2012 NFL Draft Grades Buffalo Bills: Review and Grades for All the Bills' Picks

Matt CContributor IIIApril 29, 2012

2012 NFL Draft Grades Buffalo Bills: Review and Grades for All the Bills' Picks

0 of 10

    After months of build-up, the NFL draft has come and gone.

    The Bills attacked the draft with a very need-based approach, bypassing more talented players for those that filled a hole. After a worrisome pick on both Thursday and Friday, the Bills turned in a solid, workmanlike Day 3. While Bills GM Buddy Nix and I may differ on grades, one thing we can agree on is that we're both fans of the player once they join the Bills family. 

    Concluding the pick analysis, I have which prospects I would've targeted and why, creating my own "draft class" in the Bills' draft spots.

10th: CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

1 of 10

    Cornerback was most certainly a need for the Bills, and Nix opted for arguably the best athlete at the position this year.

    Skill Set:

    Gilmore flashes good ball skills, with the innate ability to track the football well in the air.  He has wheels and is surprisingly aggressive in run support, unlike most corners.  He's an effective blitzer inside when lined up at the nickel.  Well-built, physical, fast, aggressive, and confident, Gilmore has an impressive skill set. 

    That all being said, Gilmore lacks what I deem to be the most telling criteria for collegiate cornerbacks: fluid hips.  He struggles in transition, which can quickly make a 4.3-guy look like a 4.7-guy in the NFL.  His technique can get very sloppy in man, getting taken advantage of by good route runners. For that reason, he is not a great cover corner at this point in his development and needs work. In zone coverage, he can jump routes in the short and intermediate range, but will bite hard on play fakes at times because of his aggressiveness. 

    Fit with the Bills:

    If the Bills' front seven plays to its talent level, Gilmore should have plenty of opportunities to jump routes.  Therefore, I think he may make some splash plays as a rookie.  He can make big plays, but I think he'll give up his share of them, as well.  The Bills have needed a top-end corner for years and I really, really hope I'm wrong about him at that position.


    As a cornerback prospect, he graded out to a 4th-round talent for me.  Unless he takes significant steps to improve his technique, he'll have trouble living up to his draft status.  However, as a free safety, where he can keep everything in front of him, I think he has a boatload of upside.  The tools he does have fit that position quite well, in my opinion.  For that reason, I ended up giving him a second-round grade, but purely at that position.

    Normally I don't split grades, but rather grade the player at his best possible position. For the analysis' sake, though:

    Final Grade: 7.9 (fourth round, as a corner); 8.9 (second round, as a free safety)

41st: OL Cordy Glenn, Georgia

2 of 10

    Offensive tackle was also a pressing need for the team headed into the draft, and Nix adds his kind of tackle.

    Skill Set:

    Glenn has surprising athleticism for a 345-pound man, flashing solid feet and hustle for that size.  He has the coveted height and length as well, checking in at over 6'5" with 35 3/4-inch arms.  He's strong and anchors well.  When he gets his mitts on a guy, that guy's not going to go very far.  Glenn is solid in the running game and provides versatility, having played both tackle and guard in Athens.

    However, when lined up at tackle, rushers can still take the corner on him despite his feet.  Also, quicker defenders can get inside on him when he tries to kick back in a hurry. In other words, if a player tries taking the corner often, they can set him up for a cut across his face.  He doesn't consistently play with a mean streak, but he'll occasionally jump on top of his block. 

    I think Glenn's a guard at the next level, but he has the length and feet for the coaches to at least potentially mold him at tackle.  At any rate, I view him as a big starter somewhere on the line, probably ending up at right guard.

    Fit with the Bills:

    The Bills have a need at left tackle, and Glenn will get every opportunity to compete with Chris Hairston.  If he can't, he'd most likely supplant incumbent right guard Kraig Urbik.  Nix prefers drafting players like Glenn, a tackle who can still potentially play guard if it doesn't work out on the outside.  Of course, my evaluation would be looking at Glenn as if I had a balanced offense.  With the Bills three-step spread, Glenn may be a better fit at left tackle than he would be in a different offense.


    As I've alluded to, Glenn will probably struggle with consistency as a starter at tackle, though he could possibly get by on the right side.  I’d much rather put him in a phone booth at guard and use his size and strength more effectively at a position he’s more familiar with.  I like his upside at both positions, but especially at guard.  He’s got the tools to be a good one.

    Final Grade: 8.9 (second round)

69th: WR T.J. Graham, NC State

3 of 10

    The Bills needed someone to take the top off of defenses and clearly Nix believes that Graham is that guy, trading up two spots to grab the NC State product.

    Skill Set:

    Graham has some wheels, running 4.41at the combine.  He really hasn't done much as a receiver, but he has value as a potential deep threat.  He has shown value as a kick returner, as well.

    He isn't the tallest guy (5'11"), but he could play a role as a return man and to stretch the field in some situations. 

