Mock Draft After the Doug Marrone Hiring
With the hiring of Doug Marrone, the Buffalo Bills figure to endure another period of roster turnover and change in personnel.
Part of Marrone's gig is cutting ties with those holding the franchise back and investing in those that will put Buffalo on the right track. And like Marrone's recruiting success at Syracuse, he must target players in this draft to lead the Bills back to the promise land.
This mock draft addresses the positions that Buffalo needs help with and what players Marrone can mold into major contributors.
Here is an updated 2013 mock draft for the Bills after the hiring of coach Doug Marrone.
Round 1: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Forget about the BCS National Championship disaster. Manti Te'o is exactly the type of player needed to rejuvenate the Buffalo Bills' defense.
Te'o is a rock at middle linebacker who provides the same type of emotional leadership as Ray Lewis. His senior season at Notre Dame nearly lead to him being nominated for the Heisman Trophy and landed the Irish into the National Championship game.
Te'o lead the Irsih with 103 tackles and seven interceptions this season and became a national sensation.
He would certainly improve a weak line backing core in Buffalo, which was considered perhaps the weakest positional unit on the team.
He is simply a stud and is mature enough to transition his NCAA success to the next level. The Bills haven't had a strong linebacker presence on the field since the days of Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher, and Te'o has the opportunity to become a franchise player on defense.
Although Notre Dame's collapse to Alabama has some scouts lowering Te'o's stock, the Bills would be wise to draft him at the No. 8 spot. He can easily crack the starting lineup as a rookie and be a major factor on a defense looking to be a top-10 unit in 2013.
Te'o is listed at 6'2'' and 255 pounds and is simply the best middle linebacker prospect in April's draft. His inspiring play and emotional leadership puts him over the edge and makes him a must draft for the Bills in the first round.
Round 2: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
The Buffalo Bills must square off against Tom Brady twice a year, meaning their defensive backs will be super active in those meetings. The problem is that the Bills don't have much in the secondary to slow down Brady, and the corner backs have been burned far too often in the past to be reliable.
David Amerson is 6'2'' and 194 pounds, having the stature to match up with the physical receivers. He recorded an ACC record 13 interceptions in 2011 but slipped in production this year with five interceptions. Amerson was named a second team All-ACC as a junior and is giving up his senior season to go pro.
Amerson has been a shutdown corner in college, but there remains some concern as to how he will keep up with NFL receivers, and his over-aggression on passes may lead to big gains for receivers at the pro level. For those factors, Amerson may slip to the Bills in the second round, who should then pounce on him.
Other than Stephon Gilmore, there isn't that solid of a corner back on the Bills' roster. Terrence McGee is over the hill, Aaron Williams is inconsistent, Leodis McKelvin is only a factor on punt returns and Justin Rogers, Crezdon Butler and T.J. Heath lack experience.
Amerson would quickly improve the secondary and has the potential to start across Gilmore as a rookie. He is a ball-hawking player who has an opportunity to help improve a major need in Buffalo if he falls.
And if he falls, the Bills would be very wise to select him.
Round 3: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Tyler Bray has the ideal quarterback size at 6'5'' and 215 pounds and would be a smart selection for the Buffalo Bills in the third round.
He finished the 2012 season with 3,612 yards, a 59.4 completion percentage and 34 touchdowns. Bray is a very accurate quarterback who can sit in the pocket and deliver a beautiful pass time after time after time.
The Bills have a need at the quarterback position, and Bray would have a chance to develop as a quarterback if a veteran were to start. Despite the recent flurry of quarterbacks being selected early and being prematurely thrust into action, giving Bray time to sit and learn would only benefit the Bills in the long run.
There really isn't that great of a quarterback that will be available at the No. 8 spot, and Buffalo can afford to wait for one to slip into the third round. While the seniors will have more chances to shine and boost their stock, Bray might fly under the radar and fall to Buffalo on draft day as a result.
