As 2013 NFL Draft season kicks into high gear later this month with the start of the Combine in Indianapolis, I wanted to bring to the blog a question that was recently asked of me by a friend: how would you grade the Buffalo Bills' first-round draft picks since Buddy Nix took over?
Before the Bills had a GM in place prior to 2010, the team had a muddled front office structure that, over a period of several years, led to some major first-round misses (see John McCargo and Aaron Maybin), some so-so first-round picks (see Donte Whitner and Leodis McKelvin) and one hit that didn't hit until he left town (Marshawn Lynch). Prior to even that period, the team had some dubious first-round picks (Erik Flowers and Mike Williams, to name two) that didn't pan out and set the franchise back during its 13-year streak without the playoffs.
Over the last three years, Nix has had three Top 10 picks (he'll have a fourth this year, too). He's used those three Top 10 picks on running back C.J. Spiller, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Spiller was a non-factor for most of his first two pro seasons, but came on late in the 2011 season, then averaged six yards per carry and made the Pro Bowl in a break-out 2012 campaign that could vault him into conversations about the NFL's elite runners. Dareus has not had as big an impact on the overall run defense as originally hoped, but has 82 tackles and 11 sacks in his first two seasons. Gilmore immediately became the Bills' top cornerback as a rookie and generally looked capable in coverage, but penalties and a lack of big plays (just one interception on a deflected pass) held him back from a truly great first season.
The poll is below. We're genuinely interested in what this grade will look like, because while there's still plenty of room for optimism with all three prospects, there's also room to debate the wisdom of the picks and whether or not each has met your expectations.