Pre-Draft RB Analysis

The Past:

After three years of declining production, mediocrity and diarrhea of the mouth, Willis McGahee was finally shipped off to a 'better situation' in Baltimore.  He flashed the potential to be a great one in his 3 years, especially in year 1, but his dancing in the backfield and continued berating of the city of Buffalo really got under the fans skin.  Marv had no other choice that to trade McGahee.  I personally think he did pretty well getting two 3rd rounders and a later 7th round pick.  I was hoping we could pull a 2nd rounder, but getting two first day picks isn't a bad haul.  McGahee openly complained of a poor line in Buffalo, but if he expects much better in Baltimore after losing a couple free agents and with Johnathan Ogden in limbo, he may be in for a rude awakening.  Siyanara.

Anthony Thomas ran hard when he got some carries last year.  Week 1 against New England he looked great and seemed destined to begin stealing some of McGahee's carries.  That didn't happen as the A-Train didn't have more than 4 yards in any game until the Green Bay game when McGahee went down on the 1st drive.  Thomas came in and rushed 20 times for 95 yards and a TD. He looked prime for a big game the following week against Indy, but had a quiet 109 yards.  Good yardage totals indeed, but he never really provided the offense any sort of big play threat.  Surprisingly, his biggest contributions from then on came in the passing game.  I, for one, was very impressed with his receiving skills, though again he didn't really turn anything into a big play.  He did prove to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield and a good workhorse type back to help wear a defense down.  His limitations are evident and the Bills need to find a compliment to A-Train's skills in the coming weeks.

Shaud Williams, to me, is nothing more than a warm body on the roster.  I don't see him having any impact this year.  Fred Jackson is a guy who's had some success over in Europe, but how well that can translate to the NFL is anybody's guess.  He's got decent size and supposedly adequate speed, so I'm more than willing to give him plenty of opportunities to force Williams out the door.  He could be a nice 3rd RB and Special Teams player for us.

Good riddance to Daimon Shelton, one of the worst blocking FB's in the league.  If I had to watch him go through another season whiffing on blocks, I would have lost my mind.  Thanks for keeping me sane, Marv....I hope.

The Present:

With only 3 RB's on the roster, it's obvious we need to bring in one back that will get substantial carries and in my opinion another guy who will be fighting for a roster spot with Williams and Jackson.  Right now Anthony Thomas is the starter and Shaud Williams is the backup.  If that doesn't keep you up at night, then you aren't a Bills fan.  We need to get a guy that will come in and be able to take 15-20 touches a game and threaten a defense with big play ability.  There are a number of different directions we can to help solidify the position....

The Future:

....trying to figure out which direction we go is a whole different question.

We have brought in Chris Brown and Michael Turner for visits.  The rumor is the Chargers have rejected an offer of our 2nd round pick for Turner.  I personally think they are crazy.  San Diego will be losing Turner next offseason regardless, so if they can get a top 50 pick this year, I really don't see why they wouldn't go for it.  On our side of it, I think a 2nd is still somewhat steep.  I really do like Turner as a back and he looks like a perfect fit for our offense, but I don't think the cost for a RB should be that high.  Thomas Jones was had for a swap of 2nd rounders (equivolent to a late 2nd) and McGahee got us a couple 3rd's and a 7th (equivolent to a late 2nd).  Giving up a higher 2nd round pick for a much less proven back is somewhat risky. Nobody knows if Turner can handle a full-time RB job with 20+ touches a game.  He's been nicked up in his 3 seasons with San Diego in limited action.  I worry that he may be in and out of the lineup when he starts taking a bigger pounding weekly.  However, I think his potential to be a great back coupled with his excellent size and breakaway speed make him a very intriguing option.  We shall see in the next 2 weeks if Marv can get it done or AJ Smith will come to his sense.

Chris Brown seems to be off the table.  He was in and out when he visited and there's been no news since.  I can't imagine he's as high on our list as some others guys right now.  Depending on how the Draft goes and the Turner saga concludes, Brown may pop back up on the radar.  I have a feeling he's going to resign with Tennessee to take their starting position.

