This is a random thoughts type of fanpost with all the random thoughts, in order, in the headline. Here's a couple quick shots to start:
A team hasn't traded into the top five for a position player since the Jets moved up to number four for Dewayne Robertson in 2003. We've also only seen two trades for position players in the entire top 10 since with NE picking up a 3rd to drop down from 7 to 10 and the Lions got a 2nd rounder from Cleveland when they swapped the 6th and 7th picks to take Kellen Winslow and Roy Williams. This is something that everybody needs to know when reading extravagant trade down scenarios involving multiple deals and big drops.
Green Bay is a good example of why Buffalo probably won't draft a NT. They're a team that gave up 4.7 yards per carry this season (Buffalo gave up 4.8). in 2009, the Packers started the more traditional Ryan Pickett at NT and rookie Raji at DE. When it became apparent that Raji was struggling to play 5 tech and was much better suited for one gap, they moved him to the nose and Pickett out to DE. A move out to DE probably isn't in the future for Kyle Williams. I'm not sure why so many people talk about that possibility.
Casey Matthews has been getting a lot of mention around here, but I'm not exactly sure why. He's not particularly big or stout. If Buffalo is looking to address ILB in the middle rounds, BC's Mark Herzlich and Mississippi St's KJ Wright are much, much better fits. Those two are also why I'm not too high on taking Martez Wilson in the 2nd round. Not that Wilson would be a bad pick, but I think there are some excellent options, including Kelvin Sheppard in the 3rd round.
When I say "the best way to mock", I'm not trying to be condescending and tell people who to draft or what position to address in which round (take a QB or I will burn this city to the ground!). I'm talking about simulating an actual draft experience as best you can. And the way to do that is to draft off somebody else's 7 round mock. When you just pick names based on a website's projected round value for players, difficult decisions can be avoided, you don't have to decide just how much you like certain players and you don't have to put your draft in order chronologically. So, if you want a real mock draft, go to mockingthedraft.com, find a 7 round round mock in the fanposts (or use Google) and don't look ahead. Pull up a list of prospects on a different page. Make your first round pick and then scroll through the draft and see who gets taken before the Bills pick in the 2nd round. DO NOT LOOK PAST THE BILLS' 2ND ROUND PICK. Then, without knowing who may or may not be there in the third round, make your pick, cross your fingers and scroll down to the BIlls' next pick. Repeat until draft is finished and you've got a realistic mock where you only control what the Bills can do. Now quickly, bury this fanpost and all the time I've put into it with some new 7 round mocks!
In an effort to rationalize an otherwise odd selection of CJ Spiller, I think Rumblers have turned Buddy Nix into some hard line BPA guy that he isn't. My argument is Torell Troup. The Bills took a nice NT prospect as the 41st pick because they didn't have a true NT on the roster. This was a team in transition, I don't think they were sold on Williams as a long term option at the nose (in combination with my belief that Nix wants to run a more standard, two gap 3-4). The Bills took Troup, not because he was the best player available, but because they liked him, thought he was solid enough value and filled what they considered to be a priority need. None of that means that I don't think Nix will consider AJ Green in the first round, I just wanted to argue against Nix as the hardline BPA guy. Every single pick after Spiller filled a big need. The team didn't address ILB (I guess kind of Moats?) after they signed Andra Davis. They didn't address RT (Calloway in the 7th doesn't really count) after they signed Green. They didn't draft anybody to play in the secondary at all (Buffalo's deepest roster area) and all that isn't a coincidence. Buddy Nix takes need into account when he drafts, just like every other team in the league, and he'd be a fool not to.
To continue that line of thought, that means I believe that Buddy NIx and Chan Gailey thought they needed a CJ Spiller. They didn't know that Steve Johnson would be a stud with the ball in his hands this season. This was an offense completely devoid of playmakers. I didn't think Spiller was a need, but the Bills did. And that was a big part of why they selected him.
Donte Whitner has got to go. That's not because I think he's a bad player. It's just a bad idea to overpay for somebody who is just pretty good. I think it's funny how people can talk up Whitner as a fringy top 5 SS and others can talk about him like he's easily below average and how both groups can be kind of right. SS is a position with only a handful of elite players (Palomalu, Adrian Wilson and ummmm Bob Sanders during the 25% where he's actually healthy). Eric Berry is already there IMO as well. Other good young players like Williams Moore, Taylor Mays, Patrick Chung and TJ Ward offer some potentially elite guys down the road as well. But that's pretty much it at strong safety.
