So with the first two parts of this series, I looked at the current state of the offense and defense of the Bills. I also noted the top free agents for each position as well since the Bills have a number of holes to fill. We are going to look a little into the Bills draft needs heading into April given the current roster. These needs right now, in order of most pressing are QB, WR, OLB, TE, OG, ILB, HB, SS, DL and CB.
So with each position, I explained what the Bills need and pulling a page from Mayock, listed my top 5 players for each area of need. On Monday, starting with quarterback, I will be releasing a summary of the top 20-30 or so players in the draft for that position. I will also be releasing the much anticipated Our Mock 4.0 series where you the fans decide from an unprecedented 16 players, who the Bills 8th overall should be. The Bills have many holes to fill and only six picks (as of now) to fill these holes with. Here are the needs.
Between letting Ryan Fitzpatrick go and the fact that the Bills have just 2 QBs under contract, it’s no guess that quarterback is the biggest hole to fill. The Bills could get away with drafting a quarterback in Day 2 of the draft and potentially have Tarvaris Jackson start, but expect a battle in training camp for the starting role. Incidentally given the Jets interest in Nassib, the Bills may have to trade up to get this QB in the early second round.
Top 5 QBs: Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, E.J. Manuel & Mike Glennon.
2. Wide Receiver
Wide Receiver remains high on the priority list as the Bills only have one starter, Stevie Johnson. Ideally the Bills want a tall, fast receiver to complement Stevie and could do so either with the raw talent like Cord Patterson or slower but more proven receivers in a later round. The Bills could choose to even double up here on draft day for depth purposes given that only 6 receivers (3 of whom only likely to make the roster) are under contract. *Tavon Austin is actually a top-3 receiver, but given his size, is unlikely to be drafted by the Bills.
Top 5 WRs: Cord Patterson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Quinton Patton &
3. Outside Linebacker (Jack)
Despite picking up LB Manny Lawson in their only big move in free agency so far, the Bills lack ample depth with their pass rushers. Mario Williams is not expected to play a true OLB role given his size and presence rushing the passer. The only two players then are Lawson and Mark Anderson who spent most of last season on the bench. Moats could step in here or there, but lacks bulk and consistency. The draft is loaded with depth at this position from first to sixth rounds.
Top 5 OLBs: Dion Jordan, Ezekial Ansah, Jarvis Jones, Bjoern Werner & Barkevious Mingo.
4. Tight End
There is a chance that starting TE Scott Chandler may not be healthy enough to take the field at the start of 2013. In any case though, the other tight ends struggled to have an impact last year. Dickerson, a FB hybrid lacks the size a typical tight end has while Lee Smith is more of a blocker than receiver. This year’s tight end corps has great depth and the Bills can find an excellent option in the third round or later.
Top 5 TEs: Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Gavin Escobar, Jordan Reed & Vance McDonald.
5. Offensive Guard
The Bills have failed to re-sign both starting guard Andy Levitre and his reserve, Chad Rinehart. The Bills may end up having an in-camp battle for the other starting guard spot, pick up a player within the next few days or wait for someone to be cut and bring them in then. The Bills can’t really afford to use a high pick on a guard, but again this position has ample depth and could get away with a late day 2 or early day 3 pick to compete for the starting job, or serve as the primary backup to Colin Brown.
Top 5 OLs: Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper, Travis Frederick, Justin Pugh &
6. Inside Linebacker
The top three players that could man the inside, Kelvin Sheppard, Nigel Bradham and Bryan Scott all have their shortcomings and neither are three-down players. The Bills can get away with drafting a player late in the draft to satisfy this need as the linebackers corps was a major reason why the defense stunk last year. Note that Greene and Brown would be manning the weak or “will” linebacker spot that Barnett used to have.
Top 5 ILBs: Alec Ogletree, Manti Te’o, Khaseem Greene, Kevin Minter & Arthur Brown.
The Bills have two of the best running backs in the business with Spiller and Jackson. But they do not have an established third/bruiser back or a full-time fullback. If they are able to address one of the above areas of need through free agency, they could use a late pick on a sleeper halfback, but otherwise will leave this spot open for undrafted rookies.
Top 5 HBs: Eddie Lacy, LeVeon Bell, Giovani Bernard, Andre Ellington & Montee Ball.
The Bills are most decidedly set with Jairus Byrd at free safety and seemingly good with Da’Norris Searcy at strong safety. The latter position could be upgraded, but is not a top priority. More concerning though is the lack of depth at safety so expect a few new faces.
Top 5 SSs: Kenny Vaccaro, Matt Elam, Eric Reid, Shamarko Thomas & John Cyprien.
9. Defensive Lineman (3-4)
With a 3-4 D-Line the Bills are all but set between Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and with Alex Carrington sharing time with Mario Williams. Troup has been bulking up in the weight room, but is not a lock. If the new coaching staff is looking for depth, they could use a late pick to add another end or nose tackle.
Top 5 DLs: Star Lotulelei, Datone Jones, Shariff Floyd, Margus Hunt & Sheldon Richardson.
Heading into free agency, a bunch of mocks had Bills fans cringing… err, wondering if they’d be selecting a corner early in the draft again. But with the Bills re-signing McKelvin who is in line for a starting job, the Bills may only take a corner late in the draft to solidify their depth at a position that players can often get injured.
Top 5 CBs: Dee Milliner, Xavier Rhodes, Desmond Trufant, Johnthan Banks & B.W. Webb.
QB, WR, TE, ILB, OLB, OG, HB, DB, DL, WR