The "inner circle" (read: editorial staff) at Buffalo Rumblings has taken the card up to the podium, and with the eleventh overall selection in the 2009 SB Nation NFL Mock Draft, the Buffalo Bills have selected Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin.
The pick explanation can be found over at SBN's NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft, which once again is the host of this year's writers mock. Please leave your general approve/disapprove comments on our selection of Maybin over at MTD. In this post, we'll get behind the "company line" speech we presented in the official pick announcement and discuss the thought process behind selecting Maybin. Those thoughts appear below.
Criteria One: Realism with a Twist
Mock drafts exist for prediction purposes, not "we think this should happen or we'll whine like Miley Cyrus does when she tries to arrange a meet with Radiohead and, rightfully, gets the shaft" purposes. (All Miley Cyrus references here to keep the interest of sireric.) So, naturally, we wanted to keep the pick as realistic as possible while still maintaining a degree of "we think this guy should be the guy" in the pick.
Our first step in this process was to outline Dick Jauron drafting tendencies. We came away from that study with the very strong belief that Buffalo's first pick would be a defender, and it would likely be a player on the defensive line or in the linebacking corps. As both of these areas are needs - in particular at defensive end and outside linebacker - this negated the need to worry about the Bills' current holes too much.
That doesn't mean that we were completely disregarding the "best player available" approach, however. We included players at different (offensive) positions that piqued our interest at pick eleven, mostly because we strongly believe that these are names that will be relatively high on Buffalo's board as well. The ten members of the editorial staff put together our big board based on these factors and a little bit of inside information, which you've already seen.
Criteria Two: Finding a playmaker
Buffalo found an offensive playmaker in early March when they signed WR Terrell Owens. His presence alone will help the Bills make more big plays offensively this year, at a bare minimum. However, the Bills are still missing that type of impact player defensively. We wanted to draft the biggest impact defender we could find with this pick within the confines of the big board we created, linked above. That's where prioritization came in.
Maybin became our top-ranked defensive end prospect, on a group consensus, because of the following factors: explosion, work ethic, build and playmaking ability. We liken his abilities to Jason Taylor - he's very quick off the line, relentless in getting after the quarterback and his long arms will force fumbles. I felt, and others agreed, that he was the best combination of immediate impact and potential available at the position this year. Florida State's Everette Brown was a very close second, however, and Brian Orakpo (Texas) was rated highly as well.
At linebacker, the obvious choice was Aaron Curry out of Wake Forest. He was the only player to rank ahead of Maybin on our board; widely regarded as the best defender available this year, we were, of course, not operating under the delusion that Curry would miraculously drop out of the top ten. USC's Clay Matthews was the only other linebacker listed on our big board, mostly because of his superb athleticism, excellent pass-rushing skills, and a previously disclosed insider tip.
Other players listed were TE Brandon Pettigrew, OL Michael Oher and DT B.J. Raji. We think that all eight players we listed on the big board are potentially excellent pro football players - otherwise, they wouldn't have been there, would they? We went into this thing with Maybin as "our guy", and I, for one, am pleased he was still available when we selected. Speaking of that...
Once the big board was established, it was simply a matter of playing the waiting game. As there were no trades in this mock (a notion that I, personally, vehemently disagree with, as we would have loved to entertain offers to trade down), we patiently waited for the first ten picks to be made. Here's how those selections went down:
1. Detroit Lions: Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest ***
2. St. Louis Rams: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
4. Seattle Seahawks: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
5. Cleveland Browns: Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas ***
6. Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
7. Oakland Raiders: Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College ***
9. Green Bay Packers: Everette Brown, DE, Florida State ***
10. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi ***
As noted above by the fancy little "***" signs, five of the eight names on our big board went in the top ten selections. (Sounds like we did pretty good on the scouting thing, eh?) That left Maybin, Matthews and Pettigrew as our three serious considerations (again, we would have loved to trade down, but it simply wasn't an option). In our minds, it wasn't much of a contest. We like Maybin's ability to contribute immediately better than Matthews', and we like Maybin better than Matthews long-term, too. We like Clay Matthews, but in the end, we got our guy. We hope to have similar success when picking in the second round as well.