With more than two weeks fully elapsed since the start of the NFL's free agent signing period, the Buffalo Bills are hitting the home stretch in terms of veteran player additions. The team made an early splash in the period, adding plenty of help to their defensive front seven with the additions of defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson along with linebacker Kawika Mitchell. The team has since added tight end Courtney Anderson and is poised to make serious bids to add DE James Hall and CB William James as well.
For the most part, however, we as Bills fans can now focus on the next big event - April's NFL Draft. With the Bills re-tooling their needs list (and our community following suit next week), the authors of Buffalo Rumblings - sireric, Kurupt, jri111 and myself - thought it would be prudent to bring to y'all what we're calling the Buffalo Rumblings Authors Mock. Coming to you this week, we'll have seven rounds of mock draft excellence, ripe for your analysis and critiques.
We'll start with Round 1 today; Rounds 2, 3, 4/5 and 6/7 will follow throughout the rest of the week. Once we get through this mock and the re-tooling of the community needs list, we'll have our own community-wide mock draft, in which Rumblers far and wide will be able to vote on who they believe should be picked in each round. We'll go with the consensus vote and come up with our own community mock - which should be very interesting, to say the least. For now, we'll stick with your analysis of the authors mock; Round 1 is below.
1-11. Limas Sweed, WR, Texas.
- When push comes to shove, the Bills' top priority in the draft will be to find as much offensive impact as possible. Sweed isn't a sure-fire future Pro Bowl player, but he's tall, very athletic, has good hands and is dependable over the middle. If he can stay healthy in the early part of his career, his future is bright - and he'd finally give the Bills a good (potentially elite) threat in the red zone. I prefer Sweed over Malcolm Kelly at this point based on the fact that Sweed was willing to work out at the Combine, coupled with Kelly's lingering knee issues. My mind could certainly change before the draft - and I'm sure I'll flip-flop several times - but for now, the pick is definitively Sweed.
1-11. Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida.
- I'll go with Harvey even though I would love Vernon Gholston; I just don't think he will fall that far. Harvey, at 6'4" and 271 pounds, is a solid pass rusher, and could easily boost a stagnant Bills pass rush. One more note - I know Harvey is considered a DE/LB and the Bills have been calling a lot of zone-blitzes of late (one factor that I believe led to some of the diminished sack numbers). So who would you rather have drop back in zone coverage: Derrick Harvey or Ryan Denney?
1-11. Limas Sweed, WR, Texas.
- I did a 7-round mock two weeks ago and I had the Bills selecting Malcolm Kelly with their first round pick (however, I had them trading down in that scenario). The more I look at the two receivers however, the more I like Sweed. Last season, prior to the injury, Sweed was my top receiver coming out. Somewhere along the lines Kelly slipped past him, but now I'm back with Sweed. At 6'4", 215 lbs, Sweed would be the perfect compliment to Lee Evans. My favorite attribute about Sweed is his ability to be aggressive when catching the ball. He always fights for the ball and attempts to make the catch at the highest point. I picked a WR here (even though I am in the camp that believes they can only contribute so much in their first year), because I think it's the Bills' biggest need along with corner. I don't like any of the first round corners at #11 (with the exception of McKelvin, who I think will be off the board by then) and don't get me started on the possibility of taking a DE. The only way I would consider taking a DE is if Gholston fell, which I don't think is likely either.
1-11. Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
- I have said it numerous times, and will continue the onslaught until we upgrade our pass rush. I would be kind saying it was non-existent last year. With only 3 DEs on the roster (sorry Ryan Neill and Copeland Bryan) and the fact that they are either on the wrong side of 30 (Schobel, Denney) or approaching it quickly (Kelsay), it's time to get younger and faster. Toss in Kelsay and Denney coming off of significant injuries and we're looking at a big-time need here. Harvey has good size (6'4", 271 lbs), is very quick off the ball, really improved in run support this past year and is known for his pass rushing skills. He's the perfect fit for a Cover-2 defense, which requires speed off the edge, and will help our underwhelming secondary improve. I've been getting tempted to go after a CB or WR at #11, but I don't like the value there to go with some question marks (injury and experience concerns), nor do I like the DE prospects after the top four.
So there you have it - round one of the Authors Mock. And, surprisingly (even to the four of us), it was a clean sweep for Derrick Harvey and Limas Sweed. Now it's your turn, Rumblers - do we even target a defensive end in the first round with Hall on the radar? Is Sweed really better than Malcolm Kelly, or even Devin Thomas? And where the heck were the first-round cornerbacks? All questions you're welcome to ask/attempt to answer in the comments section. Have at it, folks.