With 2011 NFL Draft commencing tomorrow evening, I felt it prudent to re-poll Bills fans for whom they think the Bills will draft third overall. This is the highest selection the Bills have had since selecting Bruce Smith first overall in 1985 and we all know how well that pick turned out! In any case, there seems to be no general consensus as to who the Bills will target at this level with one player gaining momentum one week, followed by a different one the next week.
So I ask you who is your favorite prospect to draft third overall or trade around (up or down), or if you have someone else in mind that is not on my top-12 list. Before some of you complain, I took off OT Tyron Smith as I have him 13th on my list, likely to get picked up by Detroit, and DE Da'Quan Bowers because he is viewed more as a 4-3 end with a major knee injury. So in any case, please comment, argue for your guy and Go Bills!
QB Blaine Gabbert - Missouri [6-4, 234, 4.61]
Gabbert is perhaps the highest ranked QB in the draft right now. Gabbert went 563 for 920 (61.2% completion rate) and threw for 6,779 yards, 40 TDs and 18 INTs in two years as a starter. In addition to his strong arm, Gabbert has some running ability, but will need a year or two to switch to a pro-styled offense.
QB Cam Newton - Auburn [6-5, 248, 4.56]
Behind Gabbert, Newton is the second ranked QB in the draft. However, with his raw athleticism, possesses perhaps the most potential of any player in the draft. As a one year starter Newton went 185 for 280 (66.1% completion rate), threw for 2,854 yards, 30 TDs and 7 INTs, while rushing for almost 1,400 yards and 20 TDs. Newton could be Vick 2.0 in the NFL, but will need a few years to get there.
WR A.J. Green - Georgia [6-4, 211, 4.48]
Green lost some ground at the combine, but between his physical play and his stats, 166 receptions for 2,619 yards and 23 TDs in three seasons, remains perhaps the highest targeted receiver in the draft.
WR Julio Jones - Alabama [6-3, 220, 4.34]
Jones follows closely behind Green given his speed and physical play. In three years, Jones has amassed 179 receptions for 2,653 yards and 15 TDs.
DL Marcell Dareus - Alabama [6-3, 319, 4.93]
Dareus has the build of a nose tackle, but the agility to play five technique. Even though he was not the most productive player in college, 66 tackles and 11 sacks in two years, his versatility and size is perfect for the Bills 3-4 hybrid defense. A huge run stopper that gives offensive tackles head aches, Dareus will at the very least be a solid long term starter.
DL Nick Fairley - Auburn [6-4, 291, 4.84]
Fairley came out of nowhere last year with 12 sacks. However, his biggest concern, aside from the one year wonder possibility is that he operated mostly in a 4-3 defense. A transition is possible with his size and speed, but it will take a year or two to see results.
DL Cameron Jordan - California [6-4, 287, 4.74]
Jordan is a solid five technique, 3-4 DE. In four years, he has improved every year with a total of 161 tackles and 17 sacks. Jordan has good speed and strength, but may not be considered a top ten pick.
DL J.J. Watt - Wisconsin [6-5, 290, 4.81]
Maynock has called Watt the best five technique DE he has seen this year. Not bad for a guy that switched from tackle two years ago. Watt has good speed and strength benching 34 reps (compared to Dareus's 24 and Jordan's 25) and in two years has 106 tackles and 11 sacks (7 this past year) and holds a lot of potential. Like Jordan, could go outside the top ten.
LB Von Miller - Texas A&M [6-3, 246, 4.42]
Miller is is a beast at 3-4 outside linebacker between his physical play, speed and pass defense ability and thus is the highest OLB prospect in the nation. Outrunning most receivers and corners in the combines, Miller in four years has accrued 178 tackles and 33 sacks in college (including 17 in his junior year and 11 in his senior year). Gailey coached him in the senior bowl and knows of pass rushing/defending skill set. A lot of hype for the Bills to grab him in an area that has depth, but little results.
LB Robert Quinn - North Carolina [6-4, 265, 4.62]
In two years as a 4-3 defensive end, Quinn amassed 86 tackles and 13 sacks (11 in 2009) before sitting out with an injury in 2010. He has the speed to switch to OLB and can be a solid player at that position, but will likely only be considered if the Bills trade down.
CB Prince Amukamara - Nebraska [6-0, 206, 4.38]
A strong skilled corner, Amukamara is the number two cornerback in this draft only because Peterson decided to leave school a year early. Still Amukamara is tall, has sspeed and read plays well recording 151 tackles, 5 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in three years as a starter.
CB Patrick Peterson - LSU [6-0, 219, 4.31]
Peterson was a terrific shut-down corner back in college. Tall with incredible speed that has also made him a terrific return-man, Peterson has 137 tackles and 7 interceptions in three years and is considered to be a very safe draft selection.