Bills Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Buffalo Can Find in Every RoundMarch 30, 2015
Bills Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Buffalo Can Find in Every Round
For most NFL teams, the draft is an opportunity to strengthen the roster, add one or two immediate starters and bring in developmental prospects to groom for the long haul.
The Buffalo Bills, however, shouldn't necessarily approach this year's draft like most NFL teams. The Bills narrowly missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2014 and appear poised to take that next big step toward contention.
Buffalo brought in veteran Matt Cassel in free agency to help stabilize the quarterback position the way Kyle Orton did a season ago. Running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Charles Clay were acquired in order to provide a more explosive element to the offense. The defense, which was ranked eighth overall by Pro Football Focus in 2014, was already playoff-caliber.
This is why the Bills could, and likely should, look for players who can immediately contribute on draft day. Doing so can help ensure the team is ready to reach the postseason and go on a deep playoff run.
With this idea in mind, let's examine some options for the Bills with each pending draft selection.
Round 2 (50th Overall): OT Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
Because of last year's draft-day trade to move up for receiver Sammy Watkins, the Bills' first selection doesn't come until the second round. Buffalo can still find a Day 1 starter here.
New head coach Rex Ryan made his offensive philosophy clear very early in the offseason. “We prefer to ground and pound it, we’re going to run it 50 times if we can on you,” Ryan said on WGR 550-AM in Buffalo (via Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle).
The problem is that the Bills offensive line was rated dead last in run blocking a season ago, per Pro Football Focus. Adding Wisconsin's Rob Havenstein could change this.
Havenstein definitely wouldn't be a sexy pick, but he would immediately upgrade a position of weakness on the Bills offense. Last season, the team relied on seventh-round pick Seantrel Henderson at right tackle. He finished the season ranked 82nd overall among tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.
The 6'7", 321-pound Havenstein spent last season opening gaping holes for star running back Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin. He can do the same for McCoy and Co. at the next level.
Round 3 (81st Overall): G John Miller, Louisville
If the Bills are planning for the future, I believe the third round would be a good place to find a developmental quarterback to groom under Cassel. However, we are looking for immediate contributors, so let's go back to the offensive line.
Last year's starter at right guard, Erik Pears, was signed by the San Francisco 49ers in free agency. He probably won't be missed, however, as Pears ranked just 76th among guards for the season, according to Pro Football Focus.
This is where former Louisville standout John Miller enters the equation.
The 6'2", 303-pound Miller is a power-blocker who relies on strength to open holes at the interior of the line. He should be a solid fit next to Havenstein on the right side of the line, though he has experience playing left guard as well.
According to Matthew Fairburn of Syracuse.com, Miller is one of the prospects the Bills have already brought in for a private workout.
Round 5 (155th Overall): DT Kaleb Eulls, Mississippi State
Buffalo is also without a fourth-round selection thanks to the Watkins trade, so we now jump to Round 5. Teams rarely find immediate starters at the bottom half of the draft, but contributors are certainly there to be found.
Though the Bills already have an incredibly stout defensive front, I like the idea of adding a defensive lineman like Mississippi State's Kaleb Eulls here.
Eulls has the size (6'4", 295-pounds) and strength (26 reps on 225-pound bench press) to be an effective run-stopper at the NFL level. He has also shown the ability to take on blockers and engage double-teams effectively. These are underrated abilities that fit well in Rex Ryan's blitz schemes.
Though he would be no more than a rotational player on Buffalo's defensive line, Eulls would make an immediate impact through production and as part of a rotation that keeps fresh bodies on the football field.
Round 6 (187th Overall): FS Adrian Amos, Penn State
Four-year veteran Aaron Williams started 14 games for the Bills last season. His efforts earned him a ranking of 70th among all safeties, according to Pro Football Focus.
Due to the sheer amount of talent at other positions on the Bills defense, the team can afford to enter 2015 with Williams back in the lineup. However, it wouldn't hurt to bring in some competition at the position.
Penn State product Adrian Amos is a guy that should be available later in the draft who could push Williams for playing time and would fit in nicely as a nickel and dime defender.
Amos isn't great in run support and doesn't project as a regular special teams contributor. However, he is an excellent pass defender. According to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, Amos allowed just 3.9 yards per target in 2014.
I don't see Amos immediately overtaking Williams on the depth chart, but I like his chances of contributing as a rotational player and in sub-packages.
Round 6 (193rd Overall): CB Craig Mager, Texas State
Like Amos, Texas State product Craig Mager is a guy who can step in and contribute as a defensive back in sub-packages.
Unlike Amos, Mager brings the kind of physicality needed to excel on special teams.
One unnamed NFC executive said the following of Mager, via NFL.com's Lance Zierlein: "I wanted to make him a safety because of how physical he is, but after seeing him in person, he may not be big enough. He's not as fast as you want, but he's a player and he's really, really tough."
The 5'11", 201-pound Mager had a successful combine workout that included an impressive 4.44-second 40-yard dash and a 130-inch broad jump. He also brings four year's worth of starting experience. He may eventually emerge as a starter at the pro level, but I see Mager as a special teams star early on.
Round 7 (234th Overall): TE Casey Pierce, Kent State
The Bills already addressed the tight end position by signing restricted free agent Charles Clay away from the Miami Dolphins. However, it still makes sense to add a blocking specialist at the position due to Rex Ryan's affinity for the ground game.
Kent State's Casey Pierce would be an excellent addition if he can be had in the seventh round. At 6'4" and 242 pounds, he has the build of a receiving tight end, but not the natural athleticism.
Pierce's strength is his willingness to be a tenacious blocker on both run and pass plays.
He did haul in 60 receptions for 641 yards and six scores in 2014, so it isn't as if Pierce cannot be a weapon in the passing game. However, I think he would make an immediate impact as a blocker and a check-down target in two-tight end sets.