Buddy Nix likes to use the pre-draft process to get a final read on players he is strongly considering selecting, and 9 of the allowable 30 visits went to QB prospects. Can looking at the non-QB visitors give us a "peek under the hood" for where Buddy may be targeting a QB?
To establish possible draft positions for the non QB players, I've compiled an average draft rating for every draft prospect from the following five sources:
- USA Today/Ourlads.com
- NFL.com/Gil Brandt
- Rotoworld/NBC Sports
- CBS Sports/NFL Draftscout.com
- SB Nation/Dan Kadar, Mocking the Draft
Interestingly, only 2 non-QB players grade out as likely picks at the #8 spot:
#4. Dion Jordan, RUSH LB
#11. Barkevious Mingo, RUSH LB
While the Bills could reach at #8, it looks like the only serious option at #8 other than a QB is a rushing LB/DE. Jordan is a consensus top 10 pick among most draft experts, while Mingo is consistently slotted in the 10-12 range.
What's interesting is that the Bills brought in for pre-draft visits four players that are expected to go in the bottom half of the 1st round:
#15. Cordarelle Patterson, WR
#17. Jarvis Jones, RUSH LB
#18. Kenny Vaccaro, S
#28. Alec Ogletree, ILB
Of course the Bills could select any of these players at #8, but they would potentially be considered poor value at that point in the draft- Patterson is considered highly talented but very much a long range development player, Jones had a poor combine and has health issues, while Ogletree has fallen due to off-field character concerns.
On the other hand, if Chris Brown and others are correct that the Bills are actively pursuing a trade-down strategy, then all of these players absolutely come into play.
For whatever reason, the Bills did not look extensively at non QB players with consensus 2nd round grades:
#44. Kevin Minter, ILB
#49. Justin Hunter, WR
But at the same time, they spent a significant amount of time looking at players with 3rd round grades:
#70. Da'Rick Rogers, WR
#74. Vance McDonald, TE
#76. Jamie Collins, OLB
#93. Ryan Swope, WR
#96. Phillip Thomas, S
In addition to those 5 players, S Sharmarko Thomas of Syracuse, another player the coaching staff knows well, has an average draft position of #81.
Of the remaining pre-draft visitors, all have 7th round or UDFA projections, with the exception of FB Kyle Juszczyk, who has a 5th round projection.
Buddy has spent a significant time looking at 3rd round talent, which adds to the evidence that the Bills will draft a QB in rounds 1 or 2, and not wait until the 3rd round or later. This would probably eliminate the bottom QB prospects from being selected by the Bills this year- Bray, Landry Jones, Matt Scott, etc.
It is very interesting that the Bills spent more time looking at bottom 1R prospects rather than top 10 prospects- as discussed in the past, players like Chance Warmack, Dee Milliner and Ziggy Ansah were not on the Bills pre-draft visit list.
Could it be that the Bills are anticipating a trade down with a team such as St. Louis, Minnesota or San Francisco, allowing them to get all three of their primary targeted positions- QB, WR and OLB- in the bottom of the 1st round, top of the 2nd round? If so, the Bills could then follow through with a TE, S or 2nd WR in the 3rd round.
Dream scenario, anyone?