Rather than do another mock draft for the Bills, I’m just going to plug in my top 20 players on the board that could possibly be available. Note: This includes all eligible seniors, juniors and redshirt sophomores.
One thing I am NOT including is any quarterbacks in the first round – not they are good players by any means – but there is no way at this time, Marrone will take one to compete with Manuel. I also have removed DE Jadeveon Clowney, OLB Anthony Barr and OT Jake Matthews from the list as they will likely be gone by time the Bills pick. If you do not see a name on the list, don’t worry – this list is only preliminary and will surely change given declared underclassmen, pro days/combines and the bowl games.
Please feel free to haggle in the comments to constructively argue for your favorite player(s) to draft for the Bills. Bear in mind, the Bills could also trade back to get someone they like as they did last year (and look how well that turned out!).
OT Cameron Erving – Florida State [6-6, 310, 5.28]
Erving is a junior, but has been solid for protecting Winston this year and has protected Manuel before that. Erving is a left tackle, but could make the switch to right as Cordy Glenn has been excelling this year in that position.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio – Alabama [6-6, 310, 5.15]
The Crimson Tide junior has been very good all-around as the left tackle for an explosive offense. But with McCarron leaving and ranked highly on draft boards, Kouandjio could leave. He is better projected as a right tackle in the NFL which would work well for the Bills.
OT Taylor Lewan – Michigan [6-8, 302, 5.10]
Lewan could have been a top-10 pick last year but returned for his 4th season. But like Michigan, Lewan has not been as dominant as before. Lewan is still a solid left tackle prospect still and could be in consideration if he or Glenn shift sides..
OG David Yankey – Stanford [6-5, 311, 5.05]
Yankey is a junior too, but has been dominating the PAC-12 this year and is possibly the best guard of this year’s class (no clear consensus yet). He has excelled in run blocking, but is capable as a pass blocker and has experience at tackle.
TE Jace Amaro – Texas Tech [6-5, 260, 4.68]
Amaro stated he was going to stay another year, but that was before he was given a top-grade. Amaro still could use work blocking, but he’s been unstoppable this year with 98 receptions for 1,240 yards and 7 TDs.
TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina [6-4, 245, 4.65]
Ebron is having a monster year as a junior with 55 catches for 895 yards (16.2 avg) and 3 TDs this year. He is also a better blocker than Amaro, but is on the ‘smaller’ side of TEs which is partly why Amaro is ahead.
WR Davante Adams – Fresno State [6-2, 216, 4.57]
Adams is just a sophomore, but with Derek Carr, has been dominating opponents this year. As Carr will be gone in the draft, Adams may opt to leave on a high note having made 113 catches for 1,477 yards (13.1 avg) and 22 TDs!!
WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M [6-5, 225, 4.55]
Though just a sophomore, Johnny Manziel is leaving and Evans, competing with Watkins for the best receiver in college, will probably go too. Evans has decent speed, but he has excellent hands and stands at 6-5 making him hard to cover at the best of times. He has 65 catches for 1,3222 yards (20.3 avg) and 12 TDs in 2013 so far.
WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson [6-1, 200, 4.40]
Watkins is only a junior, but being a great receiver with speed (and with Boyd leaving) will probably enter the draft. If the Bills draft a receiver, they’d want to go big, but Watkins is a physical receiver which is why he has caught 85 passes for 1,237 yards (14.6 avg) and 10 TDs so far.
DL Stephon Tuitt – Notre Dame [6-6, 312, 4.80]
Carrington is free agent and some people want a 3-4 DE to join Dareus, Williams & Williams to utterly wreck opposing teams. (I’m of the opinion that Carrington can be that player, but what the heck.) Tuitt is having a decent year continuing his torrid streak from last year with 45 tackles (7.5 for loss), 6 sacks and 13 hurries so far this year.
DL Ra’Shede Hageman – Minnesota [6-6, 311, 5.37]
Minnesota’s success this year has been in no small part from Hageman who has been a big anchor for their defensive line. Hageman is a run stuffer having made 34 tackles (11 for loss), 2 sacks and 8 passes battered down.
SLB Khalil Mack – Buffalo [6-3, 245, 4.69]
Mack is pure 3-4 OLB and is the NCAA record holder for tackles for loss (75 tied) and forced fumbles (16). Mack is also an accomplished pass rusher that can defend the pass too. If the Bills don’t mind moving Lawson to the WLB position inside, Mack could help solve the run-D problems. In 2013, Mack has 94 tackles (19 for loss), 10.5 sacks, 6 hurries, 5 FFs, 6 passes defended and 3 picks (2 for TDs).
SLB Trent Murphy – Stanford [6-6, 261, 4.80]
Murphy may fit better as a defensive end in the NFL, but has been dominating offenses and has the physical skill set to stay as a 3-4 OLB. Between Mario, Hughes and he, they would form a dominant trio of pass rushers. Murphy has 51 tackles (19.5 for loss), 13 sacks, 5 hurries and 6 passes defended in 2013.
SLB Vic Beasley – Clemson [6-2, 235, 4.69]
A defensive end, Beasley has been on a tear for the second year running, but being undersized, would likely fit best as a 3-4 OLB. So far this year, Beasley has made 36 tackles (19 for loss), 12 sacks, 5 hurries, 4 FFs and 6 passes broken up.
WLB C.J. Mosley – Alabama [6-2, 234, 4.65]
The Bills could use a top-10 pick on a linebacker to supplement Moats on the inside to solve the run woes too. Mosley is the best ILB in the draft having made 102 tackles (9 for loss), 7 hurries and 5 passes broken up in 2013.
CB Darqueze Dennard – Michigan State [5-11, 188, 4.56]
The Bills just cannot seem to settle with their corners over the last few years. Hopefully Gilmore is just still on the mend, but who knows… draft a corner early until he pans out? (Not my first choice, but again, what the heck.) Dennard has been a solid corner for the Spartans with 56 tackles (2.5 for loss), 5 hurries, 4 picks and 8 passes broken up.
CB Justin Gilbert – Oklahoma State [6-0, 194, 4.47]
Gilbert has been rising in the draft boards due to his splashy plays this year and able pass defending. Gilbert has made 37 tackles, 5 passes broken up and 6 picks (2 for TDs) in 2013, and has been a successful kick returner as well.
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – Oregon [5-10, 190, 4.39]
The Ducks’ corner has been a decent pass defender through 2013, but is a bit undersized which could hurt his draft stock. So far he’s made 78 tackles (4 for loss), 6 passes defended and 3 interceptions.
CB Jason Verrett – TCU [5-10, 176, 4.48]
Verrett has probably been the most technically sound corner of the draft class, but could get passed over by some for his smaller frame. In 2013 he’s made 39 tackles (3.5 for loss), 14 passes defended and 2 picks.
FS HaHa Clinton-Dix – Alabama [6-1, 209, 4.60]
Byrd may be gone by next season (fingers crossed he’ll stay) and has been one the best defensive backs for the past few years now. Clinton-Dix got into some trouble for an alleged illegal payment, but is probably the best safety on the board having made 45 tackles (1.5 for loss), 2 picks and 4 passes broken up so far.