Buffalo Bills 2014 NFL Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions for the Bills
The Buffalo Bills were relatively quiet in free agency, but they still managed to address several of their needs. Now, with six pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Bills have a chance to fill their remaining holes and round out the depth chart.
The Bills spent most of their time and resources to add linebackers this offseason. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller make a formidable one-two punch, but Jackson is set to hit free agency in 2015 and Spiller in 2016. They have plenty of wide receivers, but they could also use a tight end to upgrade the passing game over the middle.
Let's take a shot at a mock draft for the Bills with help from FanSpeak's mock draft simulator, which allows users to pick a team to represent as a computer fills in the blanks.
Round 1, Pick 9: Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M)
With Cordy Glenn, Chris Hairston and Erik Pears already in place, it may seem like overkill to draft another offensive tackle with the ninth overall pick. With Pears set to hit free agency next year, though, the Bills should be thinking about the long-term future of their offensive line. That could involve having Glenn on the right side and Jake Matthews on the left side or vice versa.
Either way, the Bills would be set up for the long-term with bookend tackles. Matthews has the versatility to line up anywhere on the offensive line, though, which could really open up the possibilities for the Bills.
Greg Robinson had an impressive performance at the 2014 scouting combine, but he has always been considered the more athletic of the two top tackles. Matthews, however, has been compared to San Francisco 49ers tackle Joe Staley for his ability to work with what he has:
Though Matthews won't blow anyone away with his athleticism, like Staley he's a sound technician with impressive toughness who exhibits no major weaknesses, and is tough to beat in both facets of the offense.
Bleacher Report's Alex Dunlap went as far as to say the first-team All-American is better than either of 2013's top tackles, Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel. Matthews would make a fine addition to a Bills offensive line that could use his well-rounded skill set.
Round 2, Pick 41: Jace Amaro (TE, Texas Tech)
Scott Chandler is a versatile tight end for the Bills for his ability to contribute as both a blocker and receiver, but he is a jack of all trades and a master of none. Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro is one of the better pass-catching tight ends in this year's draft, and at 6'5" and 265 pounds, he offers a large and imposing presence in the red zone and over the middle.
He spends a majority of his time lining up in the slot, and according to CBS Sports' Rob Rang, he has a great skill set as a receiving tight end.
Lining up mostly in the slot, Amaro is a big, fluid athlete who uses his thick body to gain proper positioning in coverage and uses his large, soft mitts to attack the ball in the air. He is a balanced route-runner and collects himself when changing direction with smooth moves to create separation. Amaro is dangerous after the catch and isn't an easy ballcarrier to bring down, running with power and toughness.
He's not particularly elusive, but he's tough to bring down when he gets the ball in his hands. His size may indicate some ability as a blocker, but although he has flashed potential, he has not contributed heavily in that area just yet. He could also benefit from some time in an NFL training program.
With a skill position group that already includes Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, adding Amaro to the bunch could be the piece that caps off the entire group.
Round 3, Pick 73: Trent Murphy (DE, Stanford)
Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes make a nice starting duo on the ends of Buffalo's defensive line, but the depth is lacking behind those two men. Trent Murphy played outside linebacker at Stanford, and at 6'5" and 250 pounds, he's a bit lean to play the 4-3 defensive end spot. In fact, according to CBS Sports' Rob Rang, he may be better suited for a 4-3 defense:
Shows better burst off the ball out of the three-point stance, timing the snap well and showing natural explosiveness in his legs to spring forward. Uses his hands well, including a very effective club and shoulder dip to efficiently cross the face of pass-blockers. ...Plays with a degree of toughness and physicality that every coach will appreciate... A former steer-wrestler and plays with this mentality.
The beauty of the situation, however, is that Murphy won't have to contribute heavily in his rookie year unless either Williams or Hughes gets injured. That will allow him to add bulk so that he can hold up better against the run.
In the meantime, he has an elite first step that allows him to quickly get into an opponent's backfield. He led the nation with 15 sacks in 2013 and also had 23.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Round 4, Pick 109: Charles Sims (RB, West Virginia)
If the Bills want to find someone to eventually take Fred Jackson's spot as the No. 2 running back, Charles Sims would make a great fit. He actually possesses a very similar skill set to the veteran of the Bills' backfield.
At 6'0" and 214 pounds, he's a bit more high-cut than you'd like a running back to be and has a hard time getting low pad level as a result. However, he is a great fit in the Bills' zone-blocking scheme as a one-cut back, with the agility, burst and vision necessary to excel in that system.
Good receiver with excellent hand-eye coordination who caught a team-high 45 passes in 2013. Frequently targeted on screens and quick passes to the flat. Can split out wide and put defensive backs on their heels with a hesitation move off the snap. Shows good burst and understanding of route concepts. Can accelerate to create separation and has the leaping ability to make catches in traffic.
With so much versatility to his game, the Bills would have plenty of options when it comes decision time in the backfield.
Round 5, Pick 149: Jon Halapio (OG, Florida)
The Bills entered the offseason with a big hole at guard, and while signing Chris Williams was a good start, the work is not yet done. Jon Halapio started 43 of his 51 games at Florida, including 36 straight to end his collegiate career, with most of those starts coming at right guard.
He's not overly athletic, as you would expect from a 6'4", 323-pound man. He ran a 5.34 40-yard dash and an 8.26-second three-cone drill, but while he may not get out in space quickly or effectively, he can operate well in small spaces, according to Greg Gabriel of National Football Post:
He is best as a run blocker with his opponent head-up or in the gap. He has good initial quickness, and he is able to gain movement with his strength and power. He stays low and keeps his legs moving on contact. He is a physical run blocker who consistently looks to finish. He can struggle trying to get to the second level because of his lack of top quickness. On pulls, he is more effective on the shorter pulls, as he lacks the speed to consistently get to blocks on the perimeter.
His starting experience in the SEC should make him an intriguing late-round prospect regardless. He is considered a leader in the locker room and was voted a team captain for the past two years. Plugging him at right guard would give the Bills two fresh faces for the interior of the offensive line.
Round 7, Pick 224: T.J. Jones (WR, Notre Dame)
Would the Bills really look to add depth at wide receiver? Why not? The Bills have drafted two wide receivers in recent years in T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin. With Robert Woods, Stevie Johnson and Mike Williams already on the roster, they may not even have room for another.
However, it would be smart to grab some insurance on Graham and Goodwin in the event that they are not ready to take the next step in their development.
He's not going to create separation with blazing speed but instead by selling his routes and making sharp cuts. He's not the prototype big-bodied receiver who can win physical matchups, but he has the soft hands and ability to catch the ball away from his frame.
Jones could add some contributions on special teams, primarily as a gunner, although he returned 14 punts in his final year at Notre Dame.