Jauron's tendencies as a drafter revealed (buffalobills.com)
Dick Jauron has been a head coach at the NFL level for eight full seasons. He spent five years coaching the Chicago Bears from 1999-2003; and, obviously, he's spent the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills. In eight full seasons, any coach will develop draft-day tendencies, and Jauron is no different. As an example, fans often cite his soft spot for defensive backs as one tendency most likely to show up on draft day.
It's important to note that as the head coach, Jauron has not been the sole decision-maker during his stints with Chicago and Buffalo. The head coach generally signs off on draft picks, however, so charting tendencies from eight draft classes is hardly irrelevant. Examining Jauron's eight drafts as a head coach show a solid balance in positional choice, as well as many hits and misses. In all, Jauron is your typical NFL drafter - he's won some and lost some - but there are tendencies to keep in mind as the NFL Draft approaches.
Jauron has headed up eight draft classes, which include 75 players in total. In terms of drafting by position, Jauron's teams have shown a steady balance between drafting offensive skill position players (29.3%, 22 players), offensive and defensive linemen (32%, 24 players), and players for his defensive back seven (37.3%, 28 players). In terms of his three Bills drafts by themselves, those numbers change slightly - skill players (23%, 6 players), linemen (38.5%, 10 players), and back seven (38.5%, 10 players).
Fans are accurate in their assessment of Jauron's preference for defensive backs, as he has drafted more corners and safeties (16) than any other positional group through his eight drafts. Other frequently-drafted areas include linebacker and wide receiver (12), offensive line (11) and defensive line (9).
Like any other coach, Jauron has hit and missed on many of the prospects (16 in total) he's drafted in the first two rounds. You won't hear many complaints about Jauron draft picks like Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown, Marc Colombo or Marshawn Lynch, at least in terms of their on-field exploits. He's missed badly on names like Cade McNown, David Terrell, Michael Haynes and Rex Grossman, however. This is, in reality, par for the course when it comes to solving the NFL Draft. He's also brought in many a mid-to-late round gem, including Lance Briggs, Michael Green, and Trent Edwards, among others.
Because of the positional balance that Jauron has orchestrated in his drafts, it's difficult to pull out many sure-fire trends from his history. We've already mentioned his penchant for taking defensive backs; beyond that, there are only two trends that are worth noting as they pertain to predicting the Bills' direction with the 2009 Draft:
Defense heavy: Of the 75 total draft picks Jauron has signed off on, 48 of those players (a whopping 64% of the total) have been defenders. Jauron is very much a defense-oriented drafter. Of the eight first-round draft picks Jauron has been involved with, however, only half (Urlacher, Haynes, Donte Whitner and Leodis McKelvin) have been defenders, so he's balanced in that aspect. 14 of his 26 picks (53.8%) with the Bills have been defenders, as well. Given his defensive background, this can hardly be considered surprising.
Top-heavy positionally: In eight drafts, Jauron has gone a little "position-crazy" in four of them. In 1999, with 13 picks in tow, the Bears selected three wide receivers and three linebackers (as well as two defensive backs). In 2000, the Bears selected three more defensive backs, as well as two more receivers and linebackers. I'm sure you all recall the 2006 and 2008 drafts, in which the Bills took three defensive backs in both cases. Jauron drafts have a tendency to run hot on a certain position; in most cases, it's been in the defensive backfield, where Jauron believes depth is more critical than at any other position.
Focusing on 2009
With these trends in mind, where might Buffalo decide to look in 2009? The data isn't particularly earth-shattering or relevant to making predictions, but with a little inside knowledge, one can begin to formulate (or, in our case, re-iterate with factual confirmation) a rough strategy.
We're already aware that the Bills are likely to look for the biggest impact defender they can find in the first round, thanks to some first-hand information passed our way a while back (though it probably wasn't difficult for many fans to infer that on their own). That info is backed up by Jauron's history of focusing on adding defenders through the draft, and is further strengthened by Buffalo's insatiable thirst for an impact player on defense. Given that Jauron has drafted just four tight ends in eight years, we can all but rule out Brandon Pettigrew, unless the scouting department views him as a rare enough talent that he can't be passed up. An offensive lineman also seems unlikely at this point, unless Jason Peters is traded, though Jauron has shown a willingness to take them early (Colombo).
Drafting the best available defender in the first round this year is a virtual lock for the Bills. Considering Jauron's draft history, the team's needs and the talent available this year, we feel (perhaps overly) confident that our Buffalo Rumblings Pre-Draft Big Board - which lists our top eight prospects for the Bills - will be, in many respects, a relatively accurate portrayal of the Bills' draft board come April 25.