Buffalo Bills Fans Primer for the NFL Indianapolis Scouting Combines
On Saturday, February 23, the NFL Network will begin televising the first of four days of testing NFL 2013 draft class hopefuls at the Indianapolis Scouting Combines. This year there are 333 players invited to participate at the combines, which includes a group of 67 underclassmen.
This presentation will include some links to mock drafts to give you a better idea of what NFL draft analysts are projecting for the Bills with the No. 8 overall draft pick, as well as potential players for Buffalo to draft in the later rounds as well.
There will also be some links to where the prospects are ranked by sources like the National Football Post for your review.
The players we want you to be aware of will be grouped according to position in the slideshow.
Here is the schedule for the four days of televised combine coverage on the NFL Network:
Saturday, February 23: tight ends, offensive linemen and special teams players.
Sunday, February 24: quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.
Monday, February 25: defensive linemen and linebackers.
Tuesday, February 26: defensive backs.
As for the positions we will cover in the slideshow, Buddy Nix has already stated that the team is looking for help at quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker and tight end.
Since the Bills recently parted company with George Wilson, that impacts the roster depth at safety as well. Bills fans are waiting for word on the progress of contract talks with pending free agent G Andy Levitre, so we will highlight some guards in the event the Bills can't come to terms with Levitre.
Mock Drafts to See Who Is Projected for the Bills
Here are some links to various mock drafts around the web to give Bills fans an idea of the players that are being projected to be a fit for the Bills' needs in 2013.
We begin with some links to mock drafts from the NFL.com.
First up is Daniel Jeremiah's first round mock draft, version 2.0. Next up is ex-NFL GM Gil Brandt's list of the top 25 prospects in the 2013 draft. Next mock draft is courtesy of ex-Bills player Bucky Brooks, with his 2.0 version of the first round. Then we have a first-round mock draft from NFL analyst Albert Breer. Our final NFL.com first-round mock draft comes from Gil Brandt.
Next, we move over to ESPN to see who they are projecting for the Bills with the No. 8 overall pick. A subscription is required for ESPN Insider content. First up is Todd McShay's first round mock draft. We can't have a mock draft review without some input from NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. You might also want to study Kiper's latest and greatest big board.
For some mocks and lists that dig much deeper than just the first round, here are some other recommended links to explore:
National Football Post NFL draft expert Russ Lande's list of the top 200 prospects.
Bleacher Report's NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller's seven-round mock draft.
Finally, we provide the latest version of a seven-round computer generated mock draft from Draftek.com.
For those of you keeping score at home, so far the players that the Bills have been linked to lately in mock drafts range from Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan, N.C. State QB Mike Glennon, Georgia LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia LB Alec Ogletree, West Virginia QB Geno Smith, Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson and California WR Keenan Allen.
Previously, players like Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib and Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o were linked to Buffalo at No. 8, but it appears that the stock for both has been dropping well below No. 8.
All of these links will hopefully keep you busy and occupied from now until the start of the combines.
Bills Quarterback Situation Update
Before we dive into the potential quarterbacks that are attending the Indianapolis scouting combines, let's look at some recent developments regarding the all-important quarterback position for the Bills.
According to a report from James Walker of ESPN, new Bills coach Doug Marrone will be opening up the starting quarterback job for competition, and two of the veteran competitors will be Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson. The Bills signed free agent Jackson to a new contract this week. Marrone wants to see open competition at all positions, according to this report from BuffaloBills.com.
Marrone informed Jackson and Fitzpatrick that they will be asked to compete for the starting job at camp. Since GM Buddy Nix has made it clear that he also wants to draft a rookie quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft, that means there will be at least three quarterbacks competing for the job at training camp.
There are no reports of the Bills asking Fitzpatrick to take a salary cut or some type of contract restructuring. So, that means the Bills will give Fitzpatrick his $3 million roster bonus that becomes payable on March 13.
Buffalo also signed free-agent quarterback Aaron Corp this week to a contract. Corp played his college ball at Richmond, and it looks like he will be destined to be part of the practice squad for 2013.
