The 2014 NFL Draft begins in five days and 12 hours, so naturally, Buffalo Bills fans this week were focused on that upcoming event in submitting questions for the Buffalo Rumblings Mailbag. We hope to run one more Mailbag post before the first round begins on Thursday evening, so send your questions in via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Twitter and Facebook as usual. Thanks to the dozens of you that continue to send in excellent, thought-provoking questions on a weekly basis!
From looking at the prospects that Buffalo is bringing in for official visits, do you get the feeling that they just want to trade back or will reach for the player they want?
It is difficult to try to establish trends from the Bills' pre-draft visitor list, because the team has only been disclosing every name that comes into town for three years now. We were left to cobble together incomplete lists in previous seasons; we know that the team has hosted its first-round draft pick for four straight years, obviously, but it's still important to remember that the Bills aren't beholden to this list. In fact, at some point, they may very well wise up and specifically not host the player they intend to pick, just to break up the trend.
What we do know from the 2012 and 2013 lists, however, is that the team has shifted its visiting strategy. In 2012, 16 of their 30 pre-draft visitors ended up being first-round picks; that number fell to just seven last year. Just four of the Bills' 2012 visitors were Day 3 picks or priority free agents, while that number increased to 17 last season. Their 2014 list looks to be more along the lines of the 2013 list: far less emphasis on early-round talent, and a much broader, deeper look at available personnel.
Beyond that, the first-round pick trend, and the positions that the team look at the hardest, I don't consider it prudent to try to glean much more from the pre-draft visitor list. The Bills brought in nine or ten players that could ultimately be Top 20 picks, and they range in value from players the team would need to trade up for, to solid value at No. 9, to more ideal trade-down values.
Thanks for the question, TK!
What is the most you would give up to move up for Jadeveon Clowney (or whomever)?
First thing's first: I do have an opinion on who I believe the Bills should be targeting in a trade up, but I'm going to keep it in the holster until next week. That's not really relevant to the thrust of this question, though.
My opinion - and I certainly hope that the Bills end up agreeing - is that any trade requiring two additional first-round picks is far too steep. Most analysts agree that that's what it will take for the Bills to trade up to No. 1 overall, which is why I consider that idea far-fetched - even if the Bills strongly covet one of the so-called elite prospects in this draft class. GM Doug Whaley and the Bills' football operation has been pretty bold for the last calendar year, but that would take it up another several levels, and I don't believe they're that bold.
But if the team wants to flip their second-round pick and next year's first-rounder for a guy they think can put them at a playoff level on either side of the ball? Count me in. Outside of the quarterback position, which isn't changing no matter what we think of it, the Bills' roster is closer to playoff contention than I think most people realize. If they want an elite player that can put a group over the top, I won't lose any sleep over it.
This question came in from community member 'Blown Coverage'. Thanks for the inquiry!
@BrianGalliford Mailbag question: If the Bills were to trade down, who would make a better trade partner: Dallas or SF?— Brian W. Wright (@brianwwright) April 29, 2014
Give me Dallas every day of the week, and twice this coming Thursday.
The allure of San Francisco's draft class is more about volume and less about positioning. Buffalo is still short enough on uniquely skilled talent that I wouldn't feel comfortable dropping all the way down to No. 30 and then expecting either someone to slide, or for Whaley to pull off a second first-round trade on the same night, regardless of the other picks that the Bills might pick up. San Francisco has pick Nos. 30, 56 and 61 in the first two rounds, as well as Nos. 77 and 94 in the third round.
Trading down with Dallas, on the other hand, would be easier to wrap the mind around, because we've basically seen that trade before. Last year, the Bills moved from No. 8 to No. 16 with St. Louis, picking up No. 46 (Round 2) and No. 222 (Round 7) along the way (the teams flipped third-rounders, too; the Bills went from No. 71 to No. 78 in the exchange). Here's what the same trade with Dallas would look like:
Bills get: Round 1 (No. 16), Round 2 (No. 47), Round 3 (No. 78), Round 7 (No. 229)
Cowboys get: Round 1 (No. 9), Round 3 (No. 73)
That would keep the Bills in the top half of the first round, they'd pick up that extra second-round pick again, and they'd be back up to eight draft picks. To my mind, that's far preferable to the 49ers alternative.
Thanks for the question, fellow Brian!
Once again, we're hoping to run one more Mailbag before the draft next week, so if there's something on your mind that you're itching to discuss, send it our way. Email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, or heck, even this comments section; whatever is easiest for you.