Share this article

print logo

Mel Kiper thinks No. 22 is sweet spot for WR to Bills

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. is sticking with conventional wisdom when he assesses the Buffalo Bills’ first-round draft prospects.

Kiper said the fastest top receiver in the Class of 2020 – Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III – would be a great fit for a Bills offense that ranked 24th in the NFL last season.

“I have him to Buffalo because Josh Allen needs that down-the-field threat,” Kiper said on a national media conference call Wednesday. “He’s got the big arm. He’s got Cole Beasley in the slot. He’s got John Brown on the outside, but they’re both in that 5-9, 5-10 range. Now you get a guy with speed down the field who’s adept at the vertical-stretch ability. And Josh can throw it as far as anybody.

“Josh made tremendous improvement, got them to the playoffs,” Kiper said, “and I think Ruggs would help that offense and Brian Daboll even moreso.”

Kiper put five wide receivers in the first round of his latest mock draft, released Tuesday. They are Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb to the New York Jets at No. 11, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy to Las Vegas at No. 12, Clemson’s Tee Higgins at No. 21 to Philadelphia, Ruggs at No. 22 to the Bills and LSU’s Justin Jefferson to Green Bay at No. 30.

Fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay gave Ruggs to Philadelphia and Georgia running back D’Andre Swift to the Bills at No. 22. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah gave Ruggs to the Eagles and Higgins to the Bills in his first mock draft.

Ruggs, 6 feet and 183 pounds, is expected to run in the low 4.3-second range at the NFL scouting combine next week – or maybe even crack the 4.3 mark. Bills top receiver John Brown ran 4.34 coming out of college in 2014. In 2017, Cincinnati receiver John Ross ran 4.22, fastest at the combine since 1999, and was picked ninth overall.

“I think the speed will get him in the 22 range,” Kiper said of Ruggs. “I think 15 will be a little high for him. ... I think his body is better than John Ross in terms of his potential moving forward, or at least as good coming into the league as what Ross was. He’s going to go not as high as Ross. I’d say 22-25 is as far as I could see him dropping.”

Higgins has been a popular pick for the Bills, too.

“Higgins is interesting,” Kiper said. “He’s 6-4, he’s got great, great ball skills, but he doesn’t separate. He doesn’t have that explosive burst out of his break. I’d like to see a little more physicality in those jump-ball, power-forward-type situations with him. How he runs will be important. Some think he’ll run 4.55. We’ll see if he runs in that 4.52 to 4.55 range. He’ll be certainly in the mid-first. Philadelphia at 21 and Buffalo at 22 would be a possibility.”

Kiper also threw some praise Allen’s way in assessing the prospects of Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who is a potential top-10 pick.

“I think the most important thing is to show that ‘it’ factor,” Kiper said of Herbert, “because can you command a room and have that aura about you that when you walk into a room, you’re a leader? Josh Allen was a tremendous competitor coming out of Wyoming, the most competitive player Craig Bohl ever coached. Last year you hear Buffalo Bills players say Josh is going to lead. He led them to the playoffs. We just follow Josh’s lead, and we know he’s going to win a lot of games. That’s what Justin Herbert has to show.”

Kiper projects Herbert going at No. 5 to Miami.

Bills' Dawson Knox surprises birthday boy who raised money for tight end's favorite charity

Story topics: / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment