It's that time of the week again: the Buffalo Rumblings Mailbag is back, where we discuss questions posed by Buffalo Bills fans. You can submit questions for future editions of the mailbag via email, Twitter or Facebook; we really appreciate the quality queries that our sent our way on a weekly basis.
Topics on tap for today include a theoretical position switch for a Pro Bowler, the smokescreen game within pre-draft visitor announcements, and choosing between two polarizing 2014 NFL Draft prospects. Here we go!
Is there any mileage in the idea of moving Marcell Dareus to defensive end and drafting a defensive tackle?
If this question lingers any longer, it's going to become the next version of "Should the Bills move Cordy Glenn to right tackle and draft a left tackle?".
Marcell Dareus is a 24-year-old Pro Bowl defensive tackle that measures in at 6'3" and 331 pounds. That's what he is even before considering that, if he fixes his minor professionalism concerns, he has still only scratched the surface of his potential. His best skill is generating pressure from the interior of the line. Why, precisely, are we looking to fix what isn't broken? What are the merits of having a 6'3", 331-pound athlete playing out of position?
If the Bills are going to run a traditional 4-3 defense under new coordinator Jim Schwartz, they need an end that has range and speed off the edge. Dareus does not provide the team with ideal, or even average, production in either of those departments. Moving Dareus does not fix a problem; it creates two. If the Bills end up running a base defense more similar to what they ran as a base under Mike Pettine (which I still consider unlikely), then the Bills will be fine rolling with a player like Alan Branch or Corbin Bryant in the starting lineup and using Manny Lawson on the edge, like they did last year.
Long story short: no. This idea is not one that the team should pursue, and they almost certainly will not.
Thanks for the question, Steven! And my apologies; you turned into the torch-bearer for an oft-repeated question that I, clearly, have a strong opinion about.
Last year, the Bills didn't bring in Kiko Alonso for a pre-draft visit so as not to gin up other teams' interest. Who are the offensive tackles or defensive ends (the highest team needs in my opinion) in this year's draft that the Bills may be helping slip down the draft board?
First, this needs to be pointed out: the Bills brought in seven linebackers for pre-draft visits last season. That number paled in comparison to the nine quarterbacks they brought in, but it was pretty clear that the Bills were targeting those two areas early in the draft. Lo and behold, those positions were addressed with two of their first three picks.
This year, the Bills have brought in two offensive tackles (Jake Matthews and Zack Martin; Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is more of a guard prospect, Charles Siddoway is a late-round talent that will slide all on his own) and one defensive end (Scott Crichton). They still have room to confirm seven more visitors, of course, so those numbers may rise, but probably not considerably. This situation is much different than the Alonso and linebacker scenario from last year: the Bills were clearly looking at linebackers, but left Alonso to slip through the cracks, while it's not as obvious that they're thinking heavily about those two positions this year. Instead, they're bringing in slews of running backs and cornerbacks.
Perhaps their strategy this year will be to smokescreen their interest in tackle and end by bringing in fewer visitors at those positions. If they're smart, they'll realize that we've cottoned onto their established pre-draft visitor trends and throw a curveball this year. But if we're trying to guess which tackles and ends they're trying to slide the way they purport to have let Alonso slide last year, the answer is "all of them but Matthews, Martin and Crichton".
Thanks for the question, Asa!
Beyond the top six players in the draft this year, the two names Bills fans seem to focus on are Eric Ebron and Taylor Lewan. Which of those two do you prefer?
This is an interesting question that all Bills fans should be pondering, because it assumes that the Bills will be picking from the best-available group beyond those six players (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack) that have the fewest warts. Put another way: it's a philosophical question on how you decide between the best players with question marks at need positions.
I'm not particularly keen to see the Bills draft either prospect, quite frankly, but I'd prefer Ebron over Lewan for the same reasons that I prefer Evans over Matthews: the difference between a great and good right tackle is smaller than the difference between a great and good receiver. Ebron has his flaws and is one-dimensional, but I'd still prefer giving EJ Manuel the target first, and worrying about the protection later. Ebron has a chance to be a difference-maker at the NFL level. And, just like with Matthews, I'd be comfortable about the Bills taking Lewan, because he's an instant starter in a need area and would be a tremendous upgrade at right tackle.
Thanks for the question, Eric!