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The Draft Countdown: 4... Four Question Marks Starters

In preparation for the draft tonight I am rehashing some of the Bills needs, team goals and draft goals. The Draft Countdown Series has so far covered the following articles:

10: Top Ten Players of the Draft (UPDATED)
9: The Ninth Pick History
8: The Eight Teams Drafting Before Us
7: The Seven Free Agents to Target

6: The Sixth Playoff Spot
5: The Five Veterans to Decide

4: THE FOUR QUESTION MARKS - STARTERS

Free Safety, Right Tackle and Wide Receiver are the prime spots where the Bills have question marks at starters. In addition, Tight End may have a new starter given all the hype over drafting a prospect early in the draft. Positions like defensive end (Jerry Hughes is likely to see a lot of playing time) and punter could use competition, but the Bills don’t need to go all out on a pick early on (BPA could prove otherwise). As such we could get by with a later pick for these areas. Let’s break down the big needs…

Free Safety

Of the defensive backs on the roster, the Bills have Da’Norris Searcy as their most experienced starter at safety with mixed success subbing in for an injured Byrd last year. The Bills drafted two rookies in 2013 that can compete with Searcy with Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks. Also in the mix is free agent addition Corey Graham who has had a lot of success as a nickel/#2 corner with the Ravens in the past.

When it comes to the draft, selecting safeties are perhaps the least reliable in terms of knowing whose going when and prospects panning out. There are a few potential mid/late first round players in terms of safeties and converted corners that can excel in zone coverage. I’d doubt the Bills will be spending a first or second round pick to address the area, but if the right guy is there afterwards, don’t be shocked if the Bills take one off the board.

Prospects:

Day 1: Clinton-Dix, Pryor, Ward
Day 2: Joyner, Bailey, Bucannon, Brooks, Breeland, Reynolds
Day 3: Boston, Exum, Cockwell, Sunseri, Dowling

Right Tackle

Erik Pears has been an okay starter in the past but, has struggled for stretches over the past few seasons. Additionally the guy we thought that could usurp him, Chris Hairston, has been sidelined with medical condition(s) unknown so his availability is up in the air despite some promising looks in 2012. The bright side is that the Bills have a young stud at left tackle in Cordy Glenn, but could still use some depth.

This draft has tackles galore and what helps is that the Bills are not having to look for a left tackle. It is a lot harder for a right tackle to switch to left, but not as difficult the other way around. Further helping the Bills is the fact that there are fewer teams needing to draft a tackle ahead of us although this really depends upon there being a few QBs being taken beforehand.

Prospects:

Day 1: Robinson, Matthews, Lewan, Martin
Day 2: Moses, Kouandjio, Mewhort, James, Richardson, Turner
Day 3: Patchan, Hurst, Schofield

Wide Receiver

The Bills just brought in Mike Williams (and his hefty contract from the Bucs). This means though that the Bills have a bit of a logjam at wide receiver. By that I mean the Bills have a ton of wide receivers that fit the #2 WR mold perfectly: Robert Woods, the aforementioned Mike Williams and Stevie Johnson (who also costs a pretty penny). But what they lack is a dominating #1 (tall) receiver for E.J. Manuel to target along the sideline.

This draft features an excellent corps of receivers, but if they want to go big, they’d be better off doing so in the early rounds. Obviously your better (#1) receivers will go early, but they could wait a while longer from a tall prospect given the pool of veterans the Bills have currently to add a red-zone target.

Prospects:

Day 1: Watkins, Evans, Beckham Jr.
Day 2: Benjamin, Robinson, Matthews, Moncrief, Latimer, Bryant
Day 3: Coleman, Street, Janis, Washington, Hoffman

Tight End

There is a great argument for nabbing a tight end early to give Manuel another tall target. (Do not be surprised if the Bills take Ebron in the first round especially if a tackle is not available.) Scott Chandler has provided a breath of fresh air from the last decade, but he has limitations especially with his blocking. In addition, more two tight end formations are being used to provide mismatches; Smith, Gragg and Moeaki, the Bills depth TEs have not seen a lot of playing time.

We have a lot of receiving tight ends and a good number of blocking TEs, but few are balanced evenly. At the same time though, this is probably the best class of tight ends in the last several years. Ebron is a great receiving threat (and okay blocker), but if the Bills decide to pass over him, they still have several decent options to choose from.

Prospects:

Day 1: Ebron
Day 2: ASJ, Niklas, Amaro, Fiedorowicz
Day 3: Lynch, Gilmore, Rodgers, Grimble, Duncan, Webster, Lyerla

With these four positions settled, the Bills will stand a better chance of winning games in the upcoming 2014 season. But in order to do that, we need to be able to win against some tough opponents and that all starts with the three teams in our division.

Go Bills!

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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