Roquan Smith – Georgia
To me this would be a slam dunk of a signing. For anybody who watched any of the Georgia football games this year, Smith was everywhere. In 2017, Smith racked up 137 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 11.5 tackles for loss.
This is a Linebacker who can go sideline to sideline, call a defense, and has speed to recover any mistakes. Smith would clearly be that captain on defense that McDermott would be seeking if they were to move on from Brown.
This issue with Smith is the position of the Bills draft. If Smith has good draft season workouts and strong interview, he could be a top 10 draft pick. Last year, Reuben Foster was thought to be a Bills need and a potential first round pick. However, he dropped to round 2 due to a few red flags teams had. Should there be a low value for Linebackers in the first round, the Bills should and will jump on Smith.
What isn’t known about Smith is how he will interview with the Bills. With the high emphasis on intangibles, it’s just hard to tell who will separate themselves in the meeting rooms, regardless of on field performance.
Josey Jewell – Iowa
One thing that Smith would have working against him, is that he isn’t a college senior. Last season the Bills selected only 4 year college players. If the Bills continue that trend in 2018, look for Jewell to be a possible addition after the 2nd round.
Preston Brown was a 3rd round pick and turned out to be an extremely valuable player, in the 3rd round the Bills could try to replace him with Jewell.
Jewell was a tackling machine at Iowa. In 2017 he had 136 tackle, 2016 he had 124 tackles, and in 2015 he had 126 tackles. Iowa also uses pro-style schemes with both their offensive and defensive philosophies. This means Jewell enters the NFL with a few advantages on his reads and signals.
The reason to walk away from Preston Brown is due to salary cap decisions, or schematic fit. Jewell most reminds me of Matt Milano, he isn’t exceptionally talented, but has the intelligence to contribute right away. Jewell may be the first option their considering in the draft, as some scouting sites list him as the top inside senior linebacker coming out.
Airius Moore – North Carolina State
Another senior, to try to guess based on past drafts what the Bills may do. Moore was ‘the other guy’ in NC State who played next to potential top 5 OLB Bradley Chubb.
In the past where ‘the other guys’ have turned out to be extremely solid NFL players. For example, Matravious Bryant was ‘the other guy’ to DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins while at Clemson. In this case, we like Moore because he may be the best coverage linebacker of the group.
The AFC East is littered with strong tight ends, and shifty slot receivers. Their offensive plans are simple, get matched up with a slower linebacker. The knock on Brown will only be that he doesn’t have the speed to cover the top tight ends in the NFL. Soapbox moment: the elite Tight Ends are ‘elite’ for a reason. If there were 25 linebackers that could cover them in the NFL, then they wouldn’t be that important of tight ends
Moore would add speed to the Bills somewhat slower linebacker group. While he increases team speed, he doesn’t have the college production of a Brown, Milano, or others previewed here. The addition of speed,would also add value to special teams. With McDermott’s emphasis on versatility, this may be what brings Moore to Buffalo.
Moore like Jewell should start to hear his name called either late 2nd round or as deep at the 5th round.