Soon enough, there will be answers to all the draft questions out there, and fans won’t have to suffer any more through the anticipation of the unknown.
The Bills have high expectations for next season. They still have a few holes to fill, but if they can properly execute their 10 draft picks, they should have no problem doing so.
Without further ado, here is the latest complete seven-round mock draft for the Bills.
Half groans, half applause for the selection, and a universal sigh of relief that the pick is finally over.
Boston College’s Luke Kuechly can be a three-down linebacker in the NFL. Respected draft analyst Mike Mayock calls him “‘one of the 10 best players in this draft’” and “‘the best pass-dropping linebacker from the inside I’ve ever seen coming out of college football,’” according to Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com.
Buffalo needs depth at linebacker, and Kuechly’s athleticism makes him a great tool for the 4-3 defense. He may not start right away, but he’ll get a ton of playing time and could be a huge piece for the team’s future.
In the second round, Buffalo addresses its need at cornerback with Georgia’s Brandon Boykin.
Director of College Scouting Chuck Cook was curiously terse when talking about the former Bulldog, which is a possible indication he did not want to tip the Bills’ hand. Nonetheless, he mentioned that Boykin has return ability and said, “He has a chance to be a potential player, feel good about him.”
If selected, he’ll join a secondary that might soon receive an overhaul over the next two years, and he figures to be a key player to pair with youngsters Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers, along with young safeties Jairus Byrd and Da’Norris Searcy.
With so many quality prospects coming out at wide receiver this year, it’s tough to say exactly who the Bills really like and who will be available for them in which rounds. The general consensus is that Buffalo is looking for a big, downfield playmaker to complement Steve Johnson, and Brian Quick can be just that player.
He has great size at 6’4” and 220 pounds, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper recently moved him to No. 4 on his wide receiver rankings behind only Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright, per Rotoworld.com.
On the other hand, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel points out that a couple of NFL scouts have concerns about Quick’s transition to the next level. They worry that, as a small-school prospect out of Appalachian State, he may not be mentally prepared just yet and that he isn’t quite ready to contribute right away.
Ultimately, Quick has shown he can make big plays downfield and high-point balls over smaller defenders. And that makes him a good fit for what the Bills are looking for at wideout.
James Brown is a versatile offensive line prospect “who started at left tackle in all 38 games he played for Troy,” according to NFLDraftScout.com. Though he is slightly shorter for a tackle at a shade under 6’4” and 306 pounds, he has good arm length (33.5”), and the experience on the blind side is a huge plus.
A good athlete with strong punch off the snap, Brown is an effective run-blocker but will need to continue refining his technique and footwork. He has raw skills and upside that NFL coaches love to see in rookie players, making him a candidate to be a potential mainstay along the offensive line.
As Assistant GM Doug Whaley indicated at the draft luncheon press conference, it’s easier for linemen to move from left tackle to other positions than it is to transition from other positions to left tackle. With Chris Hairston expected to start at left tackle in 2012, Brown is an intriguing option to take a chance on.
Coby Fleener may be getting all the hype at the tight end position for this year’s draft class, but Missouri’s Michael Egnew is a sleeper who has the potential to be just as good.
Over the last couple of weeks, Fleener has created a lot of buzz with his pro-day numbers, particularly his unofficial 4.46 40-time. But when comparing Fleener’s official overall pre-draft numbers to Egnew’s (found at NFLDraftScout.com), it’s obvious that Egnew’s are just as impressive:
|Category||Coby Fleener||Michael Egnew|
|Weight||247 lbs||252 lbs|
|40-time||4.52 sec.||4.62 sec.|
|Bench||27 reps||21 reps|
|20-yard||4.30 sec.||4.32 sec.|
|3-cone||7.02 sec.||7.03 sec.
Clearly, the former Missouri star has a ton of athleticism and lower-body explosion. He’s not a good blocker yet, and that may never be his game. But Buffalo doesn’t have to use him that way with Scott Chandler in town.
