Buffalo Bills Final 2014 NFL Mock Draft Roundup
At long last, the question can be asked: Is there a draft in here?
The NFL draft is finally upon us, and before long the Buffalo Bills will be on the clock at No. 9. Reports have been flying around about the Bills moving up (per Mark Gaughan, The Buffalo News). They also could move back, like they did last year, or stand pat. All we know for sure is the Bills will draft someone in the first round.
But who will it be? Right now, it's anyone's guess. As if you haven't seen enough mock drafts, let's have a look at who the national experts think the Bills will pick.
We'll look at mocks by the draft gods—Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN—as well as a few others. There are safe picks, aggressive moves and unexpected names being called. Such is the nature of the NFL draft. There are always surprises.
There's been enough time wasted in the exhausting lead-up to this draft. Let's not waste anymore and get to what the experts think. I'll include a breakdown of each pick and give my choice for Buffalo's pick as well.
We'll start with the guy whose word is basically gospel when it comes to the draft.
Mel Kiper of ESPN Insider (subscription required, h/t to the Mock Draft Watch at buffalobills.com) has the Bills going with offensive tackle Jake Matthews.
I think Matthews is a good fit based on the need and certainly lines up based on value. He's arguably the best player available here at any position and makes the Bills better. You can draft Matthews and keep Cordy Glenn at left tackle because Matthews has handled both tackle positions effectively.
If Matthews is on the board at No. 9, the Bills will be all over him. Unless one of the top players slips (doubtful), Matthews is the Bills' best option. He can step in and start at right tackle from the jump, and he would help solidify an offensive line that surrendered the fourth-most sacks in the league last year.
The only problem is Matthews might not be available when the Bills pick. If he is, Bills fans should be happy to have such a talent. The Bills need to give EJ Manuel every opportunity to succeed, and finding Cordy Glenn's bookend is a great way to do so.
On to Kiper's partner in crime.
Thanks again to the Buffalo Bills Mock Draft Watch, Todd McShay's ESPN Insider mock draft also has the Bills targeting an offensive lineman. However, McShay thinks Matthews will be gone before No. 9. Therefore, he has the Bills going with the next best option, Michigan's Taylor Lewan.
...if stuck at No. 9 in this scenario, I think it'd come down to Lewan and TE Eric Ebron, and their need to protect second-year QB EJ Manuel would be the overriding factor (the Bills allowed 48 sacks in 2013, tied for fourth most in the NFL). I don't love the fit because both Lewan and Cordy Glenn are left tackles, but if they made this pick, they'd have to be comfortable with moving one to right tackle.
While Lewan is certainly a promising talent, his off-field concerns should give the Bills pause if he's the only top tackle available.
Per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, Lewan will be charged later this month with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault or assault and battery. The charges stem from an alleged altercation with, tough as it is to believe, Ohio State fans during the last Michigan/Ohio State game.
A report by Kyle Meinke of MLive.com says Lewan was also accused of intimidating the alleged victim in a sexual assault case involving former Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons. Lewan denied any wrongdoing in both cases.
The issues might turn out to be nothing, but with the impending sale of the Bills, Lewan would be one more distraction the Bills don't need.
Talk about a bold move.
In the NFL Nation mock draft by the ESPN.com staff, Mike Rodak traded the No. 9 and No. 41 picks in this year's draft as well as first- and third-round picks in 2015 and a second-rounder to move up to No. 1 and take Jadeveon Clowney.
It's a steep price to pay, but the Bills can absorb the hit (the picks they give up are spread out over three years) and acquire a potential once-in-a-decade player in Clowney. The Bills want to win now, and this would put them a step closer.
While Clowney would give the Bills a potentially dominant defensive line, giving up four picks seems like a lot to move up eight spots. If it were for an Andrew Luck-type quarterback prospect, maybe it would be worth it.
The second-round pick this year is especially valuable, as the deep draft pool will allow the Bills to fill a hole either at offensive line or tight end depending on what they did at No. 9. In addition, we still don't know what the Bills have in Manuel, so the future picks would be missed if he didn't pan out.
It would be great to see Clowney wreak havoc on the rest of the AFC East with Buffalo. But if the price ends up being in the neighborhood of what Rodak paid, the Bills would be better off staying where they are.
Charley Casserly, NFL.com
Charley Casserly has the Bills taking a different kind of offensive weapon than Kiper and McShay expect. The Bills certainly need another target for Manuel, and Casserly gives them tight end Eric Ebron.
Casserly says, "Ebron gives the Bills a threat at tight end" and that he is the "best player available at this point in the draft."
If none of the top tackles are available for the Bills at No. 9, Ebron is the next best option. General manager Doug Whaley is aware of the direction NFL tight end play is going, and he discussed it during the Bills predraft press conference: "It’s trending towards those basketball, athletic guys that can position their body, go up and get balls, take balls away from smaller defenders."
Ebron is just that type of tight end. He's an athletic freak, and he would create mismatches all over the field for the Bills. He would be a great security blanket for Manuel as well, as Whaley also said "a tight end and a running back are great friends to a quarterback."
Mike Tanier, Sports on Earth
This is, to say the least, an outside-the-box pick.
Sports on Earth's Mike Tanier has the Bills going with Darqueze Dennard, a cornerback out of Michigan State.
As such, they are a difficult team to shop for, because they seem to have all sorts of gadgets and appliances they are not sure how to use. Dennard gives them a plug 'n' play cornerback. You can never have enough of those.
If the Bills go defense in the first round, I can only see them moving up for Clowney or Khalil Mack. Otherwise, they will likely look to add to the offense with the No. 9 pick. Dennard is an excellent talent, but the Bills already have Stephon Gilmore, whom they just drafted in the first round in 2012. Leodis McKelvin also made strides last year and likely has the other starting corner spot locked up.
As we've mentioned, the Bills need to focus on helping Manuel. With that in mind, it makes more sense for the Bills to look for an offensive playmaker in the first round.
But as we know, anything can happen at the NFL draft. The Bills taking Dennard isn't totally out of the question, but it would certainly come as a surprise.
The Pick: Eric Ebron
That's assuming Matthews or Greg Robinson aren't available. There's almost no chance of Robinson being there, but if Matthews is, he should be the pick. Otherwise, the Bills should take Ebron, who can give the offense a dimension it has never had before.
Quick, who is the best tight end in the history of the Bills? Don't worry, I'll wait while you try to come up with an answer.
Time's up. Who'd you come up with? If you used the All-Time Team the Bills made, it's Pete Metzelaars and Pete Metzelaars' astonishing mullet/mustache combo. His best season was 609 yards and four touchdowns in 1993. That's about what Scott Chandler put up last year, and I think we can agree the Bills need an upgrade from Chandler.
Ebron is the new breed of tight end, and he is a perfect fit for the new era of the Buffalo Bills. He's got a skill set comparable to Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. You don't have to look far to see the impact those players have had on their teams.
Naysayers will contend that Ebron can't block. But so what? When is the last time you saw Graham pancake someone at the line of scrimmage? Most of the time he is lined up wide. The Bills will still have Chandler and others to do the blocking. None of the Bills' tight ends are the receiving threat Ebron is.
If all of the top choices are gone and the Bills stay at No. 9, they can't do much better than Ebron.