Buffalo Bills 2013 Mock Draft: The Smartest Picks Buffalo Can Make
The research usually starts at the end of November when the Bills are predictably out of the playoff race and ticket sales are tapering off. Winters are cold in Buffalo, so fans turn to the warmth of draft fantasies instead of actually watching their hometown team.
Unfortunately for the Buffalo faithful, the return on high draft picks since 2000 has been as dismal as the product on the field. As obvious as it is that these two things go hand in hand, it is even more obvious that the Bills have been snoozing at the wheel during the draft process since their last playoff appearance in 1999.
The Bills war room has prided itself on bold selections and high-ceiling players that have flamed out sooner rather than later.
However, things are said to be different this offseason. Russ Brandon is now calling the shots and Buffalo has brought in a young college coach, Doug Marrone, to be the latest head man of the Bills.
Fans will have a short leash with Marrone, which means that this first draft might be the most important thing he has ever done in his professional football career.
Failure in the draft cannot continue to be an option for Buffalo.
1. ILB Manti Te'o
The Manti Te'o bandwagon has had me on it for quite some time.
In my earliest mock back in November, Te'o was the pick even then. It may be safe to say that his stock has risen even a tiny bit more since then, so Buffalo may not have a chance at him with the eighth overall selection.
You know all about the Fighting Irish captain by now, so I will not rehash to death my position on him.
The Bills desperately need to upgrade their linebacking unit in the offseason, and it may be as big of a need as the quarterback that will inevitably be taken. Te'o shores up the middle of a Bills defense that managed to finish last in run defense once again.
Quarterback will continue to get slotted here by a variety of national and local writers, but I believe that Buffalo would be foolish to reach on a quarterback and pass on actual first-round talent.
2. QB Ryan Nassib
Now that Marrone is wearing Buffalo red, white and blue, the likelihood that the Bills will at least give the Syracuse quarterback a look has risen dramatically.
Coaches that make the jump from college to the pros do not necessarily take the guys they recruited at the collegiate level, but the mix of familiarly and need for the Bills has the makings of a reunion for Marrone and Nassib.
This pick will honestly depend on how many teams reach on a quarterback in the first round. Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon and Nassib should all be second-round picks, but desperate teams in the top 16 could throw a wrench in how others approach their draft boards.
I have no clue as to whether or not Nassib is the answer at quarterback, but he might just have the tools necessary to get Buffalo back to the playoffs.
3. OLB Chase Thomas
Another linebacker? Yup, the Bills need that much help at the position.
Wide receiver or tight end would not shock me here either. Neither would selecting a guard if Andy Levitre does in fact leave Buffalo in free agency.
Chase Thomas is a darn good football player with a nose for the football. He will not excite you with electric pass-rushing skills, but Thomas has subtle quickness, a good football IQ and a knack for blowing up plays around the line of scrimmage.
A combination of Thomas, Te'o and either Nick Barnett or Nigel Bradham would fair much better behind the Bills high-priced defensive line than the current group.
4. WR Quinton Patton
Buffalo will need to take a receiver at some point in the draft, and Patton would be a good find this late.
The Louisiana Tech receiver put up eye-popping numbers for the number one offense in Division I football this year. Due to Louisiana Tech foolishly passing on a bowl invitation, the senior was not able to add to his 104-catch, 1,392-yard effort in 2012.
Patton possesses good size and is one of the best route-runners in the game, which would make him fit in very well opposite Stevie Johnson in Buffalo.
5. DE Joe Kruger
Former Ute Joe Kruger made the curious decision to jump to the NFL this year, foregoing his senior year at Utah. Kruger is the younger brother of Paul, who had quite the game in the Wild Card Round for the Baltimore Ravens.
The younger Kruger has a similar frame to his older brother but still has not grown into his abilities as a pass-rusher.
Kruger must have gotten good vibes from the draft advisory committee about his potential stock, but he will likely fall somewhere in the middle of the draft.
His older brother has taken three years to develop into a consistent contributor, so teams will need to be patient with Joe has he continues to bulk up and get better at diagnosing blocking schemes.
6. TE Joseph Fauria
Fauria is a massive target that can give the Buffalo offense a new wrinkle.
He is a similar player to Scott Chandler, who is currently the Bills starting tight end but suffered a serious knee injury in the next-to-the-last game of the season. Chandler was a big part of the Bills offense, but the team could use another tight end.
Fauria played with a plethora of quarterbacks during his stay at UCLA and had just as many offensive coaches, which stunted his development at the position.
Still, with some work, the nephew of former NFL tight end Christian Fauria has a chance to be a solid second tight end in the NFL.
Two-tight end sets are all the rage in the NFL, and the Bills could use someone other than the stone-handed Lee Smith lining up opposite of Chandler.