There's a flipside to the Donte Whitner is a great SS argument. That's the "is he really any better than average players making a few mil per year?" argument. Yes, there are bad players who start at SS in the NFL. Husein Abdullah, Reed Doughty, Roy Williams, Renaldo Hill, Lawyer freaking Milloy and some undrafted kids like Craig Dahl and Courtney Greene start at SS. San Diego has been using a Steve Gregory/Paul Oliver combo. Obviously, we don't want to be one of those teams, but is it really worth paying Whitner 6 mil a season out of fear of that situation? Donte has 5 INTs and two forced fumbles in five NFL seasons. He's very mediocre in coverage, whether it be man or zone. When you consider his lack of big time impact, is he really any better than the middle of the pack starters? I've listed 8 great or good young SS and 8 bad players. Here's the middle of the pack, with INTs and FFs per year as starters in parenthesis, and you decide if Whitner isn't an extremely average/mediocre player based off these names: Roman Harper(1, 1.3), Yeremiah Bell(1, 1.5), Jim Leonhard(1.2, .2), Sean Jones(2.5, .4), Chris Hope(2.7, .6), Dawan Landry(2.2, .5), Bernard Pollard(1.8, 2.2), Charles Godfrey(2.3, 2), Tyvon Branch(1, 1.5), Quinton Mikell(2.3, 1), Daniel Manning(1.4, 1), Amari Spievey(2, 0), Kenny Phillips/Deon Grant, Gerald Sensabaugh(3.3, 0) and Atari Bigby (3.5, 1).
Donte Whitner doesn't make enough of a positive impact to overpay for the sake of avoiding a hole. Would George Wilson/Bryan Scott really be so bad? At least they'd average more than one turnover per year.
MY MOCK: I used VanceZack's mock for no other reason than because it was at the top and I hadn't read through it yet.
1 - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Mizzou - With Patrick Peterson and AJ Green off the board, I don't have a problem reaching for a QB. If people would be willing to take somebody like Gabbert or Newton in the teens, then I don't know why people are so adamantaly against taking one at three. Is Marcel Dareus really so much better than Cameron Jordan (an example of somebody Buffalo might get picking 13th) that taking a QB is crazy if Peterson is off the board?
2 - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio St. - Would people rather have Heyward and Gabbert or Dareus/Fairley and Kaepernick/Ponder? Admittedly, I got lucky here. Heyward is a safe pick and great five tech fit. He may be a bit of a low upside player due to position and lack of elite pass rush potential, but if people are willing to take somebody like that in the first round, then it's tough to complain about getting that here. Safe pick and instant contributer after a huge risk that wouldn't pay off for years makes sense too.
3 - Mark Herzlich, ILB, Boston College - I think he's a good fit with or without Poz. Versatile and tough. Upgrades the run defense and I think he'll be a good pass defender for a strong side ILB. Instant fan favorite. KJ Wright, Jason Pinkston and Marcus Cannon were also considered.
4 - KJ Wright, ILB, Mississippi St. - Best available type situation. Wasn't my intent to go ILB twice, especially early, but Wright was too good to pass on here. Great size/speed combo and like Herzlich, could potentially man either ILB spot. Has potential as a blitzer as well and could be a nice 4 sack per year type of guy at ILB which would be a big help to a bad pass rushing team. Surprisingly good in coverage and could be an every down player. As Much as I like Wright, I almost passed him over for Marcus Gilbert or a CB like Brandon Hogan or Curtis Brown. This was probably the toughest decision I had to make.
4 - Marcus Gilbert, RT, Florida - Gailey wants size, right? Gilbert has that at 330 pounds and carries the weight very well. This was probably the easiest pick I had to make other than Cam Heyward in the 2nd.
5 - Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo - Good size and athletic ability. He's a tough player who is willing to mix it up in the run game and doesn't mind the physical nature of football. Made some waves at the Shrine game and could easily go somewhere in this range come draft weekend.
6 - Steven Friday, OLB, Virginia Tech - At this point, he's a raw, undersized speed rusher. And I know that isn't appealing after the Aaron Maybin fiasco, but it's the 6th round and Friday has flashed the ability to disengage blockers thanks to strong hands. He's a very projectable player and a good risk at this point. If Buffalo is committed to Kelsay and Merriman, then there's no reason to not surround those two with guys like Moats, Batten and Friday who have real upside.
7 -Cameron Graham, TE, Louisville - Not big or fast, but he's got very reliable hands and can make acrobatic catches. He'd be a good fit for a young QB or somebody like Fitz where he can catch things over his head or down at his shoe strings. Not much of a blocker, but has the type of body control and instincts to be a good receiving option. I think he's underrated.