The thing that stood out to me about this draft is how much of an emphasis Nix placed on improving the depth at positions where we didn't have much of it. Coming into the draft, the positions that we really need to upgrade our starters at were WR, CB, and LT (with strong arguments that can be made for OLB, TE, and to a lesser extent SS). What we needed almost as badly, however, was to improve the depth at a number of positions. I had the following wishes coming into the draft:
1) Upgrade one starting position on each side of the ball
2) Add a weapon for Fitz in the passing game
3) Add a developmental QB
4) Add quality depth at OLB, OT, and CB
Based on this, I like some of what Nix did in the draft and will give the benefit of doubt on the rest. Gilmore and Glenn have a very good chance at being opening day starters. TJ Graham was by far the most controversial pick- and I would have preferred a more complete WR or a dangerous slot option. That being said, if he can develop into a more complete and Fitz can improve on the deep ball a vertical threat will do a lot for this offense. I'll give Nix the benefit of the doubt on this one. We didn't add a developmental QB, but I am OK with that based on who was available when we picked. There was nobody worth taking in the 1st. Glenn was too good to pass up in the 2nd. Nix gets a flier on Graham in the 3rd, and after that their wasn't a good option. Cousins and Wilson were gone by the time we got back on the clock in the 4th and I didn't care for any of the other options over any of the guys we picked later.
What I think really makes this draft good though is how much we improved our depth at LB, OT, and CB.
CB: Coming into the draft, we had McGee, Williams, Florence, McKelvin, and Rodgers. McKelvin is on his way out. Florence failed to live up to his contract last season. McGee can't stay healthy. We desperately needed an upgrade at both the starting corner and in depth. We got both in Gilmore and Brooks. We now have a stable of young, talented CB's on the outside (Williams, Gilmore, Rodgers), a talented young nickel back prospect (Brooks), and some quality veterans to use while these guys develop (McGee, Florence). We will also now likely be able pull the plug on McKelvin, which saves a considerable amount of cap space.
OT: Pears, Hairston, and Sam Young were the only tackles on the roster. We badly needed to, at the least, give Hairston some quality competition for the LT position. Nix also expressed interest in adding an additional tackle for depth. Glenn and Sanders fit the bill perfectly. Hairston and Glenn will compete for the starting LT spot, and the loser of that battle will serve as a very good swing tackle who can handle either tackle position in case of injury to either starter. Sanders is a huge improvement over Young in terms of depth, and he could potentially develop into a quality starter down the line. While ideally Glenn will be the LT of the future, at worst he could be used as a very good OG that could fill in at the position if Levitre, Wood, or Urbik are unable to be resigned. The Bills could very well have the deepest and most talented OL that they have head in over a decade.
LB: Barnett is the star of the group and the only true 3 down LB, but he has had injury problems in the past. Sheppard showed potential last season, but still needs a bigger push for the MLB position than either White or McKillop can offer. Morrison is a solid veteran player at the SLB position, but their was virtually no depth behind him. The only other noteworthy LB's on the roster were Moats and Batten, both of whom have struggled to consistently get on the field and also need to show they can effectively transition to the 4-3. The Bills added Bradham and Carder. Bradham is a great future prospect at both OLB positions and is athletic enough to replace Barnett long term as the 3 down LB. Carder serves as quality depth who is just talented enough to push Sheppard to maintain a high level of play on the inside.
When you look at what the good teams do well in the draft, there is a clear recipe for success in this league. You draft starters in the early rounds and improve your depth in the mid-late rounds. Some of those depth players develop into quality starters, while others serve as valuable back ups. The players your starters replace also often become back ups and therefore also improve your depth.
The Bills had a great start to the season. The starters on this team, especially with the new additions, are a very talented group. The problem we had last season was that once people started going down with injury we didn't have the right guys to step up and fill in, and our play suffered as a result. Nix identified this, and he clearly entered this draft attempting to fix the problem. Mission accomplished.
If you look at the depth chart now, we really don't have a lot of positions that we are thin at. Were stacked with depth on the OL, LB, WR, CB, and RB. We have some quality players as back ups on the DL. Safety is a little thin, but Searcy is a good depth player that could play SS should Wilson get hurt or have to slide over to FS in the event that Byrd is injured. Overall, I have a hard time not liking what the Bills did this draft, even with the Graham pick. Buffalo got a lot better this weekend. If the Bills can stay healthy they will be a dangerous team this season. Obviously injuries happen, and while hopefully they won't hit us as hard as last season, I certainly feel more comfortable about our depth this season than last.