Brian's exercise of trying to guess his pick in Guess The Bills' Pick In 2012 SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft made me take a step back and relook at what we know about Nix & Gailey as it pertains to their preferences for first round picks. After two years I think we can now safely assume that both those men are straight shooters and they don't lie and play games. The things they said when they were hired hold true to this day and they've delivered on those promises and behaved the way they said they would. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that from those two men. After a decade of bad management and bad coaching, I really appreciate having two no-nonsense guys driving the bus.
So back to the purpose of this post, which is to try and figure out the most probable candidate for our prized #10 pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Let start by evaluating to possibility of moving from the 10th spot. What are the probabilities of moving up?
Before we can evaluate this, lets look at what Buddy has given us so far:
a) His preference in the first round is to take the Best Player available regardless of our needs
b) He does not mind at all to pile player onto player and let the best man win
c) He believes in getting a game changer in a top 15 pick
d) He values overall college production over hyped production (i.e. 1 year wonders)
e) He values his draft picks (so trading back up is almost an impossible consideration).
Specifically in this draft he said:
f) The draft is deep at the CB, DE & WR positions
Analysis after the jump...
Trade Scenarios (Moving back up)
So now lets look at the possibility of moving back up. Who would it be for? He's already on record saying that CB, WR & DE is deep so I doubt he'd give up valued mid round picks to attempt to move up for one of those positions. The only two QB's that fit the production criteria are Luck & RGIII but there's no way we can move up for either of those and besides the cost would be a total turnoff to Nix.
does not meet the production or the game changer criteria so I seriously doubt he'd waste his valued mid rounder picks to move up for such an unproven and boom/bust prospect.
We desperately need a franchise LT and there is one available at #3, Kalil. The Vikings have expressed their willingness to consider trading down. Does Kalil meet all the requirements, yes. Is he enough of a sure bet to warrant giving up some mid round picks, maybe. Reiff has short arms and projects as a RT and both he and Martin do not seem to meet the game changer criteria as both seem over-rated for a top 10 selection. So in light of that, if Nix is high on one of the other prospects that could be had in the 2nd or 3rd then the odds are practically nil that he'd consider trading up. If however he does not like any of the tackles graded in the mid rounds then there's a chance he might pull the trigger and move up. I predict that there's less than a 20% chance he moves up to get Kalil.
Outside of Kalil I don't think there's any other prospects that would warrant consideration for moving up.
Trade Scenarios (Moving down scenarios)
I originally thought that if for some reason Richardson would fall to us at #10, that we could find a trade partner fairly easily. After seeing the FA RB signings this year I believe we are entering a new era where the RB position seems like an after thought. Long are the days where teams plan on using one main workhorse back. Everyone is changing to a 2-3 back committee, which definitely reduces the need and value of running backs. Just look at Ingram last year. Add to that the fact that the draft is rich in talent in the mid rounds for CB, DE & WR positions, I seriously doubt that many teams will be interested in trading with us. I predict the odds of us being able to trade down are probably in the 25% range.
Staying put at #10 scenarios
It seems highly improbably that we will move out of the #10 spot. So let's take a closer look at what might be available and which prospect meets the Chix criteria the best.
How fast things can change. In one off season our weakness became our strength. Changing to the 4-3, and lining up Williams/Dareus/Williams/Anderson will be a force to be reckoned with. And our depth is now pretty impressive when you consider guys like Merriman, Carrington, Troup, Batten, Spencer, Kelsay & Heard. I realize that they aren't against adding talent onto talent but this group seems pretty set so unless there is a crazy talent, a sure bet home run candidate available at #10 I doubt we'd go D-Line. Coples has too many question marks and his overall production is not the greatest. Poe is a pure 3-4 NT prospect with conditioning flags. He would not be an every-down guy and besides, why would we want to remove Meatball or Dareus from the lineup? Brockers does not meet the overall production criteria. Ingram meets most of the criteria but physically is not a great match for our system. So for all those reasons, I'll take the D-Linemen prospects off the table.