    Fit with the Bills:

    In theory, this is the type of complementary player the Bills needed opposite possession receiver Stevie Johnson last season.  When your top receiver lacks the top-end speed to stretch the field, someone else has to take the top off of the defense.  Nix and head coach Chan Gailey felt that player would be Donald Jones, but he has been plagued by injuries and butter fingers. 


    Personally, I think that Graham is a late fifth-round prospect, which is still higher than most analysts had him going.  It's interesting that the Bills sent their seventh to move ahead of the Jaguars, who have added a handful of receivers already this off-season. Jacksonville's interest in Graham is unknown, and if the Bills love Graham, it's hard to fault them for making the swap.  I just know I wouldn't have.

    Final Grade: 7.2 (fifth round)

105th: OLB Nigel Bradham, Florida State

4 of 10

    Skill Set:

    Bradham flashes good range, with the speed to get to the sideline.  He's an average tackler with good athleticism.  He's more of a wrap up tackler, though he'll occasionally put a hit on a guy.  He's a lighter player that can get pushed around out there.  Bigger backs can punish him when they meet in the hole. 

    Fit with the Bills:

    While I believe Mike Mayock projected him at the Sam, I view him as more of a Will given his size.


    Bradham looks like a solid contributor at the next level.  He should provide depth and contribute on special teams

    Final Grade: 7.4 (fifth round)

124th: CB Ron Brooks, LSU

5 of 10

    The Bills continued to add speed and athleticism to the secondary.

    Skill Set:

    Brooks is a speedy, aggressive player who is willing to throw his body around and deliver a hit.  He's effective as a nickel blitzer and plays with a lot of confidence.  He's a very team-oriented guy, who is willing to play any role asked of him.  He played in 53 games at LSU, starting three times.

    He's better when asked to man up on an underneath route as opposed to sitting back and playing zone. 

    Fit with the Bills:

    Brooks can provide depth at corner and contribute to the roster on special teams, as well. 


    The value was right on for Brooks and he should provide help as the nickel/dime back.  The Bills most certainly got faster on defense.  Brooks may end up being the Bills "anti-Hernandez," as he has the size and speed to match up with him.

    Final Grade: 7.6 (fourth round)

144th: OT Zebrie Sanders, Florida State

6 of 10

    Skill Set:

    Sanders is another tackle with big-time measurables, carrying 320 pounds on his 6'5" frame, with 35-inch arms.  He has a ton of starts under his belt, mostly at right tackle. He doesn't have the best feet, but he does have some athleticism. 

    Sanders doesn't display great awareness and doesn't bend consistently as he should.  He needs to get lower.  He also needs to play with better strength, both when anchoring in pass protection and in the run game.

    Fit with the Bills:

    Sanders does have some upside given his size, but I feel he's more of a depth pick at right tackle to bolster the offensive line. 


    He has the athleticism and experience, but looks like a better player than he is.  That being said, once again the value is right for One Bills Drive.  I feel there were better players available, but Sanders was worth the pick.

    Final Grade: 7.4 (fifth round)

147th: LB Tank Carder, TCU

7 of 10

    Skill Set:

    Carder shows good burst, speed, and instincts.  He can really shoot the gap.  He's a competitive and fired-up player that brings a lot of energy when he's on the field.  If Carder can lay the wood, he will.  He's a fundamentally sound tackler, but he's just not big enough to cleanly bring down ball-carriers. 

    His lack of size does hurt him at times in the run game.  When blockers get their hands on him, he's pretty much done.

    Fit with the Bills:

    Carder should be a valuable role player, subbing in on passing downs and making plays as a special teamer.


    I really like the value pick for the Bills.  Highly competitive players bring energy to the team and he's got some talent to contribute as well.

    Final Grade: 7.8 (fourth round)

178th: OG Mark Asper, Oregon

8 of 10

    Skill Set:

    Asper has good size and gets after it in the run game.  He flashes a bit of a mean streak.  In pass protection, he doesn't have much athleticism or bend, though.  He provides versatility, having started at right tackle for most of 2010.

    Fit with the Bills:

    Not to consistently sound like a broken record, but the Bills offensive scheme can make linemen look better than they are.  Normally, it hides the pass protection aspect a bit, while still allowing linemen who are pluses in the running game to succeed (see Urbik, Kraig).


    He's a late fifth-round talent and lower-end depth for most teams, but is probably worth more than that to the Bills for the aforementioned reasons.

    Final Grade: 7.2 (fifth round)

251st: K John Potter, Western Michigan

9 of 10

    Skill Set:

    Converted 16/22 (72.7%), with a long of 45 yards.  He has consistently converted his PATs.

    Fit with the Bills:

    After seeing the way last season ended without Rian Lindell, there's not too much talent kicker talent available on the market. I believe that Nix wanted to bring in someone he feels can not only compete in camp to challenge the incumbent, but also specialize on kickoffs.  Lindell is 35 and the Bills will need to identify a long-term solution soon.

