Buffalo Bills Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer
While not everyone loves what the Bills have done to this point, there has certainly been no shortage of excitement in their draft thus far.
After trading up in Round 1 to land one the draft's star prospects in Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Day 2 saw the Bills trade down in Round 2 for Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, then select Louisville inside linebacker Preston Brown in Round 3.
In the process of their second-round trade, the Bills picked up a fifth-round selection from the St. Louis Rams, bringing their total of Day 3 picks to four. The Bills are set pick early in Round 4, have two draft choices within a five-pick span in Round 5, then will pick once more with their seventh-round selection.
While the Bills filled their most pressing needs with their first two selections, the selections to come could still play a very important role in Buffalo's hopes for a playoff push in the upcoming season.
Day 2 Recap and Analysis
The Bills entered the second round of the draft holding the No. 41 overall pick, but when they came up on the clock, they traded down three spots with the St. Louis Rams and received the Rams' fifth-round pick (No. 153 overall) for their troubles.
Despite the move down, the Bills selected the player they were expected to draft anyway in Cyrus Kouandjio. A massive, powerful offensive lineman, Kouandjio should immediately contend for Buffalo's starting right tackle job.
While Kouandjio has some issues moving laterally to block outside speed-rushers into pass protection, he can dominate an opponent once he gets his hands on him. He engulfs defenders with his length and drives them away from the line of scrimmage.
In the video above, B/R NFL analyst Chris Simms described Kouandjio as "the best pure right tackle in the draft."
Expectations won't be as high for Buffalo's third-round pick, Louisville inside linebacker Preston Brown. While he is a solid run-stopper in the middle, he will most likely serve as a backup to veteran Brandon Spikes and play on special teams in his rookie year.
Brown could emerge as the team's starting MLB in 2015, as Brandon Spikes only signed a one-year contract, but from a value standpoint, he was a reach at the No. 73 overall selection. As ESPN's Mike Rodak suggested on Twitter, the Bills "might have been able to get him in the 4th round."
Kouandjio and Brown, like Sammy Watkins, were both among Buffalo's 29 predraft visitors this year.
The Bills also made one major move outside of this year's draft on Friday when they traded veteran wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who had become expendable thanks to the Day 1 acquisition of Watkins and the trade for Mike Williams earlier this offseason, for a 2015 conditional draft pick.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, that pick is a fourth-round selection that could become a third-rounder dependent upon Johnson's production in the upcoming season.
Updated Needs for Buffalo Bills
The most evident remaining spot on the Bills' roster where the team could draft a player to see significant immediate playing time is at defensive end. While Jerry Hughes is a capable starter opposite Mario Williams, the Bills should be looking for another player to rotate in with Hughes, especially in run-defending situations. At the very least, the Bills need depth behind the starters.
The Bills signed veteran free agent Chris Williams this offseason to compete with Doug Legursky for the starting left guard job, but they shouldn't sit satisfied with that duo to be the answer. While they are unlikely to add an immediate starter at the position on Day 3, they should at least bring in an interior offensive lineman who they can develop to add competition.
After hosting six defensive backs on official predraft visits, one would expect that the Bills will look to add at least one player to their secondary on Day 3.
They would have drafted a safety by now if they didn't expect Jairus Byrd's replacement at free safety to come from within the players already on the roster, but Buffalo would be smart to look for depth and specifically for versatile DBs who can play both cornerback and safety.
Many of the draft's top running backs started to come off the board on Day 2, but there's still plenty of talent available at the position that could entice the Bills in the fourth or fifth round.
With C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson both potentially set to hit free agency in 2015, Buffalo would be smart to draft a tailback for the future, preferably one who can give the team a power element that its current one-two punch at the position does not.
After Brian Moorman averaged just 41.2 yards per punt this past season, it would be a mistake for the Bills to rely on him to be their punter again in 2014. They also shouldn't be counting on Jacob Dombrowski, who went undrafted in 2013 and has yet to appear in an NFL game. This is a need the Bills can probably address in undrafted free agency rather than with a pick, but they shouldn't ignore it.
Top Day 3 Targets
Walt Aikens, CB/S, Liberty
Bashaud Breeland, CB/S, Clemson
Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
After the Bills used their first three selections on prospects who all officially visited the team, the significance of those list prospects can no longer be downplayed. With that in mind, it's likely that Aikens, Breeland and Cockrell will be among the team's top targets on Day 3, as they are the three defensive backs remaining out of the six who were hosted at One Bills Drive.
