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Buffalo Rumblings Authors Mock, Take Six

This is Buffalo Rumblings' sixth and final (for now) Authors Mock Draft. I'll pick up where my initial version of the mock draft left off. As I wrote last week, there's really no one left on the board who fits the #11 selection for the Bills; the top ten picks I made (which nullified most of the more common names mentioned here) are reviewable here. Brian didn't say that trades were verboten, but I'm guessing that was kind of implied. I see Buffalo dropping back in the first round, either with a team wanting a QB or a team wanting one of the remaining two top offensive tackles. If the Bills stay put, here's how I see it shaking out.

Round 1: Rey Maualuga, MLB, USC
If the first ten picks play out as I fear they might, Buffalo will be in position to have fans shouting, "Newman!". At #11, with Brown and Orakpo off the board, the Bills are left to choose between a guy who fans will see as an okay choice, like a LB, or a flat out reach, such as a second tier DE. The Whitner Experiment has (hopefully) cured OBD from any desire to reach for a player, so they go with another LB with a hard to spell name.

Round 2: Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati
We're well into the second tier of ends by this point but Buffalo, having not really addressed the DE position in free agency, has to get a fourth DE. Barwin figures to be the fifth or sixth DE off the board. He's about the size of DE the Bills seem to prefer. Unless Buffalo's DE talent evaluation is better than we have reason to suspect, the Bills may well be adding a Chris Kelsay under a different name. By this point, I'm hurling things in the general direction of the TV and I suspect many Bills fans are simply staring at ESPN in stunned disbelief that another draft is going awry.

Round 3: James Casey, TE, Rice
For the umpteenth time, the TE position gets yet another lick and (unfulfilled) promise. No, I don't think Casey is the answer to the question, "Who does Buffalo get at TE that can stretch the seam and can also block?". He's just a mid-round athletic draft choice who the Bills hope turns into a pleasant surprise. In a draft relatively thin at TE, the Bills do at least get the third or fourth one off the board. Draftniks will say "value". Some Bills fans will ask: can he play center?

Round 4: A.Q. Shipley, C, Penn State
Yes. As a matter of fact, I am livid by this point of the draft. Buffalo has let all of the top C prospects be taken before finally turning some attention to the position. Shipley isn't a guy who can step in and start. He's quite possibly not even a guy who can start down the road. This pick makes it a virtual certainty that Preston retains his starting role, assuming the Bills failed to secure a center in free agency. Ugh.

Round 5: Quinn Johnson, FB, LSU
Tired of being outmaneuvered through the entirety of the first four rounds, the Bills reach for a guy destined to be a fan favorite. He's also only the second guy from this draft destined to have any kind of instant impact for Buffalo. Johnson can catch and, more importantly, he can open lanes and move piles for Marshawn Lynch. Yes, he's a reach in round five, but no Bills fan will remember that by October.

Round 6: Marko Mitchell, WR, Nevada
He's tall and has some room to add muscle to his frame. Does that scream "Project!" to you, too? He's a possible stop-gap while OBD twiddles their collective fingers awaiting James Hardy's recovery. More likely, he's a practice squad guy and there's a very good chance he won't make the team at all.

Round 7: John Parker Wilson, QB, Alabama
Having decided that Gibran Hamdan (or some journeyman free agent) is the backup QB, the Bills take a shot in the dark at an all-out project. OBD might be imagining new Bills Backers chapters opening up in the deep south. On the plus side, Wilson did show up in some big games and should at least make the practice squad. [Editor's Note: Plus, the Bills can't go without a quarterback with the initials J.P. It's impossible.]

I, for one, will be bitterly disappointed if the draft shakes out as I've listed. Maualuga and Johnson will start and perhaps even exceed the low expectations generated by this draft. Casey will contribute while Barwin will quite possibly have an Ellis-esque type of year. Three of the picks - Shipley, Mitchell and Wilson - won't have any impact in 2009, 2010, and possibly 2011. What a waste.

Luckily, there are alternative options. They're after the jump. Go ahead and take a gander before voting in the poll.

Okay, that's the horror show and one I fear could play out in reality. Now let's take a look at what could happen if Buffalo traded out of #11. I believe that it is a real possibility if Brown, Orakpo, Curry, Maybin, Raji and Jenkins are all picked in the Top 10. Unfortunately for Buffalo, other teams will know that the Bills are in a tight spot and I can see them making lowball offers for the #11.

Door 2
One team that may be looking to repeat the Browns' 2007 strategy (without the holdout) is the Detroit Lions. Owners of the #20 pick (originally Dallas'), the Lions need to get ahead of Chicago to ensure they get QB Mark Sanchez to go along with the OT I've predicted - or get a top OT if they go QB with the first overall pick. The Lions can lowball the Bills by offering the #20 and #65 (first pick of third round) with perhaps a third or fourth in the 2010 draft to officially match the points for the #11 pick. Yes, Buffalo might get more - say #20, #65 and a swap of second rounders - as Detroit has two picks each in the first and third. However, I'm trying to be consistently negative. [Editor's Note: ... had not noticed.] As with the no-trade mock above, I'm operating under the pessimistic assumption that Buffalo has failed to seriously address any of the top needs (C, DE, LB, TE) in free agency.

