I'm not going to spend any more time on other teams. That works been done. This post is solely Buffalo Bills related. Kind of what I feel our major needs are what I'd think about certain prospects/actions being selected/taking place.
As far for team needs:
- Pass rush was by far this teams most glaring and overwhelming need prior to the start of free agency. But with the mega-signing of Mario Williams and the other huge move, snagging up Mark Anderson from the division rival Patriots, I do believe this concerns been "adequately" addressed. Yeah, I guess I can have fun with that, it's been awhile I've felt this good about a defensive front.
- Many would say the Tackle position. I'll save that for need number four. I have to say that getting a big, strong and quick receiver to line up opposite of Stevie Johnson is a major need. If we could just get this guy, I really like the type of production I could see out of this unit, or I'd actually have to say impressive unit. You'd have Stevie, this new player, David Nelson in the slot, Scott Chandler from the Tight End position and then guys like Donald Jones, David Clowney, Naaman Roosevelt and whoever else is in camp to round out the unit. Not too mention we still have Marcus Easley on the roster, and quite frankly we were all pretty excited about his prospects after he was drafted, so if he stays healthy, which has been his issue, and we get anything it's just bonus. So yeah, a solid compliment WR to Stevie Johnson is my need #2
- Here I'm going to say it's LB depth. We have a very nice 3 man set right now with Kelvin Sheppard in the middle, with Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrisson playing the outside positions. Beside that, perhaps we'll see a little Shawne Merriman in their from time to time, but nothing else too special here. So I would say we probably need to grab 2-4 LB's either in the draft or through team cuts and UDFA.
- Tackle. Particularly Left Tackle. Arguably the most important position outside QB. Second year guy Chris Hairston is the only guy to speak of there right now. He looked okay to very good in injury duty last year, but has he earned a starting job. On most teams I'd say no, and emphatically. But in Chan Gailey's offense, the way they spread the defenses out, they create their own wiggle room. Quick passes and keeping defenders away from getting bunched up near the pocket is what they were able to do last year, and wind up second in sacks allowed. And I have to remind everyone that this was from a unit that most people, experts, predicted before last season began, would be one of the worst units in football. In fact, they were down right dominating before Eric Wood got hurt. The loss of Bell doesn't hurt as much as some uninformed media outlets will suggest, for he's been quite the injured guy and only adequate while in there. So, sounds like I've talked myself out of this spot being a need. No, they definitely need a few guys to come in for camp and depth. It would be nice if they didn't need to get a top guy in here and that Hairston could be the guy, but the effect of getting a stud LT is not negated by Gailey's offense. While defenses will still be spread out, having that stud on the left side of the line, your QB will then be able to look further down the field, and thus opening up the field even more, giving opponents even more things to consider.
- Secondary depth, primarily corner. Many fans would consider this much higher, if not the highest priority. But I think Florence and Aaron Williams are solid and McGee, while he's on the roster or not is up for debate, but I believe he will be, and being able to come in to spell will be better for him and the team, as he's slowed down recently and is seemingly prone to injury. But as a sub, I like McGee a lot. And then you have the all too much maligned Leodis McKelvin. Yes, he has certainly not lived up to his first round draft status and yes, he's the guy that fumbled the ball that essentially lost us the game on Monday night a few years ago. But he has shown flashes of talent, and with an vastly increased D-line, you will see how much better this unit looks because of the effect each facet bears upon the other units. Basically it's like this, a trickle down approach so to speak, you start with a solid set of DT's, we had that, you add excellent DE's and Depth as well, you improve the entire front, an improved front lowers the time the offense has to work with and therefore is much more hurried and prone to mistakes, this makes the linebackers better, which gives them an easier time covering guys and finding holes to stop the run game, this improved linebackers group then helps the secondary by giving them more time to cover. So yeah, depth can't hurt, but I hardly see it as essential as many are claiming, as I think they just fail to see the overall picture and are only looking at stat lines and play behind a totally different defense.
As to the draft now, with all this in mind. I've broken down a group of prospects in to the following categories of reaction: Euphoric, Very Happy, Pleased, Well, OK I guess, WHY
Let's start from the most favorable scenarios and work our way down:
- Matt Kalil-LT-USC- If there's any chance this beast of a LT makes it to us, it will be a great day. He's that LT I talked about in the needs section
- Justin Blackmon-WR-Oklahoma State- This guy is so gifted, he has virtually everything you could want out a top wideout. This is another guy I see no possibility of having the chance to draft, but if by chance the stars aligned, this would drastically improve the offense.
