Hello again, Bills fans! As you may already know, I represented your Bills in the Cat Scratch Reader Community Mock Draft that took place this weekend. The first segment of the draft started at 8:00 PM on Friday night and consisted of rounds 1-3. I made a post on here Friday that provided links to the threads of the first three rounds. The second segment of the draft took place at 1:00 on Saturday and consisted of the remaining rounds (plus the UDFA thread). As promised, here is my lengthy post-draft analysis.
If you didn't get a chance to read it, I posted my Pre-Draft Analysis on Tuesday with the intention of receiving feedback from you fans. I definitely received ample feedback, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to give me their two cents (and then some). Basically, I evaluated the entire roster, determined which positions still needed to be addressed, and scouted for prospects that could not only fill those needs, but also fit into Buffalo's offensive and defensive schemes. I wanted to make picks that were somewhat realistic. So, I paid close attention to all of Buffalo's pre-draft visits and workouts. However, I made three trades in this mock draft. I made one pre-draft trade, one trade during the first segment, and another trade just before the start of round 5. I know Buddy Nix isn't exactly notorious for making trades on draft day. However, I couldn't resist the urge to make a trade that I thought would put the Bills in a better situation than where they were originally. In case you were wondering, my philosophy (as is Panthers general manager Marty Hurney) is to build from within, retain your core group of players, and not overspend. Also, like Hurney, I am still open to any avenue that would make a team better. I'm sure you've read enough, so let's get to the good stuff!
Pre-Draft Trade: Bills trade 2 (41) and 6 (178) to the Jaguars for picks 3 (70), 4 (100), and 4 (101)
I was also interested in trading down from 10. But, I couldn't find a trading partner who was willing to move up to that spot. In this case, the Jaguars wanted to move back into the second round, and I wanted to move out of 41. Over the last several years, the Panthers have swung and missed with their second round picks. Sure, Ryan Kalil was a steal for us. But, picks like Dwayne Jarrett, Everette Brown, and Jimmy Clausen have made me very weary of prospects who were regarded as first round picks who inexplicably fell to the second round. In hindsight, there are reasons why these prospects fell to round 2 (and should have fallen even farther). Plus, when I was matching up positional value with draft value, I just thought that there was better value in rounds 3-4 than in round 2. Believe it or now, the trade value chart indicated that this trade was almost dead even. I got the better value by 0.4 points. But, at the end of the day, this was a trade that benefited both teams.
1 (10) - Dre Kirkpatrick - CB - Alabama
I'm expecting to receive at least some criticism for this pick. Let me explain. My Plan A was to draft Michael Floyd; Plan B was to draft Luke Kuechly; Plan C was to trade down. Both Kuechly and Floyd were off the board by 10, and I couldn't find a trading partner who was willing to trade up. So, I took the best player that I thought made sense. Trent Richardson was the BPA. But, drafting a running back would not make the Bills any better than what they are now. Riley Reiff is the consensus among the talking heads on television and the internet. However, I can only envision Reiff succeeding in a zone-blocking system (which I think the Bills don't run). Plus, several of you guys warned me not to take Reiff. So, I conceded. Cordy Glenn was available. But, I thought taking Glenn at 10 would've been too big of a reach for me to take. Regardless of what any of guys said, there was no way in hell that I was taking Stephon Gilmore at 10. You can read the comment that I posted in the Pre-Draft Analysis if you want to read an elaboration.
So, I gave you guys a cornerback. I know, this isn't exactly a sexy pick. But, Kirkpatrick is a guy that can make an immediate impact in Buffalo's recently renovated defense. The Bills have shown interest in Kirkpatrick. So, this pick isn't exactly coming out of left field. He was productive in college football's best conference, he looks the part, he's got good instincts, and he's VERY physical and aggressive. Sure, there may be some durability and character questions that ride along with this pick. And, I wish he had more interceptions at Alabama.
Aaron Williams is a promising corner who could become a solid #2. However, Terrence McGee is injury-prone and aging. Drayton Florence is aging and isn't very good anyways. Leodis McKelvin is, for lack of a better term, a draft bust. With that being said, I think that Kirkpatrick is the missing piece that Buffalo needs in it's secondary.
3 (70) - Brian Quick - WR - Appalachian State
In order to challenge the Patriots and Jets for the AFC East crown, the Bills need to surround Fitzpatrick with more weapons. I thought that Michael Floyd was the quintessential wide-out to complement Stevie Johnson. You can't always get what you want. But, Brian Quick could fit the bill as well. It also helps that Buffalo has also shown interest in him. He's a former basketball player who possesses intriguing triangle numbers. In addition, he's got really good ball skills, leaping ability, and coordination. I imagine that there will be a transition period for Quick, going from the the FCS to the NFL. He also has his share of drops. He's raw, but he has tremendous upside. He's a good schematic fit, he fits the draft range, and he fills a glaring need.
