As the NFL draft creeps closer by the day, Bills fans are beginning to buzz as to what direction their team may take with their selections in New York.
By signing Mario Williams, the Bills have opened themselves up to possibly go for talent over necessity with their first round pick. There are some obvious deficiencies that do need to be addressed through the draft, but the talent available when the Bills are on the board may push Buddy Nix to take the best player, rather than the player who best meets the needs of the team.
Most draft experts are saying one of two names for the Bills in the first round. Either Riley Reiff or Michael Floyd. I think Luke Kuechly’s name should probably be mentioned in the conversation, along with Melvin Ingram. Why? Buffalo’s depth at linebacker is terribly thin.
I don’t think that Ingram would be very well suited to play linebacker at the NFL level. However, he does have some very impressive pass rushing characteristics which could make him an enticing option as a stand-up pass rusher. Kuechly, while incredibly talented, would be just another middle linebacker being lined up by the Bills. Currently, Kelvin Sheppard is penciled in to play the middle with Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison (two inside backers) to play on the strong and weak sides. Add Kuechly to the mix would certainly add elite talent, but not necessarily a traditional outside linebacker.
Given that information, you probably end up back at square one with the first round pick. Simply take a look at the draft board and determine the best player listed and select him. Outside of picking a quarterback, running back or defensive lineman, nearly every other position could use an upgrade. Considering the Bills have so many needs, they will likely hit one of them with their choice.
If I’m making the pick, I’m either trading down or selecting the best tackle on my draft board. Reiff or Jonathon Martin are bound to be available when the Bills are on the clock. Either one of these guys would give the Bills a massive upgrade at tackle. When I look at the Bills roster, tackle is probably the biggest position of need, in my opinion. Figuring out if Buddy Nix values the tackles available as a first round talent is a whole different question.
As of now, I would say that Martin is probably the best fit for the needs the Bills have. Based on that assessment, that is why I would make Martin my selection, that is if he still carries a top-10 grade. There is just something about Martin I like better than Reiff. However, if they’re truly going to take the best player available, I could see them going in a number of different directions.
I can see Ingram as a viable choice, if he is deemed as the most talented. He would make even more sense if they feel confident that he can play outside linebacker in a 4-3. Drafting Ingram would give the Bills one more pass rushing monster along with Williams, Mark Anderson and Shawne Merriman (assuming they keep him). Think along the lines of the talent the Giants are able to roll out at any given time, that is basically what you’re looking at by drafting Ingram.
The same can be said of Kuechly as I just said of Ingram. If the Bills are comfortable with transitioning him to the outside, he would be a perfect fit. However, if he – or Kelvin Sheppard, for that matter – doesn’t have the skillset to transition to the outside in the NFL, taking Kuechly would be a waste.
If the Bills decide that none of the players above are truly the best available, then I would put my money on Floyd. He is a great prospect who would provide a true compliment to Stevie Johnson. Truthfully, he probably best fits the “best available” tag. If Floyd is the choice the Bills make, so be it. I’m not sure if I would totally agree with using the number 10 pick on a wide receiver, especially considering the other needs the team has. However, Floyd certainly would fill the hole opposite Johnson that has been previously filled by undrafted free agents.
What decision will need to be made is what the best approach for the Bills will be. Enough significant upgrades have been made to continue inserting talent into positions of need. However, the Bills don’t have the luxury of choosing which ever player they think is the best. There are spots that need to be filled and the first round pick needs to be used as such.