36 hours before the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, we ran an article here that ranked 17 potential Round 1 targets for the Buffalo Bills in terms of the "surprise factor" that each player would engender from fans if he were the pick. Our pick for the least-surprising investment - and therefore the top guy on the list - was South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
With the second round of the draft set to begin in about five hours, we thought it'd be fun to use this ranking system one more time this year before we table the exercise until next April. Without months to wrap our minds around the situation, it's much tougher to get a feel for what the team might do - but when has that ever stopped us from guessing?
The Bills have the ninth overall pick in the second round. We have 12 potential targets listed after the jump. Care to make a prediction, anyone?
"BUFFALO RUMBLINGS IS GOING TO EXPLODE."
12. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida. After taking a cornerback in the first round, it's safe to predict that fans would be freaked out by taking a second corner. The only reason we even mention Robinson here is because the team hosted him on a pre-draft visit.
11. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State. Kirk Cousins is a quarterback, and quarterback talk makes any sports blog explode. Again, we list Cousins here based on the fact that the Bills hosted him on a pre-draft visit.
10. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson. Here, again, is another player that the Bills brought to Orchard Park before the draft. The position he plays would make this pick explosion-worthy, but there'd also be a chuckle found in GM Buddy Nix drafting a Clemson player for a third straight year.
9. Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall. Yet another player that made a pre-draft visit with Buffalo, Curry was thought to be a favorite of the team's before their free agent spending extravaganza landed Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. Curry would hover between this reaction and explosion territory.
8. Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska. While all of the linebacker talk focused on Luke Kuechly this year - and for good reason - David has somehow flown under the radar as another potential three-down linebacker. Scouts like his physical nature, his instincts and his athleticism, and the Bills could still use a three-down linebacker. This would earn a "ha!" from me simply because we've liked David all along; it's no lock that he's even in contention.
7. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. It's tough to completely rule Jeffery out for us, simply because he has so much of what Nix likes - size, production, level of competition - but Jeffery seems like a long-shot. He'd fit in Buffalo's offense as a slot guy, but he's not athletic enough to be a boundary receiver. The Bills can find his type of receiver much later and get similar value.
6. Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State. If you're a believer in the theory that the Bills prefer taking guys that they've visited with, Quick is the front-runner at receiver, as the team hosted only him and Justin Blackmon pre-draft. That said, Nix and his scouts have been quick to tout Quick (you're welcome!) as a project-type receiver that would need to adjust to the level of competition. Again: they can find similar value later.
5. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech. A fan favorite seemingly everywhere thanks to top-level size and athleticism, Hill is another player that is more of a project thanks to playing in a triple-option offense. It's certainly possible that the Bills get enamored enough with him physically to take him - they made a similar investment in Round 4 in 2010 with a much less proven prospect in Marcus Easley - but we still rank him only second amongst available receivers in terms of likelihood to be picked.
4. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU. It's no lock that Randle will even be around when the Bills pick, of course, but we consider him the clear front-runner at receiver for Buffalo. Nix has admitted in interviews that he likes Randle, who is aided by being a big, athletic SEC product. Randle has been compared to Hakeem Nicks by Greg Cosell (NFL Films), and Randle has more of what Nix looks for in a receiver than anyone else left, in our opinion. That said...
3. Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State. ... we're expecting this pick to be a left tackle if there's one available. Adams made a pre-draft visit to Buffalo and definitely has the natural talent to be a long-term starter on the blind side, but character concerns and inconsistent tape have driven him out of Round 1. He could, however, push Chris Hairston for a starting job - if not immediately, then certainly in 2013.
2. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. Throughout the pre-draft process, Nix and the Bills have hinted that they'd like to take a tackle that can provide competitive depth behind projected starters Hairston and Erik Pears. They're not going to be able to wait long to do that, and Martin - a prospect who has been praised for his intelligence and versatility by Buffalo - is capable of pushing Hairston for that job immediately. Concerns about Martin's physicality have driven him out of Round 1, but the Bills can take the time to get his strength up and get him playing with an Eric Wood mindset.
1. Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia. If you ask us, however (and maybe you aren't), Glenn is the clear front-runner today. The team has openly stated that they like his size and athleticism, and multiple people in the front office have stated the organization's belief that he can play left tackle. Concerns about softness and a lack of physicality have again hurt Glenn, but Glenn has a clear advantage over Martin in size and strength at this point, giving his potential to play more immediacy. We don't think there's any way that the Bills pass on Glenn if he lasts until pick No. 41.