I've put the topics in bold for those just looking to skim through. It's a random collection of draft thoughts with my arguments for and against the most likely picks scattered throughout.
I'm not a fan of taking an OT in the first round. Obviously, if Matt Kalil slides, it becomes an entirely different situation. Half of the logic is what many already believe that Riley Reiff or whoever the best OT on the board will be presents mediocre value. The other half of the logic is about building the offense both for Ryan Fitzpatrick and for the future in general. A not uncommon opinion is that Buffalo could throw down the field more successfully with a better OL. While Buffalo did lack a great OL in 2010, Fitz threw down the field constantly and did so unsuccessfully. The Bills had a burner in Lee Evans and had a full 16 games from Demetrius Bell. Fitz was only sacked 1.8 times per game and once per 19.4 attempts.
Buffalo struggled throwing down the field because Ryan Fitzpatrick struggles throwing down the field. The best solution is not a better offensive line, it's better weapons in the passing attack. When a pair of RBs are your 2nd and 3rd most dynamic receivers, it's a group that needs to be improved. Since the Bills are going to do what is best for Fitz and rely on a short passing attack that spreads the field horizontally with 3 WRs almost always on the field, the Bills need to find somebody who is more than just a down the field burner. They need a mismatch at TE or a WR who can win on all levels of the field to play on the opposite side of the field from Stevie. This team needs an underneath option who can also stretch the field, not the other way around.
Riley Reiff or Cordy Glenn make sense as the pick because: There is value in getting a guy, even if it's maybe just at RT, who you can simply plug into your OL and play there for a decade. For some reason, it feels like there is more value in that type of player (reliable, but average) along the OL then there would be at other positions. Maybe that's only because the OL isn't really a stat position and one that tends to be judged as a group more than individual players further away from the line of scrimmage. But there is definitely something to be said for the appeal of still getting value even if you miss as opposed to getting value from a CB who you can tolerate playing in the nickel or a LB who is decent but leaves too much to be desired in coverage.
The argument against Reiff or Glenn is simple. You can find a guard in the 3rd round and Buffalo has shown that you don't need great lineman or can pull them from other team's trash, so you better really like a prospect as an LT and Reiff and Glenn might not be at that kind of level to be taken with the 10th pick.
I disagree with the mindset that WR should be less of a consideration in the first round because you can still get somebody big and fast in the 3rd/4th round. HERE is the list of WRs taken in the 3rd and 4th round over the last 10 drafts. There are maybe 10 guys out of 90 WRs taken who you would want starting for you? And after the trio of Brandon Marshall, Mike Wallace and Brandon Lloyd, who is the 4th best player? Nate Burleson? Mario Manningham? Mike Williams?
Can't the Bills also find a big/fast CB or LB or any other position in the 3rd round too? I wonder why WR gets singled out as the position where you can find somebody in the middle rounds. Not that I'd be looking to rule out a position based on what positions you can find in the middle rounds (except probably interior OL), but looking at the list of DBs taken there, I'd rule out Barron, Kirkpatrick and Gilmore before Floyd.
The argument for Floyd: Can run the whole route tree, four years of college productivity and fits both the Bills' current needs and scheme as well as anything they decide to do with a new QB down the road.
Argument against Floyd: Jack of all trades but master of none? After that, I don't really think there is an argument against Floyd. What would it even be? That you could draft Brian Quick in the 3rd? That he's barely a sub-4.5 guy?
The alcohol stuff with Floyd isn't really much of a red flag to me. Yeah, he got a DUI. We've also got, maybe 150-200 million Americans who drive and about 1.5 million people get arrested for DUI each year. The other two incidents with alcohol were very, very minor. A citation for drinking underage is just an infraction where you aren't really arrested or booked and aren't even required to show up to court. It's practically a parking ticket. I just think Floyd was unlucky (or maybe lucky considering how well his senior year went) in that he got caught a few times. 70% of college students binge drink at least occasionally. It is what it is.