3 (71) - James Brown - OT - Troy
Picking back-to-back was fun! The Bills offensive line was very solid last season, giving up the fewest sacks in the NFL. However, another Bills left tackle departed for the Philadelphia Eagles (coincidence?). At this point, I think that Chris Hairston is an ideal backup right tackle. Hairston should have never been the starting left tackle for the Bills. I believe that James Brown, on the other hand, can be a left tackle, and a very good left tackle at that. Here's what Pro Football Weekly has to say:
Athletic, strong, unrefined college left tackle with moldable tools, versatility and terrific intangible. Mentally tough, hardworking, coachable, character player who has persevered through a lot and is the type you root for.
He's got a thick trunk, long arms, and big hands. He can bend and shuffle. He plays with leverage and has good balance and body control. Being at 6-3 1/2, he doesn't have the archetypal height that left tackles usually possess. He's also raw and inconsistent. Playing in the Sun Belt Conference doesn't help his case, either. But, I think that Brown could be a huge upgrade over Chris Hairston at left tackle. I'd imagine that Fitzpatrick would be doing cartwheels after hearing these last two picks.
Trade: Patriots trade 3 (93) to Bills for 4 (105) and 7 (217)
I did the unthinkable. I made a trade with the Patriots. I was afraid that my guy wouldn't be available at my next pick. The New England representative just so happened to want to move out of his spot. So, we followed through on the trade. In reality, this probably wouldn't have occurred. But, while I took this draft very seriously, at the end of the day this draft is still a mock draft. If I remember correctly, I actually received the better end of the trade chart value. I still had a plethora of draft picks remaining. So, the trade didn't cost me much at all. Despite that, if I could go back, then I would undo this trade. Philadelphia may have taken my guy at the top of round of the 4th round. But, it seemed as if he was already dialed into his selection. I learned my lesson.
And my guy happened to be...
3 (93) - Nigel Bradham - LB - Florida State
In my estimation, Buffalo's four biggest needs were: WR, OT, CB, and LB. I addressed the four biggest needs with the first picks. With the move to the base 4-3 defense, it appears as though Nick Barnett will be on the weak side and Kelvin Sheppard will be the man in the middle. Kirk Morrison could be a short term answer on strong side. However, the Bills could really use some outside linebacker depth and competition for Morrison. I'll use another quote from Pro Football Weekly to summarize this guy:
Extremely durable, tough, physically imposing, heat-seeking missile who blows up targets when in his sight and can become a star core special-teams performer and rotational backup with eventual starter potential.
Bradham has all of the measurables, is a good run defender, a VERY good tackler, and a standout special teamer. I understand the value of special teams, as Carolina had one of the worst ST units in the entire NFL. The biggest knock against Bradham is his lack of instincts and his coverage struggles. Also, being over-aggressive could also work against Bradham. There were several linebackers that I could have chosen at this spot. However, what stood out to me from everything else was Bradham's versatility to play on either the strong or weak side. Best case scenario: Bradham is your two-down starting strong side linebacker. Worst case scenario: Bradham is Nick Barnett's backup and a special teams kamikaze.
4 (100) - Ryan Broyles - WR - Oklahoma
I gave the Bills an 'X' receiver in round 3. Now, I give Fitzpatrick another weapon in the form of a slot receiver. I'm extremely jealous that David Nelson is dating a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Nelson is probably the most effective in the slot. However, Broyles is a legitimate slot receiver. The fact that Buffalo has shown interest in Broyles also contributed to my pick. To sum it up, Broyles is a playmaker that can create yards after the catch. Obviously, Broyles left ACL injury has plummeted his draft stock. It remains to be seen when Broyles will be 100 percent. But, if he can shake off the injury bug, then he could add another dimension to Buffalo's offense.
4 (101) - Brock Osweiler - QB - Arizona State
To be honest, this was a weird draft. Quarterbacks inexplicably fell into the later rounds. Kirk Cousins went two picks after Osweiler, Brandon Weeden fell all the way to round 5, Russell Wilson to round 6, and Ryan Lindley and B.J. Coleman to round 7. At this spot, I couldn't wait any longer to get a developmental quarterback. Osweiler has as much upside as almost any quarterback in this draft and was my highest rated quarterback left on the board. He's raw and won't be ready to start Day 1. But, this guy is loaded with upside. He has tremendous size, athleticism, and arm strength (which is important when you're playing in Buffalo in the winter). This pick will also serve as a wake-up call to good Fitzpatrick.
4 (124) - Matt McCants - OT - UAB
Here's another one of 'my guys.' One of my goals going into this draft was to make sure Chris Hairston never has to "protect" Fitzpatrick's blind side ever again. With this selection, this may turn into fruition. Here, Matt McCants is one of the few offensive tackle prospects left that I think can play left tackle. Sure, he played the tuba in high school. And yes, he's extremely raw. But, he has the measurables and tools for Joe D'Alessandris to work with and provides some much needed offensive tackle depth. One of my characteristics of McCants is that he plays with a nasty streak. As much as I've been bashing Hairston, I actually like him for the same reason. But, I only like him as a right tackle.
