Note: This is after the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl but before free agency– which could change things. I’ll update this list once free agent signings happen.
Round One: Eric Ebron- TE, UNC
If you want to help EJ Manuel then this is the best player to help him right away. Ebron is a freak athlete, 6’4 245. He has the potential to be the next Jimmy Graham of Rob Gronkowski. You need to make big plays from your TE and Ebron is capable of doing just that.
Most people first saw Ebron on a Thursday night game against Miami where he dominated with 8 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown. Ebron set school records for a TE with 55 catches and 895 receiving yards.
I can’t remember him ever dropping a pass that he should have caught. In fact you are much more likely to see him catch a ball one handed or make an unbelievable acrobatic catch then drop an easy one. Ebron is very confident. He made news at the combine by saying teams can’t play me in press coverage. I don’t see this as a negative, I like a confident TE that doesn’t feel he can be covered.
If you look around the league the Saints WR’s aren’t that great nor are New England’s. A big TE could make the Bills WR’s acceptable. Johnson, Woods, Goodwin and Graham are better than New Orleans or New England’s receivers. The Bills have been behind the curve with getting a great TE. Scott Chandler is OK but this league has been going to one that requires a great TE to open things up.
You most also look ahead to the fact you may lose CJ Spiller after next year. Ebron could make those electrifying plays that you sometimes get from Spiller.
The Bills choice here to help EJ is the second or third best tackle or the best TE. The best TE helps him so much more than the second or third best tackle.
Round Two: Morgan Moses– OT, Virginia
Moving up the boards as an early second round pick. This is a big jump because at the start of the season some scouts were saying that he might need to be moved in as a guard. Moses had a great year at Virginia. He has the ideal size of a tackle. He’s a mountain of a man and this year he showed that he has the athleticism to even play LT. He passes the eye ball test just by looking at him. He enrolled at VA at 350 labs. He worked down to a trim 320. Here’s a player that could start day one at RT in place or Pears.
Here’s how I see the Tackle position going. Jake Matthews (A&M) and Greg Robinson (Auburn) are the first two off the board. They could both go before the Bills at 9. Taylor Lewan (Michigan) will go next followed by Zach Martin of Notre Dame. You’re now looking at the fifth best tackle in the draft. I believe Moses is fifth followed by Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama. Kouandjio can’t play left tackle in my eyes. He struggled against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and didn’t look athletic enough at the combine. The Bills don’t need a left tackle. They need a major upgrade at right tackle. Moses is the better player and would be my first choice. If he were gone then I’d still take tackle and go with Kouandjio.
Round Three: DaQuan Jones from Penn State
When in doubt go big. I could have gone a number of ways with this pick but decided to go with the best big man available and I think now Jones could be there. Jones could go as high as late second but I could still see him there early third. Jones had a great Senior Bowl. Let’s remember that Kyle Williams is not the youngest guy in the world. Let’s also remember that Marcel Dareus had some problems with the coaching staff at the end of the year. Are the Bills going to want to pay Dareus after next year? I think they should but I want to have another disruptive force on the defensive line in case the money is too high.
With Jones I believe you have a guy that can collapse the pocket and cause havoc in the backfield and hold his ground too. He showed this during the Senior Bowl week. Jones racked up 11.5 tackles for loss last year on the PennState defense. I worry that new Texans coach Bill O’Brien may take him a few picks ahead of the Bills in the third round. Jones showed he can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3. I love his flexibility.
I have Jones as the seventh DT in the draft.
Round Four: Anthony Steen- G, Alabama
At this point of the draft you need to start looking at positions that haven’t been taken as much. For instance twenty WR’s may have been taken by now but only three or four pure guards. There maybe more guards that played tackle in college and may have to move to guard taken.
The thing that upsets me most about last year was long before the draft the Bills new they needed to replace Andy Levitre. At his draft lunch-in Buddy Nix was asked about taking a guard and he joked how they liked these guys on the roster more than we do. This is not Monday Morning quarterbacking. Everyone new the Bills needed a guard except the Bills. Colin Brown was a “turd”. They can’t make the same mistake twice.