The argument for Mark Barron: He's big and versatile. He could start at WLB for a team but nobody talks about it because there is so much more value in a safety than a WLB. He can hold his own in man and deep zone. Has a god chance of being a playmaker in the NFL.
The argument against Mark Barron: I don't think Barron will be an above average coverage safety at the next level. He may get you some picks, but I think he'll give up catches as often as DaNorris Searcy would to TEs or in deeper zones. I think he's a little stiff and has an underwhelming first couple steps.
Now that I've put that out there on Barron, you can guess that I don't get what all the fuss is about. I think he's an above average SS in the NFL, but not the kind of guy that you play against and you worry about whether or not your TE will be effective or anything like that. I think a lot of what people like about him is that he's big, tough, durable and was highly valued scheme-wise by Nick Saban and that Bama defense. Which is all great, but I don't think it adds up to coverage stud. Same player, but he played for Auburn instead of Bama and he was 6'1'', 209, then I think he's more of a fringy first rounder. And since I don't care all that much about Barron's ability to play the run, his size only means so much to me.
A quick point about trading down: There has been some talk of moving up for Matt Kalil, but to make my point as simply as possible, if we were to put up a poll asking whether, in general, you'd rather trade up or trade down, maybe 85% of voters would prefer to trade down. My point is, don't NFL GMs kind of feel the same way? Every time I see somebody come up with a trade down scenario, my first thought is almost always, if you were a fan of the other team, you would not want to do that.
Dre Kirkpatrick vs. Stephon Gilmore and the merits of taking a CB: Kirkpatrick is taller, but he's basically a 5'11'' or 6 foot corner because he's got short arms. Super aggressive, but that hasn't led to INTs. The argument for Kirkpatrick is simply that he was a more consistent performer in college and very well may be a more consistent player in the pros too. Gilmore is the smoother athlete and has the upside that comes with that. I like the idea of taking a corner. It's an important position and one that the Bills need to rebuild due to age and expiring contracts. But how likely is it that Kirkpatrick or Gilmore really end up as legit number one type CBs?
Doesn't it feel like there are a million small school CBs who will get drafted this year? There could be one taken in every single round of the draft. If you draft one, are you getting value in a player who would have gone a round higher had he played in the SEC are you just over drafting athletic talent that wouldn't have stood out in the SEC? I think that could be an interesting storyline to look back at a few years from now.
I'm very far removed from the first person to write about the pros of drafting Luke Kuechly. They're pretty well known at this point. Absurdly productive and did so at a young age. Great combine. Intinctual, intelligent player. As versatile as a linebacker can pretty much be. That said, there are reasons to not love Luke Kuechly. People thought he would time slower than he did at the combine and it's because he doesn't look like a 4.6 in space. I think fans are overrating his coverage ability based on his combine and honestly, is running a 4.58 really that incredible? It was more his performance in general that people loved than his timed speed. He did fly through the cone type drills though. If he's just OK in coverage, and I definitely think he's a 3 down LB, but if he's not a standout player in coverage, do you still want him 10th?
I think Kuechly is a solid option for Buffalo, but it's not necessarily a home run or (to stick with the baseball lingo analogy) it might not even be a double. It might just be a safe, solid, productive, but not all that great LB.
MOCK DRAFT - I used this 7 round mock that turpinforprseident posted on mocking the draft. For me, it really is something of a dream scenario in the way it works out all the way through.
1 - Michael Floyd - When the knock on Michael Floyd is that past WRs taken in the teens havn't worked out and that, at 6'3'', 224, Floyd is barely a sub 4.5 guy, I don't get what there is to not like about taking him. That Marcus Easley won't start? That you could have gotten Marvin McNutt in the 3rd or 4th round?
Trade - 1 - Stephen Gilmore - I was scrolling through the first round of the mock when I saw Janoris Jenkins come off the board before Gilmore. I immediately looked up the trade value chart to see where Buffalo's 2nd and 3rd round pick was valued and moved up for Gilmore. He's worth the two picks, IMO and the only regret I've really got in terms of missing out on a specific player was Dwayne Allen and Orson Charles both still available in the 3rd.