All three of these cornerbacks are potential fourth-round picks. The best fit for the Bills would be Aikens, a big, physical defensive back who excels in press coverage and run support and has playing experience at safety. Breeland is another skilled, physical cornerback with safety experience. Cockrell is the most fluid cornerback prospect of the trio, but he is smaller and not as versatile.
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
Keith McGill, CB/S, Utah
The Bills' visitation trends would strongly indicate that they will look for at least one defensive back on Day 3. Should they decide to look at less predictable targets, Desir, Watkins and McGill would all be great values outside of the top 100.
If Buffalo is looking for height at the cornerback position, they could get that from Desir, who is 6'1", or McGill, who is 6'3". Desir is a fluid cover cornerback with good ball skills; McGill isn't as polished of a defensive back, but he has a rare combination of size and athleticism. With their size, both could project to playing safety as well as cornerback.
Watkins is a smaller cornerback who fits best in the slot, but he's arguably the most skilled defensive back still available on the board and would be worthy of Day 3 consideration. Another reason he might intrigue the Bills: He's Sammy Watkins' older brother.
David Yankey, G, Stanford
Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Dakota Dozier, G, Furman
If the Buffalo Bills continue their trend of prioritizing size and power in building their offensive line, Yankey and Richardson would be great fits as Day 3 additions for competition at left guard. Both blockers have limited athleticism but display good functional strength and have the potential to develop into starters. Yankey is the more technically polished of the duo, but Richardson has more raw power.
Dozier isn't quite as big and powerful as Yankey or Richardson, but the small-school standout is another strong guard prospect who could be a steal on the draft's third day. He has more athleticism than Yankey or Richardson but is a tougher projection who will be asked to kick inside from playing left tackle at the small-school level.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill (Canada)
The Bills don't have a need at offensive tackle, but don't rule out Duvernay-Tardif, another of the team's predraft visitors, as a Day 3 value selection. Ranked as the No. 1 player north of the border by the Canadian Football League's scouting bureau, he has an intriguing combination of size and athleticism that gives him the potential to develop into a starter and potentially be a huge steal in the later rounds.
James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech
If the Bills were to look for a defensive end in Round 4, Gayle would be the best choice. He is an athletic pass-rusher with good measurables for the position and would be capable of taking an immediate rotational role in the Buffalo defensive front.
Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
With two fifth-round picks in tow, Lynch shouldn't be ruled out as a potential Day 3 flier. He is an explosive athlete who has huge potential as an edge defender despite the fact that he never came close to living up to it in his collegiate career. He is thin but has great length and is a better athlete than he is a football player, but he would be an intriguing developmental prospect with high-reward possibility.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
With four of the Bills' six running back visitors being off the board and one of the two remaining being little-known Terrance Cobb from the NAIA program, University of the Cumberlands, Seastrunk stands out as the most likely target at that position on Day 3.
Although he doesn't fit the power back mantra that Buffalo seemed to be eyeing, Seastrunk has enough burst and shiftiness to make big plays as an NFL runner.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
The best fit for the Bills among available running backs might be Williams, a strong between-the-tackles runner who consistently finishes forward on contact. His stock is hurt by a lack of receiving ability out of the backfield, but he's a reliable source of yardage with the ball in his hands.
What Are the Experts Saying?
There aren't many updated mock drafts on the web for Day 3 of the draft, but we can look back at a couple predraft seven-round mocks for an idea of who NFL writers could see the Bills pursuing on Day 3 of the draft.
Because these projects come from mocks that were written prior to the start of the draft, they do not incorporate the Bills possessing the Rams' fifth-round pick at No. 153 overall.
Matt Miller (Bleacher Report)
Round 4, 109th Pick: David Yankey, G, Stanford
Round 5, 149th Pick: Antone Exum, FS, Virginia Tech
Round 7, 224th Pick: Ryan Carrethers, DT, Arkansas State
All three of these projections from Miller's final seven-round pick, which was published Monday, still look realistic.
Yankey would be a strong fourth-round choice with the technical polish and experience to immediately contend for the starting left guard job.
Exum is a versatile defensive back who has experience at both cornerback and safety and would fit the Bills' need for multi-position depth in the secondary.
