The Bills will be drafting 9th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft come April. That means that the Bills will be having their fourth consecutive top-ten pick (and last!) this year. Anybody who watched the Bills know that there are areas that we really struggled, but they would also state the Bills showed a lot more energy and promise than they have in over a decade. I really like where Marrone is taking this team and firmly believe we are but a few players away.
I've taken out of consideration any QBs, DE Jadeveon Clowney and OT Jake Matthews as they do not fit the bill or are likely to go in the top-5 picks. Also, I opted to not include any guards despite the big need for one due to a lack of consensus of who is the best guard in the draft and the fact that guards never go in the top-10.
The Bills should have a lot of players that fit a specific need available with the ninth pick and maybe a surprise or two. We also cannot rule trading down again, but certain types of players may not be available later. For a rehash, here’s my list of priority needs for the Bills assuming we re-sign our top free agents and don’t bring anyone else into the fold. OG, WR, LB, OT, TE, S, HB, CB, P, QB, & DL. I’ve included 15 names (obviously a bunch would be more likely with a trade down) for you to consider. Also, all 40 times are unofficial – those will be updated.
WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson [6-1, 200, 4.40]
Watkins all but solidified his stock as a top-10 pick after a monster game at the Orange Bowl. He finished with 101 catches for 1,464 yards (14.5 avg) and 12 TDs on the season. He is not the tall #1 receiver the Bills may be looking for, but his speed and physicality are hard to beat.
WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M [6-5, 225, 4.55]
Although he is just a sophomore, Evans is one of the tallest receivers in the draft with the stats to back up his abilities. In 2013, Evans recorded 69 catches for 1,394 yards (20.2 avg) and 12 TDs.
WR Kelvin Benjamin – Florida St [6-5, 235, 4.55]
With his game winning catch in the BCS Title, Kelvin Benjamin represents what the Bills are looking for, a tall receiver for red zone opportunities. Benjamin is the biggest of the receivers but has decent speed. Like Evans he is a sophomore, but is already 23. This year he made 54 receptions for 1,011 yards (18.7 avg) and 15 TDs.
OT Greg Robinson – Auburn [6-5, 320, 5.18]
Robinson is just a sophomore, but was a huge reason why Auburn went to the BCS Title this year. Robinson is a phenomenal run blocking left tackle and is getting better at pass blocking. He’s big and has great speed, but still needs some fine-tuning.
OT Taylor Lewan – Michigan [6-8, 302, 5.10]
Lewan could have been a top-10 pick last year, but returned to school where he had a good, but not great senior campaign. He’s a name you may see on a few mocks to the Bills and despite playing left tackle, would switch to right tackle (as would most tackles on the board) due to the success of Cordy Glenn. Lewan is a big guy with decent speed.
OT Cyrus Kouandjio – Alabama [6-6, 310, 5.15]
I did not like Kouandjio declaring early because he had the potential to be the best tackle on the boards for next year. He clearly needs some work due to the struggles he endured on the field in pass blocking in his junior season. He’s a big guy with tons of potential, but he’ll need time to adjust to NFL speed.
TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina [6-4, 245, 4.65]
Ebron was fantastic this year with 62 catches for 973 yards (15.7 avg) and 3 TDs. Though on the smaller side for tight ends, he also was one of the best blocking tight ends in college as well. The Bills could be looking for a starting caliber tight end to add receiving targets and an able blocker.
TE Jace Amaro – Texas Tech [6-5, 260, 4.68]
Amaro led tight ends this year with 106 catches for 1,352 yards (12.8 avg) and 7 TDs. He needs work blocking, but he clearly knows how to use his size to his advantage in the passing game.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Washington [6-6, 266, 4.60]
Many had ASJ as the best TE heading into this season, but Washington did not use him as often as expected. He still managed to haul in 36 catches for 450 yards (12.5 acg) and 8 TDs, all while serving as an excellent blocker for Sankey. He will likely be gone by the end of the first round.
DL RaShede Hageman – Minnesota [6-6, 311, 4.95]
Hageman is not much of a pass rusher, but dominates the line in the run game. He is a big guy that moves fairly fluidly and will a little more attention if the Bills do not re-sign Carrington. This year he finished with 38 tackles (13 for loss), 2 sacks, and deflected 8 passes and 2 kicks.
OLB Anthony Barr – UCLA [6-4, 248, 4.65]
Barr is a pure 3-4 OLB, but that said, spent most of his college career as a pure pass rusher. As with Mack below, the Bills would likely shift Manny Lawson inside more to allow Barr to seal the edge which he did quite well this past season. He made 66 tackles (20 for loss), 6 forced fumbles, 2 hurries and 10 sacks.
OLB Khalil Mack – Buffalo [6-3, 245, 4.69]
Mack’s best fit is a 3-4 OLB, but those of you looking at the tape this year, saw him lining up inside and playing coverage (quite well) from time to time this year as well. Mack is tied for collegiate career tackles for loss (75) and leads in all time FFs (16). In 2013, Mack had 100 tackles (19 for loss), 10.5 sacks, 6 hurries, 5 FFs, 7 passes broken-up and 3 picks (2 returned for TDs).
ILB C.J. Mosley – Alabama [6-2, 234, 4.65]
The Bills will be seriously looking to find another stud to play next to Kiko on the inside. Mosley is the best ILB in the draft hands down having made 108 tackles (9 for loss), 9 QB hurries and 5 passes broken-up. He is good in both run and pass coverage and has solid instincts to boot.
ILB Ryan Shazier – Ohio St [6-2, 226, 4.68]
Technically Shazier is a 4-3 OLB, but given the Bills schemes would best fit inside next to Kiko. A junior, Shazier will likely go in the bottom half of the first round so he would make a good pick should the Bills trade down again. In 2013, Shazier had 144 tackles (23.5 for loss!), 7 sacks, 6 hurries, 4 FFs and 4 passes broken-up.
FS HaHa Clinton-Dix – Alabama [6-1, 209, 4.60]
Until the Bills franchise/re-sign Jairus Byrd, you have to throw in the possibility that the Bills may part way with Byrd over salary concerns. Searcy is OK, but the Bills would do better to bring in someone else to start. Clinton-Dix got in trouble this year with taking money from a coach, but has great instincts. In 2013 he recorded 51 tackles (3.5 for loss), 2 picks and 4 passes broken-up.