Pro Football Focus typically likes to give a different twist with their narratives. They couldn’t find one of those regarding the Buffalo Bills’ haul at the 2022 NFL draft.
After going with cornerback Kaiir Elam and running back James Cook with their top-two picks, Buffalo took linebacker Terrel Bernard off the board. A curious selection for the third round.
Overall, the Bills earned a positive B-plus grade from the football analytics outlet for their 2022 draft haul. But their only knock? Bernard.
Here’s the breakdown:
Day 1: The Bills had a need at cornerback, and they got one who excels at the line of scrimmage in Elam. The Florida Gator put up an 89.8 PFF coverage grade as a true freshman in 2019 and followed that up with an 81.0 grade as a sophomore in 2020, dominating so much that opposing offenses largely avoided him in 2021. Elam was targeted three or fewer times in over half of his games this past year. However, penalties dragged down his PFF grade, which speaks volumes about how overly physical he can get.
Day 2: James Cook — Dalvin Cook’s brother — is a scat-back type with great play speed. He earned an 85.0 PFF grade and totaled 728 rushing yards with Georgia in 2021. He’s a great complementary piece to what the Bills already have in their backfield in Zack Moss and Devin Singletary.
Bernard is fast and plays fast. At the same time, he’s firmly undersized at 6-foot-1, 224 pounds and comes with serious tackling issues. Bernard owns a 14.8% missed tackle rate for his career and is teetering toward safety territory. He doesn’t let the lack of size get in the way of his mindset, and he does have quality instincts and athleticism. Still, Bernard should have been a Day 3 pick.
Day 3: Shakir was a human highlight reel for the Boise State Broncos. His body control and hands are the stuff of legend. He likely profiles best from the slot after putting up over 1,000 yards there in 2021. The 102nd-ranked player on the PFF big board, Shakir adds depth and a high upside to the Bills’ passing game.
Naturally all draft analysis means little at this time of the year. Each player picked by the Bills must prove themselves on the field.
But it’s going to be interesting to see how much Bernard gets that chance, to PFF’s point.
The glaring spot Bernard will fill is behind starters Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Previously that backup spot was held by AJ Klein, who was cut this offseason in a salary cap move.
Finding that player with a third-round pick is curious because a bit more of an impact-maker could’ve still been on the board. But, this also might just be a testament to the deep roster Buffalo already has. They had the luxury of using their third-round pick to find an important backup instead of a Day 1 starter.