ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 3: Morris Claiborne #17 of the LSU Tigers returns an interception for a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
2012 NFL Draft prospects will begin arriving in Indianapolis today for the 2012 NFL Combine, and as such, it's time to kick off our draft coverage here at Buffalo Rumblings. Most Buffalo Bills fans are keenly aware of where the team is lacking talent, but may not be so aware of which players and positions the team may be looking at with their No. 10 overall pick and beyond.
We're diving head-first into the process of learning more about prospects starting right now. There are four positional groups that we're generally going to be focusing on leading up to April's draft: wide receiver, offensive tackle, pass rushers and cornerbacks. Yes, we'll sprinkle in some players at other positions, but those are the big four.
In the meantime, we're starting at the top, and as the Bills pick tenth, we've got our eyes on ten guys this week (and weekend) within those aforementioned big four positions that we're keen to learn a lot more about. Those ten names are after the jump - and if you've been studying up on these guys, most of the names listed won't be a surprise.
10. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. The Bills need a corner. Jenkins was a standout in the SEC before off-field issues forced his transfer to North Alabama. An outstanding athlete and one of the 2011 NFL Draft's top cornerback prospects before getting booted, Jenkins could be a fast riser with a strong week in Indianapolis.
9. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. Floyd needs a big week in the interview room, having been suspended while at Notre Dame for a DUI. On the field, there's an awful lot to like: he's a 6'3", 224-pound target with 271 career receptions, 3,686 career yards and 37 career touchdowns. He's the type of big receiver that the Bills are looking for.
8. Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina. There are some concerns about his ability to defend the run as a 4-3 defensive end, but he's a good athlete that accumulated 19 sacks in his final two seasons in the SEC. That fact alone will make Ingram a coveted draft-day commodity - and a strong week in track shorts could cause him to rise up draft boards.
7. Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State. Adams became more prominent on the draft radar with a strong Senior Bowl week. 6'8", 320-pound tackles with good feet and athleticism don't exactly grow on trees, so while there are warts to Adams' game that are visible on tape, he'll likely be a target for many teams in need of a tackle. He has the look of a developmental prospect, but there is undoubtedly potential.
6. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. The Hawkeyes churn out pro-ready offensive linemen like no other program, and Reiff is the latest to emerge from the factory. The 6'6", 300-pound former tight end is a good athlete, and most consider him a better prospect turning pro than former teammate Bryan Bulaga, who was drafted No. 23 overall by Green Bay in 2010.
5. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. Coples has long been considered the most talented pass rusher available this year, but the inevitable questions about his motor and work ethic are beginning to surface. He can alleviate some of those concerns this week. Coples, in our view, is not the elite edge rusher he's made out to be, but he can play several defensive line positions and pressure the quarterback. That alone makes him a valuable commodity.
4. Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama. Though he was never an elite sack artist at Alabama, Upshaw is a tough, versatile player that can play in multiple systems - and he's an excellent run defender, to boot. He has the early look of exactly the type of edge player the Bills could use, and is already drawing comparisons to LaMarr Woodley from Mel Kiper.
3. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. NFL Network's Mike Mayock told reporters last week that while he's not on the same level athletically, Claiborne is a better pure cover corner than former teammate Patrick Peterson. Claiborne is the first of three players on our list that has the early look of a guy that probably won't be available when the Bills pick.
2. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. Blackmon is the most explosive offensive weapon available this year; he caught 223 passes for 3,304 yards and 38 touchdowns in the last two seasons alone. He's big, fast and athletic - in other words, he's going to be a high-end No. 1 receiver in the pros. He, too, likely won't last to No. 10 overall, but if he does, the Bills would be wise to pounce.
1. Matt Kalil, OT, USC. In our view, Kalil is the safest pick in the draft this year. The 6'7", 295-pound pass blocker looks like a sure bet long-term starter at left tackle, and would be particularly effective in a system like Buffalo's, where his athleticism would be put to great use. He looks like a slam dunk to be gone by the Top 5, and may even go as high as No. 2 overall.
Who else are you looking forward to keeping track of this week, Bills fans?