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SB Nation Reacts results: Bills Mafia has a plan for Buffalo’s first-round pick

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By: Matt Byham

Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Are Bills fans focused on offense or defense with Buffalo’s first pick?

Yesterday we asked what you believe to be the most-needed position for the Buffalo Bills to address in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. There are plenty of needs to tackle on both sides of the roster, but the deficiencies on defense far outnumber those on offense. However, one key need on offense could have direct implications on quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ 2024 seasons.

With free agency on the horizon and the potential for it to influence how the Bills draft in April, it’s important to consider those players who may have already played their last games in a Buffalo Bills uniform.

We’re talking first and foremost about Gabe Davis, who’s likely to command a premium as a free agent. Then there’s the situation along the defensive line, where only defensive tackle Ed Oliver is under contract, and the defensive end group is thin with just Von Miller, Greg Rousseau, Kingsley Jonathan, and Kameron Cline under contract in 2024. Plus, there’s the elephant in the safety room — what’s really happening with Micah Hyde, and how much longer will Jordan Poyer be able to play?

Since One Bills Drive currently lacks the funds to do a great deal of damage signing players in free agency, most are prepared for Buffalo to re-stock through the draft. The Bills must be cap-compliant by March 13, and are still tens of millions north of the league’s updated $255.4 million salary cap. There will be plenty of fiscal gymnastics and likely some farewells in store in the coming days, all in the name of making room to retain key talent and add new faces to a team trying to get over the hump in the playoffs.

With so many needs on defense, clearly Bills Mafia was swayed to vote that side of the ball as most important in Round 1. Right? Wrong. At 67%, wide receiver was the position most chose for the Bills in Round 1. Interestingly, defensive tackle (second, 20%), edge rusher/defensive end (third, 8%), and safety (fourth, 5%) didn’t surpass wide receiver. Not only that, they didn’t make up even half of the total votes (a combined 33%). So while the defense faces the most questions, Bills fans aren’t having any part of it in the first round at this point.

While it’s easy to understand wanting the team to draft a wide receiver with their top pick, things may very well depend on how the board falls. Yes, everyone understands the team goes as Josh Allen goes — and too often during the 2023 season, a fair few of the wide receivers failed to produce as expected. The same as was true during the 2022 season.

Remember that last offseason many were crying out for the Bills to draft a receiver with their first-round pick. Then shortly before they were to pick, there was a run featuring four teams selecting receivers ahead of Buffalo. So what did the Bills do? They thought outside of the box, drafting an elite tight end prospect with traits resembling a wide receiver. And it’s paying off.

Even with tight end Dalton Kincaid, there’s an observable need for the team to add more dynamic receiving options to take some of the heat off Stefon Diggs — and to provide Josh Allen with an improved target rate at WR2.

Ultimately, the Buffalo Bills should draft the best player available to them whenever they make their first pick — be it 28 or otherwise. There appears to be a wealth of wide receiver talent again this cycle, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how other teams will prioritize adding one. Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze are pipe dreams at this stage of the game. However, any among Brian Thomas Jr., Xavier Worthy, Keon Coleman, Javon Baker, Adonai Mitchell, Troy Franklin, and Ja’Lynn Polk could be available if general manager Brandon Beane sits still and watches the draft shape out.

Though, should an elite safety prospect such as Kamren Kinchens fall to Buffalo, don’t rule out head coach Sean McDermott’s history with the position serving as the deciding factor in drafting a premiere talent. The same could be said if defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat drops in their lap.

If you’re so inclined, share with us how and why you voted as you chose. It’s perhaps a conversation where there is no wrong choice. Well, so long as it doesn’t involve a quarterback, tight end, running back, or specialist.

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Originally posted on Buffalo Rumblings