2024 NFL Draft Betting: What Position Will the Bills Select With Their First Pick?

Zack Bussiere
Zack Bussiere@ZackBussiere

Under coach Sean McDermott, the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season in 2023. However, as has been the case in every season under McDermott, the Bills fell short of their goal, losing in the Divisional Round for the third time in a row.

Despite winning the AFC East in four consecutive seasons, Buffalo has been unable to get back to the Super Bowl. The Bills haven't appeared in the big game since they lost four in a row from 1990-1993.

The largest changes for Buffalo entering 2024 will be at the coordinator positions and wide receiver. Joe Brady, who was promoted to offensive coordinator during the 2023 season, will remain in the position. He orchestrated a drastically different, less pass-heavy offense than Ken Dorsey, who Buffalo fired in mid-November. Bobby Babich, who was the team’s linebacker coach for the past two seasons, has been promoted to defensive coordinator.

Early in free agency, Buffalo lost wide receiver Gabriel Davis to the Jacksonville Jaguars but signed wide receiver Curtis Samuel to replace him. They followed that up by trading Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans. As a result, Buffalo will enter the 2024 season needing to replace their top two pass-catchers from the last two seasons.

The Bills can get back on track with a strong showing in the 2024 NFL Draft -- they currently hold the 28th overall pick.

FanDuel Sportsbook's NFL Draft odds offer lines for the position of the first player drafted by various teams. The Bills are one of the squads with odds available for this market.

Here are the odds for which position Buffalo could take first. Which position makes the most sense for the Bills in the first round?

NFL Draft Odds

2024 NFL Draft - Position of Buffalo Bills First Drafted Player
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds
Wide Receiver-240
Defensive Lineman/Edge470
Offensive Lineman1300

Wide Receiver (-240)

Since Buffalo's decision to trade Diggs to Houston, their odds to select a wide receiver with their first pick moved from +120 to -240. Before Diggs' departure, wide receiver was still a position of need for the Bills but one I believe they may have decided to skip over with their first selection.

The defining moment of the Bills' 2022-23 season was their decision to make a change at offensive coordinator, going from Ken Dorsey to Joe Brady. Under Brady, the Bills became more focused on running the ball. In 10 games under Dorsey, the Bills reached 30 rushing attempts twice -- a mark they hit in eight of nine games once Brady took over.

Even when they were a pass-heavy attack, the Bills didn’t prioritize upgrading at wide receiver. There were multiple opportunities in free agency and elsewhere over the past four seasons for Buffalo to sign a wide receiver who would have been an upgrade to what Davis provided. They never did. Now, they appear to be moving forward with an increased focus on running the ball -- across their two playoff games last season, they generated almost as many rushing yards (361) as passing yards (375).

That said, with Diggs now off the roster, even for a Buffalo team looking to place less emphasis on the passing game, wide receiver makes the most sense with their first selection. This season, Josh Allen's cap hit jumps up from $18.6 million to $30.3 million, and it is projected to climb to over $55 million in 2025 and 2026. Selecting a wide receiver in the draft allows the Bills to attempt to replace Diggs' production at a much more team-friendly salary, something that will be vital moving forward.

If the Bills do want to go wide receiver with their first pick, there will be several options available. PFF’s most recent market-implied mock draft has five wide receivers coming off the board before Buffalo’s first pick at 28 overall. That would mean Ladd McConkey, Xavier Worthy, Troy Franklin, and Roman Wilson would likely be available, among other options. 

Buffalo's goal is to win a Super Bowl. Entering the season without making a serious effort to replace the departure of both Diggs and Davis would not align with that goal. That said, the Bills are undergoing a shift in philosophy, and there are signs that they could prioritize defense over their passing game. Wide receiver remains the most likely outcome, but it's important to keep in mind that this might not be the same Buffalo offense we have seen over the last four seasons.

Defensive Lineman/Edge (+470)

If Buffalo chooses to pass on a wide receiver, they will most likely be deciding if they want to upgrade their secondary or their defensive line. The Bills have also lost several players on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, including Jordan Poyer, Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde (who remains a free agent), Leonard Floyd (10.5 sacks in 2023), and Tyrel Dodson.

Buffalo was a solid defense last season. They finished with the fourth-most sacks (54) and seventh-most QB pressures (158). They ranked seventh overall in schedule-adjusted defense by numberFire's metrics -- 18th against the run and seventh against the pass.

The question of offense vs. defense with their first selection might come down to what Buffalo believes gives them the best chance to win now. On the surface, wide receiver is their biggest need, but they might see their path to a Super Bowl in 2024 coming via an elite defense. The AFC title game last season between the Baltimore Ravens (first) and Kansas City Chiefs (fourth) featured two teams ranked top-five in numberFire's defensive ratings. Both teams also featured top-10 offenses, but their identity was their defense.

If Buffalo wants to further reinforce a strength rather than trying to address their biggest weakness, there will be options available for them to do so. Byron Murphy of Texas and Jer'Zhan Newton of Illinois could be available as well as Florida State's Braden Fiske or Michigan's Kris Jenkins.

Cornerback (+750)

Although taking a corner is less likely than selecting a defensive lineman/edge, Buffalo may choose to bolster their secondary with their first selection. If Buffalo opts to pass on wide receiver and go defensive with their first selection, that means they are committing to being a team that limits turnovers, controls the ball, and wins closer games.

In that scenario, limiting explosive plays will be critical. In the past, Buffalo's pass-heavy offense was capable of going toe-to-toe with the other elite offenses in the league. Giving up a big play is, of course, never ideal, but Buffalo could recover from doing so with an explosive score of their own. With Diggs and Davis gone, that will likely be more difficult to do this season.

Rookie cornerbacks can be difference makers right away, and while that is certainly not the expected outcome for all rookies, it may be something Buffalo wants to aim for given the strength of the signal callers in the AFC. Regardless of how the Bills choose to operate their own offense in 2024, they will have to contend with Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, C.J. Stroud, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert. Stopping the pass is key, and selecting a cornerback with their first pick would strengthen the Bills' ability to do so.

If that is the direction Buffalo chooses to go, Nate Wiggins of Clemson, Kool-Aid McKinstry of Alabama, and Cooper DeJean of Iowa could be in play for Buffalo's first selection.

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