It’s that time again Buffalo… time for us to fill out a new mock draft for the Buffalo Bills! Over the years, we have seen Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey bring in several players through the draft, some more successful than others. But it is undeniable that a good draft or two can have serious merits for a team.
This year the Bills are switching to a predominantly 4-3 defense, which despite building up a 3-4 defense over the last few years, actually suits a number of players. Several free agents are in the process of being re-signed by the Bills, so obviously depending in that area will affect who we target in the draft.
Needs as of right now include a defensive end or two, a strong-outside linebacker, a #2 wide receiver and/or one with speed, a corner with potential to start and an offensive tackle for depth/to start on the left side. Other areas that could be targeted include tight end, a backup free safety, linebacker depth and I am leaving it on the table, a franchise quarterback.
Rules for this mock are simple; just vote for your favorite player. However do note that in the past, if a position gets more votes than an individual, I will take the positional choice over a player as split votes have left unhappy fans in the past. Fortunately this happens fairly rarely so in most cases, the player with the majority vote will likely win.
This time around, we are anchored by the results from the NFL combine. I shall input these as well as rankings/information on players from sites including Walter Football, CBS Sports and Drafttek. Statistics are courtesy from CFB Stats. Remember to vote and use the comments to support your choice below.
QB Ryan Tannehill – Texas A&M [6-4, 221, 4.65]
Of the Bills biggest needs to address, finding a potential franchise QB to develop behind Fitz is not one of them. Still fans might be enamored with potential first round QB Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill sat out of the combine due to an injury, but there could be concern with his 9” hands despite his large frame and mobility. Tannehill is still a raw QB having only played two seasons there in college. This year though Tannehill completed 327/530 passes for 3,744 yards, 29 TDs and 15 picks. Tannehill could also see time at wide receiver for a hurry up wildcat with Brad Smith.
OT Jonathan Martin – Stanford [6-6, 312, 5.29]
Martin sat out of most combine drills as well, but coaches will like the fact that he has a big frame and 34” inch arms. Martin also had great success protecting the blind-side of a certain QB named Luck, and also seems sound in run blocking too.
OT Riley Reiff – Iowa [6-6, 312, 5.23]
Reiff is probably the second best tackle in the draft after Kalil, and could also protect on the left side. However Reiff had a mildly disappointing combine after only posting 23 reps at the bench press and his arms being almost an inch shorter than Martin. Reiff however has a good build and has been one of the better left tackles in college.
WR Michael Floyd – [6-3, 220, 4.47]
Solidifying his status as the second best receiver at the combine was Michael Floyd. Floyd appeared quicker than on tape, running unofficially in the low 4.4s. Speed was the only major concern as Floyd was consistently able to make catches despite tight coverage. Floyd made 179 receptions for 2,072 yards and 21 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
DE Quinton Coples – North Carolina [6-6, 284, 4.72]
Coples had a quiet combine, but following his performance in the senior bowl, it did not really matter. Coples is seen as the first DE to go in the draft, but I’ve included him still as there is a chance the Jags or Fins choose to address needs elsewhere, or take a different rising DE first. (For the next mock I may take Coples name off just to see how fans would react). Coples is tall and has good penetration, but lacks great work ethic (more of a fault of NC’s program). Over the last two years though Coples has made 17.5 sacks, 114 tackles (30.5 for loss),19 hurries and 5 forced fumbles.
DE Melvin Ingram – South Carolina [6-1, 261, 4.66]
Ingram had a strong senior bowl and combine. Ingram got quicker, and has had good production but through no fault of his own, is the shortest of these first round DE prospects, and also has short 31.5” arms. Ingram only has one year at DE, but in that year he made 10 sacks, 6 hurries and 48 tackles (15 for loss). The year before at DT, Ingram made 9 sacks. Ingram also benched 28 reps at the combines.
DE Whitney Merculis – Illinois [6-4, 261, 4.63]
Fitting the physical parameters fitting Nix’s preferences, the junior (one year) wonder capped off the combines with a strong performance. Merculis has a repertoire moves atop his blazing speed, tied for best 10 yard dash for a DE at 1.56 seconds, and can be used as both a run stuffer and as a pass rusher. Merculis in his monster year made 57 tackles (22.5 for loss), 16 sacks (more than one a game), 6 hurries and 9 forced fumbles. While Merculis had one fewer bench rep (27) than Ingram, his arms are more than 2” longer than Ingram.
DE Nick Perry – USC [6-3, 271, 4.50]
Physically, no other defensive end had as good of a showing at the combines than Perry. The junior weighed in heavier than he had been, but posted better speeds (also matching the 1.56 second 10 yard dash), bench reps (35) and vertical (38.5”) than his competition. Perry’s stock took a hit from an injury he had as a sophomore, but has played well. In the three years he played for the Trojans, Perry has made 104 tackles (30.5 for loss), 21.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles.
DE Courtney Upshaw – Alabama [6-2, 273, 4.76]
Seen more as a 3-4 OLB, Upshaw still has a number of supporters given his versatility and ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. Upshaw did not work out in the combine which may have caused his stock to slip a bit. Still aside from a lack of explosiveness, Upshaw has good technique and over the last two years has made 104 tackles (32.5 for loss), 16.5 sacks, 12 hurries and 6 forced fumbles.
LB Luke Kuechly* – Boston College [6-3, 242, 4.50]
One player with an amazing combine was Kuechly, as he came in with a blazing 4.50 40-time and made 27 reps bench pressing. Speed was Kuechly’s only issue heading into the draft as he repeated showed great play making ability and recorded three consecutive seasons of 150+ tackles. Just in the last two years Kuechly has made 274 tackles (22.5 for loss), 6 interceptions and 6 passes defended. Last month, Kuechly would have been expected playing middle linebacker, but clearly showed athleticism to move to the outside.
CB Janoris Jenkins – North Alabama [5-10, 193, 4.44]
Jenkins last year would have been a late first/early second rounder. While off-field issues forced Jenkins to transfer from Florida to North Alabama, analysts seem to think he shown responsibility as of late and with a good combine, has seen his stock rise. In his last two seasons as a Gator, Jenkins made 82 tackles (8.5 for loss), 5 interceptions and has 14 passes defended.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick – Alabama [6-2, 186, 4.43]
Kirkpatrick was the second best corner in the draft, but his stock has fallen following a drug arrest before the combines. Obviously there is some concern there, but the Bills need a long-term starter opposite Williams and Kirkpatrick has the speed and size Gailey likes. As a shutdown corner for Alabama over the last two years, Kirkpatrick has made 82 tackles (8 for loss), 3 interceptions and had 16 passes defended.