No thank you on 3-4 DE first overall
Buffalo can only consider a DE as plan C or D. I'm talking specifically about drafting a player to be a five technique in this defense and not about taking a player who played DE in college. For this 3-4 defense, the position simply isn't impactful enough to draft first overall. Drafting a five technique isn't a way to jump start this pass rush. Richard Seymour is arguably the best 3-4 DE over the last decade who fits the mold that teams are looking for. In New England, he averaged a big 5.5 sacks per 16 games. The biggest impact pass rushers who currently play the position are guys like Justin Smith and Shaun Ellis. Is that really the pass rusher that is worth taking over a QB? There are currently 26 defensive lineman who have 3 or more sacks this year. Three of them play in a 3-4 (Ngata, Ellis and Cullen Jenkins). The Bills need to find lineman who can control blockers and don't need big time playmakers at those positions.
I know the argument that people will make is that players who can collapse the pocket will help the pass rush. My first counter point is, do you really want to draft somebody with the first overall pick to collapse the pocket so that our LBs can get to the QB? Is that who we should make the highest paid player on the team? I also don't buy the pocket collapsing argument as something that makes a major impact. If defensive lineman and their ability to move blockers backwards were such a factor in the pass rush, then why are the Ravens always in Bills territory with sack numbers? Last year the Ravens had 32 sacks, same as the Bills. They had 33 the year before and 32 the year before that. With Ngata and Kelly Gregg, how can that team not rack up sack numbers if pocket collapsing lineman were anything other than a modest factor in a team's pass rush success? I'm not claiming that players who can collapse the pocket isn't a factor, but will a 285 pound player like Clayborn or even a 300+ pounder like Dareus really make enough of an impact collapsing the pocket and adding 5-6 sacks per season to be the highest paid player on the defense and the key player for Buffalo to rebuild the defense around?
The run defense is terrible. I understand that, but Buffalo doesn't have the choice to draft an entire new defense with the first overall pick. The choice isn't one QB vs. 11 new defenders. The argument for a DE largely revolves around it improving this run defense, but is Marcel Dareus an improvement over Marcus Stroud in run defense to the point that it's worth him taking with the first overall pick and making him the highest paid player on the team? How much statistical impact would Dareus really have on the amount of yards per carry that Buffalo gives up? A tenth of a yard per carry? An entire quarter of a yard per carry? Even that is like 6-7 fewer rushing yards given up per game.
Gotta take a QB
I think anybody trying to argue that the Bills' defense is their biggest flaw and therefore, the biggest need is making a mistake. It doesn't matter whether this current roster most needs help rushing the passer, at OT, at QB or with the run D. This is a really bad football team and they're rebuilding. Trying to figure out what one player or one position most helps this team is a lost cause because there is no one thing that turns the Bills into a good football team. The Bills are destined to fail next year. Let's just accept that and ignore what's best for next year. Let's decide that going 3-13 next year is pretty much the same thing as going 7-9. The Bills need to start thinking three years ahead with their needs. It's not what the Bills need most to win next sunday. It's what the Bills need most to start competing for Super Bowls in a few years. Obviously, that's a QB. No position makes the impact that a QB does. The significance of a QB blows other positions out of the water. There is no logical reason to draft a position other than a QB except there simply not being one good enough to take with the first overall pick (or if winning next year is somehow more important than the long term future of the franchise).
Quarterbacks need development time. 3-4 DEs don't choke in the playoffs and lose games on their own. QBs do. Roethlisberger and Brady may have walked into the league and started winning Super Bowls. For most players, going from terrible rookie to solid 2nd-3rd year player to playoff caliber QB to guy who can actually win playoff games is a process. Let's start that process ASATAQWCT (As Soon As There's a Quarterback Worth Committing To). Doesn't it make sense to put a QB at the center of the rebuild? Doesn't picturing the other 52 guys on the roster changing one offseason at a time and growing into a great team at the same rate and time that a young QB grows into one of the best in the game just feel right? That's how I want to rebuild. Let's shoot for the stars by drafting a QB and building around him, trying to get every part of this team humming at the exact same time and actually winning that Super Bowl that Buffalo deserves.
Kyle Williams' fit and Ryan Fitzpatrick is the number 4 QB?
