In my final mock draft of the season I am using my common sense as well as a few Buddy Nix style rules to determine who the Bills will select this year. First, Buddy Nix’s visits are the most important factor in determining need and which players the Bills will try to select in the first few rounds. So, the Bills have basically stated they would like to pick a QB, WR, TE, LB, and Safety. This also means they will not likely take an early guard, corner, or defensive lineman. Secondly, Buddy Nix cannot help but tell everyone what he is thinking all the time. Just like when he leaked the conversion of Aaron Williams to safety early he told us that this class is very deep at WR (meaning no first round WR) and that he won’t reach for a QB (meaning no QBs in round one besides Geno Smith). Using these guidelines here is my best guess at what the Bills will do during this year’s draft.
Round 1, Pick 8) Traded to the St. Louis Rams for the 16th & 46th overall picks in the draft. With Smith already off the board the rumors of the Bills’ interest in Tavon Austin pay off (which is nothing more than rumors) and the Rams jump at the chance to take him. Plus, the Bills now have 7 picks in this year’s deep draft.
Round 1, Pick 16) Moving down allows the Bills much more flexibility. Even though most draft ‘experts’ will assume it is to take a QB the Bills will wait until the second round to fill that hole.
Selection: Alex Ogletree, ILB Georgia – If he can stay out of trouble (which luckily is harder to find in Buffalo than in other NFL cities) he will be a pro-bowler within his first two seasons. He is extremely polished, covers extremely well, is a tackling machine (111 last season while missing 4 games), and can immediately play 3 downs. The converted safety might be the safest pick physically in the draft and if the Bills can keep him out of trouble he will become a super star in Pettine’s defensive scheme.
Other Realistic Options: Jarvis Jones OLB Georgia, Kenny Vaccaro FS Texas, & Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee.
Round 2, Pick 41) The Bills next two areas of concern will be the offense (QB, WR, & TE). I expect a number of quarterbacks to still be available and to be worth their relative draft selection as well as a number of solid WRs to be available as well. The Bills will investigate trading back into either the low first round or the High second round to select the QB of their choice but, with one draft day trade already completed and Buddy Nix’s voiced dislike for trading draft picks I expect the Bills to stay put.
Selection: Ryan Nassib, QB Syracuse – His game film shows a composed, aware, and athletic signal caller. His experience with Marrone and the offense should pay dividends right away. They know his skill set and they have a tailored plan in place to get the most out of him while he develops. He is a bit undersized but, his hand size is above average and should limit his turnovers as he takes the necessary bumps and bruises while improving. He will be a great fit, an instant fan favorite, and is used to the weather conditions on Buffalo.
Other Realistic Options: Kevin Minter ILB LSU, Philip Thomas FS Fresno State, Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas, & Justin Hunter WR Tennessee.
Round 2, Pick 46) Now that the Bills have addressed the QB position they will try to add weapons around him to ensure his success. Scott Chandler’s injury makes the TE position an area of immediate need as is as solid WR option opposite Steve Johnson.
Selection: Justin Hunter WR Tennessee- After seeing who would be available and going through the scenarios multiple times I expect Justin to be here when the Bills select. It could very well not be the case but, I like the chances when you consider players like Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, & Quinton Patton expected to be taken ahead of him in the late round 1 early round 2 range. The upside to this guy is phenomenal. He is tall 6’4” and fast with a 4.44 40-yard dash. His addition along with the further development of T.J. Graham will allow Stevie more room to operate underneath allowing for another 1,000+ yard season. Possibly a bigger stronger Peerless Price?
Other Realistic Options: Vance Mcdonald TE Rice, Landry Jones QB Oklahoma, & Da’Rick Rogers WR Tennessee Tech.
Round 3, Pick 71) In round three the Buddy Nix visit system is out the window. They have addressed the major needs of the organization and now need to solidify smaller areas of need. With Aaron Williams move to safety along with Andy Levitre’s move to the Titans the Bills will add these areas to their need list when assessing the best available talent.
Selection: Darius Slay, CB Miss. State- A SEC tested corner with great size (6’0”) and exceptional speed (4.31 40-yard dash). He is solid in coverage and has the potential to develop into an NFL starter. Also he has experience returning kicks. His major weakness comes in run support but, hopefully with more experience as a starter he can grow in that area. His addition to the CB group of Gilmore, McKelvin, Brooks, & Rogers gives Buffalo the possibility of developing home-grown starters for years to come.