- Morris Claiborne-CB-LSU- Another of these no chance he falls to #10. But if he would, and I know I listed the secondary as the lowest of our team needs, but this guy is a freak of a player and there is no way you pass on him, unless we're talking a twilight zone scenario where Kalil and/or Blackmon were also still available. He's a huge upgrade over either guy we have slated to start right now, you'd then have the ability to roll pairs out there all game long, with 2 Elite prospects in Claiborne and Williams (yes I consider Aaron Williams an elite prospect), a very solid guy in Florence, a potential solid reserve, package guy, in McGee and an X-factor in McKelvin
- Trade back from #10 and picking up an extra second or an extra first round pick for next year. I'm not excited about dropping too far back, unless you can pull off a deal with Cincinnati, netting both their first round picks this year, in which case I take the two picks in the late teens/early twenties without any questions.
- Michael Floyd-WR-Notre Dame- I love watching his highlights and while, in my opinion, he's clearly a spot below Blackmon, he has the makings to be an elite receiver. This draft is very deep though, but I only see 3 guys with elite potential. These two and Alshon Jeffrey from South Carolina, who I've been a fan of for two years, and if he didn't make some bonehead decisions at the combine and pro-day, I have to believe he'd be in the discussion for those teams needing receivers that pick in the mid teens, he still may be a first rounder. But these type of receivers are hard to pass on, regardless of how deep this draft class is supposed to be.
- Luke Kuechly- LB- Boston College- Speed, instincts. This guys the total linebacking package. Very happy may be an understatement, but I think this is a fair tier for him. I'm not sure where he'd play immediately, as his natural fit in a 4-3, which we run, is in the middle and the Bills, as they should, really like Sheppard. He may not be fast enough to play Strong Side, and I think our weak side is set. But what a problem to have, you could theoretically use one guy to keep your 3 starters fresh an entire game, subbing Kuechly in consistently his rookie season, giving him ample opportunity to produce, providing some excellent depth, and giving your starters the best chance at staying fresh. I've hear him compared to many different guys, Zach Thomas from Dolphin then Cowboy fame, as an example, which is a guy I couldn't stand, which is the utmost compliment. Would be very happy indeed with kuechly.
- Stephan Gilmore- CB-South Carolina- Again, not my highest area of need for us, but once his name really started being tossed around I started watching more of his film and wow, he looks the part, and again, he'd be providing everything I mentioned in the Claiborne write up, but to a lesser extent.
- David DeCastro- OG-Stanford- Yeah, not really a need, and not a position you typically take this early at all. But DeCastro can play 4 spots on the line. Sure, ideally he'll be a starting guard, but when you combine his football intelligence, play and his versatility along the line, I can't see how he's not considered that rare talent and be ultimately drafted in the top 15. Well, I'm a bit biased, I got a man-crush on him a while ago and knew he'd be a great player at the next level. Well, yeah, perhaps I should've classified him under the Euphoric tier, but seeing the "reach" tag this pick would get and that it's really not a need, need, Very happy seems like a good spot to put him.
- Dre Kirkpatrick- CB-Alabama- Again, see Claiborne/Gilmore, but drop the impact a bit more. But he's still a force and would be in that impact mold of a player. So definitely a solid pick at an are of need.
- Fletcher Cox- DT- Mississippi St.- Definitely not an are of need, but if either Williams or Dareus, God forbid, get injured, all we have is Torrell Troup as potential quality at depth. Sure we have a few other unknowns/green guys there, but nothing like Fletcher Cox. Probably should be in the Well, Ok I Guess category, but I'm a fan of what I've seen out of him and I guess with all the DE possibilities, it would be nice to have two quality reserves to keep Williams and Dareus fresh as well. Just imagine the waves of pressure from the front four. We're going to get these waves with or without another DT, but Fletcher Cox would just ramp that intensity even more so.
Well Ok, I Guess
- Dontari Poe- DT- Memphis- Ok, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. You have Cox in the group above here but have, what many consider the better prospect in the lower tier. This is just due to my own personal preference for the player. I think you're getting an elite guy in Fletcher Cox, but a potential elite guy in Poe. So here, you're getting to the spot where you're questioning the pick to some extent.
- Cordy Glenn- G/T- Georgia- He fills a need. He can play RT right away or G, and has the long arms and does project to eventually be a solid starter at LT. He's not projected as a future elite guy though, so I don't see us going OL in the first couple rounds, there should be some suitable depth and groom for down the road guys in rounds 3-5. But I'd get it if they traded down a bit and took Glenn. It wouldn't impress me at all, but it wouldn't shock or disappoint me either.
