I really have refrained from commenting on this blog since the draft. I believe my last comments were a brief exchange with Will G on the state of our secondary and comments expressing my confusion made immediately after the drafting of CJ Spiller. The reason for this was a combination of a few factors : The frequency and sheer number of opinions on this site the last week was so intense I found it difficult to organize my own thoughts, each and every day since the draft I have felt differently about it than the day before, and a desire to wait until some of the more unsavory emotions following the draft would die down a bit. Ok, so here we go:
My first and foremost desire going into the draft was to walk away with a sense of direction and the outlines of a plan for the future of the Buffalo Bills. In many ways, I got what I wanted. It wasn't the direction or the plan that I had envisioned, but it was a direction and a plan nonetheless and in the end, Buddy Nix has been around the league much longer than I have and from a position closer than the stands.
To me, its clear that the Bills didn't like a QB or LT available at 9 enough to go down the road of fixing the offense by addressing its fundamental problems. So instead of reaching for one at 9 and then addressing the offense at the expense of the defense, I kind of understand what the Bills did. By picking up CJ Spiller at 9 the Bills picked up the only player in the draft who adds fire to a popgun offensive attack all by his lonesome. Spiller truly was the only player in this draft class who the Bills could have added to make the offensive immediately more dangerous and explosive without adding any other offensive piece. And thats exactly what they did. They picked up Spiller and focused the rest of the draft mainly on the 3-4 transition.
Torell Troup and Alex Carrington are such good 3-4 pieces its really hard to get mad about it. As much as we needed an OLB, how many years does Marcus Stroud have left? Is Spencer Johnson acceptable depth at DE this year as it is? I'd say Stroud is already at the point of having to rotate and Spencer Johnson is simply not enough depth or convincing starter material. From what I've seen from Stroud, it always feels like he's one of the most dominant players on the field during the first quarter and a half of games, making his presence felt. But by halfway through the second, hes clearly gassed and becomes an immense liability. If I can get that early game Stroud throughout the game in intervals by rotating him, I think this defense is much better for it. The team has two major future pieces for the defensive line of our 3-4 and thats great because this team has acceptable ILBs who become much better players if their defensive line can free them up. Our run defense gets a boost if we fix the d-line and it boosts our ILB play as well so its a dual benefit to the running game and our ability to send blitzes from the middle when we need to.
I like Arthur Moats and Danny Batten as depth guys who can one day contribute to this team and as guys who can make an impact on special teams right away, especially Moats. There was no OLB worth taking at 9 in my opinion and we made our choice between run defense and pass rush in rounds 2 and 3. If Aaron Schobel comes back, its probably ok that we're waiting for a young pass rusher until next year. To be honest, I don't want a guy to share reps with Maybin. Its time to find out now if hes a guy who can play for this team and the only way to find that out is to give him a job and see if he can do it. The longer Maybin has a part time role, the longer we risk wasting time on him. I was told it was ok that we took him over Brian Orakpo because of his superior athletic prowess on the field in terms of agility, speed, quickness and that whole jazz. Well, Orakpo already has double digit sacks, its time to put such talk to the test. So for a year in which we arent expecting playoffs, I'm just fine with Schobel / Maybin for now. You keep in mind that guys like Adalius Thomas were just cut and we can still add a pass rusher off the market anyways.
I can confidently say that I think the Buffalo Bills just had the best 7th round I'll ever see them have. I loved it. A lot of scouts, experts, and fans are of the belief that after the top tier of Bradford, Clausen, Tebow and McCoy, the best QB prospect in this draft is Levi Brown. Brown is smart, hes got a good arm, hes tough, I like his size, and he avoids the pass rush. In my opinion, Levi Brown at worst becomes one of the leagues reliable backups and at his best can be a guy who wins games as a starter. Then there's Kyle Calloway who I dont buy isn't going to be our RT in two years when he takes the job from Cornell Green. Calloway is awesome, he was coached by NFL o-line coach Kirk Ferentz and I think has the potential to step in as a starter if he can beat out Cornell Green as early as 2011. Hes strong and smart and he wont be a guard in a few years. Between Calloway and Brown our 7th round haul was fantastic, both guys were mocked as 3rd to 5th rounders! Thats value.
Then there's Ed Wang who I dont really care too much for and WR Marcus Easley - a pick I really like. Hes got great size and hes pretty incredibly fast. The light seems to have come on for him later in college which means he could be a later developer, which gives him intriguing upside. This team needed more receivers and Easley has the potential to develop into a starter for us. He was a good find.
In the end, the Buffalo Bills gave us a sense of direction. They gave the offense a shot in the arm instantly with the pick of CJ Spiller, and added potential contributors in Easley and Calloway down the road. The Spiller pick gives the offense enough for the short term to let them focus on the 3-4 transition, notably along the trenches where everything begins and ends on defense. They sent the message that they believe in running the ball and playing tough defense - maybe paving the road for a smash mouth team in the future. By passing on a LT and QB they also sent the message that Wilson has given them time to build this team and that those are issues they plan on addressing after setting up this team to run with Lynch, Jackson and Spiller and defend the run by picking up some big nasties. If you consider that Jared Gaither can still be added with a trade and guys like Alan Faneca and Adalius Thomas are still on the market, you have to suspect they may still be wheeling and dealing.
Do I still resent not getting a franchise QB? Surely. Do I still resent that Ed Wang was the LT we brought in? You better believe it. But I can't hold it against Nix that he had a different plan than I did, because its clear to me that he has given this team a sense of direction and at the end of the day thats really what I wanted. Spiller plus installing the 3-4's trenches sets us up to be a smash mouth team in the future while giving us a boost offensively immediately and a much stronger defense. Spiller is a serious playmaker guys, if we weren't going to get a QB and LT this was the next best thing and I think Nix must have felt the same. As of now, I'm at peace with the draft and I'm giving Nix a pass to install the vision he has in his head because its clear there is a viable one in there.