2011 NFL Mock Draft: Buffalo Bills 3-Round Mock Draft and Free Agent Targets
The Buffalo Bills are in a prime position with their No. 3 overall draft pick to grab an instant starter and playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, and are looking to improve on their dreadful 4-12 record in 2010.
The season wasn't for naught, as wide receiver Stevie Johnson had a breakout season, making 82 receptions for 1,073 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
Ryan Fitzpatrick proved to be a serviceable starter, tossing 23 touchdowns to just 17 interceptions with 3,000 yards.
The defense struggled, ranking last in the league against the run, getting trampled for over 170 yards per game.
However, Kyle Williams made a great transition from a traditional defensive tackle in the four man front he played his entire career, to the nose tackle in the three man front, where he would take on double teams constantly.
To turn the franchise around, the Bills need to hit on every pick of the NFL Draft, and sign a few key free agent when the time allows.
Round 1: No. 3 Overall
Although I'd rather the Bills select Louisiana State cornerback, Patrick Peterson, all signs point to the Buffalo brass loving Texas A&M standout Von Miller.
He is explosive off the snap, and hustles on every play. I like how he has a relentlessness to him, and he is always running until the whistle blows. He's great off the snap, and knows how to get to the quarterback.
Bills head coach Chan Gailey got a first hand chance to coach up Von Miller during the Senior Bowl, and reportedly liked what he saw.
Miller will be a great pass rusher, and hopefully make up for the dreadful Aaron Maybin pick that is still fresh in every Bills' fans mind.
As an Aggie, Miller racked up 182 sacks, 50.5 tackles for a loss, and 33 sacks in four years.
Round 2: No. 34 Overall
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The Bills could have a tough decision when they are on the clock with the No. 34 overall pick, as they still are in need of an defensive lineman, an offensive tackle, and a quarterback.
Intriguing prospects like Florida State quarterback, Christian Ponder, Nevada's Colin Kapernick, and Iowa's defensive linemen, Adrian Clayborn could still be on the board.
However, Illinois' linebacker Martez Wilson will finally allow Paul Posluszny to read and react, rather than taking on blockers.
Wilson is in on every play, as displayed by his gaudy stats of over 200 tackles, nine sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, and four forced fumbles.
The Bills would now have depth at the linebacker position, and get great value for a linebacker that looks to be a promising prospect.
Round 3: No. 68
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The Bills get their defensive linemen in the third round at a great value with Iowa defensive tackle/end Christian Ballard.
Ballard is tough and a grinder on the field, and was a leader of the Hawkeyes' defense.
Ballard has great athleticism for his 6-foot-3 283 pound frame, and could stand to gain a few pounds.
He would be a perfect fit for the Bills, as his skill set gives him the versatility to play almost any position on the line in either the 4-3 or the 3-4 fronts, and Buffalo will be using a lot of hybrid looks this season.
A four-year player at Iowa, Ballard racked up 148 tackles, two forced fumbles and eight sacks.
Free Agents the Bills Should Target on Offense
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RB Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons
Bills running back Fred Jackson is turning 31 this season, and while he only has 647 carries for the Bills, he had approximately 1,000 carries in his time with the Indoor Football League's Sioux Falls Bandits, and the NFL Europa franchise, Rhein Fire.
Jason Snelling is just 27 and has four years of NFL experience under his belt, rushing 257 times for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns, as a backup to Pro Bowler Michael Turner.
Snelling is a downhill, powerful runner and is patient in the backfield. Bringing in Snelling would be an upgrade over Quinton Ganther and would add a receiving threat out of the backfield.
RT Tyson Clabo, Atlanta Falcons
The Bills offensive line has been in shambles over the past three seasons. While the major question entering the 2010-2011 season was who would be the solid left tackle to fill the void left by Jason Peters, now the right tackle spot is wide open.
Demetrius Bell played the entire season at left tackle and seems to be emerging into a promising bookend on the offensive line.
However, Coach Chan Gailey couldn't decide on a full-time starter at right tackle, after releasing veteran Cornell Green and shuffling between Mansfield Wrotto and Cordero Howard down the stretch of the season.
Tyson Clabo has started all 53 of his games for the Atlanta Falcons and is an excellent run blocker and pass protector. At 6'6" and 331 pounds, he would add the bulk and physicality that Coach Gailey is seeking.
Free Agents the Bills Should Target on Defense
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Marcus Spears, Dallas Cowboys
Marcus Spears of the Dallas Cowboys missed eight games last year due to injury, but I would not mind if the Bills took a flier on him.
The 6'4" 311-pounder out of Louisiana State is the prototype of a 3-4 defensive end.
His size, strength, athleticism, and agility allow him to collapse the pocket, and shed blocks with ease.
In his six year career, the 27-year-old has made 185 tackles, eight sacks, forced three fumbles and batted down nine passes.
Ray McDonald, San Francisco 49ers
Ray McDonald is an excellent football player, and I would love to see him as a member of the Buffalo Bills. McDonald has an incredible combination of strength and speed, and he has the athleticism to consistently seal the edge.
He isn't great in his pass rush, but he stops the run, and that is a priority for the Bills.