In the second round of the 2016 SB Nation NFL Writers mock draft, the Buffalo Bills have selected Kamalei Correa, a pass-rushing linebacker from Boise State. Dan Lavoie and I made the pick for the Bills in the mock draft, and now that the pick has been made available for public assumption, you're encouraged to head on over to Mocking the Draft to grade the selection.
This post is meant to be a bigger-picture look at the thought process Dan and I went through in making both of the Bills' mock draft picks this year (the first-round pick, in case you've forgotten, was Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland). Let's break it down, shall we?
First, an admission
Unlike Bills general manager Doug Whaley, who puts his career on the line with these draft picks, Dan and I have no skin in the actual game. We are therefore going to do something Whaley, nor any other professional draft picker, would ever do: admit that we don't exactly love our first-round pick anymore.
That's nothing against Ragland, mind you; Dan and I both remain quite high on him. It's just that neither of us liked him as much as Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins, who somehow made it all the way to the No. 34 overall pick in this mock draft. Add in the fact that the Bills signed Zach Brown shortly after we made our pick, and that quality linebacker prospects were still available when we picked at No. 49 overall, and our decision to take the linebacker over the defensive lineman didn't sit well with us in retrospect. We admitted it to each other freely on the morning of April 11, right after picking Correa, and we admit it publicly now.
So, there. We like Ragland a great deal. We like Rankins a little bit more, and given the way the board fell, we should have stuck with our guns and taken the defensive lineman early. Our regret is shallow, given that this is all pretend, but it's there. You're now aware of it.
Who was on our Round 2 short list?
Well, there were defensive linemen, considering that we'd already passed on Rankins (as well as Vernon Butler, another guy Dan and I both like). Ultimately, we decided between two players for this selection, and UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark was the final cut. We promise, this time around, Dan and I both think we've taken the better prospect.
Cardale Jones was briefly considered. Dan likes him more than I do, but I wouldn't have had any qualms deferring to Lavoie on this one. The Bills need to take a talented quarterback two weekends from now, and if that's Jones, great.
We cast a wide net for this one. Among the other players on our short list - some were chosen before we selected, some after - were Clark, Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller, Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard, Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi, South Carolina State defensive lineman Javon Hargrave, Michigan State edge rusher Shilique Calhoun, USC linebacker Su'a Cravens and Ohio State safety Vonn Bell.
Why not [this other guy]?
We'll start with Jones, the super-popular name in the comments sections right now: to put it bluntly, I was lukewarm on the idea. Dan has stated numerous times that he likes Jones, and would take him this early. I've done the quarterback-in-Round-2 thing before - Jake Locker in 2011, and one EJ Manuel in 2013 - and was not super keen on the idea of doing it again. To reiterate, I would not mind at all if the Bills took a quarterback this early.
Bell, who I like quite a bit, was off the board when we selected. (Other names were, too - Karl Joseph, Kendall Fuller, Leonard Floyd, Emmanuel Ogbah, Cody Whitehair, and Jason Spriggs were the big ones.)
I'll make another free admission: I tried to talk Dan into Fuller. Dan's cool on him, and from what I can tell, it's largely because he drops a lot of passes. Fair enough. I'm just saying that if the Bills want to draft a talented wideout that would guarantee taking a safety away from Sammy Watkins on a routine basis, Fuller may very well be that guy after Round 1. But ultimately, I liked that idea more than I like Fuller as a prospect. We'd have both opted for Fuller over Shepard.
Clark trumped Hargrave on the defensive line, and Correa trumped Calhoun, so those two were ruled out pretty quickly.
I am a Cravens fan. He'd do well in the Ryan defense, either as a weak-side linebacker, or as a safety who came down into the box and yielded deep responsibilities to an extra defensive back in sub-package looks. Dan is not as big on Cravens as I am, and given that we'd already addressed inside linebacker, I let it slide.
The idea of adding a right tackle is an enticing one - we opted for Ifedi over Le'Raven Clark because Ifedi is more pro-ready and a better fit in Buffalo's blocking scheme - but it's a need that's a bit further down the list than defensive line and edge rusher. Dan and I spoke of him briefly, but it didn't snowball much beyond that.
Okay, so why Correa over Clark?
Primarily for the reason we've already touched on: Dan and I both think Correa is a better pro prospect than Clark is. But there's also this: when it comes to trotting current personnel out onto the field at both defensive line, the Bills are in better shape along the defensive line with Corbin Bryant (or, heck, even Jarius Wynn) than they are at edge rusher with... we don't even know. IK Enemkpali? Randell Johnson? Max Valles?
Correa is the better player, and he addresses the bigger need. He also adds versatility, athleticism, some physicality, and extra hustle to a front seven that could use as much of each as they can muster. Dan and I did not deliberate on this one for long at all. Picking Correa over Clark was as easy for us as picking Ragland over Rankins was difficult.
The two picks are out, and you know what you know about how Dan and I went about making them. How would you grade the selections? What would you have done differently, if anything? Do we at least earn points in your book for being thorough and transparent? Who else is excited that mock draft season is nearly over?