There is great value in rounds 2-4 at the CB position, guys like Stephon Gilmore and Jamell Fleming are good examples of excellent CB prospects with solid production at the collegiate level. The other possibility at #10 could be Mark Barron, a 4 year starter at Alabama with great production. I wonder if our new attacking front 4 will require bringing our SS in the box more often to support the run? Barron is like a machine in this area. Scouts claim he's not so hot in coverage, which makes me think that #10 overall would be a bit of a stretch.
Let's be honest folks, outside of Kalil, the OTs are all stretches at #10. I want a franchise LT more than anyone but outside of the clear number 1 prospect at that position, it's a muddled pack. We can make a case for several prospects, which made me realize that maybe taking one at #10 is too much of a reach. Not saying that we won't address the position in later rounds, I'm just saying that outside of Kalil there is no OT worth top 10 consideration.
Hill is eliminated because he does not meet the solid production criteria and taking him at #10 would be completely crazy. The only reason people are talking about Hill in Rd1 is because of his combine performance. Nix views the combine as a means to get good medical data on prospects, he does not pay much attention to the rest because its mainly a show more than anything else. He referred to it as the underwear Olympics or something like that. Clearly he does not take the results that seriously. I can't see Nix taking Hill at #10, that would be way too much out of character for him. Between Floyd and Wright, there is no doubt in my mind that Floyd would be the pick just because of performance. Floyd's has been a very productive performer for 4 consecutive years in college. Floyd is the first candidate so far that meets the general CHIX criteria IMO
Luke Kuechly has had 3 solid years for Boston College so he meets the criteria. He is clearly the top Linebacker in the draft. The question is, could he be moved to OLB? If their scouts believe that he could play the SAM position right away or by year two and be dominant then he would definitely meet their requirements. If not, then he'd be a stretch. Then again, Chix don't mind piling player onto player and Kuechly's production over 3 years is more than double Sheppard's over 4 years. So Kuechly would probably be a big upgrade over Sheppard. Luke Kuechly meets all the criteria and would add talent to an anaemic Linebacking core.
Really the only candidate worth mentioning here at #10 is David DeCastro. This guy is an absolute beast in the running game and a great pass blocker. He is the consensus top interior linemen in the draft. He's being described as the best guard to come out in over 10years. He will be playing day 1 for the team that picks him up. This guy definitely fits all of Nix's criteria. Our interior line is already strong but nobody can deny that we've struggled to keep everyone healthy in recent years. Levitre is a pro-bowl caliber guard and very durable. Eric Wood is also pro-bowl caliber if he could only stay healthy. Urbik is very serviceable and has improved a lot since we signed him. But let's be honest here, Levitre / Wood / DeCastro would be a HUGE upgrade over the current configuration and we seem to lack certain depth on the inside, so adding another probowl caliber guard certainly won't hurt.
After looking at this from the perspective of Nix's track record with top 15 picks, I believe that there is little to no chance of us trading up, unless the asking price is reasonable. Because of the depth of the draft at key positions such as DE, CB and WR I seriously doubt any other team would be willing to trade up to #10. So in my opinion there is a 90% chance that we will be picking at #10.
There are three players who I believe are on the Nix radar at #10, Michael Floyd, David DeCastro and Luke Kuechly. Those three players when I look at this objectively, fit the Nix pattern that we've seen and heard so far after two full years. My personal opinion is that DeCastro is the prospect that is most certain to succeed at the next level out of these three guys. Urbik is good but nowhere near as good as DeCastro can be, this would be a clear upgrade at the position and buy us some well needed depth with Urbik.
Floyd fills a bigger immediate need but comes with a bit of baggage and flags. He's got the size that Nix looks for in a WR and he's been very productive over 4 years in college.
Kuechly is a tackling machine. He's also a MLB and we already have a pretty good one. So do we pile talent onto talent? Maybe. Can Kuechly play OLB? Maybe.