4 - James Brown, OT, Troy - I guy lucky that I didn't have to reach for an OT here and actually got a player that I think has some value.
4 - Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma - Experienced and athletic. NFL ready and productive in college. Can basically back up two positions as a rookie since he can backup Barnett at WLB, which allows Barnett to back up Shep in the middle.
5 - Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas St - Interesting combo of experience and intangibles to go along with raw technique and a lack of a great fit at any specific LB position. What are he and Lewis doing available this late in the draft?
5 - Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee - Played out of position at DT for most of his college career and wasn't productive getting sacks as a result. But profiles well as a guy who can set the edge on the strong side at DE and has some solid lateral movement, change of direction and burst for a defender of his size. Versatile backup who can play DT on pass downs, DE on first downs and has the potential to develop into a starting type player.
6 - Marcus Zusevics, OT/OG, Iowa - Depth and potentially depth who could come in and not hurt you right away if need be. Good enough athlete to play RT, or even LT in a serious pinch (or what we would refer to as your standard week 13-17 situation for the Bills OL). Might profile better as a guard because his mediocre athletic ability won't hurt him there and he has plus run blocker potential.
7 - Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego St. - Flyer on a QB with some tools. Nothing more than a guy worth a year on the active roster to see if he's got that upside and "it" quality.
7 - James Carmon, OT, Mississippi St - Size/athleticism developmental flyer. Former DT who may or may not have some potential.
No TE and nobody who could step right in and start at LT (at least not in the way that, if James Brown were to start, he'd be a big upgrade over Hairston or anything). But I still love the way the draft works. Two major contributors right away. Four picks for offense and four for defense. Two LBs and two OTs give the Bills some depth. I like that, after a draft like this, we're looking at maybe LT to shore up the OL and definitely a TE to give a different athletic quality than Chandler can provide and those might be the only standout needs for this team for 2013.
COMPLETELY RANDOM GUESS as to how the REAL BILLS DRAFT goes
1 - Dre Kirkpatrick - I think Nix will like his size and pedigree.
2 - Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cal - Maybe a bit early, but I think he's best fit for what Nix is looking for at a position that Buffalo has to be eager to address. Bobby Massie is the more popular name, but I think Schwartz has better core strength and a play to or through the whistle mentality. More NFL ready than Massie, IMO.
3 - Damario Davis, LB, Arkansas St. - Different sites will give you different opinions on Davis, but nobody denies that he's a pretty intriguing small school guy.
4 - Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas - Great size and ran very well at his pro day. This might just be an example of a big and fast WR available in the mid rounds. Add in good college production and an SEC guy and how could Nix not be a fan?
4 - Tank Carder, LB, TCU - I'm far from the first to predict this one. One thing worth noting is that he actually had an unexpectedly good combine. Was a total gamer and very productive in 2010 before struggling with injuries this past season.
5 - Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma St. - The Bills happily jump on a big, experienced OT. I guess he's a 4th-5th round prospect due to lack of upside, but if he ends up as a consistent, dependable starting type player, how much more upside can you really ask for along the OL?
5 - Christian Thompson, FS, South Carolina State - Athlete and special teamer with some upside to his game.
6 - Jerico Nelson, LB/SS - Arkansas - mostly a LB in college, but is 5'10''. Special teamer at first, but is one of those football players are football players types who could end up being Bryan Scott 2.0. Also, it wouldn't be a Bills draft if there weren't a couple picks where you were like "what. the. hell." until some time passed. Seeing Buffalo draft a 3rd LB of the weekend and it only being a 5'10'' player would provide one of those moments.
7 - Mike Harris, CB, Florida St. - Phyiscal player who probably doesn't have the upside to play outside, but would provide depth and play on special teams immediately.
7 - Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond - Former big time USC recruit from California. Was the heir apparent to Sanchez before losing the job to new recruit Matt Barkeley. Was just OK at Richmond statistically, but he's got some tools to work with and is definitely worth a Levi Brown type flyer with practically the last pick of the draft.