Trade: Bills trade 5 (147) to Buccaneers for 6 (174) and 7 (212)
After 147, I didn't have another pick until 251. The Bucs representative was looking to trade up. I had another fifth round pick, and a few of the prospects that I was considering in round 5 were being picked in front of me. So, 147 was expendable. The trade matched up pretty well on the trade value chart. In summary, I feel as if this trade helped resurrect my previous trade.
5 (144) - Shaun Prater - CB - Iowa
The Bills could use another cornerback if they want to hold Tom Brady in check in the near future. Cornerbacks were dropping like flies at the top of round 5. I was going to take DeQuan Menzie. He was selected a few spots ahead of me. However, Shaun Prater is a pretty nice consolation prize. He has good instincts, technique, elevation, tackling ability, and intangibles. He also has an experience as a gunner on special teams (which is very important). Although he had a pretty good 40 yard dash, he doesn't possess ideal measurables (5-10, 185, short arms, small hands). Prater is ideally suited to be a nickelback, which would be perfect. With Dre Kirkpatrick and Aaron Williams covering the outside receivers, Prater could be the perfect candidate to cover opposing slot receivers.
6 (174) - Oliver Vernon - DE - Miami
The New York Giants have shown the NFL universe that the way to beat Tom Brady is to put as much pressure on him as possible. The Bills made a few huge splashes in free agency in an attempt to be able to do this. Drafting a situational pass rusher could also help get Tom Brady on the ground. Shawne Merriman never seems to be healthy. Chris Kelsay is a salary cap casualty that can be released. Mark Anderson put up some huge numbers in Bill Belicheats system last season. However, he also has a history with the injury bug. So, drafting an insurance policy any of these guys would be a wise move. In fact, Vernon was the last player available that the Bills have shown interest in. I don't think that this guy will become a starting defensive end in the NFL. I do, however, think that Vernon has the tools to thrive in a situational role.
7 (212) - Quinton Saulsberry - C - Mississippi State
This is insane. I almost selected Saulsberry over Oliver Vernon with my last selection. Anyways, I addressed the offensive tackle position with two of my earlier selections. However, the Bills could really some interior offensive line depth. Enter: Quinton Saulsberry. Saulsberry is a four-year starter who can play both center and guard. If you're looking for an offensive lineman who's durable, consistent, and possesses terrific intangibles, then this is your guy.
7 (251) - Garrett Celek - TE - Michigan State
I really wanted to draft a tight end. Chase Ford was selected a few spots ahead of me. So, I took the next best tight end on the board. In case you were wondering, this is Brent Celek's brother. Outside of that, I don't know too much about this kid. He's 6-4, 250, has 14 career receptions, had shoulder surgery in 2010, and got his degree in packaging (not making this up). I took note that the Bills like tight ends with size. I certainly think that Celek fits the bill in that regard. If Garrett can become anywhere close to the player that his brother has become, then this pick is a steal.
The Final Verdict:
If I had to grade myself, then I'd give myself a B+. Things didn't go as planned in round 1. Also, I would've taken back the trade with New England. But, overall, I think I did a good job matching draft and positional value with my picks. I drafted guys that could help the Bills right away. I also drafted guys that the Bills have shown interest in. For my first stab at this mock draft thing, I thought that I did pretty good.
The Bills' offseason moves are an indication that the Bills want to win now. With the Nix/Gailey regime going into their third season, they better start winning now.
On offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick has two new legitimate weapons in Brian Quick and Ryan Broyles. Fitzpatrick also has a new blind side protector in James Brown, along with added depth in Matt McCants and Quinton Saulsberry. Fitzpatrick also has a new backup in Brock Osweiler, who could eventually become his successor. Any production out of Garrett Celek is a bonus.
On defense, the Bills have two new cornerbacks in Dre Kirkpatrick and Shaun Prater. In this scenario (long term speaking), Dre Kirkpatrick and Aaron Williams would eventually be the outside starters. Shaun Prater would be the nickel back, while Justin Rogers could serve as the dime back. Kirk Morrison would have some immediate competition at strong side linebacker in Nigel Bradham. At the very least, Bradham provides solid depth at both outside linebacker spots and will be a force on special teams. Oliver Vernon would be a situational pass rusher who could be an insurance policy for any other defensive end that catches the injury bug.
With a given scenario, this is what I was able to put together. With this draft, the Bills could become a serious contender in the AFC East. However, I realize that, as a Panthers fan, my opinion may be irrelevant here. How do you think I did? I really want to hear your feedback, whether it's good or bad.