The Buffalo Bills off-season is already in full-swing, as coaches and front office executives like Brandon Beane are putting final touches on player evaluations for pending free agents and free agent targets in March.

The Bills are cap-strained though, as Spotrac is estimating the Bills to be $51 million over the 2024 salary cap. That means restructured contracts and not much help for new free agents. Any free agents Beane does sign will likely be low money and no huge splashes.

Which puts more emphasis on nailing the 2024 NFL Draft. The Bills will have to rely on rookies to be contributors this season and beyond, which will also help them on saving cap space until those players reach their second contracts.

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The Bills need some help at key positions: wide receiver, defensive tackle, safety.

Few Bills fans will argue those are three positions they desperately need to address in the draft.

Here is my first 7-round mock draft for the Bills, who hold the 28th overall pick in the first round.

Also, no trades in this mock draft, even if we all agree the Bills likely will package some day 3 picks to move up.

Round 1 (28th overall): Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Brian Thomas Jr. is precisely what the Bills need. He's a big, athletic wide out who can take the top off the defense. He's not as special as a Milk Nabers or Rome Odunze, both of whom will be drafted in the top 10, but if Thomas Jr. falls to pick 28 (which I doubt), then the Bills should spring to the podium to select him and help Josh Allen.

Gabe Davis likely leaves in free agency and Stefon Diggs is not getting younger.

Round 2 (60th overall): T'Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

Defensive tackle is a need position, with the Bills likely to lose players to free agency. Sweat might not last to pick 60 but he's a huge body who is more athletic than he looks. He can play in a four-defensive lineman set and help out Ed Oliver.

Round 3 (99th overall): Jacob Cowing, WR, Arizona

The Bills get another wide receiver to help out Josh Allen. So they take Jacob Cowing from Arizona.

Cowing can play slot and outside. He's fast and explosive. 5'11'' is his height, which allows him to still win contested balls if need be. He's one of the most underrated wide receivers in this draft.

Round 4 (128th overall): Thomas Harper, S, Notre Dame

Harper is a safety who can play press coverage and play on the back end. He's smart and good in coverage. He would be a dream draft pick in round 4 for a Bills team likely to lose Micah Hyde to retirement.

Round 5 (158th overall): Emani Bailey, RB, TCU

Bailey is a nice combination of speed and power. He's not a pure burner and lacks some explosiveness but would be plenty fast enough to make defenders miss and compliment James Cook.

Round 5 (161st overall): Jaylin Simpson, CB, Auburn

The Bills should be good for starting corners in 2024, even if they release Tre White for cap reasons. Rasul Douglas has one year left, while they still have Christian Benford and Taron Johnson. Beane and McDermott love taking a corner on day three and Simpson would provide depth his rookie season.

Round 6 (197th overall): Sam Hartman, QB, Notre Dame

The Bills should be thinking about a semi-long term plan at backup quarterback. Hartman does not have the arm to be a starter in the NFL but is smart, great anticipation and tons of experience at Notre Dame and Wake Forest. He would be a wide pick late in the draft.

Round 6 (201st overall): Jowon Briggs, DT, Cincinnati

Briggs would add more DL depth to a crew who needs it in 2024.

Round 6 (205th overall): Cedric Johnson, edge rusher, Ole Miss

Johnson would add more DL depth and this one specially at edge.

Round 7 (245th overall): Easton Gibbs, LB, Wyoming

The Bills got into trouble in the playoffs with an injured Matt Milano and Terrel Bernard. Gibbs is a project but be worth a flyer in round 7 as linebacker depth with Baylon Spector.

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