So I've been watching a ton of draft prospects lately (mostly on draftbreakdown.com....seriously, check it out if you haven't yet. Best draft resource on the intranets)...and now I feel the urge to put together a mind-dump style post. Let me know what you think of my semi-coherent ramblings in the comments!
I want to start out with a pet peeve of mine...we're in that time of the draft season (after the combine, but still a few weeks from the draft), where it seems like the mainstream draft pundits have their Big Boards all set and we, as fans, will come up with our own rankings but still keep the general "tiers" from the experts. Then, without fail, the draft will roll around and make everyone's Big Board look like their 2014 March Madness bracket. My suggestion: break the mold, come up with your own rankings! Learn about the prospects, watch whatever you can, and go with whatever you think. If you're wrong, learn from it. If you're right, gloat and act condescending towards your buddies. It's a win-win!
Anyway, with the above paragraph in mind, I thought I would try to come up with a few players who the Bills are probably higher on than we think. Feel free to add your own, or tell me why I'm wrong.
1. Donte Moncrief: No, I'm not related to Donte Moncrief. But I do think teams like the Bills will have him rated much higher than draftniks, and here's why: he's a prototype "X" receiver. In fact, I think he's the 2nd best pro prospect in this draft as a pure "X" receiver, behind the incomparable Sammy Watkins. He's not flawless (hands are average), but he's only 20 and has some upside ahead of him. I love this WR class (I'll be borderline devastated if we don't take one in the first 3 rounds), and I think Adams, Robinson, Matthews, Beckham, etc will all end up being good players...but I think Moncrief has a rare skillset that translates extremely well to the NFL (at his best, he's a Demaryius Thomas clone). Watch him yourself and let me know what you think. (Draftbreakdown has 9 full-game cutups)
2. Ja'Wuan James: Every time I watch Tennessee games to look at Antonio Richardson, this guy ends up impressing me. Good size (6'6", 315), 35 inch arms, 49 starts in the SEC...I think this is exactly the kind of player the Bills will target as their RT. Not a dominant athlete, so speed may give him some issues...but he holds up well against power and is a very productive run blocker. Consistently gets his arms extended and drives his legs in the run game. I'd bet Buffalo has this guy as a second rounder.
3. Antone Exum: Not a prospect that I like personally...but he's a big, versatile DB with decent athleticism. I'm not a huge fan (he'll look great for stretches, then give up a few big plays in a row), but I'd think this guy is on the Bills' radar, potentially as a 2nd or 3rd rounder (I'd be furious if we took him there, FWIW)
4. Marcel Jensen: I could see this guy being a Bills' target in the 3rd, and I could actually get on board with it. Great size, and a good athlete even though he doesn't have great top-end speed. Was severely underused in Fresno's spread attack, but he seems like the type who'll be better pro than college player. I think the Bills will value his size and potential as a run blocker and a big-catch-radius short to intermediate receiver.
5. Ryan Shazier: I don't think this guy will be the pick at 9, and he'll be gone by 41 so it's kind of a moot point. But I see him going in the second rounds of mocks more often than not. I would be shocked if Buffalo didn't have a mid-first round grade on this guy...I think he flies under everyone's radar because OSU listed him at 225 lbs all year. Easily a Pro Bowl caliber talent with the college production to back it up. Would take him over CJ Moseley all day long
Random Draft Thoughts:
1. Folks...Deone Bucannon is not making it out of the first round. I hadn't gotten a chance to watch him much until the last couple of days...he's better than Clinton-Dix, and I may end up talking myself into ranking him ahead of Pryor eventually. He's everything you'd want in a safety...big, fast, aggressive...he can play centerfield, play man coverage, support the run, and blitz. Future Pro Bowler. How are people calling this guy a second rounder???
2. The WR Class: this isn't exactly groundbreaking, but this WR class is insane. A lot of people seem to think that because the class is so deep, we can get a stud WR in the 3rd or 4th round...I think the opposite will be true. Teams tend to attack the draft at the strongest positions (WR and OL this year), and it's not like this draft is deep with 2nd or 3rd round talent...it's deep with first round caliber guys. I think we're going to see a huge run on WRs between the mid-first and mid-2nd rounds, with a lot of the teams at the top of the 2nd getting first round graded guys. By our pick in the third I think the WR pickings will be pretty slim. (I have first round grades on Sammy, Evans, Moncrief, Beckham, Cooks, Robinson, Adams, and Matthews FWIW)
3. I'd draft a punter late. For some reason late-round kicker picks always get a ton of hate, but I look at it this way: what percentage of 6th round kickers end up starting? (cue the Hopkins examples...he would have started for us and done fine if not for the injury). If there's a quality punter in the 6th or 7th we need to pull the trigger...look no further than this years Cleveland game if you think punter isn't important enough to spend a pick on.
That's all I got, thanks for reading if you made it this far. Let me know what you think!