The second round of the NFL Draft has traditionally been very kind to the Buffalo Bills throughout the team's 50-year history. The franchise has selected future Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and Billy Shaw in the second round. They've found a slew of solid long-term starters in the round, including Jim Dunaway, Reggie McKenzie, Jim Haslett, Fred Smerlas, Darryl Talley, Nate Odomes and Phil Hansen, among others.
Even during the desolate landscape that has been the last decade of Bills football, really solid players have been found in the second round. Travis Henry and Aaron Schobel were second-round picks of Tom Donahoe. The Bills got longevity, if without huge production, out of players like Josh Reed, Ryan Denney, Chris Kelsay and Roscoe Parrish. Paul Posluszny was an exciting second-round pick in 2007. Just a year ago, the Bills picked a Pro Bowler in the second round in Jairus Byrd, and added an excellent building block along the offensive line in guard Andy Levitre.
Inevitably, every year, we see a prospect projected for months to go in the first round slide to Round 2. Posluszny was one of those players in 2007. Philadelphia WR DeSean Jackson and Cincinnati LB Rey Maualuga are good examples. Sometimes those prospects slide for good reason, as was the case with New England (and now Buffalo) WR Chad Jackson in 2006, and Jacksonville (and now Oakland) OT Khalif Barnes in 2005.
This year's draft class is deep. The talent pool available at the top of the second round will be significant. After the jump, I've named five players that will be tremendous second-round value picks should they slide that far, and all would fit well in Buffalo.
Jahvid Best, RB, California. I don't want to give too much away, because we'll discuss this next week as draft day approaches, but I believe Best is one of the 15 best prospects available this year. C.J. Spiller gets all the ink, but Best - though a little rougher around the edges - is just as talented. I still believe he'll be a first-round pick, but there's a good chance he slides to the top of round two, where he'd make a ton of sense for the Detroit Lions at No. 34 overall. In Buffalo, he'd fulfill Chan Gailey's request for a scat back admirably.
Everson Griffen, DE, USC. He had a disappointing career at USC, where he started just one of three years after coming in as one of the nation's top recruits. Still, given his lack of playing time relative to other prospects, his 18.0 career sacks is a surprisingly high total, and a testament to his truly excellent athletic abilities. There is a great deal of untapped potential with Griffen, and he's capable of playing in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme. He's slightly boom-or-bust, but for a team starved for pass rush help - like the Bills - you could certainly do worse than this guy, particularly in the second round.
Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame. One of college football's most prolific receivers over the past two seasons, Tate doesn't have the size or strength requirements to be a full-time starter in the NFL, but has the speed, quicks and playmaking ability to have a long, illustrious career as an elite slot receiver. 25 touchdowns in his last two seasons prove he's capable of making big plays, and he's a true terror after the catch. Buffalo has some young talent to develop at receiver, but those prospects lack the capability to consistently separate from corners one-on-one. That fact alone would allow Tate to see significant playing time as a rookie in Buffalo.
Vladimir Ducasse, OL, Massachusetts. Scouts have fallen in love with the high-upside Haitian from FCS. He played left tackle at UMass, but most believe that he projects better to guard or right tackle at the NFL level. Ducasse is a finisher - he blocks hard, he blocks downhill, and he excels in the run game. There's a lot of technical work to be done to clean up his game, particularly in pass protection, which is why he'd be best served starting inside. But run-first teams with a smash mouth identity will look hard at Ducasse as a possible instant starter capable of shifting outside down the line, and Buffalo could use all the smash mouth O-Line help it can get.
Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland. I realize that Al Davis has likely already marked his territory, but if Campbell somehow gets past Oakland's No. 8 overall pick, there's a strong chance that Campbell's lack of experience, injury history and field inconsistencies could drop him out of the first round entirely. If that happens, Campbell will not only be a solid value pick in Round 2, but he has a chance to make a team very happy with that decision long-term. Campbell has the physical talents to quickly develop into an elite pass protector, and if he can stay healthy and develop a stronger passion for the game, could emerge as a well-rounded and highly talented tackle.