The three aforementioned guys that were taken at the top of last year's draft were all guys who had plenty of experience playing at the college level and also played for southern schools. When you also take into consideration the free agent pickups made this year (Mario and Mark Anderson) it is pretty clear that they like big guys from the south. They don't seem to like guys that have "potential" but rather guys that have produced for a long time, have plenty of size, and are from the SEC/South area. I see these trends continuing with this year's draft. The guys that fit the bill for me at #10 are the following:
Hey guys, this is my first post but I wanted to weigh in on the draft discussion. I have a few things I wanted to point out that others haven't. It looks like Nix and co. knocked it out of the park last year, getting three starters out of the first three rounds (Dareus, Aaron Williams and Sheppard). I know some people that are not as optimistic as I am about this year's draft because of the 2010 draft which was another blown opportunity, but I don't really see Nix's fingerprints on that one. He had only been on the job for a few months before the draft started and didn't have his scouting team in place for the whole college season. I also distinctly remember Tom Modrak in a video talking up Torell Troup and lo and behold the Bills pass on Gronkowsi for Troup. Thank God he isn't making any important decisions this year. With that said I will be taking the 2011 draft as a better indication of the way Buddy and Gailey want to build the team than the 2010 draft.
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: Got a ton of playing time for the best defense in college football. The guy seems to be a good fit for a 4-3 defense. Kirk Morrison right now is the third starter for the linebacker group and he didn't get much playing time last season, and considering that he and Barnett are both pushing 30 years of age, I think it makes sense to upgrade at this position.
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: This guy is a physical freak, the numbers that he put up at the combine were incredible. He had very little production in college but that was more due to the offense he played in than talent. If Gailey was able to make Donald Jones and Derek Hagan look decent than he could potentially make this guy into a Calvin Johnson-esque player. Also I'm not sure if Gailey recruited him or if he was gone before then, but regardless this guy is one of my favorites in the draft.
There are also two cornerbacks, Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephen Gilmore that could start right away, but since the pass rush looks to be much improved, I think we could keep even the bonehead Leodis in the secondary and be alright.
I think the most likely scenario is Upshaw being the first round pick - Nix seems intent on making the defense one of the best in the league. WR or OT will probably be the 2nd or 3rd round picks. Throw in a CB and I think the Bills are set for a playoff run.
As always, though, the draft promises to be a little unpredictable, so who knows how it will end up. But based on all of this information it seems highly unlikely that Kuechly or Reiff would be picked at #10. They just do not fit the mold that Nix has established in his time as GM. Why take Kuechly when Upshaw has produced even more for an even better football team? Why take Reiff when Nix has proven adept at finding OTs off the scrap heap? The #10 pick warrants playmakers who fit Buddy's demographic, which is why Upshaw and Hill fit the bill.
There are probably plenty of logical counterarguments that can be made against my line of thinking, but the one thing that could possibly have changed is the scouting department. If Bills scouts started covering a larger area then there is a possibility that guys like Kuechly and Reiff could come into play. They could also deviate from this strategy in the later rounds. But seeing as the southern schools and SEC area have consistently produced the most talent, and considering how well the Bills fared in last year's draft, what's the point of straying from the gameplan? I just don't see Reiff or Kuechly as distinct possibilities. Feel free to tell me what you think.