New Jersey and the Bills' Draft Strategy

Now that the Revis deal is done the Jets have a pair of picks in the top half of the first round, 9 and 13. The Jets also pick at 39, two spots ahead of Buffalo in the second round. New Jersey, like Buffalo, is viewed as needing a long term upgrade at the quarterback position. All of this has combined to worry Bills fans about Buffalo's ability to get a QB. The only seemingly clear path to getting one of the first 3 QBs off the board is for Buffalo to sit tight at 8 and take one, draft board be damned.

Nix has talked about taking a QB at a spot higher than said QB resides on Buffalo's draft board. He didn't, however, say that he's willing to completely junk his board just to get a QB. It is because of that, and what follows below, that I suspect Buffalo won't be taking a QB at 8. If Nix succeeds in trading down from 8 - and this is the first year that he's openly talked about trading down after three drafts of lip service to the concept - I do anticipate the Bills taking a QB in the first round. If Nix doesn't/can't trade down from 8 I expect to see the Bills trade up from 41 later in the first to get a QB at a point where value meets need.

The Chiefs, Jaguars, Raiders, Eagles, Lions and Cardinals could all use help at OT. Joeckel, Fisher and Johnson all figure to go in the top 7, possibly the top 5. Sharrif Floyd figures to come off the board very early. Milliner, Jordan and Ansah are other defenders who seem poised for top 7 consideration. Geno Smith may well bump one of those defenders out of the mix; the Jaguars, Eagles, Browns and Cardinals - to varying degrees - need upgrades at QB. My money is on the Browns tapping Smith as the Eagles and Cardinals have Vick and Palmer. The Jaguars could have talked up QBs (no need for smokescreens once the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith) but instead talked up Gabbert.

Back to New Jersey.

Almost everyone assumes that Ryan is a dead man walking, figuratively speaking. The GM just traded away Ryan's favorite player, which at first blush may seem to be a sign that Ryan no longer has much input into personnel matters. I disagree. While Ryan liked everything that Revis was able to do on the field, he was a nightmare for the front office. Revis was constantly trying to squeeze the Jets for more cash. That's bad but nowhere near as bad as the cap space his contract demands consumed. Revis also was a constant headache for the front office as he made CB contingency plans a constant necessity given his proclivity for holdouts. The final nail in the coffin was the cap mess left behind by aptly named Mike Tannenbaum-the other teams in the division all appreciated the gifts he left under the Christmas tree. The bottom line is that I don't think that the new GM gave Ryan the finger so much as cleared out a major headache and some much needed cap space. (Sidebar: If the Bills want Dansby then Nix had better sign him now as the Jets suddenly have the cap space to address some needs.)

So, while I think that Ryan isn't destined to be fired, much depends on how New Jersey does this season. If the Jets turn it around and make it to the playoffs then Ryan may indeed be sticking around. If, on the other hand, the team continues to do poorly then it's more likely that Ryan is replaced by a coach of the new GM's choosing. The GM has to draft for either eventuality.

Giving Ryan a fair shot at turning the Jets around will require giving him the tools he needs to run the offense and defense that he employs. At the same time, it also means picking players who can thrive in a variety of schemes-because a new coach may run a very different offense/defense. Some positions are nearly scheme independent. A great CB (cough....Revis....cough) can be plugged into any defensive scheme, though he'd be overkill in a Tampa 2. A 3-4 rush LB, on the other hand, might be miscast as a 4-3 DE. On the defensive side of the ball it looks like Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah, Jarvis Jones, Dee Milliner, Kenny Vaccaro, and Xavier Rhodes would both fit what Ryan does schematically and, if Rex gets canned, transition fairly smoothly to other types of defenses as well. On offense, Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Eifert, Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack could all help Ryan but also be of help to a new head coach.

Notice there are no QBs on the list. New coaches tend to want their own QBs unless they're taking over a team that has a Peyton Manning type QB already in place. Furthermore, Ryan made it to the AFC Championship twice with Mark Sanchez under center. Finally, Ryan doesn't have the time to wait for a rookie QB to develop. He needs to win now and none of the QB prospects in this draft carry the likelihood of an Andrew Luck/RGIII rookie year playoff run. There is no motivation for Ryan to want a rookie QB in 2013 and I don't see much motivation for the GM to want a rookie QB either.

My sense is that the Jets won't be taking a QB in the first round.

The simplest course for the Jets to follow would be to sit at 9 and take either Austin or whichever defender (of Milliner, Jordan and Ansah) slides past 8. Sitting at 13 New Jersey could then take either Warmack or Cooper to help the power run game that Ryan used so effectively in those two playoff runs. Jarvis Jones could be a consideration at either spot.

If the Jets have to have a particular defender or Austin, New Jersey could trade up to 6/7 by:

  • Packaging 9 and either 74 or the 3rd rounder they're getting from Tampa to move up to 6
  • Packaging 9 and their 2013 4th and 2014 4th to move up to 7
  • Packaging 13 and 39 to move up to 6
  • Packaging 13 and 72 and the 3rd rounder they're getting from Tampa to move up to 7

In terms of cost, the first two have a lot more appeal than the second two scenarios. I can see a situation in which the Jets try to get a deal in place with Arizona when Cleveland goes on the clock. If they can't strike the deal with Arizona then they can try the more expensive deal with Cleveland.

If I'm right that New Jersey isn't in the QB market and the other teams with QB needs pass (or take Smith) at the top of the first, the way is clear for Buffalo to trade down. The teams with QB needs can't afford to jump back to the middle of the first round for a guy that they passed on earlier.

The question then becomes one of value. One of those defenders will be sitting on the board at 8. Can Nix pass on him and trade down? While he's talked openly about taking all phone calls I'm not sure that Nix has it in him to drop down the board when there is someone available who represents both need and value.

Plus, if the Jets trade up for Austin then teams like St Louis and Minny will be much less inclined to trade up....though it may open the door for Atlanta.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of

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