The Draft has a couple of seemingly appealing options to upgrade and hopefully solve our RB situation.  Obviously, the most intriguing is Adrian Peterson.  He's the complete package of good size and excellent speed, with a big time program pedigree under his belt.  His biggest knock is his constant injury issues, which is indeed a red flag.  His upright running style, along with his punishing attack leaves him open to big hits.  He is also a less than accomplished receiver, which Steve Fairchild has been hoping to gain at the RB position.  Unless he falls to #12, Peterson is not worth obtaining.  If we really wanted to make sure we got him, we'd have to probably move to #6 or 7 in the Draft to get him, which means we may have to part with our 2nd rounder or at the least, our first 3rd rounder.  With such glaring holes at LB, CB and to a lesser extent WR, I do not think it is wise to go trading away extra picks for a RB.

The next option is Marshawn Lynch from Cal, who many of the pundits believe is going to be our pick at #12.  He's an excellent receiver, has good size and speed and would be an excellent compliment to the A-Train.  However, some question his character (I don't) and back problems (I do).  Back injuries are serious problems, as I speak from experience, and if it is anything serious, we cannot risk taking him so high.  I'm guessing it's minor as it really hasn't come out as being that serious, but it still is a question.  The other question is, is he really good enough to be the #12 pick?  From watching a few Cal games the past couple of years, I do not think he's on the same level as some of the recent 1st round RB picks (Addai, Maroney, Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, even McGahee and Kevin Jones, all of whom were taken later).  I would pass on him at #12.  However, we could look to move back into the bottom of the first round if he slips past Green Bay at #16.  Assuming we take a LB or a CB at #12, we could offer our 2nd and one of the 3rd's, ala last year, to move into the early 20's if Lynch is still there.  I think that may be much better value than #12.

Antonio Pittman, Kenny Irons and Brandon Jackson are the other guys I like in this draft.  They could all go anywhere from the mid 2nd to the late 3rd.  I think they go off the board in the order I listed them, so I'm thinking Pittman would have to be taken with our 2nd rounder.  Irons and Jackson should be available with our first 3rd and would be nice picks there.  Pittman and Irons are the better pure runners, while Jackson is a great receiver and brings excellent shiftiness to the position.  I like Pittman the most because of his experience and success at Ohio State.  His breakaway speed would go well with A-Train.

I do not consider Michael Bush a serious option because of his injury issues.  We cannot afford to draft a RB that may not be available come the start of the season.  He may be one of the top 3 talented backs in the draft, but he is not a good pick for us.  

I don't think Brian Leonard or Tony Hunt are good picks for us either.  Both are between the tackles grinders, just like Thomas.  We need to add a big play threat to the backfield, not another A-Train.

What to do:

I think Marv really wants to make sure Turner is a Bill, but only at the right price.  It's obvious that the front office really likes Turner, as Mr. Wilson sent his private jet to pick him up.  Now if only AJ Smith would budge on his ridiculous 1st round pick demand.  NO VETERAN RB IS WORTH A 1ST ROUND PICK. There is no need to set a precedence now with Turner.  Come draft day I think Smith would take the 2nd round pick for Turner.  In that case, I think he's our best option.  I think he's better than Lynch, Pittman and Co.  Keeping the #12 open for a guy like Patrick Willis would be much more appealing to me, so I think trading our 2nd for Turner is the best way to go.  We have the cap space and the means to obtain him.  I do not believe anything more than our 2nd should be considered.  We have 4 first day picks, so we cannot afford to use two on a veteran RB.  In the end, I think Turner is a Bill for the 2nd rounder.

If that doesn't happen, I think Pittman in the 2nd or Irons/Jackson in the 3rd are our next best options.

After we get one of those done, I would also like to add an undrafted rookie free agent.  I've got my eye on a few smaller school guys: Alonzo Coleman (Hampton), who has good size, excellent speed and had great success at his level; Ahmad Bradshaw (Marshall), a smaller back with decent speed and great hands, but character issues probably take him off the board; Justice Hairston (Central Connecticut State), a Rutgers transfer who has ideal size and respectable speed; and my favorite DD Terry (Sam Houston St), a guy who runs in the 4.3-4.4 range, has good size at 6'1", but could add 10 lbs, and has decent receiving skills.  

I would go with a trade for Turner and picking up one of those potential undrafted rookies, Terry or Coleman specifically.


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