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Buffalo Bills NFL Draft Retrospective: 2013

Buddy Nix’s swan song

In order to prepare for observing the Buffalo Bills’ 2019 rookie class during their first training camp, we thought it would be fun to look back at the past seven drafts of the Bills, as a sort of retrospective. Our goal: an examination of where the team found successes, where the it was led astray and a chance to remember some of the more forgotten players from the past nine years.

Next up is the final draft for the Buddy Nix regime. Following the draft he immediately stepped down into an advisory role. This draft was all about adjusting the roster to align with new coach Doug Marrone’s offensive and defensive alignments, along with hopefully landing a franchise quarterback.

Round 1
16th Overall

QB EJ Manuel

Critics were quick to decry the choice of Manuel as a reach, but his physical abilities and Senior Bowl performance were enough to sell himself to the Bills brass. With Kevin Kolb being lost to a rubber mat injury and subsequent career-ending concussion, Manuel started ten games his rookie season. His first couple games were promising but his play went downhill from there, with a couple decent games against the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars thrown in. He ended the season with a 58% completion percentage and 1972 passing yards over those ten games. It was much the same in 2014, with a promising first couple of games, but the next two outings against the San Diego Chargers and Houston Texans got him benched by Marrone in favor of Kyle Orton. He would never regain his role as the unquestioned starter again, losing the 2015 quarterback competition to Tyrod Taylor and then moving on the following year.

Verdict: Major Miss

The critics were proven right with Manuel—he clearly didn’t have the accuracy or the diagnostic skills to be drafted in the first round. Despite having a decent supporting cast and a lock-down defense, Manuel never developed over two seasons forcing the team to part ways rather quickly.

Round 2
41st Overall

WR Robert Woods

Pro-ready but with limited upside, Woods stepped in and never relinquished his role as the number-two wide receiver on the team. He consistently averaged about 612 yards and three touchdowns for his four seasons in Buffalo. Another side benefit was his relentless run-blocking, which helped multiple running backs. After four seasons of the same production, Bills’ decision makers chose to move on from the former USC Trojan.

Verdict: Minor Miss

The Bills expected more than 600 yards a year from Woods, but he wasn’t quite good enough to make up for the poor quarterbacking play he was subjected to with the team. The lack of a second contract cements his Buffalo career as a missed opportunity.

Round 2
46th Overall

LB Kiko Alonso

Alonso fit like a glove into Mike Pettine’s defense and his performance during his rookie year was spectacular enough to warrant a rookie-of-the-year award by the PFWA. Unfortunately, the linebacker tore his ACL in July of 2014, and was forced to miss the entire season. The following offseason, general manager Doug Whaley and coach Rex Ryan offered up Alonso to Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles as fair compensation for running back LeSean McCoy.

Verdict: Minor Hit

Alonso’s contributions for the team, both his rookie season and through the trade for LeSean McCoy, are enough for him to be considered a worthy pick.

Round 3
78th Overall

WR Marquise Goodwin

An even faster replacement for T.J. Graham, Goodwin was another deep threat who the team could use to take off the top of defenses. Goodwin’s four years with the Bills were marred by injury, however, with the 5’9”, 180-lb track star dealing with concussions, wrist injuries, and hamstring injuries. After breaking some ribs in the preseason, he missed 14 games in 2015 alone. Although he showed he could be a solid target on the field, the Bills just weren’t ready to rely on him and let him sign with the San Francisco 49ers.

Verdict: Major Miss

The Bills spent a valuable second-day pick on Goodwin, but due to health and ineffectual quarterback play he only caught 49 passes for 780 yards with the team.

Round 4
105th Overall

S Duke Williams

An athletic safety from Nevada, Williams was touted as a hybrid safety who could do double duty and cover wide receivers. He spent his first two seasons mostly in spot duty, but was expected to take a big leap in 2015 and compete with Da’Norris Searcy for a starting role opposite Aaron Williams. Williams never seemed to make the necessary adjustment in terms of knowing his assignments on the back-end so Searcy kept his hold on the job for 2014. With Rex Ryan’s complex defense demanding a lot from its safeties, Williams stayed on the team for one more season before being waived in the middle of the 2016 season.

Verdict: Minor Miss

There were high hopes for the fourth rounder, but he proved to be too reckless as a tackler and too slow of a learner to warrant a larger role.

Round 5
143 Overall

S Jonathan Meeks

Another safety, Meeks paired with Duke Williams to be the primary safety backups from 2013 to 2016. Meeks saw even less on-field snaps than Williams, although he did see his rookie contract all the way through. Meeks was given a couple opportunities in training camps to compete for a starting role, but other players proved to be more reliable. He was not re-signed following the 2016 season.

Verdict: Minor Miss

Playing in only 28 total games over four seasons, Meeks’s contributions to the team were extremely limited, even for a backup.

Round 6
177th Overall

K Dustin Hopkins

Hopkins was expected to compete with Dan Carpenter for starting duties, but quickly injured his groin in his rookie year. Carpenter then went on to have a very good season, earning an extension in the process. The team then hoped to keep Hopkins on as a kickoff specialist, but he ended up being waived in August.

Verdict: Minor Miss

You can’t really blame Hopkins for his inability to compete to start in 2013, but he still ended up being a waste of a pick due to Dan Carpenter’s performance that season. It also doesn’t help that Hopkins is now a starter for Washington.

Round 7,
222nd Overall

TE Chris Gragg

Probably the quickest tight end in the draft, Gragg was a size/speed flier for Buddy Nix and Doug Whaley. Gragg managed to make the team and at least contribute in his three seasons with Buffalo. He also looked ready to breakout and be the primary backup to Charles Clay in 2016, but tore his ACL in a preseason game, missed the season, and became a free agent the following season.

Verdict: Minor Miss

Gragg only contributed 251 yards and two touchdowns during his time with Buffalo, although you wonder what might’ve been if he hadn’t torn his ACL.