Buffalo Bills: Reviewing Their 2012 NFL Draft
The Buffalo Bills surprised their critics with their aggressive tactics this offseason, signing one of the market’s top free agents in defensive end Mario Williams and pairing him with another gifted pass-rusher in Mark Anderson.
The Bills did not carry those aggressive tactics into draft day, but with extra fourth- and fifth-round picks, they simply needed to make strong draft choices to complete a great offseason.
Did they do so? Read through the following slides to find out.
Evaluating the Picks
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Round 1, Pick 10: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 19
Gilmore is a well-rounded, athletic cornerback who was productive in the SEC. He is a solid and consistent cover corner who is athletic with great size and ball skills. He is not yet a lockdown cover corner, but he is ready to come in and start and cover sideline receivers.
Round 2, Pick 41: Cordy Glenn, OT/G, Georgia
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 17
Glenn is a massive, 346-pound offensive lineman with tremendous length. He has great strength and the versatility to play both tackle and guard.
Glenn’s footwork is substandard for an NFL left tackle, but the Bills look for offensive tackles with length and could attempt to use him as an offensive tackle. He would, however, be a tremendous fit to kick inside to guard.
Round 3, Pick 69: T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 182
Graham is not a great receiver, but he is blessed with great speed and agility. He is a skilled return specialist and has high upside thanks to his athleticism.
Round 4, Pick 105: Nigel Bradham, OLB, Florida State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 57
Bradham is a well-rounded, playmaking linebacker with great athletic ability. He is a sound tackler, drops back into coverage effectively and can make plays anywhere on the field. He is a good fit to play as a strong-side linebacker.
Round 4, Pick 124: Ron Brooks, CB, LSU
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 178
Brooks is a very intriguing draft prospect. He played in a situational role as an LSU cornerback but was very effective as a nickel/dime back, and he projects well to playing a similar role at the next level.
Brooks is small, but he's a tremendous athlete. He would have been a star in most college secondaries but was buried in a secondary deep with talent. That could end up working out well for him, as he is a natural fit to step in right away and play as a third or fourth cornerback in nickel or dime situations. He also has potential as a punt returner.
Round 5, Pick 144: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 125
Sanders is a big right tackle with good feet for his size. At times, he looks great, but he is highly inconsistent, including a very poor showing at the Senior Bowl. He has high potential as a right tackle but may not end up being starting-caliber.
Round 5, Pick 147: Tank Carder, OLB, Texas Christian
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 105
As a two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, Carder has always been known for coming up with big plays. He is a consistent tackler who is good at dropping into coverage.
He is undersized and not a hard-hitter, but he is a solid athlete. He should fit well into the Bills’ linebacker rotation and contribute on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 178: Mark Asper, G, Oregon
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 279
Asper is a solid all-around offensive line prospect with positional versatility. He does not have great feet and is not overpowering, but he should make a solid backup.
Round 7, Pick 251 (compensatory selection): John Potter, K, Western Michigan
Overall Prospect Rank: Not in Top 400
Potter is a solid kicker with a strong leg, but this selection seems like a waste. While he is being looked at as a kickoff specialist, it is tough to warrant keeping a player to be a kickoff specialist with the NFL’s new kickoff rules that moved them up to the 35-yard line.
The Bills already have a reliable kicker in Rian Lindell who signed a four-year contract extension with the team this offseason.
Evaluating the Trades
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The Bills traded Round 3, Pick 71 and Round 7, Pick 217 to the Washington Redskins for Round 3, Pick 69.
T.J. Graham was a reach to begin with in Round 3, so they should not have had to trade up to ensure the opportunity to select him. This was especially true as they were only moving up two spots to jump ahead of the Jaguars, who had already traded up for Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon and were unlikely to select Graham at No. 70. This trade did not make much sense.
The Bills received Round 4, Pick 124 from the Baltimore Ravens in August 2011 for wide receiver Lee Evans.
The Bills traded away one of their starting wide receivers in this trade and are still weak at the No. 2 receiver spot across from Steve Johnson. David Nelson is a good talent, but he is best suited to be a third or fourth receiver, as is T.J. Graham.
The Bills received Round 5, Pick 147 along with a 2011 fourth-round selection from the Seattle Seahawks in October 2010 for running back Marshawn Lynch.
When the Bills traded Marshawn Lynch, he was coming off multiple off-field incidents over the previous two years, so the return value in getting two draft picks did not seem bad at all.
This trade was definitely won by the Seahawks, as Lynch has been a very successful addition to their offense, highlighted by his tremendous touchdown run which clinched a victory in the 2011 NFL playoffs against the Saints.
That said, the Bills cannot be blamed for this trade, and they have been just fine since at the running back position with the talented combination of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
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Stephon Gilmore was a reach as a top-10 selection but not drastically. Gilmore’s stock was rising to the point where it was rumored he could go as high as No. 5 or No. 7 overall, and he was arguably the best defensive back available. There were better talents available than Gilmore, but the Bills got decent value on him.
The Bills got one of the steals of the draft in Round 2 with the selection of Glenn. Given Glenn’s versatility to play many positions on the offensive line, he was expected to be a sure first-round selection. He may have slipped due to concerns about weight and footwork, but he has the skills to be a tremendous NFL offensive lineman.
The Bills’ only bad reach of their draft was selecting Graham, who should have been a late-rounds selection, in Round 3. The Bills got very good value on the two linebackers they drafted on day three—Bradham and Carder.
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The Bills’ biggest need was to draft offensive tackles, and they did a very good job of getting good value while addressing that position of need with the selections of Glenn and Sanders. The Bills may not have found a star left tackle in this draft, but they added two very capable players at the position to battle with Chris Hairston for starting offensive tackle positions.
Even having drafted Aaron Williams in the second round of the 2011 draft, the Bills were still in need of more playmakers in their secondary. The Bills did a great job of addressing that need by bringing in two skilled cornerbacks who should be ready to contribute immediately in Gilmore and Brooks.
The Bills also needed to add playmaking linebackers and did that as well with good value with their selections of Bradham and Carder.
One need that the Bills failed to address was the tight end position, where Scott Chandler is their best player. However, the Bills did a good job throughout the draft of adding players at positions where they needed to do so.
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The Bills had seven picks in the first five rounds, and they used them very effectively. The Bills got talent at good value and added many players who can help them immediately and be long-term assets.
The Bills’ defensive back seven should be a much better playmaking unit with the additions of Stephon Gilmore, Ron Brooks, Nigel Bradham and Tank Carder. Gilmore and Bradham are likely to start as rookies, while Brooks and Carder can make impacts in situational roles.
The Bills also really needed to address the offensive tackle position, and while they could have used their first-round pick on a top left tackle prospect, the Bills made a great choice in Round 2 selection in Cordy Glenn.
The Bills’ 2012 draft may not produce any superstars, but it is going to make them a better all-around team.