With the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft now just days away, there are many players that the Buffalo Bills could select with the No. 19 overall selection in the first round. For months, draft pundits have shared their opinions through countless mock drafts and articles, and now it's time for Buffalo Rumblings staffers to share their thoughts on the Bills' first-round selection.
Each writer was asked to share which player they wanted the Bills to select, within reason. This is not necessarily who they think the team will select, but the player that they would place a gold star next to on the team's big board. On to the picks!
Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
I have Sheldon Rankins ranked just a touch higher than Butler, but it’s a very close call, and the odds are higher that Butler will be available when the Bills pick. He’s a high-quality defensive line prospect with the prototypical build for Rex Ryan’s defense, and the versatility to play any position along the line. Buffalo needs to return to a place where their defensive linemen free each other up to make plays in the passing game, and I’d argue that Butler can do that for Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams better than any other prospect the Bills can reasonably hope to select. He’d be an asset in the running game, as well. Plus, he checks another important box: he visited the Bills pre-draft, so we can safely assume that their interest in him is serious.
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
If I were running Buffalo's draft room, the player on the top of my board (once you move past the obvious names like Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey) would be Shaq Lawson. The 6'3", 270-pounder is an excellent athlete, was the star of Clemson's defense, and would give the team a second real option at edge rusher. That said, I don't think Lawson escapes the Top 15 of the draft. My second choice would be Sheldon Rankins. Other than Joey Bosa, no lineman combines polish and athletic talent better than Rankins, who has experience playing at multiple spots on the defensive line and could be the heir apparent to Kyle Williams. If Rankins is gone? I'm picking between Reggie Ragland, Vernon Butler, and Jack Conklin.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Mock draft experts and analyst all assume that the Bills are going defense with the first pick, specifically front-seven. I’ll admit that the Bills can definitely bolster their roster by addressing these positions in the draft, but the key in all of this is value. Doug Whaley is a strong proponent of selecting players at the appropriate position based on value, not need. He has a head coach whose staple is his defense, and has been successful doing more with less. Whaley and the scouting department have shown the propensity to find starting-caliber talent in the later rounds. The draft is littered with really good defensive players, and the Bills can find comparable first-round talent in the later rounds. However, the same can’t be said about wide receiver.
The truth is, after next season, the Bills will only have four wide receivers under contract; Sammy Watkins, Marcus Easley, Dezmin Lewis, and Walt Powell. There is still a need to infuse this roster with legitimate talent on offense. Sammy needs someone on the other side that can draw attention away from him. An explosive deep threat is exactly what the team needs, and desired when they signed Percy Harvin last year. The Bills want to take advantage of Tyrod Taylor's skill set, and continue to hit the long ball. Coleman is the right guy for the job, a better fit than Laquon Treadwell, and the Bills take the best receiver in the draft at No. 19.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
If the past few years under the Pegula/Whaley regime have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Trading up for Sammy Watkins, hiring Rex Ryan, trading for LeSean McCoy, the power play for Charles Clay - this team has made unexpected and bold moves the routine the past few offseasons. While the logical and most obvious choice is to draft one of the stud defensive linemen (that both fills a huge need, and is in line with Ryan's past history of drafting in the first round), I think the Bills might yet again zig when expected to zag.
The depth of the defensive line draft class, and Whaley's history of finding inside linebacker types later in drafts, are the main drivers behind my thinking that the Bills go wide receiver at No. 19.
As for Coleman, he seems to check all of the boxes for what the Bills need opposite Watkins and Clay. Coleman ran a sub-4.4 at his pro day after a spectacular season at Baylor (whose receivers have also shown well on the field in the NFL - Josh Gordon, Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams). The team was looking for a field-stretching, big-play threat with Percy Harvin last year, and Coleman, although not as thick or physical as Harvin, fits that mold. Coleman's deep speed, combined with Tyrod Taylor's arm, will require respect on one side of the field, leaving the middle more open to Clay and removing at least some focus from Watkins on the other. Additionally, by now, it is obvious Robert Woods is not a dynamic NFL wide receiver. This doesn't mean he can't serve as a valuable, chain-moving third wide receiver who can reliably find holes. Lastly, the depth on this roster at wide receiver is relatively pathetic. Although not as obvious a need because of Watkins, the Bills need to infuse some talent into the wide receiver room.
Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
There are about eight players that the Bills could pick at No. 19 that wouldn’t surprise me one bit. The number of quality players at the top of the board at both linebacker and defensive line is pretty amazing, and there are a few positions where the Bills could just snag someone at an unexpected position, like wide receiver. If I had to throw a name out there, though, that I think the Bills are going to go for, it’s Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones.
When I watch Jones play, the name that immediately comes to mind is the guy that he’d be in line to replace, Kyle Williams. Jones has the ability to penetrate the interior line that made Williams so good as a nose tackle a few years ago, and Jones has about five inches on him to boot. He could easily plug in at defensive end as a rookie and give at least as much as Mario Williams gave last year, although the biggest knock I noticed on him is that he didn’t seem to put a whole lot of effort in when it came to pursuit.
There are a few other names that could plug in there, especially Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson, but I think Jones is the most likely to be available. However it turns out, though, it’d be hard to truly surprise anybody who knows the Bills with the No. 19 pick.
Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Without the off-field issues that have plagued Spence in the past, he would likely be considered a Top 5 talent in this year's draft. I realize that you cannot simply ignore off-field issues, but Spence's talent makes him worth the risk at pick No. 19. Some fans may have been happy to see Mario Williams leave following the 2015 season, but the Bills have a glaring hole to fill in his absence. Spence is the most talented pass rusher in this year's draft, and would start immediately in place of Williams.
I do not pretend to be a draft expert, but I have read enough on Spence to know that he is immensely talented. He can make an immediate impact on the Bills' defense, with the ability to provide another disruptive player on the defense's front-seven. I also considered Sheldon Rankins, Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson with my choice.
These are our picks for who we would like the Bills to select at No. 19. Share your thoughts below, and let us know who your choice is for the Buffalo Bills in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft.