TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05: Mark Barron #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide yells at Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
'Tis the season for NFL Draft rumors, and WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia has offered up a doozy in the form of a report this evening. Buscaglia cites a team source in reporting that the Buffalo Bills are high on three specific defenders with the 2012 NFL Draft looming: Alabama safety Mark Barron, South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The interest in Gilmore is not surprising, considering that GM Buddy Nix talked him up pretty fervently last week. The interest in Kuechly - which is not as strong as the interest in Gilmore and Barron, per Buscaglia - is also not terribly surprising, given that the Bills see him as capable of playing all three linebacker spots in Dave Wannstedt's system.
The big surprise here is the interest in Barron. Bills fans have taken notice of Barron of late, but he's not a player that the team has spoken a lot about - largely because they haven't been asked. Per Buscaglia's source, however, the Bills are "extremely interested" in the 6'1", 213-pound senior, and view him as a "playmaker" and a "day one starter." That last note is the surprise among the surprise, as Nix went out of his way to talk up the team's safeties earlier this very afternoon.
Buscaglia reports that while nothing is set in stone, Barron and Gilmore have emerged as the two favorites to be the Bills' first-round pick, with Kuechly running a bit behind. The report does not mention wide receivers or offensive tackles, nor does it entertain the possibility that the team is trying to drum up trade interest around one of the hottest names in the draft.