Here in my first fanpost I will try and look back at past drafts to look at tendencies and then proceed to evaluate this year's draft. To start off it wouldn't be a bad idea to look at the last two drafts and evaluate specific tendencies since Buddy Nix has become the general manager.
2010 NFL Draft
1,9. CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson
2,9 Torrell Troup, DT, UCF
3,8 Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas St.
4,9 Marcus Easley, WR, UCONN
5,9 Ed Wang, OT, Virginia Tech
6,9 Arthur Moats, OLB, James Madison
6,23 Danny Batten, OLB, South Dakota St.
7,2 Levi Brown, QB, Troy
7,9 Kyle Calloway, OT, Iowa
2011 NFL Draft
1,3 Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
2,2 Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
3,4 Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU
4,3 Da'Norris Searcy, S, UNC
4,25 Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson
5,2 Johnny White, RB, UNC
6,4 Chris White, LB, Mississippi St.
7,3 Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond
7,42 Michael Jasper, DT, Bethel
Overall when you look at these two drafts, Buddy Nix's southern leaning holds true as 15 out of the 18 picks were from colleges below the northern border of Virginia. This coming year could be the make or break year for Nix's players from the 2010 NFL Draft. Many have a lot of potential and it is just time to capitalize. He followed the best player available philosophy both years in the first round by drafting a non-need in CJ Spiller and taking the most talented player in Marcell Dareus. The players from the 2011 NFL Draft have shown some serious promise with the playing time they got during the 2011-12 season. Most of Nix's picks have gone defensively since that has been the weakest area of the Bills' game at times.
Okay now by stating the obvious anyone can tell Nix, whether due to need or preference, prefers defensive players from Southern colleges. This year if you were to look at players brought in for pre-draft visits, you would be in for more of the same. 18 of the 30 players brought in played on the defensive side of the ball. 19 of the players played in the Southeastern United States. What is the importance of any of these statistics? Well it establishes a clear draft tendency.
The Real Preview
Now its time to look at some specific players from this year's draft. The Bills need a receiver opposite of Steve Johnson, but many don't consider Chris Hairston so the Bills may need a left tackle. On the defensive side of the ball the Bills may need an outside linebacker or a cornerback. With the progression of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, the Bills may want to draft a player that can cover a big, athletic tight end. Here are some potential picks in the first round:
- Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama- Definitely one of the better prospects in this class and could definitely fill a need in his ability to cover New England's tight ends. Barron, Byrd, and Wilson would be a formidable group of safeties. After watching his tape, it is obvious that Barron is very instinctive against both the run and pass and he is a relatively sure tackler. He has produced many highlight hits in his career and is definitely an impact player.
- Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame- Floyd may be the fan favorite in this draft. The Bills still need a compliment to Steve Johnson and Michael Floyd could be just that. His tape shows a player that is definitely athletically gifted and can make the athletic catch over the top, but he can be a possession receiver that can work the underneath routes effectively.
- Luke Kuechly, Inside Linebacker, Boston College- Kuechly is instinctive and one of the most productive linebackers the college game has ever seen. One of Kuechly's greatest is his ability to drop into coverage. Against Miami, he even managed to keep with Tommy Streeter down the field on one play. Kuechly is one of the surest tacklers and has terrific range in covering the field.
- Reily Reiff, Tackle, Iowa- Reiff is a terrific tackle from Iowa, with shorter arms than is common for a left tackle. His ability to play at Iowa has been terrific as he followed in the steps of great Iowa lineman like Bryan Bulaga. He can definitely come in and start right away, but the Bills may already have a tackle they like in Chris Hairston.
There are players like Cordy Glenn and Stephon Gilmore that the Bills and many fans like, but it is more likely that the Bills would only draft either of those players if they were to trade down. Each of the above picks has their pros and cons. Luke Kuechly and Mark Barron are probably the top 2 of those four, but Michael Floyd may be the player that can improve the team the most considering the offensive failures at the end of the year. Based on the pre-draft visits that the Bills have had scheduled, some potential 2nd and 3rd round picks include:
- Brock Osweiler, Quarterback, Arizona State
- Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
- Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, Appalachian State
- Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
- Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
- Shea McClellin, Defensive End, Boise State
- Vinny Curry, Defensive End, Marshall
- Josh Robinson, Cornerback, Central Florida
- Bruce Irvin, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, West Virginia
A few of these players may jump into the first round or fall into the third round. Given the Bills' needs Brock Osweiler and Kirk Cousins seem to be illogical picks in the second round. Josh Robinson, regardless of the first round pick (unless of course the first round pick is a corner) might be the best option of the group. Robinson ran an unbelievable 4.33 40 yard dash time and is the average size for a cornerback. Vinny Curry suddenly became a developmental option in the second round behind Mark Anderson and Mario Williams. Mike Adams and Brian Quick definitely will be sitting in the back of the Bills' mind during the second round of the draft. Adams and Quick both have perfect size for their position and would be higher end options.
If I had a guess the Bills' drafting plan will completely be decided by what happens in the first round. At least two of the Bills' first 4 picks will be a wide receiver and a cornerback. Potentially the Bills could be looking at drafting an offensive lineman or defensive lineman. To tie a bow on this, I will give a four round mock draft:
Round 1: Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
Round 2: Josh Robinson, Cornerback, Central Florida
Round 3: Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, Appalachian State
Round 4(a): Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Wisconsin
Round 4(b): Jamell Flemming, Cornerback, Oklahoma
The Bills significantly improve their secondary situation, provide Steve Johnson with a terrific complement in Brian Quick, and draft a good developmental project in Russell Wilson.