Recently I participated in an Expert mock hosted by @neildriscoll where I represented the Buffalo Bills. Long time readers of the site know that I am a New York Giants fan, but that my wife roots for the Bills and I also live in Rochester, NY so I’m familiar enough with the Bills. I had 9 total picks because compensatory picks have yet to be announced (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2 fourth rounders, 2 fifth rounders, 6, and 7th rounder). I ended up making 8 picks making one trade.
For each pick I’ll give my actual selection, my thought-process for my selection and the other players I considered at that juncture.
Here are the results.
1st round: WR Michael Floyd
Explanation: To me on the field Michael Floyd is the best WR in this class. He’s big, physical, fast, and attacks the ball int he air as well as anyone I can remember since Larry Fitzgerald. He has all the ability in the world. The draft started prior to Stevie Johnson signing an extension and there was some doubt whether or not Johnson would be re-signed. Even with Johnson being re-signed I probably would have made this pick again.The Bills can talk all they want about how much they like their receiving talent, it’s average at best, especially outside of Johnson. With an average quarterback the Bills need another play-maker (or two) at WR.
The first nine picks off the board were: Luck, Griffin, Kalil, Claiborne, Blackmon, Reiff, Dontari Poe, Melvin Ingram, Devon Still
At this pick there were only two other players that crossed my mind. The first was Quinton Coples the talented, but risky defensive end from North Carolina. Coples has the potential to be the best pass rusher in this draft and I also believe that if the Bills roster was as it is today at draft day, and Coples were available, that would be the selection. However, I’m not the biggest fan of Coples so I passed on him. Trent Richardson was my other consideration. Richardson was the best player available on my board and I’m not someone who is against taking running backs in the first round, but I just could not justify it in my mind with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson on the team. Could you mention if the Bills chose two running backs in the top ten in the last three years?
Did I make the right pick in the first round? Let me know in the comments.
Selection: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
Explanation: I don’t think this will be the most popular pick ever with Bills fans because the one position the Bills are set at is Weakside linebacker and also there has recently been a backlash against Zach Brown as a player who is just an athlete. I disagree with that assessment. Brown has uncommon speed, but has better instincts than people give him credit for, he’s also up to 244 pounds now (but has kept his 4.4 speed) and has really long arms (33.25 inches). Brown is also supremely gifted in coverage (a much overlooked part of his game) and a good, not great, tackler. At that point in the draft Brown was the best player on my board by more than 20 “slots”. My biggest thinking was that the Bills lack play-makers on both sides of the ball and Brown is the only player at this point in round two I thought could be really special.
Dwayne Allen and Zebrie Sanders. The Bills have gone heavy on defense the last two drafts early so I was thinking about adding another young playmaker on offense. Dwyane Allen is a good combo blocker who can control the middle of the field and could be an excellent option with Ryan Fitzpatrick. I considered him for a long time. Florida State tackle Zebrie Sanders has seen his stock plummet because of a poor senior bowl, but has a lot of ability as a pass-blocker. He was not the best player on my board, but was a fill- a-need type player. I was also considering adding a DE at this spot like Marshall’s Vinny Curry, but again that did not represent value for me.
Selection: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse (switched 3rd round picks and gave up a fifth round pick to move up)
At this point I had gone two rounds taking the best player available on my board while ignoring the Bills most glaring need at defensive end. At the start of round three there were two defensive ends available that I had targeted Chandler Jones and Cam Johnson. I thought one might fall to me if I stayed put, but I didn’t want to risk missing out on the super-athletic and high potential of Jones. A player that is long and explosive. The closest thing to JPP in this draft (not as talented or as big).
With the trade up there was only one other player I was considering. Somehow Clemson DT Brandon Thompson was still available and he was clearly the best player available on my board, but I decided that the one position the Bills don’t need any more talent at (and the only one) is defensive tackle so I did not take Thompson. Had I stayed in my original slot I had enough players targeted I liked to take one if they fell to me. Thomson, Jones, and Johnson have all been mentioned. The other players were: CB Brandon Boykin, S Markelle Martin, Wisconsin G Kevin Zeitler, WVU LB Bruce Irvin, and Offensive linemen Mitchell Schwartz, Brandon Washington, and Bobby Massie.