If the above situation seems eerily similar to the three-way Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback battle in 2012, that is because it is almost exactly the same, with the common thread being Tarvaris Jackson. They had two veterans and a rookie, which is what the Bills competition figures to be as well. May the best man win.
Bills Purging Veterans from Defense and Freeing Up Salary Cap Space
Most Bills fans have learned that the team has jettisoned three veteran defensive players from the roster this week. They were safety George Wilson, linebacker Nick Barnett and corner Terrence McGee. The moves free up salary cap space for Buffalo and will probably result in the defense becoming younger, since all three veterans were in their 30s (Wilson and Barnett are 31 and McGee is 32 years old).
Due to all of the salary cap issues that will be impacting roster decisions for the New York Jets, these moves also pave the way for new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to recruit some of his players over once they have been released by New York. It would not be a surprise to see the Bills go after several Jets players that would provide the Bills defense with an extra element of toughness that was missing from the 2012 edition.
Bills fans should continue to monitor the NFL transaction wire to see which players the Jets ultimately decide to release on the defensive side of the ball. You can be sure that Pettine has already shared with Nix which players he would be most interested in bringing over to Buffalo to help round out the rest of the defense for 2012.
The other aspect of the three veterans released on defense is that it frees up salary cap space to allow the Bills to sign free agents Jairus Byrd and Andy Levitre to new deals.
Bills fans should also pay attention to the linebackers and defensive backs position workouts at the scouting combines, since the Bills depth at both areas has taken a hit with these developments.
Quarterbacks to Watch for at Combines
Here is an overview of the top quarterbacks to watch for at the Indianapolis Scouting Combines. The number in parenthesis after each name is the grade handed out by NFL.com, so the players are listed in order of their grades. Here is a link to the quarterbacks page on NFL.com, along with their player analysis.
West Virginia Sr. Geno Smith (91.0)
Smith is 6'3" tall and weighs 214 pounds. He threw 42 touchdown passes to just six interceptions. Completed 71.2 percent of his passes for 4,205 yards and averaged 8.12 yards per attempt/ His passer rating of 163.9 was the highest grade of any quarterback in the 2013 draft class. Smith generated 44 total touchdowns in 2012, which ranked him No. 3 in that category in the NCAA. His 4,356 combined total yards from scrimmage was No. 5 overall in the NCAA in 2012.
Arkansas Sr. Tyler Wilson (83.5)
Wilson is 6'3" tall and weighs 220 pounds. His ratio of 21 touchdowns to 13 interceptions is far less impressive compared to Smith. Completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 3,387 yards. Averaged 8.45 yards per pass attempt and had a passer rating of 143.8.
Miami Ohio Sr. Zac Dysert (83.5)
Dysert is 6'4" tall and weighs 228 pounds. He threw 25 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. Completed 62.9 percent of his passes. Threw for 3,483 yards and averaged 7.26 yards per attempt. Passer rating was 136.1.
USC Sr. Matt Barkley (82.0)
Barkley is 6'2" tall and weighs 230 pounds. Threw 36 touchdown passes with 15 interceptions. Completed 63.6 percent of his passes. Threw for 3,273 yards and averaged 8.46 yards per attempt. Passer rating of 157.6.
No. Carolina St. Sr. Mike Glennon (79.4)
The tallest quarterback at 6'6", who weighs 232 pounds. Threw 31 touchdown passes to 17 interceptions. One of only two quarterbacks in group to complete less than 60 percent of his passes (58.5 percent). Threw for 4,031 yards and averaged 7.15 yards per attempt. Passer rating of 130.7.
Syracuse Sr. Ryan Nassib (78.7)
6'2" tall and weighs 229 pounds. Threw 26 touchdowns passes to 10 interceptions. Completed 62.4 percent of his passes. Threw for 3,749 yards and averaged 7.96 yards per attempt. Passer rating of 143.3. Nassib going to the Bills would be the equivalent of what happened in Miami last year, when Ryan Tannehill ran the same offense at Texas A&M under Mike Sherman, who became the Dolphins offensive coordinator. He would know the offense from day one, and could teach the other QBs.
