April 15, 2024

Three best fits for Bills in first round of 2024 NFL Draft

The Buffalo Bills hold the 28th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which is set to begin on April 25.

Although Buffalo remains a Super Bowl contender, the team got substantially worse this offseason after being forced to cut ties with several key players to free up cap space. Bills GM Brandon Beane aims to fill as many holes as possible with his 11 draft picks, though none will be more important than his first-round selection.

With that in mind, here are three prospects who would be ideal selections for the Bills in the first round. 

Wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., LSU 

The Bills entered the offseason needing to bolster their receiving corps after Stefon Diggs’ disappointing end to 2023, and that need only intensified when Gabe Davis left for Jacksonville in free agency. Even though Buffalo signed former Commanders wideout Curtis Samuel, the team still lacks a prototypical X receiver for QB Josh Allen to lean on.

He isn’t the same caliber of player as his former teammate, wideout Malik Nabers, but Thomas is a physical specimen who was extremely productive for the Tigers last season. Across 13 games, Thomas hauled in 68 passes for 1,177 and 17 touchdowns, the most in the nation.

Thomas was also one of the top performers at the NFL Scouting Combine, finishing second among wide receivers in the 40-yard dash (4.33 seconds) and third in the 10-yard split (1.50 seconds). Additionally, according to Kent Lee Platte’s Relative Athletic Score, Thomas scored 9.97 out of a possible 10, which ranked 10th among 3,063 wideouts since 1987.

With his 6-foot-3 frame, freakish athleticism and ability to generate yards after the catch, Thomas would undoubtedly bring a new dimension to an already explosive Bills offense. 

Center Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon

Longtime starting center Mitch Morse became a cap casualty this offseason, and while guard Connor McGovern is expected to replace him, Buffalo may want to consider drafting Powers-Johnson. The former Duck is the top center in this year’s class and was initially projected to be selected in the early to mid-20s in the first round.

However, ESPN’s Matt Miller recently reported that teams aren’t as high on Powers-Johnson as the media seems to be. As per Miller, “it’s unlikely that” Powers-Johnson will be a top 25 pick despite still being viewed as a first-round talent.

Even so, regardless of the fact that the center position isn’t at the top of the priority list for Buffalo, Powers-Johnson deserves an extensive look. Over three seasons at Oregon, Powers-Johnson didn’t allow a sack, and he surrendered just one total pressure in 2023. 

Safety Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

Given that Buffalo cut former starting safety Jordan Poyer and veteran Micah Hyde remains a free agent, the team could use more safety depth, especially since Taylor Rapp and Mike Edwards don’t offer significant upside.

A fringe first-rounder, Nubin has a case to be considered the top safety prospect among a relatively weak positional group in an otherwise loaded draft class. The 6-foot-1, 199-pounder played five seasons at Minnesota and improved every year. Last season, the All-Big Ten first-teamer collected 53 tackles, one sack, four pass breakups and five interceptions, the sixth-most in the FBS. Nubin leaves Minnesota as the program’s all-time leader in interceptions (13).

Only three of Buffalo’s 18 interceptions last season were made by a safety, so adding a ballhawk at the position like Nubin could take its defense to the next level.