is drying up quick and an investment at the spot where a rookie can nicely slide in for plenty of big-time snaps makes a lot of sense. Round one is a possibility here.


The Bills aren’t committed to either of their projected starting safeties long term with their most recent addition being veteran Mike Edwards who’s coming off of Super Bowls with both the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Edwards is also in town on a one-year deal.

Taylor Rapp was re-signed on what was announced as a three-year deal. But it guarantees less than $5 million and it’s really a one year and “let’s see” kind of contract with very little potential dead-cap issues beyond this season if the team decided to move on.

Beyond those two who are in line to start, modest investments have been made into depth with both Cam Lewis and Damar Hamlin. There aren’t any true Round 1 safeties in this class so this seems to be a Day 2 or beyond option if they go the draft route at this spot.

General manager Brandon Beane has done a nice job of patching up holes in any way he can with limited resources. But the truth is that there are still plenty of areas of need for the Bills heading into 2024. Depth on the lines of scrimmage is typically eye-popping in a negative way right now, which hasn’t been the case in past seasons under the current regime. It’s very likely the biggest moves have already been made for the Buffalo Bills this season.

With the primary needs set, we can now move forward with projecting out a 2024 NFL Draft plan for the Buffalo Bills and trying to get inside the mind of Brandon Beane as he navigates a very key rookie class set to join the team.

Originally posted on Buffalo Rumblings