Other Realistic Options: Tyler Bray QB Tennessee, Ryan Swope WR Texas A&M, Barrett Jones OG/C Alabama, Brian Winters OG Kent State, & Jamie Collins ILB Southern Mississippi
Round 4, Pick 105) With only three more picks left the Bills will try to ensure that they add depth to both the O-line and TE positions. There is talent in both areas left and they should find quality pieces for the future.
Selection: Jordan Reed, TE Florida – He is a receiving first TE that can be moved around the field to create mismatches similar to how the patriots use Hernandez. Less than ideal size (6’3”) and issues with blocking in film have dropped him into the fourth round but, his experience as a receiving threat will provide our QB of the future a comfortable check down option as well as allow the new OC an opportunity to find favorable match ups against linebackers and corners.
Other Realistic Options: John Simon OLB Ohio State, Matt Scott QB Arizona, Kyle Juszczyk FB Harvard, & Xavier Nixon OT/OG Florida.
Round 5, Pick 143) The Bills have a few areas of need left but the biggest concern is their O-Line depth. I believe that Zebrie Sanders will get the starting look at LG in place of Levitre but they will need another piece to come in and compete for the position. Also, additional depth at CB, WR, and FB could provide valuable.
Selection: Chris Faulk OT/OG LSU- Faulk was expected to be a first round pick in 2013 and was CBS Sports #24 prospect heading into this season. Those high expectations were sidelined though when he tore his ACL in the first game of the season. However, he is a massive human being at 6’6” and 331 LBS but, even with that weight he posses Cordy Glenn type athleticism. The move for him from LT to LG should be easy for him and his size and strength should translate into punishing guard potential at the next level. He could easily turn out to be the best pick in the entire 2013 NFL draft.
Other Realistic Options: Nick Kasa TE Colorado, Jeff Tuel QB Tulane, Ty Powell OLB Harding, & Oday Aboushi OT/OG Virginia.
Round 6, Pick 177) Another need area for the Bills is a developmental defensive end. During the course of the entire draft I continued to look for options that fit the mold of the multiple front Pettine will install. Or someone who with more seasoning might be able play both run and pass defense. It took a while but, I was able to find him in the 6th round.
Selection: Devin Taylor, DE South Carolina- Taylor was once a first team All SEC selection and something happened. His sack numbers diminished. Why you might ask? Melvin Ingram (18th overall selection in the 2012 draft) and Jadeveon Clowney (possible Cyborg , definite super star). Before those two arrived he was the man and a force in the SEC. His abilities allowed both players to receive one-on-one blocking much more often than they should have and while they racked up the sacks he took the role as run-stuffing DE without complaint. He is massive 6’7” 275lbs which will allow him to play both 3-4 and 4-3 DE and he is strong, in an East-West Shrine practice he supposedly launched a 6’5” 300lb tackle into the air and threw another 5 feet away with his power rushing technique. His stiff hips might prevent him from ever being a 10+ sack guy but, I would expect exceptional play from him and a contribution right away.
Other Realistic Options: Zach Rodgers WR Tennessee, Jonathan Meeks FS Clemson, Zach Line FB Southern Methodist, & Micah Hyde CB Iowa.
Zach Brown, K Portland State: He has a big leg and has constantly made 50+ yard kicks in bad weather. He should compete for the starting kicker position immediately and will turn heads with his overall athleticism (projected 4.5 40 time & film shows ability to tackle well on kickoff coverage)
Russell Sheppard, WR LSU: He was the top rated dual-threat QB in the nation coming out of high school and was consistently thought to be one of the best athletes in the country. He had solid workout numbers and could add depth and athleticism to the Bills WR depth.
Cooper Taylor, FS Richmond: Posses ideal size (6’4”), speed (4.49 40-yard dash), and strength (23 reps). His father was an NFL player for the Colts and he was a second team All-ACC selection as a freshman before a heart condition sidelined him for the next season and eventually forced him to transfer. He also has an extremely high motor, high football IQ, and is extremely physical. He has two solid seasons under his belt and if his heart issue is not too serious could be a great addition to Buffalo’s secondary.
Kyler Reed, TE/FB Nebraska: A true H-back. He has exception speed (4.49 40-yard dash) but, is considered under sized at 6’2” tall. He has the weight to play FB but, might take some time developing. His pass catching ability will be a value immediately though, as he recorded 67 receptions, over 1,000 yards, and 11 touchdowns during his career at Nebraska.
I thank you if you have read this far. I am a passionate Bills fan and draft analysis is one of my passions. Please comment away. It’s great getting feedback even if it is not always positive. Thanks again for reading!