So I'm looking at the Bills roster, and I'm coming to the conclusion that we're in pretty good shape at most positions. Now I'm not saying that we can't improve at most positions, I'm just saying that only position that has to be improved is OL. Improving the OL would help in the run game and the pass game. It would be especially helpful in the development of EJ, as well as Hackett's offense (we can have the discussion later if we don't see the improvement we expect).
We have a good corps at DL, LB, DB, WR, & TE when you consider the platoon of situational players filling in a few spots. We absolutely can draft 3 down players at any of those positions. In fact, that would free up roster spots and save us cap space, not to mention making us a better team.
That said, we can only reasonably expect to find starters in the first 3 or 4 rounds. We can strike gold later in the draft, but they rarely pan out, especially in year one. So my approach is to look at depth at positions, and where the big drop off is. Then I consider which player would contribute the most at that pick.
Zack Martin - This is a little higher than he's projected, but this is where we pick. Martin has everything but the size. He's not small, but he's not the ideal size either. I believe that if he was a little bigger, he would be in the discussion for the best O-lineman in the draft. On the other hand, he has the most versatility. We pencil him in at RT, and our OL is instantly better. If it turns out that Hairston is better at RT than Urbik is at RG, we can move him inside. Maybe we end up with Martin at LG, Williams at RG, and Hairston at RT. The point is that we now have a guy that allows us to put the best OL on the field.
Troy Niklas - This pick could go in many different directions. For me it came down to TE or Safety. Both of these positions have excellent talent in the 2nd, and a huge drop off in the 3rd. I decided on Niklas for 2 reasons. First, I believe that our secondary was good last year, and it will be better this year with a healthy Gilmore, the addition of Graham, and the depth from last year's draft. Second, Niklas is unique. He's basically a small OT that can catch. He provides immediate help for the OL. He will allow us to run behind one of the league's best 2 TE sets, but defenses also have to respect his receiving ability. Basically we aren't giving away or limiting the play selection, as well as audibles, based on personnel package. Plus he can line up next to Martin, and the learning curve will be shorter for both players.
Marcus Smith - This guy is a freak. He's a former QB, so he has the football intelligence to recognize the play as it develops. He has the strength and quickness to be a disruptive force in the backfield, and he can drop into coverage. If he was a few inches taller, he'd probably go in the late 1st round. He can play DE or OLB, so whatever defense we run next year or the year after, he'll fit in.
Dontae Johnson - A big, hard hitting CB/S with 4.45 speed. He played both CB and Safety, but he probably needs a year to reach his potential. He does plays a little stiff and could put on a few pounds, but he continues to show improvement. He's a smart, hard working player that would probably make his mark this year on ST, but could end up one of the steals of the 2014 draft. I think he's definitely worthy of a 4th round pick.
Devonta Freeman - One of the better all around RBs. He has the combination of quickness and power. He's a lot like Freddie. He usually get's that extra yard or 2 at the end of the run. Freeman is also one of the better blocking and receiving RBs in the draft. His stock is low due to the depth of the RB class, and because he was platooned at FSU. On the other hand, he's not coming in with a lot of miles on him, and he's someone that EJ has confidence in.
James Morris - I don't know if he'll still be on the board here, but picking a 7th rounder is like predicting the weather in Buffalo. I think Morris is flying under the radar because he just doesn't stand out. He's a little undersized, and not the fastest, but he's smart and just make plays.
I passed on WR because we already have 4 good ones. Any WR taken early in the draft would mean that we miss out on a more important piece for our team. Any WR taken later in the draft would either be a project or would just blend into the mix of depth players, and again he would take the place of another pick.
I also did my mock without any trades. If we could move back in the 1st and pick up an additional 2nd, we take Niklas AND Bucannon or Ward. That would be worth the possibility of missing out on Martin. There are still a few other RTs who could step in on day 1 and start. In this scenario, I might also rethink our 4th round pick. Maybe I'll end up doing another mock with a trade.