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
3: The Three Divisional Foes
2: My Two Potential Mocks
1: THE FIRST ROUND POLL
The Bills always seem to be in that situation where they get a pick in the top half of the first round, but are unable to improve as a team so far. The Bills have another Top 10 pick at ninth overall to work with and between a flurry of free agent signings and getting a new owner soon, will need to do well with this draft. For those of you who follow the Our Mock series, I am changing this last bit slightly from what you all know (and love).
The Bills biggest needs once more are OT, TE, WR, DE and FS with LB and RB depth also factoring in. Below are SEVENTEEN names AND draft options for you to consider. Note: I am not a draft trade expert, so based on past trades and draft trade value charts I tried to generally give you an idea of the costs of trading up or down in the draft. Also, for more information, please feel free to consult any draft site, including CBSSports, WalterFootball or CFBStats.
TRADE UP TO 1: DE Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina [6-5, 266, 4.51]
The cost of doing so is very high, but Clowney terrorized the SEC and clearly has great physical ability. At the Combine he ran a fast 40, had 21 bench press reps, a 1.54’ split and a 37.5" vertical. He’s quick and has a wide array of moves but has some questionable work ethic. In 2013 he had 40 tackles (11.5 for loss), 3 sacks, 9 hurries and 4 passes batted down. The year before, he had 23.5 TFL and 13 sacks.
Cost: 9th overall pick, 2nd round pick, future 1st round pick at least.
TRADE UP TO 2: WR Sammy Watkins – Clemson [6-1, 211, 4.39]
Jacksonville will be hard pressed not to take a receiver given the Blackmon fiasco; oh and the fact that Watkins is a beast. Watkins had 101 receptions for 1,464 yards (14.5 avg) and 12 TDs this year alone. He’s fast, physical, runs good routes and has good hands. At the Combine he had 16 bench press reps, a 34" vertical and a 1.54’ 10 yd split.
Cost: 9th overall pick, future 1st round pick.
TRADE UP TO 3: OLB Khalil Mack – Buffalo [6-3, 251, 4.55]
Mack is the best senior in the draft with the abilities of a linebacker (able to defend the pass) and pass rusher. He set/tied records for forced fumbles (16) and tackles for loss (75) and has incredible athleticism. He ran a 1.53’ split, 23 bench press reps and a 40" vertical. In 2013 he had 100 tackles (19 for loss), 10.5 sacks, 6 hurries, 5 FFs, 7 passes broken up and 3 picks (2 for touchdowns).
Cost: 9th overall, 2nd round pick, future 2nd or 3rd pick.
TRADE UP TO 4: OT Greg Robinson – Auburn [6-5, 332, 4.85]
The Bills trading up with Cleveland is a possibility and there is certainly a connection between these two teams. If Robinson is around here, the Bills would be hard pressed not to look at him; the top tackle of draft needs a little tweaking, but his athleticism and potential is uncanny. At the Combine he had a ridiculously fast 40, a 1.71’ 10 yard split and 32 bench press reps. One word: PANCAKE!
Cost 9th overall pick and 2nd round pick.
TRADE UP TO 5: OT Jake Matthews – Texas A&M [6-5, 308, 5.01]
Matthews is probably the most technically sound tackle in the draft with the ability to play left or right side (more starting experience here). And yet he is not the top tackle on the board because of slightly shorter arm length - . Still he performed strongly at the Combine with a fast 40, a 1.73’ split and 24 bench press reps. If the Bills don’t trade up, Atlanta could grab him at 6th overall, especially if there isn’t a run on QBs early in the draft. Cost: 9th overall pick, 3rd and 5th.
TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina [6-4, 250, 4.56]
The Bills retained Chandler, but the Bills could upgrade his spot. Ebron is not a complete tight end, but had the strongest Combine showing at his position with good speed and measurements. He ran a fast 40, a 1.56’ split and had 24 bench reps. He is an adequate blocker, but as a receiver, he’s a great mismatch having caught 62 passes for 973 yards (15.7 avg) and 3 TDs this past season.
WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M [6-5, 231, 4.46]
Evans is another tall receiver who in my mind did a lot to solidify his draft stock at the Combine. NOTE: Tampa may take him before us… He ran a good 40, a 1.60’ split and had a 37" vertical to go with his big frame and 35" arms. Evans biggest asset is his use of his body to reach over and around defenders to catch the ball. He made 69 catches for 1,394 yards (20.2 avg) and 12 TDs.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. – LSU [5-11, 198, 4.38]
Beckham Jr. lacks the size the Bills are looking for, but he has speed and physicality. In 2013 he had 59 catches 1,152 yards (19.5 avg) and 8 TDs. At the Combine he only had 7 bench press reps, but coupled that with a 38.5" vertical and a 1.56’ split.