As a dynamic receiver and athlete at the tight end spot, Egnew could be a steal in the fourth round, considering Fleener is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round.
Buddy Nix talked about the quarterback position at the team’s draft luncheon press conference. He stated that, ideally, he’d like to take a quarterback every year to try to find that rare gem that can develop into a franchise signal-caller.
When B.J. Coleman’s name was brought up, Nix sounded optimistic.
A three-year starter at Tennessee-Chattanooga, he has prototype measurements for the position. He’s 6’3” and 233 pounds, and he has a strong arm with consistent accuracy. However, he does struggle with his progressions.
Nix has ties to Chattanooga and mentioned at the luncheon that he knew Coleman in high school and watched him play. He said, “Would he be a guy that would be a franchise pick or could make a run? I think he’s got the ability to do that.”
The Bills will likely add two tackles in the draft, and one of them could be Matt McCants, who is a left tackle project.
At 6’6” and 308 pounds, he has a great frame and room to fill out. His 35.38” arms and 83.38” wingspan offer tremendous length at the tackle position as well.
However, McCants is a developmental player who will need to sit behind starter Chris Hairston. He’ll also need to bulk up and improve his technique to compensate for his lack of pure athleticism.
With Hairston and Erik Pears tentatively expected to be the two starters at tackle next year, adding players like McCants and James Brown would establish some quality depth.
Hopefully in time, McCants can polish his game and become a strong blindside protector.
In addition to offensive tackle, Buffalo is expected to add two cornerbacks as well. And Jeremy Lane could be an intriguing name to monitor.
Though he didn’t receive an invite to the combine, Lane opened up some eyes after an impressive pro day performance. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and posted a 42” vertical jump to go along with a nearly 11’ broad jump.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, Lane’s stock is apparently on the rise after he “flashed solid press coverage skills this past season.”
This late in the draft, a speedy, high-upside and aggressive corner would be a nice option for the Bills, who are hoping to infuse some talented youth to the secondary.
Starter Eric Wood has been an anchor on the Bills’ offensive line since entering the league, but unfortunately he has struggled to stay healthy. After shuffling around the line in his absence last season, Buffalo will try to find him a capable backup.
Arizona State’s Garth Gerhart is a high-motor, high-intensity player who relies on his drive and energy at center. He lacks ideal size at 6’1” and 305 pounds, and he isn’t naturally athletic either. Nevertheless, he’s an aggressive leader on the field who plays with that same edge that Wood does.
He’ll probably never be a starter, and he doesn’t offer much versatility on the interior. But as an experienced center, he’d be a nice insurance policy in the event of Wood missing any more time.
Notre Dame’s Darius Fleming is a late-round outside linebacker prospect who is best suited as a Sam backer in the 4-3. He’s a great tackler, and he’s gained some momentum heading into the draft after increasing his 40-time from 4.77 at the combine to 4.58 at his pro day.
In fact, his determination to improve his 40-time was one of the hottest topics coming out of Notre Dame’s pro day. NFLDraftScout.com had the following to say:
“There’s little doubt the scouts and coaches in attendance noted that Fleming responded like you’re supposed to in the NFL. After falling down, he got right back up and ran the best 40 times of his life—4.57 and 4.52. At 6’2” and 247 pounds, he was two pounds heavier than he was at the combine, but he was two-tenths of a second faster in the 40, too. ‘That makes him the third-fastest linebacker in the country,’ said Elias Karras, Fleming’s trainer at EFT Sports performance in Highland Park.”
On film, Fleming shows above-average quickness and strong burst. While he’s a decent lateral mover, he isn’t very skilled in coverage and will struggle defending the pass initially at the next level. However, he’s shown he can effectively set the edge and shed blocks.
In 2010, he led Notre Dame in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (6). He’ll provide some depth at linebacker for the Bills and can contribute right away on special teams.