The Bills have a new coaching staff in place and now that free agency is starting to settle down, I have opted to introduce a new Our Mock (5) series. Unfortunately, while the Bills did retain a few players and brought in LB Manny Lawson from the Bengals, they lost both guards, Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart in free agency. Unless the Bills plan to reach out for a few more veteran players, they will be looking toward the draft to fill their holes.
The Bills have a number of needs. To see these, please check out these links: Draft Needs & Rules. Also rules for this mock have been included. Draft needs (assuming a 3-4 defense) are as followed; QB, WR, ILB, OLB, OG, TE, DB and potentially depth at HB. A new regime is in charge and with that the roster could undergo a bit of change. I have included 17 names to consider which will be whittled down to 12 by the last 2013 Our Mock before the draft in April.
I did not include OT Luke Joeckel, OT Eric Fisher DT Sharrif Floyd or DT Star Lotulelei (if healthy) as they will likely be gone or do not represent areas of need. An asterisk (*) indicates that player is a junior and I used unofficial 40 times which are the faster recorded times. Information that I have compiled on the players below has come from the following sources: Walter Football, CBS Sports, NFL Draft Scout, Buffalo Bills Draft and CFB Stats.
QB Matt Barkley – USC [6-3, 227, 4.82]
Barkley had a lackluster senior year due to a much weaker offensive line. However, this pocket passer still managed to throw for an impressive 3,273 yards, competing 63.6% of his passes for 36 TDs and 15 picks. The year before, Barkley threw for 3,528 yards, completing 69.1% of his passes for 39 TDs and just 7 picks. Barkley has great pocket presence, played in a pro-offense and has big hands (10.1"), but this California QB only has average arm strength.
QB Ryan Nassib – Syracuse
Nassib has some analysts ranking him very high and others not so much. For the Bills, Nassib’s biggest advantage is his past experience with head coach Doug Marrone. Nassib showed a lot of progress with a no huddle offense this year completing 295 of 472 passes (62.5%) for 3,753 yards, 26 TDs and 10 picks. The year before Nassib was 259 of 415 passes (62.4%) for 2,685 yards, 22 TDs and 9 picks. Nassib also has some rushing ability and the second biggest hands of a QB in the draft (10.2"). The reason why I have Nassib in the first round is that there is typically a run on QBs in the draft and the Jets have displayed a big interest in Nassib – meaning that if the Bills wait for him with their second round pick, they could lose Nassib to them.
QB Geno Smith – West Virginia [6-2, 218, 4.56]
Smith was one of the more dynamic passers this year with has big arm, but lacks great mobility, has some questions with accuracy against better defenses and did not play in a pro-offense at WVU. Still Smith completed 365 of 513 passes (71.2%) for 4,198 yards, 42 TDs and just 6 picks in 2012. In 2011 he made 346 of 526 passes (65.8%) for 4,385 yards, 31 TDs and 7 INTs. Smith is probably the top QB on the boards, but still needs a bit of work, and has average sized hands (9.3").
WR Keenan Allen* – California [6-2, 206, 4.49]
Though just a junior (whose season ended early due to an injury) Allen is one of the best receivers in the draft this year. Tall, with fair speed and massive 10.1" hands, Keenan caught 61 passes for 737 yards and 6 TDs in 2012, and caught a more impressive 98 passes for 1,343 yards and 6 TDs the year before. If Allen can show up at his 4/9 pro-day, he could solidify his standing in the draft, but his injury could drop him to the bottom half of the first round.
WR DeAndre Hopkins* – Clemson [6-1, 214, 4.41]
Nix is looking for a tall receiver with speed given that Stevie Johnson operates best out of the slot. Hopkins really showed talent this past season as a fast, agile play-maker with big hands (10.1") despite only average height. In 2012, he caught 82 passes for 1,405 yards (17.1 avg) and 18 TDs capped with a great performance against LSU with 13 catches, 191 yards and 2 TDs. The year before Hopkins caught 71 passes for 961 yards (13.5 avg) and 5 TDs. Hopkins had a really strong pro-day that I think puts him in first round contention.
WR Cord Patterson* – Tennessee [6-2, 216, 4.37]
Right now the top receiver in the draft is Patterson. Patterson emerged this past season as a fast, agile play-maker. In his first year of play, Patterson improved weekly amassing 46 receptions for 778 yards (16.9 avg) and 5 TDs while also running for 3 TDs and returning 2 kicks for TDs. Patterson needs improvement in route running and being more consistent with his hands, but has incredible upside with his physical ability. He notched a fair 37" vertical at the combines and has average sized hands (9.1")
OG Chance Warmack – Alabama [6-2, 317, 5.50]
With the Bills losing both veteran guards Andy Levitre and Chad Rinehart to free agency and no talks of free agents for the O-Line with the Bills, Marrone may try to grab one in the draft. The best guard undeniably in the draft is Warmack. A big guy, Warmack is still fairly agile and has been a force in both run and pass blocking for the Crimson Tide due to his 34.7" arms, absolutely dominating the Irish front seven at the BCS title game. He also looked good in drills despite a slow 40 time at the combines.
OT Lane Johnson – Oklahoma [6-6, 303, 4.75]
With a lot of front talent coming at offensive tackle and Doug Marrone being an O-Line guy, he could try retooling the line for next season. Lane Johnson had a very impressive showing at the combines with a very fast 40 given his size, 28 bench press reps and having very long 35.3" arms. Johnson would start immediately at RT or bump Cordy Glenn to LG or RT and take over on the left side of the line. Johnson was very fast at the combines, with the fastest 10 yard split (1.61 seconds), had 28 reps on the bench press and has 35.3" arms.
