Hello All. My condolences for your recent loss, Ralph Wilson was a great man, and owner, and deserves all the respect anyone could give him.
I have requested, and been given, the right to select for Buffalo in Behind The Steel Curtain's annual mock draft. As an upstate New Yorker, I have Buffalo on my second TV every Sunday. I am not a Buffalo fan, but I have enjoyed following their steady progress in re-shaping the organization over the last few years, despite the short-term depression losing Doug Marrone caused me as a Syracuse football fan.
I thought the Bills had a pretty strong draft last year, their first under Marrone, and I believe they will continue to build off of that this year. That said, I would love your input on where Buffalo may be looking. I've been lurking for a little while, reading what I can from your site, and I've put together what I see as a decent preliminary list of needs, regardless of available prospects:
Guard - So, uh, Doug Legursky huh? I never thought Legursky was very good in Pittsburgh, especially at guard, so it was slightly troublesome to see him starting for you last year, as I am sure it proved rather frustrating for you as well. Chris Williams was a good addition, and could lock up the guard position opposite Urbik, at least in theory right now, but both guard spots could use an infusion of new blood going into this season.
Safety - Losing Jairus Byrd will hurt (no surprise to anyone here, I doubt). Locking up Aaron Williams was the right call, especially given the Byrd situation, but another safety is a must-have unless they view Duke Williams as the heir-apparent.
Tight End - Despite re-signing Scott Chandler short-term, EJ Manuel could use a more potent passing threat at the position. Chandler is serviceable, but he doesn't really excel in any one area that can be pointed to as the reason he should hold down the starter spot longer term. I do think he could be more useful in an accessory role, if the right talent presented itself in the off season.
Wide Receiver - Along the same lines as the last position mentioned, Buffalo has some good talent in their receiving pool, but they do not have that one guy that could take pressure off of their other receivers. Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, TJ Graham and Marquise Goodwin all have solid qualities that could be further utilized if the right player was there to demand the additional coverage.
Running Back - Spiller will be the starter, Fred Jackson his backup, and Anthony Dixon should provide a nice power option is short yardage situations. But... Jackson is 33; hasn't had a healthy year in some time, and Spiller is nearing the end of his rookie deal in due time (two years?). As the position has been devalued in recent years, better players can be found later on if you know how to find the right one. Like almost everything else, it's possible that the right player at the right time can be found, but it's incredibly unlikely that it will be in round one.
Front Seven Depth - Alright, kind of cheating on this one, as it covers a plethora of possible positions, but adding another defensive end and / or outside linebacker would do this defense good. Adding Brandon Spikes (and to a lesser extent Keith Rivers) will help the linebackers out, but more talent should be added to this group, at LB, DE or DT.
Other positions that might be in play are tackle (if an elite talent falls that Buffalo finds value in), perhaps another corner, and eventually a punter or fullback. If the right quarterback is still available at the right time, they could pull the trigger there as well.
Let me know where I am mistaken, or what I am leaving out. I'll be back to discuss actual player choices as often as I can throughout the day.