Florida St. Sr. E.J. Manuel (68.7)
Manuel is tall at 6'5" and weighs 240 pounds. Threw 23 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions. Completed 68 percent of his passes. Threw for 3,392 yards and averaged 8.8 yards per attempt, which is the most of any quarterback on this slide. Passer rating of 156.0, which is only behind Smith and Barkley. Was the MVP of the Senior Bowl.
Tennessee Jr. Tyler Bray (67.8)
The only underclassmen of the group. Bray is tall at 6'6" and weighs 215 pounds, so he can afford to put some more weight on to that frame. Threw 34 touchdown passes to just 12 interceptions. Was the only other quarterback that failed to complete at least 60 percent of his passes (just a tick under at 59.4 percent). Threw for 3,612 yards and had a passer rating of 146.3.
Oklahoma Sr. Landry Jones (67.2)
Jones is 6'4" tall and weighs 218 pounds. Threw 30 touchdown passes to only 11 interceptions, which is close to a very good 3:1 ratio. Completed 66.1 percent of his passes. Threw for the most yards of anybody in this group with 4,267 yards for the year. Averaged 7.69 yards per pass and had a passer rating of 144.6.
Quarterback Draft Class Analysis
From this group of nine quarterbacks, there is a strong possibility that the Bills will select one in either the second or third round. Based on the general consensus of NFL draft analysts, none of these players are deemed worthy of the No. 8 overall draft pick, with the exception of Geno Smith. But Smith will probably be gone by the time the Bills are on the clock.
So it will come down to which quarterback is available when the Bills are on the clock with their picks at No. 41 and 71, and what kind of a grade the Bills have assigned to each quarterback. If the value is there and the player is still on the big board, the Bills will pull the trigger.
With respect to the breakout year of 2012 NFL mobile quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, I received the following assessment from Bleacher Report NFL Draft analyst Sigmund Bloom via Twitter. I was wondering about Nassib's mobility, so here was our exchange:
@DanVanWie very compelling "big picture" draft/NFL trend to watch. Manuel great case study for new value of top athlete QB w throwing ?s
Keep factors like this in mind when watching the quarterbacks work out at the combines. Granted, they are only in shorts, and the only quarterback that knows the offense that Marrone and Hackett wants to run like the back of his hand is Nassib. But if you don't have the mobility to escape blitzing NFL defenders, that will result in a number of failed drives. The Bills will only draft one quarterback, and they can't afford to get this one wrong.
Coming into the combines, NFL Network's Mike Mayock announced his rankings of the best five players per position. For the quarterback position, Mayock ranked them in this order: Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib and Landry Jones. Given the accuracy issues with Glennon, and the lack of mobility with Nassib, it was surprising that he didn't include Manuel in his top five.
One thing that I am sure figures into the overall evaluation is that when Ryan Nassib went up against Geno Smith head to head in the Pinstripe Bowl, it was Nassib who emerged as the winning quarterback. Food for thought.
Wide Receivers to Watch at the Combines
With the recent release of Donald Jones, and the lack of production from any other wide receiver in Buffalo other than Stevie Johnson, the Bills need to draft a wide receiver that can help take some of the pressure off of Johnson and can stretch defenses out. If he can still make plays on the ball even when he is covered, all the better, as that is a skill that Buddy Nix values in wide receivers.
Mike Mayock ranked the best five wide receivers coming into the combines as follows:
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
2. Keenan Allen, Cal
3. Terrance Williams, Baylor
4. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
5. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Patterson is a player that has been linked to the Bills in mock drafts, and he is an exciting type of playmaker that would make the Bills offense more dynamic. He could very well still be there on the big board when the Bills turn is up at No. 8. In 2012, Patterson scored a touchdown as wide receiver, running back, punt returner and kick returner. That hadn't been done by one player in the same year for over four years. Like we said he is a playmaker. Red flag: he only has one year at Division I-A.
