With the ninth pick, the Buffalo Bills select… As Bills fans with the Draft as the post-season highlight of the year, drafting the right guy is paramount to our future success. As pseudo-scouts/fans, you know what our needs are. I have provided a dozen names of players that will possibly be around for the Bills first round selection. Your job is to vote on which guy you feel will best help the Bills in the upcoming years.
Before I reveal my list and open the polls though, you should be aware that I excluded 7 names from the ballot. I took off any QB (Bortles, Bridgewater & Manziel) as they will likely be drafted ahead of the Bills and Marrone will not create a controversy with Manuel. Also off are WR Watkins and OT Greg Robinson as due to their outstanding Combine showings, they will likely be gone as well. Sadly two pass rushers are not included – Clowney and Mack (sadness!) due to other teams’ needs. One note is that the 40 times I use are unofficial because the official times typically are slower than in actuality.
TE Jace Amaro – Texas Tech [6-5, 265, 4.62]
The Bills could look to add a tight end given that Chandler is a free agent and that position needs more firepower. Amaro needs more work as a blocker, but is a proven receiving threat as well having made 106 receptions for 1,352 yards (12.8 avg) and 7 TDs. At the combine, he had 28 bench press reps to Ebron’s 24, but definitely needs fine-tuning as seen in the drills.
TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina [6-4, 250, 4.50]
Ebron is not a complete tight end, but had the strongest Combine showing at his position with good speed and measurements. He is an adequate blocker, but as a receiver is a good mismatch having caught 62 passes for 973 yards (15.7 avg) and 3 TDs this past season.
WR Kelvin Benjamin – Florida St [6-5, 240, 4.53]
The Bills may shift Stevie to slot permanently to find a big #1 target on the outside. Benjamin is the biggest receiver in the draft, needs refinement, but moves well for his size. Benjamin had the second biggest hands and longest arms among receivers. In 2013 he had 54 grabs for 1,011 yards (18.7 avg) and 15 TDs.
WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M [6-5, 231, 4.47]
Evans is another tall receiver who in my mind did a lot to solidify his draft stock at the Combine. He ran a fast 40, a 1.57’ split and had a 37" vertical. Evans biggest asset is his use of his body to reach over and around defenders to catch the ball. He made 69 catches for 1,394 yards (20.2 avg) and 12 TDs this year.
OT Taylor Lewan – Michigan [6-7, 309, 4.85]
The Bills have a lesser need at right tackle depending on Hairston’s availability, but that spot could be upgraded. Lewan is a big tackle who also showed really well at the Combine in drills and physical tests alike. Lewan could have been a top-10 tackle last year as well. He logged 29 reps on the bench and as average 33.9" arms.
OT Zack Martin – Notre Dame [6-4, 310, 5.10]
Since the Senior Bowl, Martin has been proving critics wrong that his shorter frame would be better suited inside. In fact he looked much more able playing tackle than at guard. He did well at the Combine and had 29 bench press reps.
OT Jake Matthews – Texas A&M [6-5, 308, 4.91]
This guy has topped some of the prospects list of 2014, yet I have him in due to slightly smaller Combine measurements compared to Robinson (33.4" arms). Matthews, a right tackle, still has incredible athleticism and is probably the most technically sound tackle in the draft. He could develop more upper body strength shown by his 24 bench reps.
DE Anthony Barr – UCLA [6-5, 255, 4.63]
The Bills may be more traditional in their 4-3 look and would likely need a pure 4-3 end. Barr has the pass rushing ability and great size, but hurt his stock a bit with a low bench press rep of 15. This season he posted 66 tackles (20 for loss), 10 sacks, 2 hurries and 6 forced fumbles (FFs).
DE Aaron Donald – Pittsburgh [6-1, 285, 4.68]
Though technically a DT, Donald’s athleticism and rushing ability are quite outstanding (and given me cause to dub him the Mini-Meatball). He notched 35 reps on the bench (2nd among DLs) and a really fast 40 and 10 yard split. In 2013 Donald made 59 tackles (28.5 for loss), 11 sacks, 16 hurries and 4 FFs. Teams really should overlook his height.
DE Kony Ealy – Missouri [6-4, 273, 4.84]
Ealy’s stock has risen a bit after a strong senior year, but he hasn’t really stood out, nor hurt himself at the Combine aside from a slow 40. Ealy had 42 tackles (14 for loss), 8 sacks, 7 hurries, 3 FFs, 6 passes blocked and a pick six in 2013.
LB C.J. Mosley – Alabama [6-2, 234, 4.65]
Talk has escalated about shifting Kiko to the weakside so he can exploit plays more, but he logged 100% of the MLB reps last year. We need someone inside to complement him and Mosley is the top rated LB in the draft despite a lack of work at the Combine. Mosley anchored the Tide’s "D" with 108 tackles (9 for loss), 9 hurries and 5 passes broken-up.
FS Calvin Pryor – Louisville [5-11, 207, 4.58]
The Bills could opt not to retain Jairus Byrd or he could go to the Brown’s! If that happens, the Bills may be hard pressed to find a safety to play in his place. HaHa got little love from Bills fans and Pryor’s name has been slowly on the rise, given a decent outing at the Combine. In 2013 he logged 75 tackles (5.5 for loss), 3 hurries 2 FFs, 4 passes defended and 3 picks.