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2016 NFL Draft: 10 thoughts about Buffalo's upcoming draft

Because we haven't already run out of things to say about the NFL Draft yet

The 2016 NFL Draft is mere hours away. By the end of this weekend, I will have seen my shadow, written my last scouting report, and dove back into the ground for six weeks of hibernation. Until that happens, we're still talking NFL Draft.

I've kept some of my thoughts close to the vest, but it's time to make bold statements and share pronouncements. In my best Peter King impression, Here are ten things I think I think about the NFL Draft this year.

1. The Bills are going to draft a quarterback

Hey, I can have a couple of freebies, right? Moreover, I think I can narrow the list down to four players: Cardale Jones, Kevin Hogan, Connor Cook, and Christian Hackenberg. I don't see a scenario in which the Bills draft Paxton Lynch in the first round. Gun to my head, I think it's Jones in round two or three.

2. The Bills are going to draft an edge rusher

Just about as close to another gimme as you'll see. While we don't have Doug Whaley's assurances on this one, every indication is that they're going to move in this direction at some point in the draft. They've brought in first round prospects like Emmanuel Ogbah and Leonard Floyd for visits, and have been connected with several significant day two prospects, such as Kamalei Correa and Charles Tapper, along the way. The team lacks depth in this area, and the front office knows it.

3. The Bills will draft from Ohio State or Alabama, but not both

This is a little wager I decided to make. What it comes down to is the top heavy prospect lists from both teams. When you eliminate the first round options from Alabama, you're left with Cyrus Jones and Geno Matias-Smith. Ohio State has Cardale Jones, a couple of safeties, and Braxton Miller. That doesn't give Buffalo many chances to pick a player from each school. While the team totaled a whopping nine pre-draft visitors between the two schools, I think we'll see one of them end up ignored (or picked over by other teams). In the past, when Buffalo brings in a large number of pre-draft visitors from one school, they've usually skipped over that school on draft weekend.

4. Unless Myles Jack is on the board, the Bills are picking their linebacker, but it won't happen in the first round

After seeing Doug Whaley's less-than-effusive praise for Reggie Ragland at their pre-draft press conference (saying the linebacker "has a chance" to play three downs), I have a feeling the team isn't looking in his direction with their top pick. There's also a strong chance that Darron Lee is either not the team's top target, or that he is drafted before Buffalo picks.

Myles Jack is a star linebacker, but concerns about his knee longevity are very real, with microfracture surgery being a possibility down the line. That said, he'd instantly upgrade Buffalo's linebackers, fit the defense perfectly, and the team desires wins now. If he's available after the Raiders have picked, you might see the Bills go for him.

Otherwise, I think you see the team go for Su'a Cravens in round two (whom the Bills were more complimentary of than Ragland), or athletic options like Joshua Perry or BJ Goodson in the middle rounds. Antonio Morrison remains a late-round possibility for the team as a backup to Preston Brown.

5. Return of the trades

The Bills are sitting in a sweet spot for draft positioning, roughly in the middle of each round. Some executives believe that the 20th pick is roughly the demarcation line separating first round prospects from lower grades this year, giving Buffalo's spot extra value. The Broncos or Browns could be interested in trading up above the Jets, depending on what players are available. Whaley is interested in trading down.

Even after the first day, the Bills have seven remaining picks in rounds two through six, and a specific set of needs on board. That all signifies to me that we see one or more trades involving the Bills this year; hopefully none involve running backs.

6. The media has no idea what Buffalo is going to do

Need any evidence? Here are the final mock draft picks for Buffalo published by Big Draft today:

Mel Kiper: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Todd McShay: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Mike Mayock: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Daniel Jeremiah: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

Given Buffalo's spot in the draft order, it can be difficult to project which players will be on the board when Buffalo picks. That said, the wide range of players from the most connected names in the NFL suggest to me that the Bills have kept everything under lock and key this year.

Here's the best information we have. John Wawrow of the Associated Press and Charlie Campbell from WalterFootball have both received word from sources that the Bills are looking at defense in both of their first two picks. Campbell went a step further and clarified that the team is out on Robert Nkemdiche, (something I've believed all offseason), and said that their first round focus is a front seven defender. There you have it, Bills fans!