Here is an overview of the top 10 wide receivers at the combine from NFL.com, ranked by grade:
Tennessee Jr. Cordarrelle Patterson (90.6)
Patterson is 6'3" tall and weighs 205 pounds. Split time this year as a wide receiver and at running back. Strong special teams contributor. Made 46 receptions for 778 yards, averaging 16.9 yards per catch. Had five touchdown receptions this year. Ran the ball 25 times for 208 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Averaged 12.3 yards per rush. Would be dynamic at running reverses or misdirection plays. At 6'3", is one of the tallest receivers in this top 10 group.
Clemson Jr. DeAndre Hopkins (87.8)
Hopkins is 6'1" tall and weighs 200 pounds. Caught 82 passes this year for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. Averaged 17.1 yards per reception. 27 career touchdown receptions at Clemson.
Cal Jr. Keenan Allen (86.3)
Heaviest receiver in the group at 210 pounds, and is 6'3" tall. Caught 61 passes for 737 yards and six touchdowns this year. Averaged 12.1 yards per reception and has 17 career touchdowns at Cal. A number of mocks have Allen going to the Bills with the No. 8 overall pick.
West Virginia Sr. Tavon Austin (85.4)
Austin is short at just 5'9" tall and weighs only 174 pounds. Smaller player but very agile, and a dynamic runner in open field. You can't tackle what you can't touch. 114 receptions for 1289 yards, averaging 11.3 yards per catch. Scored 12 touchdowns via receptions in 2012. Also ran the ball 72 times for 643 yards, averaging 8.9 yards per carry. This is another dynamic playmaker. 35 career touchdowns at West Virginia. He tore apart Oklahoma's defense in 2012 as they had no answer for how to stop him.
Imagine putting C.J Spiller on one side of the field and Austin on the other. Or isolating both of them against linebackers. That would be exciting to watch.
Louisiana Tech Sr, Quinton Patton (83.8)
6'2" tall and 195 pounds, Patton has good size. Another wide receiver that came up with over 100 receptions in 2012, (104), Patton gained 1,392 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Averaged 13.4 yards per catch. Had 24 career touchdown receptions at Louisiana Tech.
Baylor Sr. Terrance Williams (83.6)
Williams went nuts in 2012, picking up an unbelievable 1,832 yards on 97 receptions. Keep in mind that Williams did this after RG3 left for the NFL. Williams is 6'2" tall and weighs 205 pounds. He averaged almost 19 yards per catch (18.9) which is the best of any receiver in the group. Scored 12 touchdowns this year and has 27 touchdowns in his career at Baylor.
USC Jr. Robert Woods (83.1)
Woods was the darling on USC campus until Marqise Lee arrived and stole his thunder. (Lee made 118 receptions this year for 1,721 yards). Woods is 6'1" tall and weighs 190 pounds. In 2012, Woods made 76 receptions for 846 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He averaged just 11.1 yards per catch, lowest average in this group. Has 32 career touchdowns at USC. His longest reception this season went for 41 yards, which is the lowest total for any of the receivers listed on this slide.
Oregon St. Sr. Markus Wheaton (81.8)
Wheaton is 6'1" and weighs 182 pounds. Caught 91 passes this year for 1,244 yards. Averaged 13.7 yards per reception and scored 11 touchdowns for the Beavers. Has 16 career touchdowns.
Tennessee Jr. Justin Hunter (81.8)
Tallest receiver in the group at 6'4" and weighs 200 pounds. Hunter caught 73 passes this year for Tennessee for 1,083 yards. Averaged 14.8 yards per catch and scored nine touchdowns. He has a total of 18 career touchdown receptions for the Volunteers.
West Virginia Jr. Stedman Bailey (79.0)
Despite the lowest grade of the group, don't be fooled as Bailey is a quality wide receiver. He is not very big at just 5'10" tall and 188 pounds. But he got free to catch 114 passes for 1,622 yards this year. That total was second only to Terrance Williams. Bailey averaged 14.2 yards per catch and led the entire group with 25 touchdown receptions in 2012. He also led the group with 41 touchdown receptions in his career. His longest reception that went for 87 yards is the longest play of the group.