DE Ezekial Ansah – BYU [6-5, 271, 4.62]
Ansah is one of the biggest names in the draft despite only emerging this past year as a good pass rusher. Ansah, a former track star, has great athleticism and it showed at the senior bowl. His speed and build allows him a lot of versatility and make plays, but like Jason Pierre-Paul, didn’t produce a lot in college. In his senior year, Ansah recorded 62 tackles (13 for loss), 4.5 sacks, 6 hurries and 9 passes broken up. Ansah looked good at the combines with 35.2" arms, 21 reps on the bench press and a 1.56 second 10 yard split.
DE Bjoern Werner – Florida State [6-3, 266, 4.79]
Werner seemed set as a top-5 pick, but saw his stock drop after a somewhat disappointing combine showing. Werner had a slow 40 time at 4.79 seconds and only 1.66 seconds in the 10 yard split, both on the slower end of the scale for pass rushers. Werner redeemed himself with 25 reps on the bench press. In 2012 Werner made 42 tackles (18 for loss), 13 sacks, 5 hurries and 8 passes blocked. In 2011 he had 37 tackles (11 for loss), 7 sacks, 8 hurries and 5 passes blocked. Both Ansah and Jordan have the size of a pass rushing OLB, but given a hybrid defense would also line up as defensive ends.
LB Jarvis Jones* – Georgia [6-2, 245, 4.85]
I contemplated taking Jones out of first round consideration for the Bills between the signing of Manny Lawson and Jones poor showing at Georgia’s pro-day. But given his amazing rate of production over the last two years, the Bills need for pass rushers and Mark Anderson not a three down starter at the Jack LB spot, I kept him on. In 2012, Jones recorded 85 tackles (24.5 for loss), 14.5 sacks, 20 hurries and 7 forced fumbles. The year before, he recorded 70 tackles (19.5 for loss), 13.5 sacks, 26 hurries and 2 forced fumbles.
LB Dion Jordan – Oregon [6-6, 248, 4.53]
Like Ansah, Jordan is a great athlete, but will need to add muscle and disengage better from blockers. Part of a solid defensive unit, Jordan made 44 tackles (10.5 for loss), 5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 2012. In 2011, Jordan had 42 tackles (13 for loss), 7 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Jordan can drop into coverage and his speed and frame possibly make him one of the best pass rushers in the draft.
LB Barkevious Mingo* – LSU [6-4, 241, 4.53]
Mingo was not as productive as he was last year, but played better than his stats indicate. Like Jordan, Mingo needs to add some bulk so as to be a bigger factor against the run which is why I listed him as a linebacker. In 2012, Mingo had 38 tackles (8.5 for loss), 4.5 sacks, 12 hurries and 3 passes deflected. In 2011, Mingo emerged with 46 tackles (15 for loss), 7 sacks and 11 hurries.
LB Alec Ogletree* – Georgia [6-2, 242, 4.62]
With Nick Barnett out, the Bills may opt to strengthen their weak interior linebacker corps as they have no true 3-down LB. Ogletree is a first round talent, but after failing a drug test that caused him to miss a few games, has some off-field concerns. Most recently he was arrested for a DUI. Ogletree has made 111 tackles (11.5 for loss), 3 sacks, 5 hurries and 5 passes defended in 2012 while making 52 tackles (7.5 for loss), 3 sacks, 3 hurries, 2 forced fumbles and 2 passes defended in 2011.
SS Kenny Vaccaro – Texas [6-0, 214, 4.59]
On one hand the Bills franchised FS Jairus Byrd! On the other, they opted to release SS George Wilson. Searcy is good, but with the Bills facing Brady & Gronk, they may desire a bigger hard hitter. Cue Vaccaro who in 2012 made 96 tackles (3.5 for loss), 3 hurries, 2 forced fumbles, 2 picks and 5 passes defended. The year before he recorded 71 tackles (6.5 for loss), 2 sacks, 5 hurries, 2 picks and 8 passes defended. Vaccaro looked good in the combines with 15 reps on bench press and a 38" vertical.
CB Dee Milliner* – Alabama [6-1, 201, 4.31]
Milliner dominated receivers (and TE Tyler Eifert) in 2012; I’ll be shocked if Milliner is still available after the top 5 picks. In 2012 he made 54 tackles (4 for loss), had 2 picks and 20 passes broken up! The year before he made 27 tackles (1 for loss), 3 picks and 9 passes defended. Milliner continued with a strong showing at the combines with a very fast 40, a 1.49’ 10 yard split and a 36" vertical.
CB Xavier Rhodes* – Florida State [6-2, 210, 4.41]
Rhodes had a good junior year as a shutdown corner with 39 tackles (2 for loss), 7 passes broken up and 3 interceptions in 2012. The year before he made 43 tackles (1.5 for loss), had 4 passes defended and 1 pick in 2011. Rhodes elevated his stock with a great outing at the combines with a 41" vertical, 1.47’ 10 yard split and a fast 40. The Bills just re-signed McKelvin to a nice contract, but is not a lock for the starting corner job opposite Gilmore and given the lack of top-10 talent for QB and WR, could take a corner, again…