The 2012 offseason for the Buffalo Bills will go down as one of the most memorable ones of the past decade, if not in the entire history of the franchise.
From landing defensive end stars Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, to signing their own free agents, as Steve Johnson, Scott Chandler, Kirk Morrison, Bryan Scott, Rian Lindell, Ruvell Martin, Tashard Choice and Garrison Sanborn all signed new deals since the 2011 season ended.
The 2012 NFL Draft is now less than one week away, and Bills fans everywhere are getting excited about the prospects for the 2012 season. The Bills will be hosting the Miami Dolphins on a Thursday night game on the NFL Network, which means that they will be back on prime time.
While the draft picks will raise the bar for competition at training camp at certain positions, the Bills will be viewing this draft to supply the Bills with a few potential starters as well as adding depth to the roster at positions that are getting especially thin.
We will supply you with some material to research to help Bills fans everywhere do some research this weekend as we count down the final days to the 2012 NFL Draft.
After the Bills busy offseason, the team still has some work to do as they prepare the final steps to fine tune the 2012 team and roster. Here is a photo from the Bills brain trust that is in charge of conducting the draft.
According to the current figures compiled over at Spotrac.com, the Buffalo Bills are looking at these current figures heading in to the 2012 NFL Draft:
Active contracts: $121,678, 539
Amount of Cap Rollover from 2011 Season: $19,290,000
Current Bills Salary Cap Figure: $104,746,873.
Keep in mind that the Bills have still not signed either of their restricted free agents Kraig Urbik or Chad Rinehart yet to a new deal. The Bills have to set aside a pool of money to sign their 10 draft picks and a number of undrafted rookie free agents to bring in the appropriate number of bodies for training camp.
Then there is the Fred Jackson situation, as Buddy Nix has promised Jackson that the team will come up with a new deal for the veteran running back before the 2012 season starts.
With an eye looking ahead to the 2013 season, here is the link for the Spotrac page that contains the 33 Bills players that will be free agents next year. Some of the upcoming free agents include Andy Levitre, Jarius Byrd, Donald Jones, David Nelson, Naaman Roosevelt, Fred Jackson and Bryan Scott.
The Bills may want to use some of their available cap money to take a name or two off of that list.
Photo courtesy of Buffalo Bills.com
While the jury is still out on who will be starting for the Bills at left tackle in 2012, the Bills still could conceivably land a free agent or two after the draft is conducted.
Chris Hairston figures to have some competition for the starting left tackle job as the Bills are sure to draft at least one tackle, possibly two.
Based on what tackles the Bills draft, and how they project in regards to being able to start as a rookie, the team may want to bring in a free agent like Marcus McNeill to ensure that they have secured an ideal combination of experience, potential and depth to cover them on both the short-term and long-term basis.
Any other free agents signed to deals will be a direct reaction to the positions that the Bills weren't able to address at the draft.
While conducting some research recently for draft-related articles, I came across this interesting draft chart compiled by Nolan Nawrocki that breaks down the seven rounds on both offense and defense that is called Pro Football Weekly's Exclusive Draft Value Board. You can find a link to that right here.
I liked this presentation because it included breaking players down according to factors such as: playmaking, toughness, instincts, competiveness, leadership presence, medical history, character issues, intelligence, strength, work ethic, achievement levels, projecting their position and ability to be developed or coached.
That is about as thorough as it gets folks.
Nawrocki breaks down the first round into sub-groups like 1A, 1B and 1C. In his 1A group, there are exactly 10 names, but possible Bills targets like LB Luke Kuechly and CB Stephon Gilmore aren't included in his group of 10. The 10 names are: QB's Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, RB Trent Richardson, WR's Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd, T Matt Kalil, DE Melvin Ingram, DT Fletcher Cox and CB Morris Claiborne.
What is the likelihood that the Bills pick at No. 10 comes from that 1A subset?
Thanks to Chris Brown from Buffalo Bills.com, here is the rundown of the players that the Bills brought in to Buffalo for a pre-draft visit. The Bills had each player visit with their respective position coach and the feedback from those exchanges helps to solidify the final grades awarded to each player.
In this article by Jared Cracker at Buffalo Bills.com, the Bills did use all 30 of their allotted pre-draft visits.
The Bills visited with 12 players on offense and 18 on defense. Of interest is that the Bills did not bring in either Michael Floyd or Riley Reiff for a personal visit, but did spend time with both at the scouting combines. You can read into that whatever you want to.
Here is the list from Chris Brown of players that visited the Bills:
Offense: WR Justin Blackmon—Oklahoma State, OL James Brown—Troy, QB Kirk Cousins—Michigan St., OL Cordy Glenn—Georgia, OT Jonathan Martin—Stanford, WR Brian Quick—Appalachian St., OT Matt Kalil–USC, OT Mike Adams–Ohio State, RB Trent Richardson–Alabama, QB Russell Wilson–Wisconsin, QB Ryan Tannehill–Texas A&M and QB Brock Osweiler–Arizona State (pictured).
Defense: DE Vinny Curry–Marshall, DE Olivier Vernon–Miami, Fla., CB Morris Claiborne–LSU, OLB/DE Bruce Irvin–West Virginia, LB Dont’a Hightower–Alabama, S De’Quan Menzie–Alabama,
DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus–Illinois, CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick–Alabama, LB Tank Carder–TCU, DE Chandler Jones–Syracuse, S Mark Barron–Alabama, DE/OLB Shea McClellin–Boise St., CB Josh Robinson—Central Florida, DT Fletcher Cox–Mississippi St., CB Stephon Gilmore—South Carolina, DE/OLB Melvin Ingram—South Carolina, CB Jamell Fleming—Oklahoma and LB Luke Kuechly—Boston College.
What will be interesting to discover is how many of this group actually gets drafted by the Bills. Over/under on that topic is three players.
Never mind that LB Luke Kuechly and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock are both graduates of Boston College. Mayock's analysis work on the NFL draft is as solid as it gets.
According to this article from Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, here was the rundown from Mayock on what the Bills should do at the No. 10 pick:
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock says the Buffalo Bills would be well advised to go away from their perceived primary need—left tackle—and toward Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly with the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Mayock thinks Kuechly would be a great fit for Buffalo.
"Kuechly to me is one of the 10 best players in this draft," Mayock said Thursday on a conference call with reporters.
"The intriguing thing about Luke Kuechly is historically inside linebackers are not valued, mostly because they get replaced in sub packages and nickel packages. Kuechly is the opposite. Kuechly's strength lies in the pass game. He's the best pass-dropping linebacker from the inside I've ever seen coming out of college football. He's got instincts, he's got speed. So on third down, when the sub package comes in the game, he's going to stay in the game, a lot like Sean Lee in Dallas.
I think there's real value there because he's a three-down inside linebacker. He'll occasionally get enveloped by a big body but the NFL is a pass-first league, and there's value in Luke Kuechly."
Furthermore, Mayock thinks Kuechly makes sense for the AFC East.
"For Buffalo at 10, to me Luke Kuechly and [Alabama safety] Mark Barron make sense," he said. "They have to play New England twice with those tight ends."
So, the question is, will the Bills follow suit on Mayock's advice? That appears to be the smart play to me, but I really can't argue with drafting Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd either.
To be an ideal left tackle, they should have an arm length of 33", 33.5" or longer, according to Mike Mayock of NFL Network.
Chris Brown of Buffalo Bills.com compiled a list of of the top-30 tackles in the 2012 draft class that meet that qualification.
The longest arms in the class belong to Kelechi Osemele, from Iowa St., who measures in at 35.875″. He could be a potential target for the Bills with the pick at No. 41 overall.
The only problem with arms that long, is that you have to move your feet to stay in front of the guy you are blocking. The natural tendency is to reach out with those long arms, and let them do the work, without moving your feet. That is how you get nailed for a holding penalty.
Photo courtesy of nepatriotsdraft.com
For an interesting listen on the 2012 draft thoughts for the Bills, here is a link to some dialogue between Buffalo News writer Tim Graham and ESPN's Matt Williamson, who also is a scout over at Scouts Inc.
One of the interesting ideas they discuss is that Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a wild card for the Bills at No. 10, in case Miami goes in a different direction.
They discuss a number of factors, including their thoughts about the 2012 schedule and the Bills prospects for making the playoffs.
If Bills fans are looking for a project for this weekend, I would suggest creating your own NFL Draft big board. We will supply you with some necessary tools to get the job done.
In one of the earlier slides we presented you with the chart from Pro Football Weekly that broke down a number of key areas as well as some intangible skills.
Now we will actually give you links to some other big boards out there that you can use to help give you some balance and other ideas to chew over.
First up, you can find the link to the National Football Post big board right here. As for the greatest and latest computer-simulated mock draft at Draftek.com, you can find the link to version 16 right here.They also have a big board at Draftek, and here is the link to that.
Finally, here is the link to Bleacher Report's very own Matt Miller's "Final Big Board" article that was published on April 16th, 2012. You now have the tools I think you need to accomplish your mission.
Results for the latest Bills 2012 draft class from Draftek, (Version No. 16) is right here:
Round 1 (pick 10): South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore, Round 2 (pick 41): Utah St. OLB Bobby Wagner, Round 3 (pick 71): Clemson TE Dwayne Allen, Round 4a (pick 105): LSU WR Reuben Randle, Round. 4b (pick 124): U. of Alabama-Birmingham T Matt McCants, Round 5a (pick 144): Miami, Fla DT Marcus Forston, Round 5b (pick 147): Tennessee RB Tauren Poole, Round 6 (pick 178): USC LB Tyler Nielson, Round 7a (pick 217): LSU CB Ron Brooks and Round 7b (pick 251): Oklahoma St. DE Jamie Blatnick.
Thanks for checking out the presentation and hope that are as excited about the upcoming draft as I am.