Buffalo Bills Draft: Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Martin Among Possible Targets
After an exciting free-agency frenzy for the Buffalo Bills, in which they inked defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the need for a pass-rush in Orchard Park is long gone.
After a successful 2011 draft, the Bills are finally in a position where they can afford to go the best-player-available route, despite a few holes that could be filled with the transition back to the 4-3 defensive front.
Among those are a cornerback that can take over for the injury-plagued Terrence McGee, an outside linebacker, and a franchise left tackle.
In this slideshow, we'll take a look at some of the prospects the Buddy Nix and the head brass at One Bills Drive could be taking a serious look at come April 26th when the team is on the clock.
OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
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It seems as if Demetrius Bell isn't returning to the Bills next season, leaving a gaping hole at the left tackle position.
Stanford Cardinal Jonathan Martin could fit the bill, as he has a high ceiling for improvement.At 6'6" 305 pounds, he has quick feet and can both pass protect and is nasty in his run blocking.
Martin missed just two games at Stanford, protecting Andrew Luck's blindside, and is a safe pick at the No. 10 overall spot.
Another prospect worth considering on the offensive line is Iowa's Riley Reiff. Although he seemed a bit out of shape at the NFL Combine, his tape makes up for it.
He has been rumored to fit best at right tackle, but his instincts and ability to kick slide could make him a solid left tackle in the National Football League.
CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
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Terrence McGee is getting up there in age, Leodis McKelvin hasn't proven much, and Drayton Florence is a shell of his former self.
So why not grab a proven cornerback with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft?
Stephon Gilmore started 40 games at South Carolina, racking up 181 tackles, eight interceptions, 17 passes defensed, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, and 15 tackles for a loss.
At 6'1" 195 pounds, Gilmore is quickly rising up draft boards, as he is a big time cornerback with great instincts and athleticism.
He is best fit in a 4-3 zone defense, which the Bills will be operating out of, but he is versatile enough to become a solid press corner with some coaching.
His production in the SEC speaks for itself, and he could be an immediate upgrade to the Bills' secondary.
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
While linebacker isn't at the top of the "needs list," adding a player with Kuechly's ability could further improve the defensive front that has already been significantly upgraded with the additions of defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.
Now, I'm not talking about using Kuechly as an inside linebacker. I want to move him outside.
The Bills have lacked an outside backer that can cover tight ends for years, and this tackling machine could be the man to solidify the front seven once and for all.
While playing OLB in his first season at Boston College, Kuechly managed 158 tackles (15 for a loss) before moving inside for the next two seasons.
In his three seasons at Boston College, Kuechly racked up over 500 tackles, an average of roughly 16 per game.
While there were questions coming into the NFL combine regarding his coverage speed, he quickly dismissed those when he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash and impressed in every drill.
Kelvin Sheppard seems to have taken over the middle linebacker role, while Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison are slotted as the outside backers, so Kuechly could easily find his way climbing up the unimpressive depth chart.
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
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Michael Floyd has been the Bills' choice on various mock drafts throughout the internet.
At 6'3", 224 pounds, his separation abilities are incredible.
He displays strong hands, can get up in the air with his 36.5-inch vertical and has the speed to get down the field with his 4.4 40-yard dash.
In his four years as a member of the Fighting Irish, he was a major contributor, racking up 266 receptions for 3,645 yards and finding the end zone 36 times.
With the Bills, he could be the perfect No. 2 receiver opposite Steve Johnson, with the ability and potential to become a top-notch wideout in the National Football League.