As the Buffalo Bills prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft, there is a lot of pressure on general manager Brandon Beane. A Bills draft hasn’t featured a Pro Bowl player since 2018, and the talent gap is starting to show. Beane and company need a strong draft to keep the Super Bowl window open for Josh Allen and the Bills, so the GM should consider selecting these NFL draft sleepers in the later rounds.
TE Schoonmaker, Michigan
The Bills draft needs to get more pass-catchers in the door. Stefon Diggs is the only elite wide receiver on the roster, and tight end Dawson Knox is solid but hasn’t been dynamic yet. The other options right now are the disappointing Gabriel Davis, last year’s fifth-round pick Khalil Shakir, and free agent Trent Sherfield.
The 2023 NFL Draft WR class isn’t great, but there are some NFL draft sleepers the Bills could target (more on that below). First, though, the Bills should look at Michigan tight end Luke Schoonmaker in the late third or early fourth round.
Schoonmaker is 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, and caught 35 passes for 418 yards and three touchdowns last season for the Wolverines. He is a good route-runner with decent speed (4.62 40-yard dash) and an able blocker. He can come in a become the team’s No. 2 tight end from Week 1 next season.
The most intriguing thing about Schoonmaker is that his NFL.com draft profile has an interesting current NFL player comp: Dawson Knox. And what’s better for the Bills as far as NFL draft sleepers go than another Knox?
WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia
Keeping on the pass-catcher trend to help Josh Allen, there are no real dynamic WRs who are worth the Bills’ No. 27 overall pick in the first round.
Buffalo should wait a bit in the 2023 NFL Draft and take a flyer on a deeper sleeper with some major upside. That player is West Virginia wideout Bryce Ford-Wheaton.
Wheaton hasn’t lit the world on fire yet. He put up 62 catches for 675 yards and seven touchdowns last season for the Mountaineers. However, the 6-foot-4, 221-pound WR sure looks like he could become the second coming of DK Metcalf.
Ford-Wheaton ran an incredibly fast 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine and had a 41-inch vertical jump, better than any other player at his position. He compares to DK Metcalf on many levels as he is about the same size (6-foo-t4, 221 pounds) and also has some of the same doubts that the Seattle Seahawks WR has about him coming out.
Like Metcalf, Ford-Wheaton didn’t set the world on fire at the collegiate level. But putting an athletic specimen like Ford-Whaeton on the field with Josh Allen instead of WV QB JT Daniels, a fifth-year senior and two-time transfer (no offense), will unlock the potential.
The best wide receiver corps are like a basketball team. They have players who come in all shapes and sizes and do different things on the field. The Bills already have plenty of smaller guys who do all the things smaller wideouts can do in the NFL. If the team takes Ford-Wheaton as part of this Bills draft, they will have their big red zone target at worst and potentially a high-volume WR1 someday at best.
OT Earl Bostick Jr., Kansas
Brandon Beane has a type when it comes to drafting offensive tackles. He likes long, athletic tackles who can really move. In the 2021 NFL Draft, he took Spencer Brown from Northern Iowa. Brown was a tight end and defensive end in high school, as well as a basketball and baseball All-Conference player. But in college, at 6-foot-8, 300-plus pounds, he became a tackle.
Brown has been solid at right tackle, but the Bills need more depth along the line and, ideally a player who can replace Dion Dawkins in the near future.
That player could be NFL draft sleeper Earl Bostick Jr. from Kansas.
Bostick Jr. was a standout tight end and defensive lineman in high school, too, and actually went to Lawrence, Kansas to play TE. He started four games at the potion for the Jayhawks in 2017 and made one catch for eight yards against Texas.
Eventually, Kansas realized its blocking tight end could be more impactful as a starting tackle, and the 6-foot-6, 309-pound blocker started 32 games at right and left tackle in his next three seasons.
Bostick Jr. in the sixth or seventh round will provide great depth on the Bills roster, especially since he can play both sides of the line. And one day, he could develop into an NFL starter.
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