Buffalo Bills 2017 NFL Draft retrospective

Buffalo Bills, NFL Draft Retrospective

The Buffalo Bills entered the 2017 NFL Draft a franchise in transition and this draft may be remembered more for who they didn’t draft versus who they did.

Just a few months prior, the Bills had named Sean McDermott, who was previously defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers, there new head coach. However, they decided to keep Doug Whaley in his role as general manager through the NFL Draft.

There were certainly questions about who was making the final decisions as it was assumed, and eventually proven accurate, that Whaley would be let go after the NFL Draft. During this offseason, the Bills had needs across the board specifically on defense as McDermott expected to implement his 4-3 defense and needed players that fit that mold.

The biggest need, which had been plaguing this franchise since the mid 1990s when Jim Kelly retired was obviously at quarterback. However, picking at 10 there wasn’t a surefire prospect and the Bills elected to make a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs that netted them the 27th pick in the first round plus a third round pick in 2017 and a first round pick in next year’s draft.

Unfortunately for Bills fans, the Chiefs used that number 10 pick to select Patrick Mahomes, who went on to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. McDermott explained the rationale for not selecting Mahomes, or another quarterback that year, being due to the fact that the evaluation process was much shorter.

While it is hard to swallow the idea that the Bills traded the pick that could have been Patrick Mahomes, they actually had a decent draft that year. This is a recap of each pick the Bills made in 2017.

Original grade

FanSided: B+

White is a great cornerback and will fill a much-needed spot after losing Stephon Gilmore this offseason. He can cover better than anyone in the draft class, with footwork that’ll make your jaw drop. In addition, he’s versatile and McDermott will likely take full advantage of him all over the field. I love this pick, especially after trading down.

Draft class

Round 1 (No. 27)


Tre’Davious White


CURRENT TEAM: Buffalo Bills

The Bills traded back with the Chiefs before selecting Tre’Davious White out of LSU. The move made sense for a team that had lost cornerback Stephon Gilmore in free agency to the New England Patriots. There was a major need for a top corner and the hope was White would fill that.

He certainly has done that in his time in Buffalo and had a breakout season this past year. He finished tied for the league lead in interceptions with six, was named to the Pro Bowl and earned First-Team All-Pro honors. He was a major reason that the Bills have finished in the top five in passing yards against for the second consecutive year.

While White will always be connected with Mahomes, it is hard to say that his pick was a bad one.

Round 2 (No. 37)


Zay Jones

WR East Carolina

CURRENT TEAM: Las Vegas Raiders

Jones had a very productive college career with 399 career receptions, 4,279 receiving yards and 23 receiving touchdowns. However, that production never translated to his time with the Buffalo Bills.

Jones struggled mightily with dropped passes and in roughly two and a half seasons had 90 receptions on 194 targets for 1,097 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. The Bills front office elected to move on from Jones this past season and traded him to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Round 2 (No. 63)


Dion Dawkins

OL Temple

CURRENT TEAM: Buffalo Bills

Dawson has started every game for the Bills at left tackle over the past two years. He also has two touchdown receptions to his name.

Round 5 (No. 163)


Matt Milano

LB Boston College

CURRENT TEAM: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills found a diamond in the rough with the selection of Matt Milano out of Boston College. At only 6-feet and 223 pounds, the thought was that he was a little undersized to play linebacker in the NFL.

However, the past two seasons he has certainly proven otherwise as the team’s starting linebacker alongside Tremaine Edmunds. During that stretch, he has had 179 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries and three interceptions.

Round 5 (No. 171)


Nathan Peterman

QB Pittsburgh

CURRENT TEAM: Las Vegas Raiders

The Bills finally selected a quarterback with the pick of Nathan Peterman out of Pittsburgh. However, his selection is one that fans would like to forget.

He finished his career with the Bills playing in eight games and throwing for 548 passing yards, three touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Bills released Peterman towards the end of the 2018 season and he has since joined the Las Vegas Raiders.

Round 6 (No. 195)


Tanner Vallejo

LB Boise State

CURRENT TEAM: Arizona Cardinals

New head coach Sean McDermott went back to what he knows best with the team’s final pick and selected linebacker Tanner Vallejo out of Boise State. However, his time with Buffalo was short lived as he was released at the start of his second season.

Bottom line

Even with the misses, it is hard to drop this grade below an A- because of the quality of players they got right. While Bills fans will look at this draft as the one they traded the pick away that became Patrick Mahomes, at the time he was not considered a surefire superstar.

The sting of trade is lessened knowing the Bills did select Tre’Davious White who after only three seasons is at the top of his game and considered one of the premiere cornerbacks in the league.

In addition to White, the Bills got Dion Dawkins and Matt Milano, who not only has started the past two years but should be key pieces moving forward.

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