7. My best guess at the first 19 picks

Don't call me an expert on this one:

  1. Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
  2. Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
  3. Chargers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
  4. Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
  5. Jaguars: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
  6. Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
  7. 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
  8. Dolphins (Trade with Browns): Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (I think this is possible and I think it's hilarious that the Dolphins would actually want to trade up to draft Elliott after trading down from this spot already)
  9. Buccaneers: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
  10. Giants: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (I don't think Jack really falls further than this, but we'll see)
  11. Bears: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
  12. Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
  13. Browns: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
  14. Raiders: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
  15. Titans: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
  16. Lions: Vernon Butler, DT, LA Tech
  17. Falcons: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
  18. Colts: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
  19. Bills: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

This is the strongest connection I've seen made with the Bills all offseason. Reports say they want a front seven defender in the first round. The obvious pass rushers are off the board, and at linebacker the best option is Reggie Ragland. By contrast, only three defensive tackles are off the board. Reed was recently connected to the Bills with a pre-draft dinner visit in Alabama, and it sounded like the team was very pleased with his potential. The connection makes some sense: While Reed's not a great pass rusher, he's an outstanding run defender and can play multiple positions on the line, freeing up Marcell Dareus to rush the passer more frequently.

If Reed isn't the choice here, with the players on the board, I think there's an outside shot that you see Chris Jones, the Mississippi State defensive tackle.

Here's a projected Bills draft:

1. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabam

2. Su'a Cravens, LB, USC

3. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State

4. Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

4. Roberto Aguayo, K, Florida State

5. Alex McCalister, OLB, Florida

6. Geno Matias-Smith, S, Alabama

6. Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa

Here's another one:

1. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

2. Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia

3. Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State

4. DJ Reader, NT, Clemson

4. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford

5. Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida

6. Jordan Lucas, CB/S, Penn State

6. Devon Johnson, FB, Marshall

8. What I love about the draft:

a. In the last couple of years, we've really seen an explosion of informed, advanced analysis for draft prospects. It makes me feel like we're part of an incoming wave of accurate data.

b. To that end, I really appreciate the efforts by groups like the Senior Bowl organization to make parts of the process more transparent. I've never been to the Senior Bowl, but having followed it for a few years, they've done a nice job of making things better for the players, coaches, and media alike.

c. Draft Breakdown. An absolute godsend, and I don't know any serious NFL writer who doesn't use them for talking about the draft. Long live their Youtube videos.

d. Josh Doctson's catching.

e. Noah Spence's dip and rip.

f. Karl Joseph's hard hits.

g.The fact that there is a 6'4" 400 pound tight end from Baylor in the prospect list.

9. What I hate about the draft:

a. As a team-specific blogger, the idea that I can put in months of effort writing about college prospects, only to see 95% of them never play for my team. A lot of effort for something that ultimately iss thrown away.

b. With the Rams moving to Los Angeles, they now host UCLA and USC prospects at a local pro day without it using up any of their 30 pre-draft visits. This NFL rule is unfair, benefits teams in big cities (San Francisco sees Stanford and Cal, Houston and Dallas split the Texas schools) while hurting small city teams like Buffalo (they can host UB, Canisius, and no one else notable).

c. This creeping sensation that the NFL is continuing to sterilize, corporatize, and monetize the draft (and the NFL) to the point where it becomes a caricature that's like the billionaire's version of pro wrestling, minus the fun.

d. The fact that, as great as the people at Draft Breakdown are, their videos will always be incomplete. That, unless I have a cable subscription and a wall of DVR's, or am willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to each school that interests me, it will be impossible to see enough of certain draft prospects in a timely manner.

e. Two of the best talents in this year's draft had their careers potentially ruined by injury. They played their hearts out in college, and received nothing except an injury settlement from it. It sucks.

f. Christian Hackenberg. The man, the myth, the legend. I wish I could compartmentalize his story and mail it in a box somewhere else.

g. Chad Kelly. If I thought the Hackenberg drone was a bother this year...

h. The fact that I need a cable subscription to legally watch it.

10. Alcoholnerdness

Tonight I'll probably be sipping some Buffalo Trace (naturally) bourbon as I watch the draft. If I see a pick worth celebrating, I'm deciding between opening the maple syrup infused ice wine I picked up at the Cellardoor Winery in Maine last year, or a bottle of Yalumba Museum Reserve antique tawny port I've had sitting around.

Beer is good for pretty much any NFL occasion. The NFL Draft is my Christmas. Gotta splurge a little bit.