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2024 NFL Mock Draft: Bills add core offensive pillar in Round 1

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By: Maxwell Owens

Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Bills bolster their interior offensive line with this first-round decision

With the 2024 NFL offseason well underway, the Buffalo Bills have hit the proverbial reset button on their franchise. To an outsider, One Bills Drive seems clear and intentionally positioned to move forward with an infusion of youth throughout the roster.

Among the large-scale changes is on the interior of the offensive line with what may be observed as a series of surprising moves by general manager Brandon Beane. The biggest moves within that group being the departure of center Mitch Morse ahead of free agency. But the release of Morse wasn’t the only significant move along the line’s interior.

A trade was made before free agency began that sent longtime swing lineman Ryan Bates to the Chicago Bears for a 2024 fifth-round selection. That took a big chunk from the team’s overall depth and especially so on the interior. The trade led some to believe that Mitch Morse would stick around for the short-term. Then came Morse’s release only days later as part of a massive move by general manager Brandon Beane to shed salary cap overage. Questions were rampant and many are still wondering if removing Morse from the equation will be the best move for the offense.

Immediately following Morse’s departure, reports came to light that the Bills were planning to slot veteran offensive lineman David Edwards in at left guard, with Connor McGovern sliding from left guard to center. That sounds well and good in philosophy, but the team has been left barren with depth and questions about how this formula will even work shall persist until proven otherwise.

As such — In a bit of an unexpected turn, the interior offensive line is once again a need heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. Buffalo has sunk significant free-agency investments into McGovern and also a late second-round pick into starting right guard O’Cyrus Torrence.

Considering all of the above, we should ponder the idea of the Bills adding versatile interior chess pieces. As much as many won’t want to hear this: There are multiple prospect who could make sense in Round 1.

Below, you’ll find the results of the latest installment in our mock draft simulation exercise. We used the 2024 NFL mock draft simulator from Pro Football Focus to complete this realistic first-round mock draft.

The Buffalo Bills are selecting No. 28 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft as things currently stand.

With the 28th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select…

Graham Barton, IOL (Duke)

Projecting the landing spot for a prospect who played the last three years of his collegiate career at left tackle can prove difficult, especially given the uncertain nature of any draft. Luckily, for this exercise, Barton does have some tape at center where he had the opportunity to start in 2020 for a handful of games.

The 6’5”, 313-pound Barton represents the total package from a traits perspective with plenty of play strength, flexibility, and fluidity as an athlete. He’s extremely scheme-versatile and is likely be a player able to play all five spots in the NFL. However, he’s unlike to be a mainstay at tackle due to his lack of arm length (32 7/8”).

If the Bills are looking for a steady presence at the core of their offensive line, Barton makes a lot of sense. The organization made a point to prioritize center when they signed Morse to a deal worth an annual average of $11 million per year in 2019.

The clip below shows some of the issues that Barton has with length on the perimeter. In the same light, you’ll see his ability to produce flexion to anchor against power, as well drive in the run game against one of this year’s best edge prospects.

If the Bills are looking to return to a world where McGovern moves back over to left guard and Edwards once again becomes depth, Barton is a sensible option. He would bring a team-coveted versatility to play in several spots and no doubt the ability to slide in and start at center.

Something appears quirky about the way Brandon Beane has attacked the offensive line thus far in the offseason. A meaningful draft pick could solve some of the perceived confusion. Graham Barton would be a slam dunk at pick 28.

Originally posted on Buffalo Rumblings