I should really be offering Jarvis Jones a public apology, because clearly, my Reverse Midas Touch in the annual SB Nation NFL writers' mock draft extends into the real world.
As you have probably already seen, I selected Jones with the No. 8 overall pick in this year's SB Nation mock. You can read the announcement post and vote in the pick's approval poll over at Mocking the Draft, but I wanted to riff about the pick in a separate post here at Buffalo Rumblings.
Though the Jones pick is being published today, I actually made the pick and submitted the write-up nearly a full week ago - last Tuesday, in fact, roughly 48 hours before Jones participated in Georgia's pro day. I knew that the chance existed that Jones would flop in his athletic testing and leave me with some explaining to do, but I don't think anyone expected Jones to flop as badly as 4.92-second speed and the word "terrible" being used by scouts to describe the workout.
So, again: sorry, Jarvis Jones. You deserve better from really, really bad mock drafters.
In our massive discussion leading up to this pick two weekends ago, I mentioned that I was approaching this pick not from a "who would I pick?" perspective, but from a "who do I think Buddy Nix would pick?" angle. I chose Jones because of his crazy production in the SEC (which still matters a lot) and because I expected him to run in the 4.7 range and test better athletically at his pro day. I figured that elite production, coveted skill and good-enough athleticism would put Jones in the "can't miss" portion of Nix's brain.
Once Jones' pro day went down and I knew that this post would inevitably be written, I warmed you up to the debate that Jones' pro day flop would cause (and some of you caught on to my intentions quickly): does elite production trump a bad workout and iffy athleticism? The response was fairly overwhelming, and I happen to agree with the sentiment: yeah, it will hurt Jones in the eyes of the Buffalo Bills. That doesn't mean he'll drop on the team's board - I'd be very surprised and worried if he did - but it does make him easier to pass on as the team continues its crusade to find a quarterback. It's easy to think of Jones' pro day workout as another obstacle removed from the path of taking a quarterback at No. 8.
Do I think Buddy Nix will pick Jones this year? Not anymore. Would I, in his shoes? You bet I would. Jones is not my top-rated edge rusher - in fact he's third, behind Dion Jordan and Ezekiel Ansah, who were both off the board when I picked (and Barkevious Mingo was, too) - but he's a natural edge rusher, and the Bills don't have any player (Mario Williams included) that fits that description. It's my opinion that even if Mike Pettine is the defensive coach he's made out to be, he'll never field an elite defense until that second pass rusher is found. Any of those four pass rushers would be guys that I'd target first and foremost.
Had I had the benefit of clairvoyance, however, and seen Jones' pro day numbers coming, I'd have taken Matt Barkley with this pick. If you were among those arguing against me for that very scenario two weekends ago, all I can say is this: yeah, I'm a bit of a sandbagger, and y'all would have been euchred. Boom.
The way I'm approaching the draft this year - and I think the vast majority of the fan base is, too - is to line up potential prospects that could conceivably usurp a quarterback at No. 8, then try to find reasons that Nix could conceivably pass that level of prospect up. Now that the Jones pick is made, I'll re-iterate what I said above: the athletic numbers are more than enough for Nix to pass on Jones for a quarterback, even before considering the lingering spinal stenosis red flag. Two prospects I very seriously considered in this mock may not be as easy to pass up.
I left Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner on the board; obviously, he'll be rated very highly by the Bills. I also let Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson slide by; he's exactly the type of receiver that Nix has wanted for two years, and would be a phenomenal fit in a West Coast offense, where his run-after-catch ability would be a huge asset. Right now, I'm looking at those two guys (along with potentially one or two more) as guys that Nix will lose sleep over as he contemplates reaching for a quarterback. I very nearly took Patterson (who might be my personal favorite this year), even with Jones still on the board, and even though it's clear that if Nix is passing on anyone he likes in the Top 10, it'll be because he's aiming for a signal caller. Why did I pass on them, then? With Patterson, it had to do with the depth of the receiver position; with Milliner, it had to do with three early-round cornerback investments already on the roster and Pettine needing a year to evaluate those players first-hand.
Bottom line: I picked Jones without the benefit of having all information at my disposal. Had I been able to make the pick two days later, I'd have taken Barkley, and it would have killed me to pass on Patterson and Milliner. That, folks, might be exactly what Nix feels like with the No. 8 pick this year - and hell, he might still even cringe at the idea of passing on Jones, too.