Bray is a physically gifted player who can deliver bullets but may slip to the third round for his poor mechanics and mediocre footwork. However, the Bills are lacking an adequate signal-caller, and Bray has the potential to develop into a franchise player.
If he were to fall this far and if the Bills hadn't drafted a quarterback up to this point, his arm strength and accuracy should make him attractive to Buffalo at this spot
Round 4: Ryan Otten, TE, San Jose State
In today's NFL, an offense can never have too much talent at the tight end position. The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts are two of the best teams to utilize a two tight end system, and both teams ended up in the playoffs this January.
The tight end can cause matchup problems for defenses and offer quarterbacks big and athletic options. Buffalo has one solid tight end in Scott Chandler but not much talent beneath him on the depth chart.
Out of San Jose State comes Ryan Otten at 6'6'' and 245 pounds, providing the size needed to be an efficient NFL tight end. He recorded 47 receptions for 742 yards and four touchdowns this season and provided leadership by serving as a captain on a 11-2 team.
His 15.8 yards per reception lead the nation for tight ends who finished with over 40 receptions. He is big and athletic and could shine at the 2013 Senior Bowl.
The Bills have longed for a productive tight end, and they might have their man in Chandler, but adding Otten would only add to the offensive dynamics. He hasn't gotten the hype or publicity that he deserves—mainly due to where he attends school—but offers a skill set that few tight ends can match.
Pairing Otten with Chandler could create a series of offensive possibilities for the Bills, who could target Otten on third downs and in the red-zone. If Otten's stock doesn't sky rocket at the Senior Bowl, this may be a steal for the Bills.
Round 5: Zach Line, FB, Southern Methodist
Zach Line could add to Buffalo's rushing attack what it has lacked since Marshawn Lynch left: pure power.
Line is listed at 6'1'' and 230 pounds and compares to Peyton Hillis in his style of play. Line was named a First-Team All Conference USA player in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and was the Conference USA Player of the Year in 2012, as well as leading the conference in rushing in both 2010 and 2011.
He finished the 2012 season with 1,278 rushing yards, a 4.6 yards per carry average and 13 touchdowns. Line also added 33 receptions, proving he is a well-rounded and versatile player.
In 13 games this season, Line finished only two with under 70 yards, proving his consistency.
Although the Bills already have a tremendous running back in C.J. Spiller and a great compliment in Fred Jackson, Line would add a new dimension to the rushing attack.
Line will fight through tacklers and fight for every yard, making him dangerous in third-and-short situations and on the goal line. He could replace Brad Smith in that lousy wildcat package—if Doug Marrone chooses to keep it—and would be instrumental to any red-zone success.
Line is a solid blocker if needed but more of a Hillis or Mike Alstott, which can never hurt a team. He could be similar to how Dorin Dickerson developed, as a halfback/fullback/tight end hybrid. Regardless of his role, Line can play and would be a fifth-round steal.
If the Bills are looking for a diamond in the rough, Line would be the correct selection and add a powerful dimension to the offense.
Round 6: Alec Lemon, WR, Syracuse
Is there a Syracuse bias here? Possibly. However, Alec Lemon can play and have a role on the Buffalo Bills.
Listed at 6'2'' and 204 pounds, Lemon had a Syracuse record 72 receptions for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns this season. His reception record is very impressive, considering the likes of Art Monk and Marvin Harrison.
His 89.17 yards per game was good for 23rd in the country, and he also became the first Syracuse player to have back-to-back 150-yard games.
This would be a brilliant way for Buffalo to conclude the draft because Doug Marrone has worked with Lemon for years and can elevate his game to the pro level. He is a possession receiver and grossly underrated, possibly because of the school and conference in which he plays.
Whoever quarterbacks the Bills in 2013 will need a quality pass catcher, and Lemon has potential to be that guy. He is good in the slot and his precise routes, and sure hands make him ideal for third-down situations.
Marrone already knows what this kid can do, and Buffalo has had better success finding receivers in the later rounds the past couple of years. This could be a very smart reunion up in Buffalo for the two.