Which Bills players are happy and which ones are motivated following the 2022 NFL Draft?
The Buffalo Bills selected eight players during the 2022 NFL Draft. Where they selected those eight players and at what positions can put a lot of pressure on players already on the Bills’ roster. Conversely, if the Bills didn’t add any legit competition at certain spots, those guys might feel a little safer on this fine Sunday.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Bills’ draft.
Winner: TE Tommy Sweeney
I really thought the Bills would look to add a tight end since three of their four TEs have one year left on their contracts. By not adding a tight end, Sweeney will be able to make his case to be on the roster and sign some sort of new contract in the league after the final year of his rookie deal.
Loser: CB Dane Jackson
Dane Jackson is going to compete with Kaiir Elam to be the CB2 when Tre’Davious White comes back. With Levi Wallace, the Bills never really went out of their way to add a top-flight CB prospect. With Jackson, they added a first-rounder even though Jackson played well down the stretch. He’ll have to keep playing well to cash in a year from now as he enters free agency, but now his playing time could be limited.
Winner: OLs Cody Ford, Ike Boettger, Greg Mancz
The Bills didn’t add competition to the interior offensive line. That will at least give Boettger time to get healthy enough for a shot at making the roster. Ford and Mancz have clear paths to the roster, as well.
Loser: RBs Duke Johnson, Zack Moss
Johnson signed in the wake of J.D. McKissic spurning the Bills, and he was hoping to get a shot at making the roster. With the selection of James Cook, he will have to play so well that the Bills give up on a third-round pick after only two seasons just to make the team. Speaking of that third-round pick, Moss is likely to be inactive on Sundays barring an injury to Devin Singletary or Cook.
Winner: DE A.J. Epenesa
I didn’t think they would cut Epenesa, but if the Bills added another talented pass rusher, he could have been buried in Year 3 like Zack Moss is going to be at running back. After Greg Rousseau and Von Miller, he actually has a chance for legit playing time as the top reserve defensive end. With the way the Bills rotate, that’s a fair number of snaps for a guy who will be looking to earn some sort of contract over the next two years.
Loser: P Matt Haack
Haack had a bad year in 2021, took a pay cut this offseason, and then watched the Bills draft a guy with the nickname PUNT GOD. To make it worse for Haack, he’s probably going to have to help the rookie along as a holder. Nothing like assisting your replacement.
Winner: QB Matt Barkley
He probably still won’t make the 53-man roster, but the Bills didn’t add a third QB option in the draft. Case Keenum is on the final year of his deal and Barkley only signed for one year, too, but he should have a clear path to a steady spot on the practice squad instead of bouncing around like he did in 2021.
Loser: All the depth linebackers
I don’t think we went into the 2022 NFL Draft expecting them to add multiple players at this position, even thought Tremaine Edmunds was on the final year of his deal. While one was a seventh-round pick, third-rounder Terrel Bernard is going to factor in heavily. So Tyrel Dodson goes from the top reserve to fourth on the depth chart and Marquel Lee, Andre Smith, Joe Giles-Harris, and even Tyler Matakevich are all going to be fighting for roster spots.
Winner: Jordan Poyer
Kyle Hamilton was a player some Bills fans were targeting as an eventual replacement for Poyer, but no one was going to get Poyer off the field this season. This isn’t about playing time. Poyer and Jaquan Johnson are both free agents at the end of 2022, so with no heir apparent for Poyer, maybe the Bills look to get an extension done now.
Loser: Marquez Stevenson
The Bills were able to hold onto Marquez Stevenson last year despite a training camp injury. He was in and out of the lineup, swapping spots with Isaiah McKenzie as the returner. But now McKenzie is back and cemented on the roster with his new deal and the Bills traded up to draft Khalil Shakir. Shakir can return kicks and play in the slot. If Stevenson is behind Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Isaiah McKenzie, plus Jake Kumerow has a role as a special teamer and sometimes-receiver locked down, Stevenson is the sixth receiver at best. With that trade up, maybe he’s the seventh guy on the roster by the time roster cuts come around. Isaiah Hodgins is in this boat, too, but another rung down the ladder.