Buffalo Bills mailbag: 2014 NFL Draft needs in focus

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NFL Draft is on the minds of Buffalo Bills fans already - and we're already digging the topic of potential dark horse positional needs sneaking into the Round 1 or Round 2 discussion.

Now that we're in full blown offseason mode here at Buffalo Rumblings, our weekly Buffalo Bills mailbag feature is hurting for questions. Please, please, please keep sending your queries in - buffalorumblings@gmail.com or @BuffRumblings are the best places to do so - and we'll keep talking about the things that are at the forefront of your minds this spring. Let's dive right into this week's set of questions!

Branden Albert will be paid gobs of money to go play left tackle for a team like the Arizona Cardinals, who are just one of many teams in need of help up front.

Buffalo does not need a left tackle. They do need an upgrade at right tackle, but they can't spend that much on a right tackle, particularly when they've got to pay their left tackle big money in another year or two. Speaking of that: it's been said before and it will be said many more times, but the Bills are just fine leaving the blind side of the line in the very capable hands of Cordy Glenn. He does not need to be moved to right tackle. He does not need to be moved to guard. Glenn is a very good left tackle, and if you have a very good left tackle, your biggest problem up front is solved. You don't need to pay out the nose and alienate your best offensive lineman by messing with that formula.

What do you see as a possible dark horse spot that could see an upgrade before the consensus big needs of WR/TE, OG, ILB in the draft - say, in the first two rounds?

Well, first thing's first: we're still waiting for the Bills to spend an early-round pick on a guard, despite fans spending tons of time talking about how the Bills would consider guys like David DeCastro and Chance Warmack that early in the draft, only for that to not happen. Buffalo's organizational philosophy, seemingly, is that they can develop mid-to-late round prospects into starters. The one time they've made an exception there was when they picked up Glenn to play left tackle in Round 2.

It's not a sure bet that the Bills will target inside linebacker that early, either. Yes, they need a guy to play inside next to Kiko Alonso, but unless that player can also play somewhere on the nickel defense, he's going to land somewhere in the wheelhouse of 45-55 percent of snaps played. If there's a linebacker there that can play more than that and be the complement to Kiko Alonso that they need, then sure, they may very well take the plunge. That's not a given.

A receiving target that causes matchup problems makes a lot of sense in the first round, but that dark horse candidate is probably a defensive back. Obviously, the Jairus Byrd situation bears watching; if he's allowed to leave, the Bills could be looking at the possibility of re-signing Jim Leonhard and penciling him in as a starter. Then there's Nickell Robey, the popular nickel cornerback that did a lot of things well as a rookie and is a totally useful player to have around, but whose size limitations lower his ceiling long-term. I think if the Bills see another defensive back like Aaron Williams (and hey, maybe that guy is Duke Williams) - a guy that can play safety in base packages and drop down into the slot against the pass - they might pounce quickly. Aaron Williams was a hugely valuable player for the Bills this season, and I don't think the Bills will want to just hand jobs to Robey and, if it comes to it, Leonhard next summer.

Thanks to "Blown Coverage" for the question!

Let's answer that question with a question: how do you define "featured back"? Sure, Fred Jackson played a ton more than C.J. Spiller did this season, but Spiller was still the team's leading rusher, and had 235 total touches to Jackson's 253. And that's considering his missing a game and being limited in several others with a gimpy ankle, as well.

Neither back is really featured; then again, maybe both backs are. The 2014 season is a contract year for both Spiller (who can opt out of his six-year rookie deal after the fifth year, 2014, is complete) and Jackson (whose three year extension covered the 2012-2014 seasons). For starters, the Bills need to draft a running back they like at some point this year and get him into the offense. Then, they need to explore ways to use Spiller as more than just a running back, because a guy that talented shouldn't be off the field for two out of every three plays. It's tough to envision Jackson's role changing much, particularly on third downs.

If the Bills do take a quarterback in the draft, it'll be a mid-round guy that they stash and develop. But what are the odds, really, that they'd do that? They like all three of their young quarterbacks (EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel). They will continue to develop those players, and it's tough to see how adding yet another inexperienced guy with upside to the mix would be anything other than a move to placate Manuel's detractors.

If they make a change there at all, it should be adding a veteran to the group, which they tried to do last year with Kevin Kolb. Manuel needs a veteran quarterback in his ear on the sidelines on game days.

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