2017 Buffalo Bills’ Draft & OTA Review

The Bills went down their list of needs and the upgrades were apparent in camp. Also getting back Shaq Lawson, last year’s number one pick at defensive end who only started one game, and the return of middle linebacker Reggie Ragland, 2016 second round selection, will help improve on their 29th place league ranking in stopping the run. Buffalo’s first pick, cornerback Tre’Davious White is a four year starter who can play both the right and left sides. He’s a solid run support player and a good tackler. New coach Sean McDermott has buttoned down the hatches and taken a more disciplined approach to the Bills than did his predecessor Rex Ryan. White was drafted by the Bills after they traded down 16 spots with Kansas City. The former LSU Tiger has been getting first unit work during OTAs rotating with Ronald Darby and Kevon Seymour. White is also in the mix as a punt return specialist rotating with Brandon Tate. He is the first cornerback selected in the first round by the Bills since 2012 when they drafted Stephon Gilmore with the 10th pick. Wide receiver Zay Jones has been slowed during OTAs with a sprained knee, costing him valuable reps while Sammy Watkins is on the sidelines recovery from foot surgery. When Jones did get on the field he was impressive catching the ball in team drills and showed no signs of the early camp injury. Jones and first round choice Tre’Davious White have been matched up one-on-one and have shown big time compete ability. Dion Dawkins has received important onthe- field work with left tackle Cordy Glenn recovering from last year’s ankle injury. Defensive end Jerry Hughes gave the Temple product an up close and personal view of a big time speed rusher with rare quickness. The reps at left tackle will help Dawkins compete with Jordan Mills at right tackle when the pads come on in training camp. Dawkins’ position flexibility at tackle or guard is a big plus. Matt Milano is getting reps with the second unit behind Ramon Humber at weak side linebacker. The former Boston College standout should star on special teams, having blocked three punts in his career. He has played all aspects of special teams, covering kicks and blocking in the return game. Milano is small by NFL standards coming in at 5117 and 217 pounds. He is a nickel linebacker candidate. Nathan Peterman has been rotating with Cardale Jones and TJ Yates getting second and third team repetitions. He is one of the few quarterbacks in this draft who has a pro offense background taking snaps under center. A value pick in the fifth round, Peterman has demonstrated in OTAs that he is accurate and makes good decisions. Steps up in the pocket keeping his eyes down the field. Consistent in his play. Tanner Vallejo is working behind Pro Bowl selection Lorenzo Alexander at the strong side linebacker slot. He is a nickel linebacker prospect similar to fifth round pick Matt Milano. A good athlete who has short arms and questionable instincts. Slows down to redirect in the open field. Out of control as a tackler. He has been nicked up most of his Boise State career. He must make the team as a special teams’ performer. GRADE: GOOD.

FREE AGENCY: The Bills added 16 players through free agency from other ball clubs and re-signed four of their own, headed by breakout Pro Bowl player Lorenzo Alexander. Micah Hyde was Buffalo’s big target, signing him to a five-year 30-million dollar deal with 14 million in guarantees. The 2013 fifth-round pick played both safety and nickel cornerback for the Packers.

NOTABLE UNDRAFTED COLLEGE FREE AGENTS: Daikiel Shorts Jr. (West Virginia) WR and Austin Rehkow (Idaho) PT.

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