There’s plenty that Brandon Beane could do on the first night of the 2024 NFL Draft, including trading in either direction. If he decides to stick and pick at 28th overall, Bills fans would be wise to brace themselves for a multitude of positions depending on how the board falls.

Defense still could use addressing, and if that’s the direction Beane is looking, there are plenty of names that Bills Mafia should familiarize themselves with. Here are five names to watch.

Laiatu Latu: Edge, UCLA

Laiatu Latu definitely shouldn’t last to 28th overall, but hey – a guy can dream. That said, there are some recent mocks that show Latu lasting until very close to BUF’s pick.

Latu is an athletic, long, twitched-up edge rusher with a very prolific career. Since recovering from what was supposed to be a career-ending neck injury at the University of Washington, Latu rebounded after transferring to UCLA where he posted 23.5 sacks over the last two seasons. Edge is a shallow position in this year’s draft class, and if he’s available, or within striking distance for Beane to pull off a small trade-up, he would provide an instant impact in the pass rush department.

Jer’Zhan Newton: DI, University of Illinois

Defensive tackle is a position that has been talked about plenty in Bills circles, and for good reason. Granted, Beane has positioned the Bills to not have to force anything on draft night by addressing the position, but adding depth and a potential young anchor of the future on the defensive line still holds plenty of value.

Jer’Zhan “Johnny” Newton is a stud. He can line up all over the defensive line, primarily in the B gap or over tackle, and can win with strong hands and plenty of closing speed. A defensive tackle who’s strong in pass rush and run defense, Newton would be a cog for the interior.

Chop Robinson: Edge, Penn State

Demeioun “Chop” Robinson is another edge that could be right in the sweet spot for the Bills. The shine on Chop has dimmed over the pre-draft process, due largely to group think and thoughts about his lack of versatility in pass rush moves. I firmly disagree.

I happen to lack athletic pass rushers with good bend and closing speed, which Robinson has. He also has plenty of pass-rush moves in his bag that could continue to be developed.

Robinson is slightly undersized at just under 6’3” and 254 lbs, but he blew up the combine with a 4.48 40-yard dash, 34.5” vertical, and 10’8” broad, bringing his RAS to 9.71. He doesn’t have

the high-end production of other pass rushers, but he’s a toolsy, athletic edge that I believe could shine in McDermott’s defense.

Braden Fiske: DT, Florida State University

Speaking of defensive players that crushed the combine, nobody shined more than Florida State product Braden Fiske, who I have affectionately nicknamed “Fiskey Business.”

Fiske has short arms for a defensive tackle at only 31”, but he’s lightning quick off the ball. It shows on tape, and it showed in his athletic testing – 33.5” vert, 9’09” broad, 4.78 40-yard dash, with a 1.68 10-yard split. Fiske’s RAS came in at an absurd 9.97.

His lightning-quick first step leads to early wins on a consistent basis. Couple that with his relentless motor, and Fiske is a disruptor on the interior with speed and athleticism in pursuit.

Tyler Nubin: S, University of Minnesota

Much like the conversation about defensive tackles, safety is a position of need in this draft class, but it isn’t as much of a need as it was before free agency.

If Beane wants to look at the safety class, he’ll be looking for someone with ball skills who has spent plenty of time in a two-high look. Enter Tyler Nubin, who checks those boxes. Nubin is a true ball hawk, who quickly identifies what’s happening in front of him, and has closing speed to trigger to the catch point. There are questions about his pursuit angles and hip flexibility, but the instincts and closing speed offer plenty of upside.

Nubin has nine interceptions over the last two seasons, which is prolific production. Nubin could intrigue Beane enough to be selected in the first round.

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The Buffalo Bills are gearing up for a run at the Super Bowl next season and some big-time free agents are already reaching out to the Bills looking to join the team. Check out some of the best free agents the Bills have signed in the past.

Gallery Credit: Dave Fields

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