There are currently many question marks surrounding the Buffalo Bills as they hold the third overall pick in this year's NFL draft. One thing is for certain, the Bills must hit with this draft pick.
The past decade of mediocre-to-borderline awful football in Buffalo makes this draft pick so important to the future of the franchise. One could point to numerous reasons as to why the Bills have been absent from the postseason for well over a decade.
One of the most glaring, if not THE most glaring, is the Bills' uncanny ability to select draft busts in late April year after year for the past 10 years or so. See: Mike Williams, J.P. Losman, John McCargo, Aaron Maybin. Need I go on?
Here are my thoughts on the Bills' looming third overall pick, a pick that could go a variety of different ways but most certainly needs to be a successful one; one that will not leave Bills fans scratching their heads and saying "C.J. Spiller?! Oh great, now three people can start at running back and no one at left tackle”
The Buffalo Bills select...
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: From what I'm reading in recent weeks, it looks like this pick could be a real possibility. Bills GM Buddy Nix is apparently very high on Newton and feels that he could be the answer to the question mark that has been the Bills' QB position since the retirement of Jim Kelly.
Newton is the biggest boom or bust player in this year's draft. He has the potential to be an absolute terror for opposing defenses if he masters the art of being an NFL QB (starting with being able to go through multiple reads, something he was rarely asked to do at Auburn).
Ideally, Newton would sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick for a year or two to get accustomed to the pro game. Fitzpatrick had a solid 2010 outing but is not the long-term answer at QB. He could still be relied upon to manage the game for the Bills for a season or two at the QB position. A word of caution for Ryan though: the first game you go 19-36 181 yds 1 TD and 3 interceptions, chants of "CAM!" at Ralph Wilson Stadium will begin.
I don't like this pick; the 2012 college QB crop looks much more appealing to me with the likes of Andrew Luck, Landry Jones and Matt Barkley coming out. This pick would be very similar to the C.J. Spiller pick of a year ago—the Bills trying too hard to find an electrifying player that plays a position that they don't necessarily need help in, while there are so many other glaring holes plaguing this Bills team.
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: I’ve seen a few mock drafts with the Bills taking Peterson at three. Many NFL scouts have said that Peterson may be the most “sure thing” in this year's draft. He will be a solid starting corner for years to come.
My qualm with the Bills picking Peterson is that there are too many other positions that need to be addressed on the Bills' roster (OT, DL, LB, QB) before CB. Leodis McKelvin had a bad year in 2010 but has shown glimpses of being a solid starter, Drayton Florence is a free agent and Terrence McGee is a solid starter but can't seem to stay healthy.
Therefore, there's some merit in looking at Peterson. But in the end I don't think he is the answer at number three.
DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson: I am not sold on Bowers. He is a freakish athlete and every analyst will go on and on about how he was the number one recruit in the country coming out of high school.
The thing that worries me with Bowers is that he is a one-year wonder. He posted 15.5 sacks last season at Clemson but did next to nothing in his previous seasons with the Tigers. I'm not saying that Bowers is anything like the Bills 2009 first-round monster-bust Aaron Maybin.
But Maybin, like Bowers, was a one-year wonder as well. Maybin was a speed rusher who had a great junior season at Penn State which led the Bills' front office to become enamored with him and make him the ninth overall selection in the 2009 draft. Big mistake.
When it's all said and done, Bowers will be a much better player than Maybin. But seeing Maybin's name on the inactive list more than once this season with no injury to speak of has got me a little worried about reaching for one-year wonders in the draft, even if Bowers did have one incredible 2010 season. Bowers had a great season and could be a fantastic player, the Bills just have to be positive that he will be.
Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: I think there is almost no chance that Fairley falls this far. Carolina and Denver could both use his stout inside-play in both of their defenses. If he does fall this far, it would be a very early Christmas present for Bills fans.
The Bills waffled between the 3-4 and 4-3 defense for the better part of last year. It is possible that Fairley could play the 5 technique at DE in 3-4. He would be an absolute monster when the Bills shifted to the 4-3, as he would line up next to Pro Bowler Kyle Williams on the inside and would undoubtedly cause frequent headaches for opposing offensive lines.
There are questions about his work ethic but his upside and his ability to wreak havoc in the backfield cannot be ignored.
Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: Dareus has been a solid starter upfront in his time with the Crimson Tide. You know what you are getting with Dareus; he is a powerful DT with impressive quickness for a big man.
While he doesn't have as big of an upside as Nick Fairley, his potential to be a bust is much less than many of the players I have mentioned previously. The recent release of Marcus Stroud leaves a hole at the DE position in Buffalo's 3-4 defense, a hole which Dareus could fill for years to come.
If he has a good workout at the Combine, don't be surprised if you see his name start to pop up more and more in the top five of 2011 NFL mock drafts.
Von Miller, OLB, Texas A & M: Miller is another player who seems to be surging up draft boards after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl. Miller is an extremely quick LB who can consistently get to the QB and has an impressive ability to get the ball.
Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey coached Miller at the Senior Bowl and studied him very closely over the week they spent together. Miller's ability to play versus the pass was also very impressive at the Senior Bowl, something that he didn't have to do consistently in college but will definitely have to do with relative ease at the pro level in order to not look as lost as Paul Posluszny did in pass coverage last season.
Outside linebacker is a greater concern for the Bills coaching staff this offseason though, as they seem somewhat confident that Shawne Merriman can somehow revert back to his old "lights out" days and rookie Arthur Moats can build upon the impressive flashes he had last season at OLB (see: Moats knocking Brett Favre out of a game). Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bills go this route.