NFL mock draft roundup: Why many think Buffalo Bills will select WR in first round

INDIANAPOLIS - Peter King, the legendary columnist who has covered the NFL for more than 40 years, announced his retirement Monday in his wildly popular Football Morning in America column.

It was always a fascinating read and it will be terribly missed. No one worked harder, or devoted more time and energy to writing and reporting about the league than King, and one of the things I always loved about the FMIA column is the incredible access he was afforded by teams and players, and how honest and passionate he wrote about those interactions.

He sure didn’t mail in the finale, keeping it as informative and edgy as ever, and I got a very enjoyable chuckle regarding his collection of things he won’t miss about covering the league, especially the first item: Mock drafts.

Sign up for the Bills Blast newsletter Delivered straight to your inbox, additional Bills analysis, insight, stats, quotes and team history from Sal Maiorana

Here’s what King wrote: “Busywork. Waste of time. Blight on the football planet. One mock draft, the week of the draft or close to it, after listening to sources and people you trust in the game - fine, and even good. Mock drafts in February – laughable; you don’t know anything. Mock drafts in October - worse, because you don’t have any idea who’s picking where. What a total waste of time.”

Of course, he’s absolutely spot on correct about this. He wasn’t denigrating those who do them because many of those writers are extremely knowledgeable and do a great job with their pre-draft work. What King was saying is that mock drafts at this stage of the offseason - before the Scouting Combine drills have even started this week, and before teams start addressing their needs in free agency - is pure folly. It’s like throwing darts in a hurricane.

But the NFL Draft has become a cottage industry and mock drafts drive traffic to content sites, and I know there are many of you out there who are fascinated by what draft experts think the Buffalo Bills will do in the first round come late April, even right now.

So in that vein, here are a few of the guesses that are being made regarding what Brandon Beane will do with the 28th overall pick.

Brian Thomas, WR, LSU

Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU
Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Livesay’s rationale: “After the first three receivers go, we could see some players in this class fall a little bit. With so many talented options in this class, teams could target other positions knowing they can come back on Day 2 and still land a starting-level receiver. That allows players like Brian Thomas Jr. to hang around for the Buffalo Bills. Thomas Jr. is coming off a strong year at LSU and would be an excellent complement to Stefon Diggs in Joe Brady’s offense.”

Sikkema’s rationale: “With Gabe Davis a pending free agent, the Bills will need to address their outside receiver position. They have Khalil Shakir and Dalton Kincaid to be productive players in the slot, but they need a vertical threat. That is perfect for Thomas’ skill set.”

Zierlein’s rationale: “The Bills could use younger safeties and pass-rush help, but with impending free agent Gabe Davis likely to garner a decent payday, the team could look to keep the cupboard stocked at receiver. Thomas would be a nice ingredient.”

Sal’s thoughts: “Thomas was the pick of a few others, too. I love the size, something the Bills just don’t have in their WR corps, and for a big man, he can fly. PFF had Thomas for 15 deep catches (20 yards or more) last season which was third-most in college football, and his 670 deep yards were second-most, so yes, that would be a welcome addition to the Buffalo offense.”

Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

Oregon Ducks wide receiver Troy Franklin
Oregon Ducks wide receiver Troy Franklin

Trapasso’s rationale: “Franklin has a spindly frame but flies down the field and has the athletic chops to become a quality route-runner in the NFL.”

Sal’s thoughts: “Like Brian Thomas, he can definitely be a home run hitter as his 14 deep catches ranked tied for sixth in the nation. But one issue that needs to be improved is the limited route tree he operated in for Oregon. He also did grade out well, per PFF, when playing against zone; he was much better against man coverage. Still, I like the pick.”

Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Keon Coleman of the Florida State Seminoles
Keon Coleman of the Florida State Seminoles

▶ Picked by: Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today

▶ Height/Weight: 6-foot-4/215 pounds

Middlehurst-Schwartz’s rationale: “Getting into the booming receiver market to replace free agent Gabe Davis is a tricky proposition for the cap-strapped Bills. The best avenue to provide Josh Allen some needed support would be identifying help relatively early in the draft, and the supersized Coleman could be just the right recipient for Allen's downfield shots.”

Sal’s thoughts: “Similar to Thomas, the size/speed combination jumps out. He’s known to be a great contested catch player, but wasn’t a great separator and that’s something he has to develop against the stud corners in the NFL.”

Chop Robinson, edge, Penn State

Penn State defensive end Chop Robinson
Penn State defensive end Chop Robinson

▶ Picked by: Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network; Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

▶ Height/Weight: 6-foot-3/250 pounds

Jeremiah’s rationale: “The production won’t wow you, but the traits are there. The Bills could suffer some losses off the edge in free agency with contracts expiring for Leonard Floyd and A.J. Epenesa. Robinson could be the new pass-rushing partner for Greg Rousseau.”

Wilson’s rationale: "I'm not taking a wide receiver here. I know that's what some Bills fans want, but we burned through the wide receivers (in his earlier picks). I'm making your team better. I'm taking Chop."

Sal’s thoughts: “Edge rusher is a definite need. The Bills need better production than what they’ve gotten from Rousseau who right now seems like a better run defender than pass rusher. And it’s unlikely that Von Miller is going to provide it, so adding an edge presence is critical, though Robinson seems like a reach here.”

Laiatu Latu, edge, UCLA

CLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu
CLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu

Picked by: Chad Reuter,

▶ Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 265 pounds

Reuter’s rationale: “Edge rusher that they’ll need if free agency wipes out the team’s depth. Medical exams will be a factor in Latu’s evaluation given the neck injury he suffered at Washington before transferring to UCLA.

Sal’s thoughts: “I would be wary of taking on an injury risk like this, especially with a neck injury. The Bills have enough trouble on their hands with Miller, Tre’Davious White and Matt Milano coming back from serious injuries.”

Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean

Picked by: Josh Edwards, CBS Sports

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 207 pounds

Edwards’ rationale: “Micah Hyde, Dane Jackson and Taylor Rapp are all free agents. Cornerback health has been a problem over the past few years. Cooper DeJean is a versatile player capable of wearing a variety of hats on that defense.”

Sal’s thoughts: “I definitely like the idea of DeJean, but not in the first round. There are more pressing needs at receiver and defensive line. If he somehow slipped to the Bills’ pick at No. 60, it’s worth a thought. Still, what they need most of all in the secondary is a true safety and DeJean is not that.”

Sal Maiorana can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @salmaiorana. To subscribe to Sal's newsletter, Bills Blast, which comes out each Friday during the offseason, please follow this link:

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: NFL mock draft 2024: Bills WR corps gets a boost with first pick