- Quentin Coples-DE/OLB-North Carolina- Definitely not much room for him, but he has elite potential, but comes with question marks. He's far from a need at this point, but going BPA, he could fall into that range and as bad as we've been with a pass rush this past decade, I could hardly blame the team for going overboard. Not ideal in any sense, but I can see it and understand it.
- There's a lot of other players that fit into this group. Every one of them is a WHY guy if picked at #10 though. Guys like, Michael Brockers-DT- LSU, Jonathan Martin-T-Stanford, Stephen Hill-WR-Georgia Tech, Coby Fleener-TE-Stanford, Alshon Jeffrey-WR-South Carolina.
- Melvin Ingram- DE/OLB- South Carolina- See the Coples note. Ingram is rated on par by most, and some rate him higher then the NC end. But I see Ingram and Mercillus and Curry and Perry all in the same mold. Yes, I do understand Ingram is better at this point, but if you're not getting potential eliteness, the way the Bills line is stacked, it won't make any sense to grab Ingram or any of these other guys.
- Peter Konz-C-Wisconsin- Don't get me wrong, I like Konz as a C prospect, perhaps even a G. But with Eric Wood, who has played like a stud Center when healthy, you're not moving him anywhere, so this pick is simply using a first round pick on a C insurance policy. So nothing I'm willing to wish for and something I would struggle with understanding.
- Mark Barron-S-Alabama- I really like Barron. Some have him as the best S prospect since the late Sean Taylor, who went 5 or 6 to Washington a few years back. I don't really see him better as Eric Berry though, who went 5 a couple years back. I see him as a ball hawk who can cover TE's, which I'd have to believe would be the main reason for the pick, any RB out of the backfield and slower slot guys. He's a hammer too, which is what you want from a SS. He'll blow guys up, and big hits are fun to watch and disruptive to an offense. But here's the reasons I put him in the WHY slot for Buffalo. First, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but for me anyhow, my judgment is still clouded by the passing of Ngata for Whitner a few years back. I understand these are two totally different prospects but still. Second, I like George Wilson. I think he was at times our MVP on defense last year when healthy. I think he's earned the starting job and for any deficiency he may have, I think the upgrade to the line and the trickle down effect I touched upon will help him out. Finally, being the hitter that he is, a guy that looks for the knockout shot, and the NFL's attitudes about big hits these past few years, I wonder if there's even any sense of drafting a player like this, as you are risking penalties and/or suspensions. I guess that shouldn't be a consideration, but it kinda is for me. I've spent so much time on this pick because I think he'll be the pick. And yes, you are getting a potential gamechanger at S, but I'm just not ready for this position at pick #10.
- Ryan Tannehill-QB-Texas A & M I do like him but I really don't want the Bills using a first round shot on a QB, and a potential project guy. Sure, the thought that having Fitzpatrick under contract will give this guy the chance to grow into the first round pick is logical, but I'd just rather say that if Fitz gets hurt or stumbles, Tannehill, at this point of his career, is not going to be able to help that much and most likely we'll have another high pick next year, in what looks right now, which does seem like the case every year around this time, to be a stacked first round QB class, with the likes of Matt Barkley and Landry Jones to name a couple of the 4-5 QB's being talked about as first rounders for the 2013 draft. So that said, instead of grabbing a guy that will be a back up this year, go get one of the guys next year, who right now, project much better. And if you're worried about not being in position to draft them, well then we had a really good season this year, and presumably Fitz was great and if you still need one, go do what other teams do, go make it happen.
- Any RB's, including Alabama RB Trent Richardson. I don't even want Buffalo to take a single back in this years draft, not even UDFA, well ok, I'm fine with trying for a diamond in the overlooked UDFA class. But not in this draft. Jackson/Spiller is a great one two punch and Choice is fine for a 3rd back. C-Mac at FB is solid as well.
So that's my list.
As for position's I'd like to see the Bills take, here's what I'm hoping for, and of course the prior picks can and will many times effect later picks, I know that. We have 9 picks as it stands right now, picking up an extra pick to make an even 10 would be nice, but going off of 9 picks I'd like to see the breakdown look like this
1 WR's, 2 LB's, 1 DT, 2 T, 2 CB's, 1 QB later rounds
Ideally: A few scenario's
Okay, enough draft talk for now. GO Bills.