The Buffalo Bills don’t have a ton of needs on their roster heading into this month’s draft but the departure of Tremaine Edmunds has left a massive hole in their defense.
One of the most popular names fans have been landing on in mock drafts throughout draft season is Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell. Those fans are going to love what one NFL insider has been hearing about the player.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said on a recent episode of his “Moving The Sticks” podcast that he’s heard rumblings that Campbell to the Bills is in play.
“I’ve had two people telling me this over the last month: ‘Don’t sleep on Jack Campbell to Buffalo at the bottom of the first round,’” Jeremiah said. “They lost Tremaine Edmunds – they lost their big, rangy middle linebacker, and that is the big kind of rangy middle linebacker in this class. Do not sleep on him to Buffalo.”
Campbell is an interesting prospect and whether he’s a first-round caliber player has been up for debate throughout the offseason. Jeremiah added Campbell to his official big board into the no. 50 position, meaning he has 49 other prospects ranked higher. The Ringer’s Daniel Kelly has Campbell ranked no. 67 on his big board, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Campbell at no. 53, and CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso has him at no. 22.
The Bills have loaded up on offensive players during free agency, adding two receivers, two offensive linemen, and a running back. Other than backup safety Taylor Rapp, Buffalo hasn’t added any other new players on defense.
Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott have both been complimentary of the young group of linebackers hoping for an opportunity after Edmunds’ exit. But if Beane has the chance to add a player with the size and production that Campbell had at Iowa, he may do just that in the draft.
There’s another connection between Campbell and the Bills, too. McDermott’s middle linebacker Luke Kuechly from his days with the Carolina Panthers is training Campbell in the lead-up to the draft. Jeremiah had an epiphany during the podcast when he put two-and-two together, connecting the McDermott-Kuechly dots.
“Who is Sean McDermott gonna trust more than Luke Kuechly?” Jeremiah pondered.
Kuechly has spent time working with the Bills’ linebackers during training camp the past two seasons in Buffalo.
Jeremiah’s co-host Bucky Brooks loved the idea of the Bills landing Campbell in the draft.
“They draft to the culture, meaning tough, hardworking, extremely competitive, guys that are kind of no-nonsense, take-care-of-business types,” Brooks said. “You look at some of the other guys that they’ve brought in in recent years. You saw Greg Rousseau, we’ve seen A.J. Epenesa – a Iowa guy – come in to play. We’ve seen Boogie Basham be drafted by the team. Even Ed Oliver, even though some people are down on him. Ed Oliver, no-nonsense, kind of go-about-their-business (player).
“And so when you think about what they want to do, it makes sense because this fits how Sean McDermott runs his team. It also fits Sean McDermott’s personality. (Campbell is) a good player, tackling machine, sideline to sideline.”
Campbell is 6-foot-5 and 249 pounds. He ran a 4.65 at the combine and finished last season with 128 tackles, 5.5 for loss in 13 starts. He won the Dick Butkus award given to the nation’s top linebacker.
“He’s a big, rangy guy,” Jeremiah said. “I thought he was a little rigid and stiff in some of the change of direction stuff when you watched him. I thought coverage stuff was what worried me a little bit. But this guy, he’s pretty instinctive. He’s a great leader. They love him at Iowa. And just that size is – it’s a lot to navigate in the middle of the field.”
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