So we're finally in March and the draft is a bit over a month away so I decided to take a comprehensive and (hopefully) objective look at what is needed, the options likely to be available when we draft, and IMO likely choices when we get to those points. From what I have seen very few people disagree at all on what is needed by the Bills. A long-term 'franchise' QB is needed to begin grooming, a RT is needed to at least challenge Pears(and probably start), a tight end who is equally capable at both blocking and as a receieving threat, a strong 3-4 DE that will occupy blockers and boost the run defense, a strong side inside linebacker to challenge Davis(and probably start), CB upgrades (or least depth), a SS if Whitner fails to resign, a backup weak side inside linebacker behind Poz for depth, and as always pass rushers which for us is 3-4 OLB's. Lengthy list ain't it? :-) To be fair, we almost certainly can't fill all of the voids in this years draft but after the jump we'll take a look at options, opinions, and some possible executive decisions.
Ok...straight to arguably the most controversial decision. The Bills are picking #3...first time we've chosen this high since 1985 when we picked up that guy who played DE pretty well for us. :-) The likely options here are long term QB, woodhead eating DE, lockdown corner, or sanchez crushing OLB. The point has been made, and it's a good one, that is you have the chance to obtain a franchise QB you don't pass on him. I actually agree with that statement. What I do not agree with is that there is a franchise QB who will likely be available at #3 that will be asuredly better than players available later. We are not talking about Luck here, it's likely Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert. Both are talented but have major issues and red flags. To me a franchise QB is someone who you feel comfortable putting your faith in, not feeling that you're cresting the top of a roller coaster hill and wondering what's on the other side while you hold your breath. Peterson is likely to be a lockdown corner, that's it. I have not heard one person dispute this. Von Miller and Robert Quinn are different types of players but both highly talented guys who could help us on the edge. It could be debated but I think Dareus has locked down top 3-4 DE billing. So....what to do?
1st round- The Bills select...Robert Quinn
This is painful for me since I have been a huge Dareus supporter for a long time now and I very much want him in a Bills uniform but I believe that Quinn will impress Nix enough and that last season convinced Buddy that Kelsay is indeed...ummm...not good. Quinn comes across as a hard working, mature, dedicated young man who has learned from past mistakes so much that Nix will bypass his usual rule of thumb of wanting to see production across an extended span.
All right, round 2 all of the options are in play as at this time there should be viable choices for ANY of the Bills needs. Where do we go? Well, we should have the best SS in the draft..DeAndre McDaniel, outstanding SILB candidates in either Martez Wilson or Akeem Ayers, QB's in Ponder or Kaepernick, DE's Ballard or Heyward, largest RT in the draft Marcus Cannon....decisions, decisions...
2nd round- The Bills select...Christian Ballard DE from Iowa
*sigh* This is painful again since I wanted Ponder but the vibe I am getting is that Nix+Gailey+Wandstedt all are desperate to improve our...what the word? Horrific? 'defense'. Ballard can tie up blockers and allow for Quinn and Merriman to do some damage.
Third times the charm as they say...again, all options are on the board. At this point we could probably have Tyler Sash at SS, Lance Kendricks at TE (I think Stocker is gone already), Carpenter at RT, or 'Shep' for our SILB....hmmm...
3rd round-The Bills select...James Carpenter OT from Alabama
There it is. Love the pieces or hate them, we already had a very solid starting lineup running from LT to RG (with Urbik in there I believe). Our future long term RT is FINALLY drafted, and I have to be honest it feels good!
Ok, starting to speed things up now because we are rapidly getting into solid player and 'potentially' great player territory from here on out. All options are still open although at this point the QB has probably closed unless we go for extreme long term project. PLayer like Danny Watkins (OG), Nate Irving (CB) whousl still be there...
4th round (pick 99)- The Bills select...Chris White SILB from Mississippi State
I think this choice would probably come down to White or one of the remaining CB's avaiable. Given Nix's desire to add more linebackers, this selection makes sense to me.
4th round (pick 121)- The Bills select...Korey Lindsey CB from Southern Illinois
What can I say? In the fourth round I see Nix going for his small school players. Lindsey have very good measurables. At 6'0" and 190 pounds he should be able to challenge a lot of the taller receivers that we have to confront in our division.
Searching for diamonds in the rough now as we enter the late rounds...QB definitely out...all other positions open. Let's play...
5th round- The Bills select....Julius Thomas TE from Portland State
Y'all are in the small school zone now. :-) Thomas is obviously not a prospect on the level of Stocker or even a player like Kendricks but he is solid and could produce well in combination with someone that is my personal dark horse player for next year, Scott Chandler. Chandler can handle the starting duties with Thomas coming in to assist in 2 TE sets.
Still searching for the diamonds in the rough, and looking through the shredded lists...the Bills discover a player they may have interest in.
6th round- The Bills select....Joe Lefeged SS from Rutgers
Ok, won't lie...I'm relying on my aunt for this one (she's a professor at Rutgers) but has gone to a lot of the games and seems to think that the kid has some potential. His measurables are solid at 5'11" and 208 pounds. If we fail to resign Donte, this is a solid choice IMO.
Rolling to the finish...and here we go.....
7th round- The Bills select...Brandon Bair DE from Orgeon
Nix did say that he wanted a 'couple' more defensive ends. Well, with Bair he now has his two along with Ballard. At 6'6" and 273 pounds Bair needs to add some weight but considering he'll have Carrington, Edwards and Ballard ahead of him, he should only be needed in rotation this year.
Conclusion: The Bills went heavy defensively in this scenario and while many people will be screaming bloody murder over the fact that no QB was drafted, I played this fairly taking the player I thought could help the team the most where they are actually likely to be available (Ponder in the 3rd or Kapernick in the 4th is a fantasy). Two 3-4 defensive ends were added, an excellent pass rusher was added, our future RT was added, we also added a SILB, CB, complementary TE, and SS to our talent pool. With this draft we head into next year needing only a long term QB and depth at all positions. Some may agree or disagree with the whole thing or have specific gripes. I would love to hear what y'all think!!