Best and worst draft picks for the Buffalo Bills in the 2022 NFL Draft
Buffalo Bills Worst Pick: LB Terrel Bernard, Baylor
While I was tempted to put a couple of the guys drafted in the later rounds, they may not even make the team because of their draft status. Instead, I opted for third-round pick Terrel Bernard.
While this is the Buffalo Bills’ worst pick, it is not because I dislike Bernard as a prospect. I just think that the Bills selected him much too soon, and his value was more later in Day 3. Combine that with the fact that there were several other linebackers on the board I was a bigger fan of, making Bernard the worst pick of the draft.
Bernard is small for an NFL linebacker. At 6-1, 220lbs, he is a very similar size to Matt Milano, which I see in this pick from Buffalo. Although he is not the caliber of Milano, there are some similarities. And you never know, I could be dead wrong about Bernard just like several folks were about Milano.
Bernard will bring some speed and athleticism to the Bills’ linebacker room. While he will start on special teams because Buffalo already has Tremaine Edmunds and Milano, he should excel there given his physical traits. Bernard played in a fast and athletic Baylor defense, often covering the field from sideline to sideline.
Bernard has excellent coverage skills because of his athleticism, and his best skill overall could be his ability as a blitzer. Bernard racked up 36 pressures last year per PFF. That number was good enough for second amongst linebackers in the Big 12. In this way, Bernard’s game compares to Milano’s because of their coverage and blitzing skills. However, it needs to be noted that Milano is much more physical in the run game and in general.
One of Bernard’s most significant weaknesses is that he can get pushed around a little bit in the run game. If he is not making the correct read off the snap, it is challenging for him to recover and fight through blocks.
I also struggle to see how Bernard fits with the Bills. He would be best suited for Milano’s current role, but Milano’s contract runs through 2024. Milano also does not have small enough dead cap hits to ever warrant releasing him if the Bills wanted to give Bernard more playing time.
Although Bernard played some middle linebacker at Baylor, I struggle to see how he would succeed there at the NFL level. Bills fans have already been critical of Tremaine Edmund’s run-stopping ability and getting off blocks, and he is much bigger and stronger than Bernard. Also, playing Bernard and Milano next to each other would make for an extremely small duo at linebacker. Sure, teams will not be able to take advantage of your linebackers with tight ends and running backs in the passing game, but it would put an unruly amount of pressure on the defensive line to stop the run game.
Other players I would have liked to see the Bills take instead were Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal, who was available at the time of the Bernard pick, or Penn State LB Brandon Smith, who was picked the round later. Chenal and Smith are both middle linebacker size and elite athleticism in Smith’s case. Both players could have played special teams and learned the MLB position behind Edmunds with the idea they would take over if Edmunds is not resigned next offseason.
Although I do really actually like Bernard as a prospect and think he could actually be quite good, the value and concerning fit in the Bills’ depth chart makes him the worst pick of Brandon Beane and the Buffalo Bills’ draft class.