Carrethers would be a good seventh-round value pick to provide depth at nose tackle, especially considering Marcell Dareus' recent arrest.
Peter Schrager (Fox Sports)
Round 4: Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
Round 5: Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Round 7: Asa Watson, TE, North Carolina State
Drafting a tight end is a very real possibility for the Bills, and Lynch ranks as the best available at the position going into Day 3, but selecting two of them would be an unnecessary surprise.
Ladler, a big, physical safety, who is best as a run-support player in the box, would be a decent selection for the Bills in Round 5.
The most likely projection that could come true from Schrager's mock, however, would be the Bills selecting Walt Aikens. Schrager projected Buffalo to use its No. 73 overall pick on the Liberty defensive back, but he is still on the board and could be in play with the Bills' fourth-round pick.
Predictions for Day 3
Five picks, five predraft visitors
Making two more picks in a row from their list of predraft visitors might seem too obvious to actually happen, but would you have guessed that the Buffalo Bills would be so predictable with their two selections on Day 2?
If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the Bills' fourth-round pick being either Walt Aikens, Bashaud Breeland or Ross Cockrell. Buffalo's stream of visitors made it evident that they would like to add a defensive back at some point in this year's draft. With all three of those players still on the board and good value at the 109th overall pick, it would seem likely that's where Buffalo will turn.
If the Bills make it five predraft visitors in a row, the league might really start to question Buffalo's predictability in its selections, but it seems like Buffalo brought prospects in with a purpose. Lache Seastrunk or Laurent Duvernay-Tardif would be good value selections at the 149th overall pick, and either of them could be available.
If the Bills trade, it will be down
The Bills have enough picks in their arsenal that they could be content to stay put, but it would come as a surprise if they gave away any of those picks to trade up. There's enough value on the board at the team's positions of need for them to be able to find contributing players without making a deal up at any point.
It wouldn't come as a surprise, however, if Buffalo tried to move down again. If the Bills are serious about making a 2014 playoff push, which it seems they are, they could use all the help they can get. In a deep draft class that has left no shortage of talent on the board going into Day 3, the Bills would benefit from acquiring another selection or two.
Bills will draft a backup quarterback
Buffalo has made it clear that the franchise is committed to EJ Manuel for the 2014 season, and it should be. That doesn't mean the Bills shouldn't add a young quarterback to develop and provide insurance behind the injury-prone second-year starter.
With a number of quarterbacks still on the board who weren't expected to make it to Round 4, there should be value at the position available at each of the Bills' four picks. It would be a shocker if they drafted another signal-caller in the fourth round, but getting a backup in the fifth or seventh round would be a smart play.
Updated Buffalo Bills Mock Draft
Round 4, 109th Pick: Walt Aikens, CB/S, Liberty
After defensive backs were the hot commodity of Day 1 of the draft, ample secondary talent surprisingly fell to Day 2, but there's likely to be another run on cornerbacks and safeties early on Day 3. The Bills should capitalize quickly and draft Liberty's Walt Aikens.
Aikens would likely be used primarily on special teams as a rookie, but he could provide solid depth at cornerback and play safety if necessary. The small-school standout has intriguing size and high potential.
Round 5, 149th Pick: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Seastrunk would give the Bills another dynamic horse in their running back stable. Known as a big-play threat at Baylor, Seastrunk takes advantage of open running lanes.
He's not the power back the Bills might have ideally coveted, but Seastrunk is their most likely Day 3 running back target. He would likely be brought along slowly in 2014, then pushed into a bigger role if Spiller and/or Jackson left Buffalo in 2015.
Round 5, 153th Pick: Dakota Dozier, G, Furman
Dozier arguably has the most upside of any guard prospect left on the draft board, and he would be well worth taking a chance on in Round 5. He wouldn't be a major threat to immediately start at left guard, but he is a promising developmental prospect who could be groomed for a key role in the lineup in 2015.
Round 7, 224th Pick: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
A collegiate standout quarterback, Boyd helped allow Sammy Watkins to become a star in Buffalo. Should he be available in Round 7, the athletic, strong-armed playmaker would be a solid choice for the Bills to reunite with Watkins and bring in as a developmental backup to Manuel.
All measurables courtesy of NFL.com.
Dan Hope is an NFL/NFL draft featured columnist for Bleacher Report.
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