NOTE: As this is the start of 2013, I wanted to outline the needs, Bills free agents and rules for what will be my third year of informally running the Rumblers community mock draft. As we head closer towards the draft in April, I shall adjust the players I put on the ballot depending on players (and coaches) being signed by the Bills, and depending how college players look throughout the remaining bowl games, combines and pro days. I also plan on posting my own list of players by position heading into the draft after the end of the Our Mock 1.0 series.
So with the Bills just about winding down their 13th consecutive season without a playoff appearance, many Bills fans, myself included, are looking towards off-season moves. The Bills have elected to keep GM Buddy Nix and also elevated Russ Brandon to team President. The Bills have a lot of young talent, and with more cooperative management in place, should go a long way to bring in a vibrant coach to finally turn the team around (fingers are crossed many times over). But for now we shall focus on the players that can be brought in to fill in the pieces of the decade-old puzzle of establishing a winning team.
As I see it right now, there are four potential primary areas of need. These are quarterback, a #1 wide receiver, a play-making linebacker and possibly a starting corner-back as Aaron Williams has struggled. Also to keep in consideration is the fact that the Bills could be without key free agents come next season. As it stands right now, the five most important to re-sign are FS Jairus Byrd, LG Andy Levitre, LDE Kyle Moore, CB Leodis McKelvin and WR David Nelson. Of these players, if Byrd, Levitre or Moore leave, the Bills could end up using a first round pick to replace them.
Fitzpatrick does not seem to be the answer to the Bills continue woes on offense. Don't get me wrong, Fitz would provide great depth and as we saw against the Jets, is not the worst QB in the league. Still, Fitz is limited in arm strength and accuracy. Plus the Bills need a long term answer, as they don't seem comfortable with Tarvaris Jackson or Tyler Thigpen. Also at wide receiver, if Nix is committed to having Stevie Johnson operating out of the slot, the Bills cannot rely on Donald Jones or T.J. Graham as the #1 wide receiver. Other areas that could be addressed are depth at center, tight end and halfback due to free agency.
Defensively the Bills need to find a way to consistently shore up against the running game. The major problem there lies in their linebacker corps. MLB Kelvin Sheppard improved from last year, but still struggles from time to time. On the strongside, rookie Nigel Bradham stepped into the starting role a third of the way through, but likewise struggled at times. Adding a linebacker in an early round should help with this problem. On the defensive line the Bills are most definitively set with three of four spots with Williams, Dareus and Williams, but with Mark Anderson often injured and Kyle Moore a free agent, could look to add one more pass rusher. The secondary has concerns with their #2 corner position and safety depth, but was a lot better from last year.
As in the past, I shall give the selection to the player of the majority position voted upon as fans see this as the most important need to address. The reason why I do this instead of a simple majority rules that most others do is for this reason. Often times, people may like two players of a position and then split the vote between the two. This enables a third player to slip in to win the ballot when more fans recognize another area as the greater need. Usually this happens to be the majority player as well so fear not that your vote is being disregarded.
Stats and attributes will be updated accordingly with a few bowl games left and the combines yet to occur.
I'd like to thank CBS Sports, CFB Stats and Walter Football for their player stats and analyses and encourage you to check out these sites for more info on your favorite player(s). If you don't see your favorite name on the ballots, let me know; I may be including them in the next round, or may add them to the voting block next time. In the meanwhile, have fun, vote, and argue for your selection in the comments.
With the eighth pick of the 2013 Draft, the Buffalo Bills will select....
OUR MOCK 1.0 WILL START TOMORROW!!!