These moves are bold, yet I believe they will produce a product that plays in January 2014. Can they pull it off?
For the draft to make sense, you need some context re: off-season moves. The cap situation has been well documented in other posts (thanks, Rumblers, you make my life easier with those analyses!), so suffice it to say that I'm estimating budget constraints, yet doing so from a relatively informed position. Long story short, I think we can pay for this.
Notable Cuts / Let go
Andy Levitre: This one hurts the most. I loved watching you play, and I'll always be a fan of your style. We need the $, and I'm wishing you all the best in your next gig.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: unless you take a MONSTER pay cut, we're through here.
Terrence McGee: Please retire. I don't want to see you on a scooter when you're 40.
Donald Jones: Sorry, dude, we're just not that into you.
Chris Kelsay: It's time.
Brad Smith: The price is wrong, Brad.
Bryan Scott: I won't miss you, at least not in the ways that you miss coverage assignments.
George Wilson: Good dude; and I appreciate the transition from WR. That is all.
Arthur Moats: We've messed you around enough - time for clean start somewhere else.
Spencer Johnson: You've been serviceable. Thanks for that.
Tyler Pigpen: Find a clipboard, dude.
Byrd: You are worth every penny.
Rhinehart: Are you ready to be a full-time starter in this league?
Leodis: You're an enigma, but you're electric in the return game and you can hang in the slot. That said, you'll still need to out compete the rest of the CB's in camp for the privilege.
Kyle Moore: Please sign a reasonable deal and be extraordinarily coachable this offseason.
David Nelson: Be the WRP matchup nightmare we need you to be after your ACL.
C Mac: Need your ST leadership, and it's fun to watch you lay the lumber from time to time.
Merriman: Looking forward to seeing you in some 3-4 looks, while also relying on you to hold the edge when we need it in the run game.
Colin Brown: Be ready.
TJax: I dunno... want a job?
Key FA Acquisitions:
Alex Smith: You've proven that you can win with some offensive weapons and a top flight D. We will have both in 2013-2014 (see draft below), and we've also got some coin to throw at ya. Also, our OL situation should make you feel good about your long-term health prospects.
Patrick Chung: Ready for a payday? I love that you know the NE offensive talent like that back of your hand, and that you're not afraid to lay the wood. Chung and Byrd in 2013 FTW!
Bart Scott: I just threw up in my mouth a bit. Please be worth the self-loathing.
Mike DeVito: Welcome to the DT rotation, sir!
This draft is predicated upon the following: 1) our off season moves (above) have already happened, 2) HCDM wants to stock the shelves with his own picks, 3) our new DC, Pettine has some specific types of players that he wants to add into his shiny new defense, and 4) Buddy isn't afraid to go out with a bang.
*Note: In the event that a player isn't available at that spot, I've offered alternative picks in preference from left to right.
1. Milliner is on the board at #8, and Buddy knows that TB is desperate for a corner. Buddy also knows that Milliner won't make it past NYJ (especially if Revis is gone) or TN to #13. So, we ship #8 (1400) to TB for #13 (1150) + #73 (225) + #173 (22). Result: Buffalo stocks the later rounds by giving up 1400 for 1397.
2. Chicago needs to keep Cutler out of the emergency room, and Eric Fisher is on the board at #13. Buddy knows he won't last to #20, so Buffalo leverages the 2nd best OT in the draft by shipping #13 (1150) + #102 (92) + #166 (25) to Chicago for #20 (850) + #50 (400) + 178 (20). Result: Buffalo gives up a 3rd to pick up a 2nd, and swaps late round picks resulting in 1267 (Buf) for 1270 (Chi). You're welcome, Jay.
3. Vaccaro is off the board, the Bengals are sitting at #21, and St. Louis can't risk that Cincy won't pick the only day-one safety left on the board, so with their extra first rounder, they leapfrog Cincy and swap #22 (780) + #110 (74) for Buffalo's #20 (850). Result: Buffalo picks up another 3rd, 850 (Buf) for 854 (STL) and STL gets their guy. Suck it, Cincy.
Rd 1. #22 Jonathan Jenkins, NT, Georgia, 6'3'' 359. Buffalo finally pulls the trigger and lands a straight up BEAST; Jenkins will gobble up blockers and keep them off our LB's. He'll also anchor a young defensive line of Dareus - Jenkins - K. Williams that will be expected to perform at a high level for a long, long time. Also, this move serves as a hedge against the very real possibility that the Torell Troup experiment ends in 2013 as an unfortunate and painful failure (for everyone involved).
Rd 2a. #41 Justin Hunter, WR, Tenn, 6'4'' 205 / or / Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tenn, 6'3'' 205. Buddy Nix finally gets his "open when he's covered" guy and Alex Smith has a legitimate weapon on the outside to complement his slot man (Stevie) and his burner (Graham).
Rd 2b. #50 Arthur Brown, 43 OLB, Kansas State 6'1'' 228 / or / Chase Thomas, 43 OLB, Stanford, 6'4'' 240 / or / Gerald Hodges, 43 OLB, Penn St, 6'2'' 235. One of these guys will be here at #50, and our LB corps will instantly be upgraded.
Rd 3a. #71 Jordan Reed, TE, Florida, 6'3'' 240. Say goodnight to the era of Bills TE ineptitude. Alex Smith gets another weapon (LB mismatch) and there's an added benefit as a hedge against a delayed Scott Chandler return.
Rd 3b. #73 Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson, 6'4'' 278 / or / Brandon Jenkins, 6'3'' 265, 34 OLB, FSU / or / Tank Carradine, 6'4'' 265, DE, FSU. One of these guys will be here, and our pass rushing corps gets deeper - especially important if the investment in Mark Anderson doesn't work out, or if Kyle Moore doesn't develop into anything more than a one-trick-pony.
Rd 4. #110 Kenny Tate, 43 OLB, Maryland, 6'4'' 230; Say hello to the new and improved(!) Bryan Scott - Tate is more fluid in space, and comes with some athletic upside. Here's to hoping we can finally cover a freak TE.
Rd 5. #136 Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah, 6'4'' 225; With no pressure to play any time soon, Sorensen and his quick release can spend time on developing better footwork and learning Hackett's offense.
Rd 6. #173 Melvin White, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'1'' 191. Keep your eye on this guy. White is a big, physical, hard-hitting press corner that just might be the Josh Norman-esque steal of the 2013.
I think we've improved at every level of the defense in FA and again in the draft, while also enhancing Alex Smith's already solid cadre of weapons. What say you, Rumblers, do these moves finally get us into the postseason??