Round 1 (f/DET): Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
Brown (KC), Orakpo (Raiders), Tyson Jackson (Houston - helping out Super Mario and making a scary defensive line), and Michael Johnson (Chicago - irritated that Sanchez is gone) are all off the board. Simply put, why take a DE here when the same guy (Barwin) will likely be available when Buffalo picks in the second? Pettigrew is the consensus best TE in the draft (whatever that is worth) and should upgrade the Bills' passing game. This pick also allows the Bills to part ways with Robert Royal.

Round 2: Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati
And the song remains the same. Barwin is likely the best remaining DE when the Bills pick in the second round. He's definitely a second tier prospect, so fans looking for an instant impact can look elsewhere in the draft. There's a chance that he could help boost the pass rush but, then again, how could he not?

Round 3 (f/DET): Ron Brace, DT, Boston College
DT is a need, but not as pressing of a need as C and LB. With that said, Brace is a big boy who can help clog the middle. He's not likely to get much of a push on passing downs but he would be a solid addition to the DT rotation. He could help brace up (Nyuck! Nyuck!) Marcus Stroud, Kyle Williams and Spencer Johnson. (Yes, I'm assuming John McCargo is gone.)

Round 3: Antoine Caldwell, C, Alabama
Caldwell isn't an immediate starter. Sigh. He does, however, have the tools necessary to unseat Preston (groan) at some point during the year. With Alex Mack and Eric Wood most likely off the board (possibly Unger and Luigs as well) Caldwell is the best remaining option at C.

Round 4: Cody Brown, LB, Connecticut
Waiting until the fourth round (fifth pick) to address LB won't make many Bills fans happy. However, with TE, DE, DT and C addressed I can see Buffalo taking the best available LB - who may well be the best player available as well. Brown should send Ellison to the bench in short order, at least on downs that aren't obvious passing situations. He has good size (6'2", 248 pounds) and should be more of a force against the run than Ellison.

Round 5: Rhett Bomar, QB, Sam Houston State
Bomar is purely a developmental guy. If he's on the field in 2009, Buffalo is in real trouble. Bomar might be able to supplant Hamdan (or a journeyman QB free agent) by 2010. I can see him being on the roster but spending most game days as the designated third QB - thus not counting as one of the 45 active players.

Round 6: Quinn Johnson, FB, LSU
Having nabbed the top TE in the draft, a DE who might contribute at least somewhat, a DT who should help the run defense and a LB who should at least push Ellison, the Bills won't feel obligated to take Johnson in the fifth round. Instead, OBD is still derided for reaching for Johnson - just not with the hooting and funereal head shaking that would have happened if the Bills took him in the fifth round, as in the previous scenario.

Round 7: Kory Sheets, RB, Purdue
Sheets is nothing more than a late round flier. He's a smaller RB who might provide a third down change of pace. He's something of a long shot to make the roster but might keep the Bills from giving Shaud Williams a call.

I, for one, would be far, far happier with this draft...

TE Pettigrew, DE Barwin, DT Brace, C Caldwell, LB Brown, QB Bomar, FB Johnson, RB Sheets

... than this one.

LB Maualuga, DE Barwin, TE Casey, C Shipley, FB Johnson, WR Mitchell, QB Wilson

Door 3
As I've stated, at this point I'm assuming that C, DE, LB and TE are still gaping holes when the draft begins. We'll see what happens as free agency gets underway. One significant free agent pick up could change the draft remarkably - not only a pick up by the Bills, but by the teams with the top ten draft picks.

Here's how I think it could go if Buffalo swapped the #11 and #75 with Philly for the #21 and #28 (a distinct possibility, as the Eagles could use an OT under the age of 47, or however old Jon Runyan is).

Round 1 (f/PHI): Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
As noted above, he is the consensus top TE in the draft and should bump Royal off of the roster. Just giving Royal the heave-ho would make him the pick for many Bills fans.

Round 1 (f/PHI): Alex Mack, C, California
I'm a happy, happy man because Buffalo has a center who can step in and play. Preston is, at a minimum, demoted. It would be ideal to get a DE here but the top four ends will be off the board by pick #20, so....

Round 2: Connor Barwin, DE, Cincinnati
I swear I'm not related to the guy. I also don't believe he's some kind of DE monster. He's just the fifth rated DE on mock after mock.

Round 3: traded to Eagles

Round 4: Cody Brown, LB, Connecticut
See above.

Round 5: Rhett Bomar, QB, Sam Houston State
See above.

Round 6: Quinn Johnson, FB, LSU
See above.

Round 7: Kory Sheets, RB, Purdue
See above.

So, you've got three different drafts to rip to shreds. The first is with no trades and, I think, leaves Buffalo in a bad spot if Brown, Orakpo, Raji, Curry, Maybin and Jenkins are off the board. The second is the Detroit trade (#11 for #20 and #65) while the third is the Philly trade (#11 and #75 for #21 and #28). If you had to pick one, which would it be? (Hmm... maybe after all the mocks are posted, someone can do a story/poll letting people pick between the mocks we've posted...)

Door 1: Maualuga, Barwin, Casey, Shipley, Johnson, Mitchell, Wilson
Door 2: Pettigrew, Barwin, Brace, Caldwell, Brown, Bomar, Johnson, Sheets
Door 3: Pettigrew, Mack, Barwin, Brown, Bomar, Johnson, Sheets

Happy Valentine's Day. Yes, you do now have to go out and buy flowers. [Editor's Note: No, you don't. Valentine's Day isn't a real holiday.]