2013 NFL Draft: 5 Sleeper Picks for the Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills hold the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and there are quite a few off-the-radar players that could attract the team in April. While most mock drafts have projected Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith or Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree , the team has a multitude of positions that need to be upgraded.
The team is in the process of changing schemes on both offense and defense after hiring a brand-new coaching staff, and the only positions that seem to be secure are running back and defensive tackle.
This slideshow previews five players that aren't being talked about as a possible choice for the Bills' first draft pick.
WR Keenan Allen, California
California's wide receiver Keenan Allen has been left out of discussions recently after a leg injury kept him out of the NFL combine. Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is generally the consensus No. 1 wide receiver in the 2013 NFL draft, but he's a raw and inexperienced player, having only played one season of "major" college football.
Allen fits the mold of the "big-time outside receiver" that general manager Buddy Nix described, as the Golden Bear stands 6'3" and weighs 205 pounds. Allen has solid hands and runs precise routes that have allowed him to flourish despite mediocre quarterback play.
In his three years at California, Allen has caught 205 passes for 2,570 yards and 17 touchdowns.
TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler suffered a torn ACL in the last game of the 2012 season, and the timetable for his return is unclear. Buddy Nix told a Knoxville radio station that the team would like to add a "young" playmaker at the position.
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert has begun to separate himself from Stanford's Zach Ertz as the consensus No. 1-ranked tight end in the 2013 NFL draft after running an official 4.68 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
Eifert is just another impressive tight end out of Notre Dame, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Kyle Rudolph. Eifert was a two-year starter for the Fighting Irish and caught 140 passes for 1,840 yards and 11 touchdowns in his collegiate career.
Eifert stands 6'5" and weighs 250 pounds. He's projected as a late first-round draft pick, but with the increasing importance of the tight end position, Eifert certainly could wind up getting selected much sooner than expected.
LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
The Bills desperately need help at the linebacker position, and Kansas State linebacker fits exactly what Buddy Nix described when explaining what he looked for at the position: "When you’re looking at linebackers, I think it’s changed now. You want a guy who can run and cover and can match up against a slot or a tight end. See if that guy has got enough mobility in space to cover."
Brown stands 6'1" and weighs 244 pounds, and is arguably the best coverage linebacker in the 2013 NFL draft. With the increased emphasis on passing offenses, Brown is a true three-down linebacker that doesn't have to come off the field.
He's effective against the run and projects well to a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense or an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. In his three years with the Wildcats, Brown racked up 201 tackles, 16.5 of which came for a loss, three sacks, three interceptions and defended nine passes.
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
The Buffalo Bills recently hired Mike Pettine as the team's new defensive coordinator. Pettine puts an emphasis on pressuring opposing quarterbacks, which often leaves cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage with wide receivers.
While the team used their No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft on South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the team still needs help at the position.
Though Alabama's Dee Milliner is the consensus top cornerback in the 2013 NFL draft, Florida State's Xavier Rhodes is a close second. Standing 6'2" and weighing 215 pounds, Rhodes fits the mold of the new-age cornerbacks with incredible size that are coming into the National Football League in recent years, such as Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman.
He's a true cover cornerback that has experience playing press coverage, off-man coverage and some zone coverage.
Rhodes played with the Seminoles for three seasons and recorded 140 tackles, eight interceptions and defended 31 passes.
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
With Pro Bowl free safety Jairus Byrd set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 12, the position could go from one that needs an upgrade to one that needs a complete makeover.
Texas' Kenny Vaccaro is generally the top-ranked safety in the 2013 NFL draft and he's a very impressive player. He has the ability to play both strong and free safety and has spent time playing slot cornerback as well.
Vaccaro is a rangy player that can cover a lot of ground in the secondary. In his four years with the Longhorns, he made 231 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, five interceptions, four forced fumbles and defended 24 passes.