OT Taylor Lewan – Michigan [6-7, 309, 4.79]
Lewan is a big tackle who also showed really well at the Combine in drills and physical tests alike. Lewan could have been a top-10 tackle last year as well. He logged 29 reps on the bench and has average 33.9" arms and an incredible 40 time. Some have him ranked as the #2 tackle on the board over Matthews.
OT Zack Martin – Notre Dame [6-4, 308, 5.22]
Since the Senior Bowl, Martin has been proving critics wrong that his shorter frame and arms would be better suited inside. In fact he looked much more able playing tackle than at guard although he definitely has the ability to do so. He has great instincts and lateral ability. He did well at the Combine and had 29 bench press reps.
OLB Anthony Barr – UCLA [6-5, 255, 4.41]
The Bills may be more traditional in their 4-3 look and could take a 4-3 end to complement Jerry Hughes. Barr has the pass rushing ability and great size, (listed more so as an OLB) and improved at his Pro-day with a 1.57’ split and 19 bench reps with a 34.5" vertical. This season he posted 66 tackles (20 for loss), 10 sacks, 2 hurries and 6 forced fumbles (FFs). He
DL Aaron Donald – Pittsburgh [6-1, 285, 4.68]
Though technically a DT, Donald’s athleticism and rushing ability are quite outstanding (and given me cause to dub him the Mini-Meatball). He notched 35 reps on the bench (2nd among DLs) and a good 40, a 1.63’ split and a 32" vertical. In 2013 Donald made 59 tackles (28.5 for loss), 11 sacks, 16 hurries and 4 FFs. Teams really should overlook his height.
LB C.J. Mosley – Alabama [6-2, 234, 4.63]
Mosley is a solid interior linebacker whom would be the heir to Spikes after this season. He led a tough Crimson Tide "D" and has excellent instincts. He ran a good 40, a nice 1.56’ split with a 35" vertical and 15 bench press reps.
Gain: a 2nd round pick.
DB Hasean Clinton-Dix – Alabama [6-1, 208, 4.58]
The Bills opted to let Byrd go and as such may have a void at free safety unless they plan to start Searcy or Duke Williams (and even then they have question marks). HaHa is one of the top safeties on the board, but was suspended for a few games this past season. He did well at the Combine with a fast 40. He also ran a 1.60’ split, 11 bench press reps and a 33" vertical.
TRADE BACK TO 16: DE Kony Ealy – Missouri [6-4, 273, 4.69]
Ealy’s stock has risen a bit after a strong senior year, but he didn’t stand out, nor hurt himself at the Combine. He ran a faster 40 at his Pro-day with a 1.69’ split, a 31" vertical and 22 bench reps. Ealy had 42 tackles (14 for loss), 8 sacks, 7 hurries, 3 FFs, 6 passes blocked and a pick six in 2013.
Gain: a 2nd round pick. [Dallas is a logical trading partner, cost efficient for both teams.]
TRADE BACK TO 16: DE Dee Ford – Auburn [6-2, 252, 4.59]
Ford is one of those tweener DE/OLB being on the smaller size, but was one of the SEC’s best pass rushers. Ford is on did very well at his Pro-day with a good 40, a 1.67’ split and 29 bench press reps. He has a good initial burst. In 2013 he recorded 29 tackles (14.5 for loss), 10.5 sacks, 17 hurries and 2 FFs.
Gain: a 2nd round pick.
TRADE BACK TO 16: LB Ryan Shazier – Ohio St [6-1, 237, 4.38]
As with Mosley, the Bills have displayed interest in Shazier although he is not expected to be around when the Bills pick next. Part of the reason, aside from a good 2013 campaign, was his blazing 40 and 1.56’ split, 25 bench reps and a 42" vertical from the Combine. He has good anticipation against the pass and run.
Gain: a 2nd round pick.
TRADE BACK TO 16: DB Calvin Pryor – Louisville [5-11, 207, 4.58]
Pryor’s name has been slowly on the rise, given a decent outing at the Combine. Although he’s smaller than HaHa, he had a better bench press (18), split (1.58’) and vertical (34.5"). Both are aggressive players. In 2013 Pryor logged 75 tackles (5.5 for loss), 3 hurries 2 FFs, 4 passes defended and 3 picks.
Gain: a 2nd round pick.
TRADE BACK TO 16: DB Justin Gilbert – Oklahoma St [6-0, 202, 4.31]
In this pass-happy league, it pays to have corners, plus the Bills could throw in an excellent candidate for free safety. Gilbert is arguably the best corner of the draft, with fantastic speed; he posted a 1.54’ split, 20 bench press reps and a 35.5" vertical. He needs refining, but could be a solid player later on. He had 42 tackles, 7 passes broken-up, and 7 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns).
Gain: a 2nd round pick.