I always enjoy reading through these for the ‘what-ifs’ as well as the ideas they may pop into my head and the conversations they seem to spark, so I figured I may chip in with (another) one
I tried to make it look like a very, very different draft than the one before. Part of that was being less optimistic about just how far certain guys would drop (Ijalana, Sheard). Only recycled name in the 8 picks was previously listed as a possible free agent.
1) Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) 6’6 250lbs
Nix (and probably more importantly, Ralph) may just like Newton enough to pull the trigger here. He’s a winner, a leader, a hard worker, and is loaded with talent. The biggest questions for me are how big money will affect him and what off field troubles might lie ahead. I initially thought the pick unlikely but my stance has changed assuming he impresses during the interviews. Part of that is him checking his ego and holding a clipboard for his first season. The very definition of a boom-or-bust pick, but if it works out the Bills have good times ahead.
I think if the Bills do go QB here, it will be Newton. We (and football fans in general) will debate Gabbert vs. Newton for the next two months. I personally don’t see Gabbert becoming a good NFL QB. I believe the game will be too big and fast for him to ever be consistently productive. With Newton on the other hand, my concerns are mainly the off field issues of maturity and loyalty. Since I don’t know the man personally it’s impossible for me to make a call on such things, I’ll leave that to OBD.
2) Muhammad Wilkerson (DE/DT, Temple) 6’5 305lbs
In the average draft, I’d be certain that Wilkerson would go in the bottom half of the first round. Luckily for the Bills, this draft is very deep on the D-line. He’s a perfect fit for the Bills because of his scheme versatility and his upside. Looking at his frame I see no problem adding some weight in the future (presumably lower body muscle), and being a disruptive defensive lineman you can move around to create mismatches. I consider this pick to be the biggest ‘if’ of this mock as to whether or not the guy will be available where I have them slotted; the fact is I consider him good value at around pick 25.
3) Curtis Marsh (CB, Utah State) 6’1 193lbs
I do not consider our secondary situation to be bad; I consider it to be desperate. If Florence walks then we have exactly one reliable(ish) starter in McKelvin. I love McGee but he’s clearly on the downside and has not been able to stay healthy. From here on out McGee’s probably better used as a nickelback, but if Florence walks he’s likely penciled in as a starter to begin the season.
Marsh is very athletic and has real quick footspeed. He’ll need some time to adjust to the NFL, but has all the physical tools and savvy you look for in a starting cornerback and could be a solid contributor somewhere in his rookie season. We really need a player like this in our defensive backfield- probable early contributor with good upside.
4a) Chris White (JLB, Mississippi St.) 6’4 245 lbs
‘JLB’, not ‘ILB’. White originally jumped on my radar when I tried to watch K.J Wright. I say I tried to watch Wright because although I wanted to, my eyes kept shifting from #34 to #50. I was surprised bordering on shocked at how strong White looked at the POA when he had to take on an O-lineman. He is very average in terms of shedding blocks and his coverage skills when dropping back. However, his motor’s relentless and he is very good playing downhill and plugging gaps. If Poz is our long term Will backer (something I’m rather ‘bleh’ on- but that’s another topic), I hope Nix and co. are considering White as his possible long term compliment. It may be a bit of a reach, but our need at jack linebacker is so great that I’d be willing to reach for one.
4b) Jah Reid (OT, Central Florida) 6’7 324lbs
I previously had him listed as a possible UFA, and now he’s climbed all the way up to the bottom of the fourth. That’s how much I like him as a RT prospect; when I took a closer look I leapfrogged him over nearly all the other mid-round tackle prospects (Carpenter, Brewer, Ziemba, etc). My understanding is that when he started out at UCF he was a 370 pound butterball, but now sits at a much more defined 325. To me that screams ‘work ethic’, which in turn screams ‘Nix and Gailey’. I see speed rush on the outside being an issue, along with a kind of awkwardness in space. However, I also see imposing size and strength that can potentially dominate in the phone booth at the next level. Reid has a knack for keeping his defender out of the play even if in the first step or two it looks like he was beat clean. Looks very determined to stay on his block as long as possible and has pretty quick feet with good body control for a guy his size.
I admit I do like Marcus Gilbert quite a bit, but I think it’s questionable he’s on the board at this pick and I actually like Reid’s upside a tad more anyway.
5) Julius Thomas (TE, Portland St.) 6’5 240lbs
I expect him to climb draft boards pretty rapidly if he puts on a good show at the combine. Was a star basketball player at Portland State, in fact basketball is just about all he did in high school and college. It actually hurts my brain trying to figure out how someone who played exactly one season of high school football (as a freshman) and one as a college senior earned first team honors in his conference despite that only season being 2-9. My only conclusion is that he's only scratched the surface of his potential, which is enormous. I imagine watching him block in the early going will be painful, but the frame to add some bulk is certainly there and hopefully so is the work ethic to get better technique. Somewhere down the line he should be a real tough guy to cover in the secondary, and that’s where he could thrive in the pros- creating mismatches for safeties and linebackers.
6) Josh Gatlin (CB, North Dakota St.) 6’0 194lbs
For me it’s simple numbers. Assuming Florence and Youboty are gone, the Bills need to add two corners this offseason. I could easily see a stop gap free agent signing being in the cards rather than using a pair of draft picks, but in this mock we’re taking two corners. Deal with it. I don’t think Gatlin has starting cornerback potential, mostly because I don’t think he’s physical enough to provide even below average run support on the outside in the pros. He does however have good speed and athleticism, along with the quick and fluid hips cover corners need so badly in the NFL. As a depth guy who figures to grow into Reggie Corner’s role as a dime/nickelback, I like him a great deal. It might be real tough to get separation from him in that capacity.
7) Daniel Kilgore (OL, Appalachian St.) 6’3 304lbs
I don’t ever think it’s a bad idea to add a solid O-lineman to your roster. Kilgore is a polished blocker who very rarely lost one-on-one battles at the FCS level, where he played LT. Can’t imagine him staying on the outside in the pros as he’s just not long enough and the athleticism doesn’t seem to be there. Don’t think there’s much upside here, but I do think he’s got a shot at making the roster over Howard and Wrotto as interior depth. Also I think he fits best as a LG at the next level, where we are lacking solid depth behind Levitre.
For what it’s worth, guys that may go undrafted that I like as possible UFDA:
CJ Gable (RB, USC), Terry Griffin (NT, Elizabeth City St.), Wayne Daniels (OLB, TCU), Ryan Colburn (QB, Fresno St.), Laupepa Letuli (OG, Hawaii), DeMarco Sampson (WR, SDSU), Dominic Cook (DB, Buffalo)
Questions/comments would be excellent... I see these things more as conversation starters anyway.