One interesting note is that Bills head coach Doug Marrone's last game at Syracuse was the Pinstripe Bowl versus West Virginia. He needed to watch plenty of tape to prepare a game plan against Geno Smith, Bailey and Austin, so he knows at least two of these receivers very well already. What a dynamic trio they were at West Virginia. Will be interesting to see if either Bailey or Austin winds up being drafted by the same team that takes Smith.
Following that logic, you have USC's Robert Woods paired with Matt Barkley, Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter with Tyler Bray. That chemistry should be evident when you see the passing drills being conducted at the scouting combine.
Don't be surprised if Robert Griffin III winds up lobbying the Redskins for ex-teammate Terrance Williams from Baylor.
There were already questions about the quality of play from the Bills linebackers in 2012, and that was before the team released veteran Nick Barnett this week. So between free agency and the draft, there figures to be at least two linebackers added and maybe a third, based on the final player evaluations from the 2012 roster by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
There is no doubt in my mind that the release of Barnett and George Wilson is paving the way for at least one or possibly two Jets defensive starters to follow Pettine to Buffalo. We won't know which ones until after the combines, because the Jets have a mess on their hands due to their salary cap. You can imagine that Pettine will be ready to pounce on whomever he believes is the best fit for the scheme he wants to run. They will also be a complement to the strong defensive linemen being retained from 2012.
Adding a potential stud linebacker to upgrade the entire stock of the front-seven would be a big boost to the overall defense. If you can improve the run stuffing play at linebacker, that will mean more 3rd-and-long scenarios, allowing your pass rush to reach the quarterback, and deeper drops by the quarterback to allow his receivers to run longer routes.
As for the linebackers at the scouting combines, here is the ranking of the top five inside linebackers and the top five outside linebackers from NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock:
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
4. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
5. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
2. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
3. Kevin Minter, LSU
4. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
5. Kiko Alonso, Oregon
We will provide the grades assigned and a little more information on these linebackers in the next slide.
Linebackers to Watch at the Combines
For the 10 linebackers listed on this slide, they are ranked in order of the grades assigned to them by NFL.com. All stats listed were from the 2012 season and are courtesy of sports-reference.com.
LSU Jr. DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo (92.8)
Mingo is 6'5" tall and weighs 240 pounds. As a defensive end, Mingo made 38 tackles, 8.5 of which went for a loss. He also chipped in with 4.5 sacks and deflected three passes. He forced one fumble.
Kansas St. Sr. ILB Arthur Brown (90.3)
Brown is 6'1" tall and weighs 228 pounds. The senior ILB made 100 tackles this year, seven of which went for a loss. Made one sack, added two interceptions and deflected six passes. One of his interceptions was returned for a touchdown.
Georgia Jr. OLB Jarvis Jones (88.8)
Arthur Brown can makes some plays, but he pales in comparison to the impact that Jarvis Jones made in 2012. Jones made 85 tackles, but 24.5 of them went for a loss, the most of any of the 10 players on this slide. He also came up with 14.5 sacks, again the most on the slide. He also leads the 10 players with seven forced fumbles.
If you add a playmaker like Jones at linebacker to go along with Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus and Jarius Byrd, that is a great corp for the defense for years to come.
DE/OLB Dion Jordan Oregon Sr. (88.0)
Jordan is the tallest player in this group at 6'7" tall and weighs 241 pounds. Jordan registered 44 tackles in 2012, to go along with 10.5 tackles for loss. He made five sacks, deflected one pass and forced three fumbles.
Notre Dame Sr. ILB Manti Te'o (87.5)
The Heisman Trophy finalist is looking to make a solid impression on NFL teams at the combines with his team interviews, to boost his stock back up. Te'o is 6'2" and is the heaviest player of the group at 255 pounds. He made 113 tackles, of which 5.5 went for a loss. He also chipped in 1.5 sacks and leads everyone on this slide with seven interceptions, to go along with the most pass deflections at 11. He also came up with one fumble recovery.
