One of my favorite traditions of the NFL draft process is that of the lengthy conference calls given by analysts like Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock. They result in dozens of pages of insights and opinions about the teams and players that help shape the mess of information available for the draft. Mayock held one on Tuesday, and he answered a question about who the Bills might take at 19, and if quarterback were an option.
Yeah, I think quarterback always trumps all. If they believe that a franchise quarterback was sitting there at 19, I think they'd have to consider it, and that's despite the fact that I really like Tyrod Taylor.
But I think the top three quarterbacks will be gone by that point. I don't think there's any doubt.
The way Mayock worded it, this comes off more as an opinion on the value of a franchise quarterback than an insider look at how Buffalo is prioritizing its board, but it may, perhaps, be noteworthy that Mayock believes in the top three prospects (Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Paxton Lynch) enough to recommend them above any other needs for Buffalo, even with the presence of Taylor and the known weaknesses with the defense.
Mayock continued with a discussion of the defensive prospects he thought would fit Buffalo:
So Buckner, Nkemdiche, gone. How about Sheldon Rankins at No. 19? We keep talking about what a pass-first league this is, and it certainly has become that. So anybody that can create immediate interior pressure has got higher value than he did five years ago. Rankins is one of those kind of guys. Regardless whether you're a 3-4 or 4-3 team you've got to get guys who can get to the quarterback quicker. Rankins to me is intriguing. I've already talked about both the Alabama kids. Kenny Clark from UCLA, heavy-handed, tough kid, very good against the run, can get up the field. Vernon Butler, late first-round guy, Bullard from Florida, and then, I mean, you start talking about some of those edge rushers, I went through some of the higher-level guys, you might even be able to look at an Emmanuel Ogbah in the second round who's got some talent, really tight from Oklahoma State, but a big body, pure 3-4 defensive end, can play the 5 technique, also.
Rankins, the Senior Bowl standout with an excellent combination of speed, power, and technical refinement, is an interesting choice just because he's built more like Kyle Williams than Marcell Dareus. He might be the most talented lineman in this group of players (especially for generating interior pressure), despite his build making him a different fit in Buffalo's defense.
Mayock named a lot of other defensive linemen, and it speaks to the depth of this class that several of these names, like Clark and Bullard, haven't really been connected with Buffalo to this point. Every analyst will have his own favorite grouping of linemen, thanks to the sheer quantity. That's one thing that both Mayock and Mel Kiper are stressing: This is shaping up to be a historically deep and skilled class of defensive linemen.
A couple things real quick: It's a defensive draft. Best interior defensive line I've seen maybe since I've started doing this.
Mel Kiper says the 2016 defensive line group is the deepest, most talented he's seen in his 40 years of evaluating the NFL Draft.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 22, 2016