NEW YORK - APRIL 22: C.J. Spiller (R) from the Clemson Tigers greets NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Spiller was selected #9 overall by the Buffalo Bills during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Applying grades to any NFL Draft completed within the past three years is a joke. Less than 48 hours removed from the close of 2010 NFL Draft festivities, it's ridiculous to try to gauge exactly how a team's weekend in went in terms of the amount of talent imported. No one knows how these players' respective careers will turn out.
Instead, we're going to take a slightly different approach to grading the Buffalo Bills' draft. Rather than make bold predictions about the team's future prospects and the possible career outcomes of these athletes, we'll scale it back a bit and grade each new Bill based purely on the type of utility that the team will get out of them as a rookie. It's a slightly different tactic, but at least it's tangible to what will happen in 2010, whereas your normal, run-of-the-mill draft grade has no utility whatsoever.
RB C.J. Spiller. I'm not sure the Bills' new coaching staff will be comfortable giving Spiller more than 15-18 touches per game as a rookie, particularly with Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch on the roster. Chan Gailey will need to be creative in the way he uses Spiller, not only to mask the rookie's deficiencies (running between the tackles, pass protection), but to maximize his ability to make game-breaking plays. He'll run, catch, return kicks and punts, and you may even see him operate the Wildcat a time or two. Immediate Impact Grade: A-
NT Torell Troup. He'll see a significant amount of playing time, not only because he's a solid football player, but because teams will absolutely test out Buffalo's run defense - repeatedly - before they attack the team's proven play-making talent in the secondary. (It also helps that two of Buffalo's three divisional opponents are run-first teams.) I wouldn't be shocked to see Troup get between 30 and 40 snaps per game as a rookie, allowing Kyle Williams to move around a little bit. Immediate Impact Grade: B
DE Alex Carrington. Long-term, Carrington has a shot to be the best player in this draft class not named Spiller. His physical talents are immense; he just needs to work on consistency and get that motor humming every play. In 2010, he'll be a situational player that rotates in to spell starters Dwan Edwards and Marcus Stroud. Even as a part-timer, he has a chance to make an impact as a pass rusher and a run stopper. Immediate Impact Grade: B-
WR Marcus Easley. The one-year wonder from Connecticut has huge potential. That word is thrown around freely this time of year, but I'll emphasize it again - really, seriously, this guy could end up being really good. But he is so raw, so inexperienced and so in need of a ton of NFL coaching that it's hard to see him getting significant snaps at receiver this season, even including the fact that James Hardy, Steve Johnson and Chad Jackson are so unproven themselves. Easley looks like a fourth or fifth receiver to start, and will likely need to make his mark on special teams. Immediate Impact Grade: D
OT Ed Wang. He lacks Easley's level of inexperience, but Wang is another project player in need of serious coaching. Athletically, he's got everything you want, but he needs to hit the film room hard, as more often than not he looks completely lost on the football field. Wang is a ball of clay, and Buffalo's coaching staff will need to mold quickly. He probably won't factor into the race for the starting left tackle job. Immediate Impact Grade: F
ILB Arthur Moats. The athletic collegiate defensive end was thought to be a 3-4 OLB prospect, but Gailey mentioned post-draft that the Bills will play him at inside linebacker (though I suspect that will change if Aaron Schobel retires). Given the logjam of veteran depth at the top of the depth chart at ILB (Andra Davis, Paul Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell), Moats, barring an injury to one of the vets, won't see many snaps defensively as a rookie - unless the team decides to give him a shot at the outside, where he could see rotational work. He's a great athlete that loves to play, which makes him an instant-impact coverage player on special teams. Immediate Impact Grade: D
OLB Danny Batten. Unlike Moats, whose short-area quickness is fairly average, Batten is phenomenal getting off the line, registering faster shuttle and split times than even Aaron Maybin a year ago. Buffalo will keep Batten on the outside, where his explosion could earn him a handful of reps as a situational pass rusher if he picks up George Edwards' defensive scheme quickly enough. Expect more snaps as the season rolls along. Batten's motor and work ethic are ridiculous. He will be an absolute force on special teams. Immediate Impact Grade: C-
QB Levi Brown. I'm a Brown fan. I like him as a prospect. But people were worried about Leodis McKelvin's transition from Troy cornerback to NFL cornerback; that transition is infinitely more difficult going from Troy quarterback to NFL quarterback. If Brown doesn't land on the practice squad as a rookie, he'll be the team's third quarterback, and if we're lucky, he won't see a single snap in 2010. That's not a bad thing - except when you're grading a draft based on immediate impact. Immediate Impact Grade: F
OG Kyle Calloway. I'm so infinitely glad that Buffalo is choosing to play Calloway at guard, because even though he's a bit long and lanky for the position, that's where his best chance at sticking in the league occurs - and I think his chances are good. Buffalo needs as much toughness and grit along the line as they can get, and Calloway has those qualities. I'm not expecting much from a seventh-round lineman, but it would not surprise me in the least if Buffalo experimented with Calloway at right guard, moving Eric Wood to center. Again, I don't expect that to happen, particularly immediately given Wood's health, but long-term, that's certainly an option. Immediate Impact Grade: D
Weighting top picks far more heavily than the lower-round picks - because honestly, who expects immediate contributions from a fifth-, sixth- or seventh-round pick? - Buffalo's 2010 NFL Draft class earns an immediate impact grade of C+. Spiller, Troup and even Carrington factor heavily into the team's plans in 2010, but project players like Wang and Easley really affected the final grade. Don't be surprised if the team gets more instant utility out of a guy like Batten or Calloway than they do out of Wang and Easley. Long-term, all of these players have a chance to make it, but now we're getting into joke territory, aren't we?