Georgia Jr. ILB Alec Ogletree (84.0)
Ogletree is 6'3" and weighs 232 pounds. He came up with 111 tackles at Georgia, with 11.5 going for a loss. He picked up three sacks, one interception and defended six passes. Ogletree also forced one fumble and scored one touchdown for Georgia on a return in 2012.
LSU Jr. ILB Kevin Minter (84.0)
Minter is 6'2" tall and weighs 242 pounds. He made 130 tackles and came up with an impressive 15 tackles for a loss in 2012. He picked up four sacks to go along with one interception and six passes defended. He also forced one fumble.
Texas A&M Sr. OLB Sean Porter (79.8)
Porter is 6'2" tall and weighs 230 pounds. He made 66 tackles this year, and had 6.5 tackles for a loss. Porter made 3.5 sacks for the Aggies and had one interception and deflected five passes. He also forced one fumble.
Stanford Sr. OLB Chase Thomas (79.4)
Thomas is 6'4" and weighs a solid 248 pounds. He made 71 tackles at Stanford in 2012, of which 14.5 went for a loss. He picked up 7.5 sacks, had one interception and defended four passes. In addition, Thomas forced one fumble, recovered one fumble and converted one turnover into a touchdown.
Rutgers Sr. OLB Khaseem Greene (78.8)
Greene led everybody on this slide with 136 tackles in 2012, as well as leading with two defensive touchdowns this year for Rutgers. Greene is shorter at 6'1" and weighs 230 pounds. He had 12 tackles that went for a loss to go along with six sacks. He intercepted two passes and deflected seven passes, proving that he is one of the better cover linebackers. He forced an impressive six fumbles, so you know he is also a hard hitter. He recovered one fumble in 2012.
The Bills would like to land at least one of these players with their first three picks. If the team was able to get a player like Jarvis Jones or Khaseem Greene at OLB that would be a boost for the defense.
Tight Ends to Watch at Combines
Due to the knee injury suffered late in the 2012 season by Scott Chandler, there is a strong chance that the Bills will be looking to add a tight end in the draft.
Coming into the combines, here are the top five tight ends, ranked according to Mike Mayock of NFL Network:
1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
2. Zach Ertz, Stanford
3. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
4. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
5. Jordan Reed, Florida
Here is the list of top tight ends to watch at the combines, ranked by grades assigned to them from NFL.com. Seems like unless you are 6'6" and about 250 pounds, you don't have much of a chance to crack this list:
Notre Dame Sr. Tyler Eifert (83.3)
Eifert is 6'6" tall and weighs 251 pounds. He will present big matchup problems in the red zone for AFC East opponents. Eifert made 50 receptions in 2012 for Notre Dame for 685 yards. He caught four touchdown passes and averaged 13.7 yards per catch. Eifert had 11 career touchdowns for the Irish.
Stanford Jr. Zach Ertz (82.2)
Ertz is 6'6" tall and weighs 252 pounds. Almost exact same body as Eifert. Made 69 receptions to lead all tight ends in our group. His 898 yards also puts him No. 1 on our slide. Had six touchdowns and an average of 13.0 yards per catch. Came up with 15 touchdowns for his career at Stanford.
Florida Jr. Jordan Reed (80.5)
Reed is the smallest tight end of the group at 6'3" and 243 pounds. He made 45 catches this year for the Gators, which amounted to 559 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 12.4 yards per catch and has six career touchdowns at Florida.
Cincinnati Sr. Travis Kelce (80.0)
Kelce was impressive during the week of Senior Bowl practice. He stands 6'6" tall and weighs 260 pounds. He made 45 receptions for the Bearcats this year, good for 722 yards. His average of 16.0 yards per catch is best on this slide. Kelce had eight touchdowns this year and has 10 touchdowns for his career.
San Diego St. Jr. Gavin Escobar (79.0)
Escobar is 6'6" tall and weighs 255 pounds. He made 42 receptions in 2012 for 543 yards for the Aztecs. He caught six touchdown passes this year and has 17 touchdowns for his career. He averaged 12.9 yards per reception.
