It is that time of year again! The 2023 NFL Draft is just a few months away, which means it is officially Mel Kiper Jr. season. The Don of the Draft just released his first mock of 2023, and he has an interesting player taken with the Buffalo Bills’ first-round pick. The Bills got crushed in the Divisional Round by the Cincinnati Bengals, and it was obvious which team had the most talent on the field. This Bills mock draft addresses a need, but is it the right one at pick No. 27? Let’s investigate and evaluate the Mel Kiper-Bills prediction.

Mel Kiper has Auburn EDGE Derick Hall as the Bills’ first-round pick

Even with big-money offseason free-agent acquisition Von Miller out in the Bills-Bengals playoff game, Buffalo still had four Day 1 and Day 2 picks rushing the quarterback. However, even with Cincinnati missing 3/5 of its starting offensive line, Gregory Rousseau, Boogie Basham, A.J. Epenesa, and Ed Oliver generated just one sack for a two-yard loss and three QB hits.

For that reason, Mel Kiper has this Bills mock draft going with Auburn DE/OLB Derick Hall at pick No. 27.

Hall has good size for an NFL pass rusher at 6-foot-3, 256 pounds. He was a three-year starter for the Tigers and a team captain in his senior season. After 3.5 sacks in his sophomore season, Hall turned up the production as a junior, taking down opposing quarterbacks 9.0 times. As a senior, that total dropped to 7.0, but he also added an interception, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery to his stat sheet.

Kiper notes that despite using high picks on pass rushers often in recent drafts, the Bills’ “depth on the edge has to get better. That’s why I see Hall, who had 15.5 sacks over the past two seasons, as a stellar fit on Day 1. He could turn into a steal here.”

He also admits that the Bills’ first-round pick could also address the offensive side of the ball, specifically the offensive line. If this is the case, Kiper writes, “I almost went with offensive tackle Cody Mauch (North Dakota State), who could play guard early in his career before becoming the team’s long-term left tackle. Guard O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida) could be another option.”

In Kiper’s first 2023 NFL Draft prediction piece, Derick Hall is the fifth EDGE off the board after Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama), Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech), Myles Murphy (Clemson), and Byron Young (Tennessee). That’s not bad value in this Bills mock draft, but is it the right pick?

Bills fans have to hope that Miller comes back healthy next season and one or more of Rousseau, Basham, and Epenesa make a leap to become an elite NFL pass-rusher. If Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane truly believes that Hall can become another Von Miller, then he’s worth a Bills first-round pick.

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If Hall is simply the best EDGE prospect available when the Bills pick at No. 27, the GM should pass. He’s tried this move before and it hasn’t worked all that well.

The other Mell Kiper-Bills options — offensive linemen Cody Mauch or O’Cyrus Torrence — are interesting and certainly address a need. Josh Allen had to run for his life on many occasions this season, and better blocking in front of him would help.

All that said, there is one more option that Kiper doesn’t address, and it will fill a need that showed up in a big way against the Bengals.

After the playoff loss, Beane even opined about his team’s lack of offensive weapons. He said he’d love to have a player like Ja’Marr Chase but wouldn’t “want to suck bad enough” to get him.

Stefon Diggs was good again this season, but he had meltdowns on the sideline throughout the season — including in the playoff game — and will count for over $20 million against the cap next season. And both contenders for the WR2 spot this season, Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie, were wildly disappointing.

Addressing the wide receiver position with the Bills’ first-round pick would make a lot of sense, and in this Mel Kiper mock 2023 NFL Draft, there is a first-round talent available at No. 27.

Kiper currently has Boston College WR Zay Flowers going to the Kansas City Chiefs at the end of the first round. The ESPN draft guru writes that he’s “a huge fan of Flowers,” and the wideout is “polished and shifty, shaking cornerbacks from all over the field to get open.”

In the first round of my personal Bills mock draft, I’ll take Flowers over Hall or any offensive linemen.