MOBILE, Ala. — A year ago, the mission was clear.
The Buffalo Bills’ talent evaluators and coaches arrived at the Senior Bowl college all-star football game looking for a franchise quarterback. They weren’t ignoring other positions, of course, but their focus was on the spot they hoped would transform the franchise.
Ultimately, the Bills used the seventh overall pick on one of two first-round quarterbacks who participated in the 2018 Senior Bowl: Josh Allen of Wyoming. The other was Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, selected No. 1 by the Cleveland Browns.
Things are much different this year.
With Allen in place and needs practically everywhere else, the Bills can go in a variety of directions with the ninth overall choice.
The Senior Bowl will serve its usual role as an important piece of the roster-building puzzle. However, unlike last year, the Bills’ attention will be more equally divided among offensive linemen, wide receivers, tight ends, edge rushers and cornerbacks.
Jim Nagy, the Senior Bowl’s executive director and a former longtime NFL scout who was part of six Super Bowl teams, cited the offensive line as being the position in the game loaded with the most talent based on his conversation with club representatives.
“I think the league’s most fired up about the offensive line group,” Nagy said during a news conference Monday.
Among the offensive linemen of interest is North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury, who could be the best center prospect in the draft. He has superb mobility. Another center of note is Elgton Jenkins of Mississippi State. Michael Deiter is a guard/center from Wisconsin. Dalton Risner, from Kansas State, played tackle and guard, but probably is a guard/center in the NFL.
Two of the better pure guards here this week are Oklahoma teammates Drew Samia and Ben Powers.
One of the more intriguing tackle prospects is Washington State’s Andre Dillard, who is projected as a late first-, early second-round pick. He’s considered by scouts to be an excellent pass-blocker, although his arm length will be something to watch. If his arms aren’t exceptionally long, he could be a guard in the NFL.
Anthony Johnson, of the University at Buffalo, heads the receiver group here. Others of interest are South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel, University of Massachusetts’ Andy Isabella, Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow, and West Virginia’s Gary Jennings.
“Hunter’s been fun to watch,” Nagy said. “He might not be the most popular guy in Mobile this week because he took the (national) title away from the Tide, but he’s a really good player. He’s going to turn people inside-out in one-on-ones (in practice).
“Just a great route runner, really good, savvy, great hands. His skill set is pretty obvious. I don’t think it takes a lot to scout Hunter because he’s so consistent, he’s so dependable.”
Top edge rushers include Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, although he is probably a reach to be selected at No. 9; Boston College’s Zach Allen, and LSU’s Jaylon Ferguson.
The cornerback spot includes Rock Ya-Sin of Rutgers and Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye.