Matt Miller, the senior NFL draft lead writer at Bleacher Report, just completed his latest seven-round mock draft this week, complete with the new compensatory picks added to the seventh round.
You can find a link to Matt's mock draft article right here.
Rather than give Matt's entire draft away right up front, I can tell you what positions he addressed in order of all 10 picks. Matt gave the Bills a tackle, corner, wide receiver, defensive end, outside linebacker, tight end, defensive end, tackle, defensive tackle and a corner.
We will now discuss each of Matt's 10 choices and look at other options he passed up.
As we go through these picks round by round, I will be using data from a multitude of sources.
For starters, we will look at the overall rank that each player drafted has over at National Football Post's NFL draft site, compiled by Wes Bunting, who is the NFL draft guru for NFP. You can find a link to their rankings here.
In addition to the solid work of Miller and Bunting, we will also add in another layer of analysis, this one from Draftek.com. They run a number of computer simulated drafts, which are aided by individuals that have weighted specific team needs.
Those needs are updated after key moves are made in free agency, so each new version is intended to reflect how team needs have changed.
Putting a mock draft together is tricky because people like Matt Miller and Wes Bunting are trying to use the latest and greatest information out there about specific team needs and attempting to pair them with athletes that have a reasonably good chance to fit in that system.
The problems that arise come from how any player can be viewed so differently based on what analyst you read or listen to. As you will see from the players that Matt Miller drafted for the Bills, and the corresponding ranks from National Football Post and Draftek.com, the opinions can vary greatly.
The other statement that I want to make is that it is extremely difficult to stay on top of the unique needs of all 32 teams. I don't envy anyone attempting to try a seven-round mock draft for any team, much less all 32 teams. It is a fun exercise, but when it comes to feedback and critiques, it proves to be a very thankless job.
Finally, we are plugging in the Draftek.com latest mock rankings from their mock version 9A, which was conducted on March 27, 2012.
Just to illustrate how much opinions vary, here is a cross-section of the top 10 draft picks from various sources. We are using a combination of mock drafts and big boards to show how players can move up and down according to who you talk to.
Matt Miller's Top 10 (from latest mock): Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Quinton Coples, Ryan Tannehill, Michael Brockers and Riley Reiff.
Wes Bunting's Top 10 (from latest mock): Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Morris Claiborne, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Melvin Ingram, Ryan Tannehill, Dontari Poe and Riley Reiff.
Draftek.com's Top 10 (from latest mock): Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, Riley Reiff, Ryan Tannehill, Fletcher Cox and Mike Adams.
Mel Kiper's Big Board Top 10: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, Luke Kuechly, Riley Reiff, Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram.
Scout Inc. Top 10 (from latest mock): Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, Riley Reiff, Ryan Tannehill, Dontari Poe and Michael Floyd.
Wes Bunting's Big Board Top 10: Andrew Luck, Morris Claiborne, David DeCastro, Trent Richardson, Michael Brockers, Matt Kalil, Robert Griffin III, Luke Kuechly, Quinton Coples and Dre Kirkpatrick.
Scout Inc. Big Board Top 10: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Luke Kuechly, Ryan Tannehill, Quinton Coples and Dontari Poe.
As you review the lists above, you can see general consensus for the top three picks, and then things start to change.
By the time you get to the No. 7 pick, few people agree. Funny how different Bunting's big board picks are compared to his own mock draft.
Matt Miller Selection: Riley Reiff, Iowa Tackle
Reiff is 6'6" and weighs 300 pounds. WBBB (33), SIBB (15), MKBB (8). DBB (8)
I would rather see the Bills take the best player available at No. 10 or trade down and draft a tackle in the 18-22 range of the first round.
As things stand now, it seems less likely that Demetrius Bell is coming back to the Buffalo Bills. Matt Miller drafted Reiff with the No. 10 overall pick, investing the valuable first-round pick to give the Bills the solid left tackle they need.
The only potential issue I have with this pick is the concern that Reiff might not be ready to assume the starting left tackle job in his rookie year. After all, we are talking about protecting the blind side of Ryan Fitzpatrick, so this is one of the most important jobs on the Bills' team.
On a recent episode of Path to the Draft on NFL Network, NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock said that he thought Reiff could be plugged in as a starter at right tackle as a rookie, but in his opinion, he didn't think that Reiff was ready to be a left tackle for at least his first two years in the league.
Mayock thought that Reiff would go somewhere around No. 20 in the draft. A number of NFL teams flocked to Reiff's Pro Day at Iowa to check him out, according to Gil Brandt at NFL Network.
That is a major red flag for this pick. If you place value on Mayock's opinion, and I do, then you have to be concerned. Here is a link to Mayock's latest rankings of the top five players per position for the 2012 draft. Reiff is the No. 2 ranked tackle according to Mayock.
After Miller drafted Reiff for the Bills, the following eight draft picks following Reiff were: David DeCastro, Luke Kuechly, Nick Perry, Melvin Ingram, Dontari Poe, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright and Stephon Gilmore.
This boils down to need versus taking the best player available concept.
As we saw in the rankings at the top of the screen, opinions on Reiff vary. Is he a reach at 10? Perhaps he is. Are there other players that would be considered a better player than Reiff at 10? From the following eight picks, I am partial to Kuechly, DeCastro, Floyd and Gilmore.
By filling their biggest need of improving the pass-rush in free agency, the Bills do have the luxury of drafting the best player available with the No. 10 pick. They shouldn't feel like they have to draft a specific position but rather be content to take whoever grades out as the best player on their board.
In the past three simulated drafts at Draftek.com, the Bills selected either Michael Floyd or Mike Adams.
WBBB (Wes Bunting Big Board) SIBB (Scout Inc Big Board) MKBB (Mel Kiper Big Board) DBB (Drafteck.com Big Board)
Matt Miller Selection: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma Cornerback
Fleming is 5'11" and weighs 191 pounds. WBBB (46), DBB (127).
I believe that Fleming would be a reach at No. 41.
If you look at Mike Mayock's top five ranking of cornerbacks in the 2012 draft class, Fleming doesn't appear anywhere on the list. Mayock's top five corners are: Morris Claiborne, Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins and Josh Robinson.
Obviously Jenkins has some red flag issues attached to him, but there is no denying that he is a talented player. The Bills drafted corner Aaron Williams in the second round at No. 34 last year.
Is Fleming the equivalent of Williams? I don't believe so.
On the surface, Fleming appears to be a reach here at 41. As we already stated, he isn't in Mayock's top five. For Wes Bunting, Fleming is his No. 7 corner in the draft class. Ahead of Fleming are Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins, Stephon Gilmore, Brandon Boykin and Josh Robinson.
As for Draftek.com, they drafted Bobby Wagner, outside linebacker from Utah St. at No. 41 for the Bills. As for Fleming, they had him as the No. 16 corner, following Claiborne, Gilmore, Kirkpatrick, Alfonso Dennard, Jenkins, Jayron Hosley, Robinson, Dwight Bentley, Casey Heyward, Coryell Judie, Boykin, Trumaine Johnson, Josh Norman, Leonard Johnson, Shaun Prater and then Fleming. Draftek.com had him ranked at No. 127.
Based on that, somebody is really missing the mark on Fleming. Of course, we won't know much more until we have seen him play in a number of NFL games. Fleming's name didn't appear in the latest two-round mock draft at Scouts Inc., that we referenced to earlier.
Other notable names that were drafted after Fleming in Matt Miller's mock draft in the second round were: Chandler Jones, Kirk Cousins, Janoris Jenkins, Vinny Curry, and the trio of Nebraska defenders, Lavonte David, Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick.
Matt Miller Selection: Brian Quick, Appalachian St. Wide Receiver
He is 6'4" and weighs 220 pounds. WBBB (137), and DBB (198).
He has the size that the Bills would like. Can he extend the field to free up other receivers? That is the type of receiver that the Bills need.
Quick ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds at the Scouting Combine. He is a big, physical receiver who should provide a nice target for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Quick played at Appalachian St., so it is conceivable that there is not a great amount of knowledge on him, which would help to explain the much lower ranking for him (No. 137 and 198) compared to Matt Miller drafting him at No. 72. But, that is a pretty significant difference of opinion on the ranking.
At NFL Draft Scout.com, Quick is rated as the No. 9 wide receiver in the 2012 draft class, and here is their scouting report on Quick.
Other notable names drafted in Miller's third round mock, that went after Quick: Bobby Massie, Orson Charles, Ronnell Lewis, Sean Spence, Amini Silatolu, Cam Johnson, Joe Adams, Brock Osweiler and Bruce Irvin.
Photo courtesy of News Observer.com
Matt Miller Selection: Malik Jackson, Tennessee Defensive End
Jackson is 6'5" and weighs 270 pounds. WBBB (86) DBB (101).
If the Bills are able to get Jackson here at No. 107 that is somewhat of a steal based on the other rankings. Jackson comes out of the SEC, and we all know that Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey appreciate finding players from the SEC.
Jackson would be drafted to provide some backup depth to the defensive ends group of Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, Chris Kelsay and Alex Carrington.
National Football Post has Jackson ranked as the No. 8 defensive end in the draft class, ahead of Vinny Curry and Chander Jones. You can find their scouting report of him here.
Other notable names that came after Jackson in the fourth round were: Matt McCants, Marvin McNutt, Vontaze Burfict and Jarius Wright.
Matt Miller Selection: Demario Davis, Arkansas St. Linebacker
Davis is 6'3" and weighs 230 pounds. WBBB (78) DBB (100).
Again, this appears to be another steal. If the Bills can draft Davis here that will continue to pump up the 2012 draft class. The likelihood is that he will go either late in round three or early in round four.
Davis is drafted to offer some much needed competition to Danny Batten and Arthur Moats.
He is the No. 10 ranked outside linebacker by National Football Post. You can read their scouting report on him right here. Wes Bunting called him, "One of the biggest surprises on tape this draft season. Was explosive, instinctive and always making plays on the football. Looks like a starting caliber linebacker either inside or out in a 4-3 scheme."
Photo courtesy of Arkansas Sports 360.com
Matt Miller Selection: Michael Egnew, Missouri Tight End
Egnew is 6'6" and 245 pounds. WBBB (191) DBB (87)
He will be another tall target, ideal in the red zone but for now appears to be more of a one-dimensional type of player.
National Football Post ranks Egnew as the No. 8 tight end in the 2012 draft class. That seems about right for somebody you pick up in the fifth round. You can read their scouting report of him right here.
Egnew is more of a slot-type of tight end rather than a traditional tight end that is adept at blocking.
Other players of note that were drafted after Egnew in the fifth round were: Chase Minnifield, Jaye Howard, DeQuan Menzie, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Acho.
Matt Miller Selection: Olivier Vernon, Miami (FLA) Defensive End
Vernon is 6'4" and weighs 265 pounds. WBBB (188) DBB (174).
He is rated much lower by the other rankings, so there appears to be somewhat of a reach going on with this pick. The other reason for the lower grade is that Vernon accepted money from boosters and served a suspension as a result.
Poor judgement or character issues is a red flag.
Since the Bills already have drafted a defensive end in this draft, I would prefer to see the Bills take a quarterback here, somebody that they can plan to develop over time. For what it is worth, the next three quarterbacks that were drafted after Vernon are B.J. Coleman, Austin Davis and Chandler Harnish.
Vernon is rated as the No. 15 defensive end at National Football Post in the 2012 NFL draft class. If you want to check out his scouting report at NFP, you can find that link right here.
As we sighted earlier when Miller drafted Malik Jackson in the fourth round, Vernon would give the Bills another defensive end to help bring out more competition in training camp, in addition to helping the depth issue.
Matt Miller Selection: Andrew Datko, Florida St. Tackle
Datko is 6'6" and weighs 321 pounds. WBBB (108) DBB (184).
If he turns out to be closer to what Wes Bunting thinks he is, then the Bills really did quite well for themselves here.
Datko is the No. 9 ranked tackle at National Football Post. It seems by the ranking that the NFP likes Datko much more than either Matt Miller or Draftek.com does. Here is the scouting report on Datko by National Football Post.
Matt Miller Selection: Akiem Hicks, Defensive Tackle
Hicks played at Regina, in Canada. He is 6'5" and weighs 324 pounds. WBBB (142) DBB (153).
Drafting him this low suggest that he is a project, and that pretty well sums him up.
Hicks is the No. 14 ranked defensive tackle at National Football Post, and you can find his scouting report here.
He has quite a ways to go to polish his game. Was originally recruited to play at LSU. Wound up pretty far removed from LSU.
Photo courtesy of Leader Post.com
Matt Miller Selection: Emanuel Davis, East Carolina Cornerback
Davis is 5'11" and weighs 182 pounds. WBBB (239) DBB (wasn't drafted).
Grade: C. It is hard to expect much with this pick, which is only two picks ahead of Mr. Irrelevant. The Bills are hoping he will turn out to be like corner Justin Rogers, who the Bills found in the seventh round last year.
Davis is the No. 30 ranked corner at National Football Post for the 2012 draft class. You can find his scouting report link right here.
Photo courtesy of ECU Pirates.com
Here is the complete list of the 10 draft picks Matt Miller assigned to the Buffalo Bills in his mock draft.
1) Iowa tackle Riley Reiff
2) Oklahoma corner Jamell Fleming
3) Appalachian St. wide receiver Brian Quick
4) Tennessee defensive end Malik Jackson
5) Arkansas St. outside linebacker Demario Davis
6) Missouri tight end Michael Egnew
7) Miami (FLA) defensive end Olivier Vernon
8) Florida St. tackle Andrew Datko
9) Regina, Canada defensive tackle Akiem Hicks
10) East Carolina corner Emanuel Davis.
That means that the Bills draft would have netted six defensive players and four on offense. Every position of need was addressed for the Bills except for a backup quarterback that is capable of beating out Tyler Thigpen.
What do Bills fans think of Matt Miller's mock draft with respect to how this group would help the Bills, or not. What do you like that Matt did, and what are you not too crazy about?