"My" Draft Class...

10 of 10

    10th:  OG David DeCastro, Stanford

    Ideally, I would've liked to move down to move down and grab an extra pick.  However, regardless, my target would be DeCastro.  While guard isn't an overly exciting pick for most, I'm all for adding elite-caliber linemen when I can find them.  Teaming DeCastro up with LG Andy LeVitre and C Eric Wood would give the Bills a nasty interior that may be the more physical team in December for the first time in years.

    41st:  CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech

    Hosley ended up slipping a bit, but I wasn't going to take a chance at missing on him.  He has the ball skills and instincts to start at the next level.  He's best in zone coverage, but he has the tools to keep developing into an all-around cover corner.

    69th:  DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson

    The team already has two formidable tackles up front, but sorely lacks depth behind them.  Considering the recent injury history of the team, having either Kyle Williams or Marcell Dareus go down would significantly damper the effectiveness of the new look pass rush.  In addition, can you imagine that three-headed rotation inside along with the wave of ends the team can send? The Bills would be even more fresh and even more talented at tackle.  Thompson is a good player that slipped much further than he should have.

    105th:  CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia

    I cannot believe Minnifield went undrafted.  Originally projected as a second-round talent in January,he had his knee scoped in January, which has hurt his ability to work out. While all these other corners are running blazing 40's at their Pro Days and at the Combine, Minnifield could only sit back and watch.  He finally guts it out and runs a plodding 4.63.  Suddenly, despite his ball skills, work ethic, competitiveness and hips, most then saw him plummeting to the 4th round (Incidentally, Minnifield claims he's a 4.4 when healthy).  Instead, no one even deemed him a draftable talent anymore.  Even though I already took Hosley in this mock, the value is way too high to pass up.  Plus, with Buffalo's new pass rush looking very good on paper, I envision Minnifield and Hosley jumping many routes.  I'd walk away feeling like I just added two starting-caliber corners.

    124th:  WR Juron Criner, Arizona

    Criner's a good route runner that uses his body well to box out defenders.  His problem is that he'll have the occasional concentration lapse and drop some easy ones over the course of the season.  He still rakes in some highlight-reel catches, though.

    144th:  S Tramain Thomas, Arkansas

    One of the more underrated players in the draft process, Thomas was projected to go anywhere from the fourth round on.  Thomas flies around the secondary with reckless abandon.  He has good ball skills and the anticipation to get to the football.  I think he's a sleeper.

    147th:  LB Emmanuel Acho, Texas

    Acho doesn't do anything great, but a lot of things pretty well.  He could've played Sam for the Bills.

    178th:  LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State

    I know, I know, but for some reason, I feel this kid can be saved by the right coach.  His off-field issues and decision-making is frustrating, but he does have some talent and isn't the type of person people think he is.  In the sixth round, I wanted to take a shot on him. 

    251st:  RB Chris Polk, Washington

    Injuries or not, at the 251st pick, I'm not taking a chance he gets a better offer from someone else once the draft ends.  Polk is a talented back, but has a lot of wear on his tires, carrying the rock 799 times as a Husky.  He's also had a few different surgeries.  Given his physical running style, those two factors will likely significantly shorten his career.  However, with players from obscure schools flying off the boards around this pick, Polk provides great value.  He'd provide very good depth at the position.



    1.  OT Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State

    I'd obviously love to add a left tackle somewhere in the draft.  With the exception of Kalil, though, all of the other players are question marks that need work.  Therefore, I don't want to manufacture a tackle by taking one for the sake of it.  Adcock, however, could be a surprising player.  I think he's more likely to provide depth at right tackle, but he may be able to get by as a starter in a scheme like Buffalo's.  Incidentally, I'd be on the phone with Marcus McNeill right now to bring him in.

    2.  WR Eric Page, Toledo

    He doesn't have very good measurables, but he's been consistently productive in college.  He is surprisingly quick in the open field, catches passes away from his frame, and strong enough to run through tackles despite his smaller size.  He's also willing to go over the middle and take a hit.  Page has the look of a good slot man in the NFL.

    3.  CB Coryell Judie, Texas A&M

    He's a kid with ball skills and the ability to play the ball well in the air.  He also adds return value.  He's dealt with injuries and I've picked up too many of the same style of corner at this point, but he was too high on the board to not give a look to in training camp.

    4.  DT Willie McGinnis, Rhode Island

    McGinnis has the physical tools to be a starter.  He has to prove he can overcome his level of competition, but he could end up a steal.

    5.  DB Robert Golden, Arizona

    I would bring in Golden to be my tight end specialist.  He's started at both corner and safety and shows a willingness to play anywhere on the field, inside and out.  He's a physical, hard-hitting guy that can form tackle as well.  He doesn't have the ball skills or great technique in coverage (gets flat-footed at times), but he has the size, speed, and physicality to match up with tight ends.  He'll also add value as a special teams ace.