Round 4 first pick:
Selection: Andrew Datko, T, Florida State
Explanation: Datko is injured and much like Crick is a bit of a forgotten man, but he was once considered a first round prospect. Datko is 6’6 315 pounds with 33 7/8 inch arms, and 10″ hands. Datko is an athletic guy who is raw as a pass blocker, but constantly improved during his time at Florida State. He’s also a tenacious run blocker who blocks through the whistle. Datko has the athletic ability to develop into a starting LT and that’s difficult to find in the fourth round. Datko needs to improve his functional strength. I thought this pick was terrific to toot my own horn.
Matt McAnts, T, UAB. This was really my only other player I was considering drafting. McCants though to me is even more raw than Datko and needs even more work in the weight room than Datko. McCants is a slender 6’7 and 295 pounds and also hasn’t played the top competition that Datko has played. The longer transition time is the reason I didn’t go with McCants.
I wasn’t going to trade up in round four, but I had three players I was hoping would fall into my wheelhouse. The first is DT Mike Martin I thought in the fourth round I couldn’t pass up Martin (a 2nd round talent to me) in the fourth round. I was also looking at Josh Robinson and Markelle Martin who were both available. Alas those players went right away at the top of round four. The other two players I considered who were actually available when I was picking was Arizona QB Nick Foles, but the Bills seem so intent on keeping Fitzpatrick as the starter I passed on Foles. I also considered TE LaDarius Green here. He’s not much of a blocker, but is a really good receiver.
fourth round 2nd selection:
Selection: Audie Cole, LB, North Carolina State
Cole was the highest player that doesn’t play WR or QB left on my board at this point. Cole can play SAM linebacker so that also fills a need for the Bills.
Here is Wes Bunting’s breakdown of Cole: Impression: Played outside as a junior and will kick inside as a senior. Looks better suited to play as a 43 OLB to me who has the skill set to start and potentially play three downs for an NFL defense, but can’t be forced to cover too much space down the field in his drop.
That’s exactly how I see it. He’s a starting Strong Side Linebacker in the 43, a terrific run defender with some upside as a pass rusher. Not a guy who is going to be on the field to cover (but with the addition of Zach Brown and Nick Barnett-he won’t be needed on passing downs). I went with Cole here.
I also considered QB Russell Wilson who we at NFLMocks like. But why draft a back-up quarterback when I can get a year one starting SAM linebacker? I really like WR Chris Givens and believe he was my absolute best player available on my board, but he went two picks before my selection. I also considered LSU S Brandon Taylor he went three picks before my pick. For me it was Audie Cole, DE Jake Bequette, or possibly CB Coryell Judie
5th round: My first pick was traded.
2nd 5th round pick: WR Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Remember before Broyles injury (which he will recover from) when he was considered a first round prospect? Remember that Ryan Broyles who is the most productive WR in College Football history and has athleticism to boot? Apparently no one else did either. In two years the Bills starting WR Corps will be Michael Floyd and Stevie Johnson on the outside and Ryan Broyles in the slot. That looks much better than what they were trotting out there last year.
I considered two other offensive players Missouri TE Michael Egnew and Baylor RB Terrance Ganaway. Ganaway is a nice contrast to Spiller and Jackson, but they already kind of have that with Johnny White so I passed on that pick.
In other scenarios I would have taken LB Terrell Manning or Nevada LB James michael Johnson, but how many LB am I going to take in one draft? Not three.
Selection: Buffalo Bills RB Cyrus Gray
Gray is a player that could be drafted as round three in the 2012 NFL Draft. Wes Bunting’s #8 overall running back. I couldn’t believe he was available. Easy pick.
Only other player I considered was QB B.J. Coleman, but I thought he had a better chance of falling to me in the 7th round (which was not the case he went the very next pick).
Selection: TE Kevin Kroger, Michigan
I wasn’t available at this pick and I was rushed and just sent the G.M. four players to target with that pick I was six picks away and sent a short list over. I was hoping for CB Dwight Bentley, but he must have been selected. I also had Oklahoma TE James Hannah as an option, but he was also picked in between my list that I sent over there and my pick. I’m not 100 percent satisfied with the pick (he was one of the ones I sent over), but it’s the 7th round so it’s not a bad pick. Kroger is an athletic pretty high upside tight end. I don’t have a scouting report written on Kroger yet, so I’ll use Bunting’s final word on him:
Impression: Flashed on tape at times and does have some talent. However, is raw in all areas of the game and looks more like a low round pick/ free agent only who could blossom.
What do you think Bills fans did I do justice by the Bills?
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