While I spend the rest of the season hoping that the defense makes a decisive move out of last place in the league with improved play on the line, amongst the linebackers, at corner and safety (let's see, did I cover everything...?), and has more performances like tonight's against the Dolphins, I've been looking at possible off-season moves and present to you some early draft picks. Tell me what you think.
Here are my assumptions:
1. Buffalo NEEDS to draft a QB in round 1. We need to pick one guy and go for him, whether we are trading up or down, or staying put. Having drafted no viable QBs in years we can't afford to take big risks - only an upgrade at this position will improve our offense. If the guy we want is in the top 6 in positional rankings, waiting until Round 2 could mean missing out on him, since at least six other teams are looking for a QB and some of them would have two picks before our Round 2 pick. The only wiggle room I see is if: 1) we want a guy we're sure is off everyone's radar and is not in the top 6 - Glennon and Nassib are not in the top 6 now, but I'm guessing at least Glennon will be by draft time; or 2) we can trade down a few spots for the guy we want and get some extra later-round picks.
2. The next need, in order of importance, is to stop the run on defense. We have a big hole at corner, and suck at covering tight ends, but right now any team in the NFL (e.g., Thumbtacks) can beat us on the ground. Only some can beat us by passing, and if we can force teams to pass we at least give our D-line a chance to rush the passer. So my next priority is at linebacker. Ideally, we need someone who can push Shep, succeed Barnett, and play SAM if Bradham doesn't pan out. But Te'o will be off the boards when we pick in Round 2. A solid DT or DE can also help us against the run. Dareus is not having a good year, and we need more skill in controlling the edge.
3. Our Rounds 1 and 2 picks are expected starters, representing our most immediate needs. Later picks are likely to be depth or developmental players. At CB, I still nurture a hope that McKelvin can fill in or Brooks can play the outside. If not, we should consider an FA, like Quentin Jammer, to push Williams and give us a more certain level of productivity than a later round draft pick could.
4. I looked mainly at seniors.
ROUND 1 - Mike Glennon, QB North Carolina State
He's got the better part of two seasons of consistently good play. He can beat defenses vertically, which will add a needed element to our offense, and he has a relationship with TJ Graham to boot. Right now he's my #1 pick.
ROUND 2 - Khaseem Greene, OLB Rutgers
This guy is really impressive. He took over the game against Syracuse.
He has a bit less bulk and height than most of the leading LBs, but he uses his quickness to shed blocks. He was the leading tackler in the Big East in his junior year, and has experience as a free safety. He could play SAM or WILL or be an upgrade to Bryan Scott's hybrid position. As the sixth-ranked LB, he will likely be there for our second pick.
Another option here - Sean Porter, OLB Texas
Porter has a WILL skill set and would be a good coverage LB with the developmental potential to succeed Nick Barnett, and added blitzing ability.
Another option here - Michael Mauti, ILB Penn State.
If Sheppard improves during the last half of the season, Greene or Porter would be a better choice here. Mauti is not as athletic as Greene or Porter, but is someone who could push Shep, with excellent read/react instincts. Both Mauti and Greene have come back with excellent play from serious injuries.
ROUND 3 - Cobi Hamilton, WR Arkansas
With size and speed, if Hamilton catches the ball in stride he can get big YAC. He is raw, but putting him in the mix with our current WRs will improve the group, and add to our deep threat capability.
Another option here - Cordarelle Patterson, WR Tenn.
A similar prospect to Hamilton, should he declare this year.
Another option here - Terry Hawthorne, CB Illinois
A ballhawk who also plays receiver, and has the size and will to provide run support.
ROUND 4 - Josh Boyd, DT Mississippi St.
Boyd is a run-stuffer who has enough of a burst to get to the quarterback. His motor will be a factor later in games if he is part of the D-Line rotation.
ROUND 5 - Michael Williams, TE Alabama
Williams is a huge blocking TE who also has hands. He could compete for our #2 TE position.
ROUND 6 - Dalton Freeman, C Clemson
A reliable, if undersized starter who can give us depth at the position
Another option here- T.J. Johnson, C South Carolina
Johnson might be oversized and project as an NFL guard - another position for which we need depth.
ROUND 7 - traded to Seattle for T. Jackson.