UCLA Sr. Joseph Fauria (60.8)
Fauria wasn't in any top list group, but I chose to include him because he impressed me every time that I watched him play. He is the tallest tight end of the group at 6'7" and weighs 255 pounds. Out of every tight end on the slide, he had the most touchdowns in 2012 with 12, as UCLA looked for him in the red zone. He also has the most career touchdowns with 20. Fauria caught 46 passes this year for 637 yards, good for a 13.8 average.
Due to his lower grade, there is a good chance Fauria will still be available on the third day of the 2013 NFL draft. Would be another nice red-zone target to complement Chandler.
Defensive Backs Overview
The Bills need to be on top of the best defensive backs at the 2013 combines. The reasons why range from the release of veteran defensive backs George Wilson and Terrence McGee, Jairus Byrd is still an unsigned free agent to the spotty play of anybody the Bills plugged in opposite of Stephon Gilmore in 2012. Plenty of reasons to pay attention to who performs well in Indianapolis.
Here is the Mike Mayock ranking of the top five corners and top five safeties at the combines:
1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
2. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
3. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
4. Desmond Trufant, Washington
5. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
2. Matt Elam, Florida
3. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
4. Eric Reid, LSU
5. Zeke Motta, Notre Dame
Between the draft and free agency, look for the Bills to add at least one more corner and another safety. They won't look to just add to the competition, but to also add greater depth to the depleted secondary.
Defensive Backs to Watch at the Combines
Here are 10 top-tier defensive backs to keep an eye out for at the combines, ranked in order via their assigned grade from NFL.com:
Alabama Jr. CB Dee Milliner (93.2)
Milliner is 6'1" and weighs 199 pounds. He made 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He intercepted two passes and led everyone on the slide with 22 passes defended. He forced one fumble and recovered one fumble. Is regarded as the best defensive back in the draft.
Texas Sr. SS Kenny Vaccaro (87.7)
Vaccaro is 6'1" and weighs 218 pounds. He is the best safety in the 2013 draft class. He made 92 tackles in 2012, with 4.5 tackles for a loss. He intercepted two passes this year to go along with seven pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
LSU Jr. FS Eric Reid (87.5)
Reid is 6'2" tall and weighs 208 pounds. He made 91 tackles for LSU this year and also came up with two interceptions. Nine passes defended and just one tackle for loss.
Florida St. Jr. CB Xavier Rhodes (86.2)
Rhodes is 6'2" tall and weighs 217 pounds. He made 39 tackles this year, with two going for a loss. Made three interceptions this season, forced a fumble and defended against 10 passes in 2012.
Florida International Sr. FS John Cyprien (84.6)
Cyprien is 6'1" tall and weighs 210 pounds. He made 93 tackles this season, so he is a hitter. He made 3.5 tackles for a loss. Came up with three interceptions, defended eight passes and had one forced fumble.
Mississippi St. Sr. CB Johnthan Banks (84.4)
Another SEC defensive back, Banks is 6'2" tall and weighs only 185 pounds so he needs to beef up some more. Made 63 tackles this year, with two of them going for a loss. Made four interceptions in 2012 and leads everybody on this slide with 15 interceptions in his career.
Washington Sr. CB Desmond Trufant (84.1)
Trufant is 6'0" and weighs 186 pounds, so he is smaller than Banks. Made 36 tackles, with 4.5 going for a loss. Had one sack, one interception and one forced fumble on the year. He also defended against nine passes in 2012.
South Carolina Sr. SS D.J. Swearinger (81.4)
Swearinger is 6'0" tall and weighs 210 pounds. He made 79 tackles this season, with three going for a loss. Two interceptions on the year with one returned for a touchdown. One fumble recovery, two forced fumbles and nine pass deflections. Swearinger has a nose for the football.
Florida Jr. FS Matt Elam (80.0)
Elam is shorter at just 5'10" and weighs 202 pounds. Don't let his lack of size fool you, however. Made 76 tackles with 11 of them going for a loss, which is tops on this slide. Also led this slide with two sacks this year. Made four interceptions, forced a fumble and defended against nine passes.
Okay Bills fans, there you go. Thanks for checking out the presentation.