The NFL draft is approaching quickly – April 28th to the 30th – and Bills fans will be glued to their TV’s this year in anticipation of what the team will do with its 3rd overall draft pick.
Usually at the draft tailgate, there is a deep hush as the Bills take the board, and then after the selection is announced, the hushes turn into a conversation of questions – “Who is that guy?” “Is he good?” “Why did they take him there?” “He’s not better than Orakpo, is he?”
No, he isn’t.
In order to help everyone avoid draft day confusion, here’s a quick run-down at the players likely to go to Buffalo in the 1st and 2nd round, as determined by the general consensus of the football community.
There are no offensive linemen on this list. The simple reasoning for that is that there are none in this class worthy of even a top 10 selection. It’s just not a good year for the Bills to have such a high pick, as this list reveals.
All headers contain links to prospect profiles/highlights on YouTube.
Fairley is a hot commodity after one good year and a strong performance in the National Championship. At 6-5 and 298 lbs, he would instantly help to close the hole in the Bills’ defense that last year allowed the most running yards in the NFL. He’s a mean, dirty, beast of a player. There are concerns though about his status as a one year wonder, about his character issues, and about his toughness. Some will be surprised if Fairley is still on the board at #3 overall, some won’t be surprised if he teeters towards the 5th pick or slightly beyond.
Bowers, 6-4 and 280 pounds, is another option for the struggling Bills defensive line. He is the this year’s draft darling comparison to the legendary Bruce Smith – but like Fairly, Bowers is entering the draft as a one year wonder. His work ethic and positive attitude is impressive scouts however, and his stock will only improve as the combine approaches. He’s got some pretty bad tape, but his athleticism makes him very intriguing, and his coachability and attitude could make him very good in the NFL.
Peterson checks in at 6-1 and 222 pounds. He is widely regarded as possibly the best overall talent on the board, drawing comparisons to players like Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis. He is that special kind of talent that Buddy Nix and Co. will consider with their high pick. Also, the Bills have only 6 players now at the position, and of those remaining, Terrence McGee has broken the 30 years of age mark and has not been able to stay healthy. Peterson is also a talented kick returner.
Green, comes into the draft at 6-4, 207 pounds, and like Peterson, as arguably the most talented player in the draft. In line to join the NFL’s receiving elite of Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, Green is a compelling option for a Buffalo team with little true options at QB, DL, or OL this high in the draft. Buffalo would be wise to add an explosive weapon to compliment C.J. Spiller, Lee Evans, and Roscoe Parrish, and build upon Ryan Fitzpatrick’s progress.
Watch out for Von Miller – in the 1st round, not the 2nd. At 6-3 and 243 pounds, the interest in Miller has skyrocketed since the Senior Bowl, wherein he played under Bills’ coach Chan Gailey. Miller is one of those rare athlete freaks, and is an elite pass-rusher that has been recently mentioned in ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s Twitter as a top 5 pick. His strong style of play has earned comparisons to that of Clay Matthews. He also is a strong leader, a strident type of voice that the Bills have been missing since the years of Darryl Talley.
Dareus, 6-4 and 306 pounds, is emerging as the consensus pick for the Bills on NFL mock drafts. If not wholly dominant, Dareus has been consistent throughout his college career, and would be an intriguing reach for the Bills as he can play in either the 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He was also the defensive MVP of the 2010 National BCS Championship.
With Stanford’s Andrew Luck returning to school for one more season, there is simply not a QB left to justify a selection in the top 5. Gabbert, Newton, and Mallett all have potential, but they are all also flawed, so much so that Gabbert is the only prospect so far able to crack the top 10 on CBS Sports’ top prospects board. Each is a project quarterback, just as the project QB’s that teams will otherwise be eyeballing in the 2nd round. Ralph Wilson recently mandated that the Bills select a QB with the 3rd overall pick (before then backing off that position). With Ralph, anything is possible.
If the Bills do select one of the many project QB’s in the draft, it will likely be one of these two. Kaepernick, 6-6 and 225 pounds, has rocketed up the draft boards of NFL teams who are drooling over his rocket arm and raw talent. Ponder, 6-3 and 228 pounds, was aggressively recruited out of high school by none other than the Bills’ Chan Gailey. Both players were participants in the Senior Bowl (again, where Gailey was a coaching participant), and both earned a good, long look by the Bills who do need to groom an eventual replacement for the 28 year old Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Remember, the Bills have been known to wheel and deal on draft day and have provided some entertaining and surprising picks in the first round.
Nothing is for certain in the 2011 crap-shoot, but if the Bills do decide to trade down from that 3rd overall pick, it will likely be because they will try to select Gabbert/Newton/Mallett later in the 1st, and then use the additional picks they gained to bolster their defensive and offensive lines.