So in keeping with tradition, I have opted to display my mock draft currently for the Bills. While the Bills are heading in the right direction, they are missing a few pieces to being serious playoff contenders. Of course we are also likely to lose out on some players in free agency, namely Jairus Byrd, so that will have to be taken into consideration as well.
So below is my mock as well as my rationale for the pick and a list of some alternative choices for that slot as well. I also attached a poll of potential first rounder candidates that will possibly be available. Off the list are QBs Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, OTs Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, and DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr.
1. LB Khalil Mack – Buffalo [6-3, 245, 4.69]
So the Bills have a great D-Line and a stud rookie MLB, but they lack a pass rusher across Mario. SO what if we are #2 in sacks, I want #1 so as to torture Brady until retirement! The Bills have other needs, but safeties, guards and tight ends rarely go this high (so look for a possible trade-down unless they have a guy in mind). Mack is the prototypical 3-4 OLB, having great instincts, speed and the stats to prove it. Mack so far has 54 tackles (11 for loss), 7 sacks, 2 hurries, 3 picks (2 for TDs) and 4 passes defended.
Alt Picks: FS HaHa Clinton-Dix, TE Eric Ebron, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, LB Kyle Van Noy
2. OG Gabe Jackson – Mississippi State [6-4, 320, 5.33]
Left guard is clearly the weak spot on the O-Line despite getting rid of Colin Brown. Teams wanting to address his area usually look at a Day 2 pick, but I have them taking one in round 2 to avoid playing Russian Roulette and Marrone (being an O-Line coach before) will want his guy pronto. Jackson is a dominant run blocker and a decent pass blocker who is fairly agile despite his big frame. There is no clear hierarchy with guards in the draft yet though.
Alt Picks: FS Craig Loston, TE Jace Amaro, CB Aaron Colvin, OG David Yankey
3. FS Antone Exum – Virginia Tech [6-1, 224, 4.58]
There’s a 99% chance Jairus Byrd will seek a higher salary elsewhere in the NFL and when that happens, the Bills won’t want to start Leonhard. I’d be OK with A Williams and Searcy tandem, but they could do better. Safeties are tricky as some pan out, others do not. Exum has split time at safety and corner (just like Byrd has), but has seen his stock drop as he is still healing from a torn ACL. Last year he made 48 tackles (1.5 for loss), 2 FFs, 5 picks and 16 passes broken up.
Alt Picks: OG Anthony Steen, LB Carol Bradford, DL Taylor Hart, FS Tre Boston
4. TE C.J. Fiedorowicz – Iowa [6-7, 265, 4.65]
Scott Chandler is a great receiving tight end, but cannot block. Lee Smith can block, but is not as adept of a receiver. Marrone seems to like to use 2 tight ends in his formations so getting an upgrade for Lee Smith would be wise and even drafted before this round. Fiedorowicz is an able receiver, but more so is a better blocker. Currently he has 17 catches for 153 yards and 4 TDs on the year.
Alt Picks: QB Aaron Murray, CB Darqueze Dennard, OG Spencer Long, TE Arthur Lynch
5. CB Andre Hal – Vanderbilt [5-11, 186, 4.52]
Cornerback depth has been a problem for the Bills as we remember and the team will likely let go Justin Rogers by 2014. Hal has been the top corner for the Commodores and his stock will go up as juniors decide to stay another year. But for now, he would be a great pick here. Hal this year has made 29 tackles (3.5 for loss), no picks, but has 10 passes broken up.
Alt Picks: LB Dee Ford, DL Kony Ealy, RB Glasco Martin, CB Carrington Byndom
6. QB Connor Shaw – South Carolina [6-1, 205, 4.64]
Yes I know the Bills have 5 QBs, but Kolb may be done, Flynn an emergency option, Tuel undeveloped and Lewis takes too many hits. The Bills could get away with having one as a backup QB, but they may want someone with potential to stay around longer. I’ve had Shaw on my radar since last year for good reason. This year alone he has completed over 64% of his passes for 1,508 yards, 14 TDs and 1 pick while rushing for 389 yards and 3 TDs.
Alt Picks: LB Prince Shembo, OG Andrew Norwell, TE Marcel Jensen, QB Keith Price
7. DL Kerry Hyder – Texas Tech [6-2, 281, 4.98]
The Bills are flipping reserve defensive linemen a lot. Carrington and Branch are both free agents after this year, although I am more confident about re-signing Carrington. Still some depth couldn’t hurt. Hyder has been on a tear this year (part of the Red Raiders’ success) but is low on the draft charts because of his size. Still it’s hard to ignore 37 tackles (10 for loss), 2 sacks, 4 hurries and 2 FFs.
Alt Picks: QB Jordan Lynch, RB Branden Oliver, CB Deion Belue, DL Khyri Thornton