With the Bills being more and more likely to draft a quarterback high in the NFL draft this year, the importance of identifying middle round picks that can contribute to the team is paramount. One such player is the BYU 2-year starter, Fred Warner.
Fred Warner’s time at BYU can be succinctly described as “productive”. The California product’s ability to live in the backfield – in 2017 alone Warner had 87 tackles, 9 tackles for loss and a sack – and play in space in man or zone coverage (5 passes defensed, 1 interception) gives him a game that vibes across the modern, spread based NFL.
Warner is 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds, and moves around like a man far smaller. In fact, akin to Joe Buscaglia’s assertion that Florida State’s Derwin James can be the next evolution at middle linebacker ala Brian Urlacher, Warner’s ability to play a 3rd safety role from a linebacker position allows schematic creativity for the Provo star.
Against the run, Warner is a “see ball, get ball” player that gets over, around or through anything between himself and the ball-carrier.
That relentlessness down-in and down-out is essential in the McDermott/Frazier defensive scheme, so he’ll fit right in. One negative for Warner would be the potential of NFL linemen engulfing him on a heavy run-game, but that’s where the line has to play their part, particularly in the one-gap style the Bills employ.
Warner’s loose hips and ability to track his targets, despite dropping into a zone is a boon for the Bills, after having issues with linebackers losing their targets on drops:
Even better, when he gets to his landmark, as you see above – Warner can pluck the ball out of the air and make the quarterback pay.
While Tom isn’t a fan of the missed tackles – I personally don’t think there’s going to be a perfect prospect in that regard. More importantly for me, in today’s NFL playing in space and making sure you can make the elite passers of the NFL pay are far more important than a 100% tackle rate.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
For Buffalo, Warner would be a solid candidate to compete at middle linebacker, as well as a great option as a an eventual successor to Lorenzo Alexander at the strong side. Warner’s ability to fight through trash, coupled with his excellent spacial awareness and tackling would endear him to the staff in Western New York – and their fandom as well.
Warner is a dude that love making QBs look bad throwing his way, and Buffalo can use more guys like that.
Prediction: Day Two pick.