Kyle Williams gets mentioned as somebody who could transition to DE as Troup gets more PT, but I don't think it will ever happen. He's at his best fit in this defense right now and he's not even a good fit at NT. He's just not a player who you can line up across from a blocker and ask him to control that player and cover two gaps. He'll always be a NT with an adjusted role in this defense. Hopefully the Williams/Troup timeshare is a long and productive one. I think it's what is best for this defense.
I also feel the need to make a statistical argument that Fitz's QB rating is a bit of an aberration. It's all about sample size. It's no coincidence that 4 of the top 7 rated passers have attempted 105 passes or less (Fitz, Vince Young, Kolb, Vick). To understand why Fitz's QB rating is unsustainably high, you need to understand where that number comes from. It's four equal parts completion %, TDs, INTs and yards per pass attempt. Fitz's comp % is a solid 61.2%, but that rates him 17th in the NFL amongst qualified passers. That's not what is making him a top 5 QB. And considering that he's attempted 85 passes, that number could be pretty different with just a few bad throws. If just one of his completions had missed the mark, it'd drop him down to 60% even (and he's a career 58% passer). The next value is yards per pass attempt. Fitz's ypa is 7.0, a respectable total, but it's 20th in the league and a hair behind Bruce Gradkowski. Third value is INT rate. Fitz has only thrown two picks in 85 attempts, barely missing the top 10 in the NFL. That's a really good stat, but again, it's not why he's in the top 5. Fitz has thrown a TD per 12 pass attempts this year. In your typical 500 pass season, it'd be 41 passing TDs. Obviously, Fitz isn't going to throw 40 TDs this season. Even if he could 25 in a full 16 games (which would put him one below what Warner, Romo and Big Ben did last year and considerably ahead of guys like McNabb, Ryan, Palmer, Orton and Flacco), then Fitz's QB rating would drop about 15 points. Hence, the unsustainable QB rating. I know it's been awhile Bills fans, but bad QBs can throw 7 TDs in over three games. Alex Smith and Jason Campbell both did it last year and Tyler Thigpen id it with Gailey back in 08. It's not that I'm trying to call Fitz a bad QB or anything, I just don't buy that we should look at his QB rating and think that another position should be addressed with the first overall pick.
As adamant as I am about this team drafting a QB first overall, I don't really care what direction they go after that pick. That's using the same logic as drafting a QB first overall. Forget what today's needs are and worry about what this team needs in the future. And that's everything. They don't need to draft a tackle in the 2nd round or an OLB in the 2nd round because those are our weakest positions. They need to draft the best players they can that fill a long term hole. If that's a sliding cornerback and Florence left in FA, then I'm fine with that. If that's Kyle Rudolph, the TE, in the 2nd round, then let's go that direction. I'm far more worried about what players this team selects than the positions they select. They can get by with crap stop gap players. They're going to be bad regardless of who they draft. Gotta think long term.
Sorry, but I've got to address CJ Spiller in here. I can't go and say that Buffalo should draft BPA in the 2nd round, but then be on record as hating the Spiller pick. I don't think that Spiller was BPA. So, it's hard for me to sit back and accept that the Bills drafted the best player available when I thought Derrick Morgan was better. And when I thought the OTs were comparable. People make it seem like Nix's decision was to draft some consensus, no-brainer BPA or make some terrible reach for a need position. That's a twisting of what actually happened in order to rationalize the pick. The example I keep using is what a poll of this site would have said about who the BPA was heading into the draft vs. what a poll would have said after the Bills had taken Spiller. Does anybody really believe that if there had been a poll on this site a few days before the draft asking who the best player was out of Spiller, Morgan, Davis and Bulaga that Spiller would have easily won? And yet, if we had done that same poll the day after Buffalo selected Spiller, wouldn't the results be a run away victory for Spiller as BPA? If in some alternate universe the Bills had selected Derrick Morgan and done the same poll the day after the draft, wouldn't Morgan have won in similar run away fashion with the fan base saying that he was the BPA?
Chris Johnson, Felix Jones, Jahvid Best, DeAngelo Williams, all late first round prospects and similar runners. Was Spiller really such a better prospect than them? There hasn't been any type of dropoff in Clemson's ground game going from Spiller to a likely late first round or 2nd round prospect in Andre Ellington. I think it's clear that Buddy Nix's hands weren't tied when they took Spiller. This is the guy they wanted to draft. They had options, they chose Spiller.