I love mock drafts, and love to consider the possibilities for Buffalo in April. In reviewing several, I've developed a pet peeve over the sometimes maddening lack of knowledge that many pundits have of Buffalo's system, talent, and needs. Whats more, I've really developed a pet peeve for mock drafts that fail to consider the tendencies of CHIX. Whats after the jump is part brain dump, and part analysis of what we know and how it applies to the possibilities for April's draft.
For this post, I want to focus on the offensive line and pass rushers. Those by most measures are two of the most commonly projected early draft pick targets for the Bills.
On the offensive line, a good understanding of the tendencies of CHIX goes a long way towards paring the list of potential Bills targets. Lets take a look at the profile of the type of guy that CHIX has brought in to play the offensive line during their tenure. I am including only players that have "stuck" with the team so far, on the theory that they best represent the profile of what CHIX wants.
Name - Height - Weight (courtesy of ESPN)
Chris Hairston - 6'6" - 332 lbs.
Sam Young - 6'8" - 322 lbs.
Michael Jasper - 6'4" - 394 lbs.
Erik Pears - 6'8" - 314 lbs.
Colin Brown - 6'7" - 328 lbs.
Chad Rinehart - 6'5" - 323 lbs
Kraig Urbik -6'5" - 329 lbs
Do you notice a tendency among these linemen. I will exclude Jasper for averaging, since he is a giant human being and his weight will throw off the average. Averaging all others, CHIX profile for an offensive lineman is 6' 6.5" and 324.6 lbs. The weight figures are based on reported weight. I'd venture to guess that the playing weight of a few of these guys (Urbik) is higher than their reported weight.
What this list makes clear is that the Bills have a type. When looking for offensive lineman, they want massive human beings. They like tall, large lineman. They don't want the early 2000's Denver Broncos style finesse, zone blocking lineman. They want maulers.
In addition, Nix history when drafting lineman should also be considered. Both when he was in San Diego and since he's been here, he has not taken lineman early, instead preferring to build with later round bodies. I wont belabor that point, as I believe Brian has discussed it before. But, suffice it to say that if history is a guide, the Bills wont target an OT early.
When considering draft options at OT for the Bills, I think you have to first look to whether the prospect fits the Bills type. I know the BPA fans out there will say ignore type and focus on BPA, but in my book thats not what the Bills will do. Just like you draft defensive players to play your system, the same holds true on the offensive line. CHIX will draft lineman that fit their blocking system and their type of player.
In comes my pet peeve - mocks that project Jonathan Martin to the Bills. In my book, you can cross Jonathan Martin's name off your list for Buffalo as a potential pick. Hell, use a Sharpie when doing so, because there is no way the Bills take Martin. Martin is a finesse lineman, who does not fit the Bills mold. Likewise for basically any other tackle who weighs less than about 310 lbs.
In my book, the potential tackles out there who fit the Bills mold include Mike Adams (Ohio State), Andrew Datko (FSU), Keleche Osemele (Iowa St.), Cordy Glenn (UGA), Levy Adcock (Okl. St. U), or Michael Schwartz (Cal). There aren't many CHIX guys in this years crop of tackle prospects who are well suited to man the left side. Some of these guys are arguably best suited to play inside (Glenn). Mike Adams really intrigues me as a LT possibility, and although it may be too high for him and out of character for Chix, he could be a surprise pick at 10. Otherwise, look for a CHIX type mauler later in the draft like Levy Adcock.
Another place where the Bills have a physical prototype they seek is DE. The physical prototype comes not from what the Bills have brought in over the last two "lost years" on defense, but instead from Nix's own words. CHIX has never been one for deception. When Spiller was the pick in 2010, they told anybody who's listen that they wanted a "water bug" running back, and they took one. Love it or hate it, CHIX quite often means what he says and says what he means.
When speaking about pass rushers, I believe he did it again. In his year end presser, Nix indicated the team wanted bigger pass rushers who can put their hand on the ground or stand up and rush the passer. He used a 6'4", 255 or 260-pound measurement as a guideline.
To mock the Bills draft and project pass rushers to the Bills, I believe one should apply Nix's guideline to the available talent. Here there are a lot more prospects that fit the Bills mold than there are at the LT position. Guys like Vinny Curry (Marshall), Cam Johnson (Virginia), Whitney Mercilus (U of I), and of course, Quinton Coples (UNC) all possess the height CHIX seeks along with the ability to put a hand on the ground and rush the passer or stand up. Guys like Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw don't fit the guideline CHIX set forth. While deviation seems more possible here since we have less proven trackrecord to go off, I'm still inclined to project that the Bills will do what CHIX said and look to a pass rusher who fits their guideline.
So, to make my long winded point short - when preparing for April's draft, use what you know. While we don't know much about what the Bills will do, I still think we know more than we think. We know the type of player the Bills will likely seek at OT, and we know the guideline by which DE options will be measured. While deviation is possible, I believe conformity is more likely.