Steen may drop a little because he needed shoulder surgery at the end of the season and missed the bowl game. He was one of the reasons Alabama struggled protecting the passer against Oklahoma. Steen gave up zero sacks and zero penalties this year. Nick Saban praised his consistency. Yes Nick Saban said something nice. That’s rare in itself. Alabama during the regular season gave up 22 sacks last year and only 12 this year.
The problem good offensive line coaches have is they think they can make chicken salad out of chicken ^&*%. You saw these for many years when Jim McNally was the coach. Pat Morris is a good offensive line coach not to mention the head coach Doug Marrone has experience coaching the offensive line as well. I hope they don’t make the same mistake again by trying to coach up players that just can’t cut it.
Round Five: Jordan Tripp- LB, Montana
Tripp is one of the best prospects to come out of the Big Sky in years. He impressed the way he acted at the Senior Bowl. Not in awe of the bigger school players like he belonged. He can rush the passer and drop back in space as well. Versatile could play any LB position in a 4-3. Jim Schwartz has always played a 4-3 and I think that Tripp will fit in well into his system.
OLB is loaded in this draft. You can very well get a better football player at this position than you normally would be able to get at this point in the draft. Remember many people are calling this the best draft in 10 years in terms of depth. OLB is one of those positions that is just loaded with talent this year. I want to take advantage of that with this pick.
In terms of the Bills Jerry Hughes had a great year rushing the passer. If he has close to double digit sacks again this year, that could be a guy that is tough to afford. I believe Tripp could improve the Bills LB depth this year and if the Bills can’t afford Hughes next year take his role.
Round Six: Max Bullough- ILB, Michigan State
Here’s another value pick. At this time of the draft I believe you can still get the seventh best ILB. It’s a position that just doesn’t have many guys taken early.
Here is my solution to fix the Bills LB problem. The problem isn’t with Manny Lawson. I thought Manny Lawson played very well this year. You need to find a replacement for Nigel Bradham on the weak side and Arthur Moats, who I would cut. I believe this team needs a major upgrade at LB. This is why I’m using two middle to late round picks on this position.
Take advantage of Kiko Alonso’s versatility. Alonso had a great first six weeks of the season. I thought his play dropped off the last 10 weeks. I was especially concerned about his play against the run late in the season. I thought he struggled shedding blocks and it created some big runs. I believe the Bills could use a big run stuffing ILB. My solution is to draft a guy like Bullough and move Alonso to weak side when Bullough is on the field. Again I think you want to take advantage of Alonso’s versatility. The Bills at the combine admitted they were considering moving Alonso.
Bullough is not an every down LB and I know it but I feel he can give the Bills a much needed presence against the run. Bullough’s grand father of course was one of the worse head coaches in Bills history but I don’t believe in bad karma.
Bullough had 76 tackles this year and 10 of those were for loss. There is a concern that he missed the Rose Bowl for violating team rules. Let’s face it it’s the sixth round and your not going to get guys that don’t have some questions about them. His play as a consistent performer for years out weighs him missing his last game for me. The MichiganState defense he was a part of allowed only 248 yards a game and a mere 3.9 yards per play.
Round Seven: Tyler Gaffney- RB, Stanford
I like to look ahead and look at value. First let us talk about value. There is going to be a good running back available at this point. The running back position is loaded with guys that are going to go from rounds two through seven. Gaffney was a workhorse back at Stanford. He’s a power back that could be the next Marshawn Lynch. I rarely saw the first person bring him down. He showed great ability to break arm tackles. Gaffney is a great athlete. He played minor league baseball in the Pirates organization in 2012 before returning to football in 2013. Gaffney rushed 330 times last year for over 1700 yards.
The reason I believe this makes sense for the Bills is they could very well lose both running backs after this year, Fred Jackson because of age and CJ Spiller because of money.