I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited for the upcoming 2011 NFL season (assuming it happens). I think with another year under Chan Gailey, the Buffalo offense will be much improved. Plus, the defense brought in several reinforcements via the 2011 Draft who will contribute immediately.
Most of us (plus many experts) are feeling pretty good about the Bills’ 2011 Draft, especially since the Bills’ 2010 Draft didn’t really produce much last season. But I’m not ready to quit on the 2010 rookie class. The Bills drafted a ton of “project” type players last year, and there’s a chance many of them could make a big impact in their sophomore seasons.
Let’s take a revised look at the Bills’ 2010 Draft, pick by pick:
Round 1: C.J. Spiller, RB – Clemson (2010 stats: 74 carries, 283 yards, 3.8 YPC; 24 receptions, 157 yards, 1 TD; 1 kick return TD)
To put it bluntly, Spiller did not have a great rookie season. The #9 overall pick had trouble earning steady playing time and never got more than nine carries in a single game. (And in that nine-carry game he rushed for just 16 yards.) Spiller scored just two touchdowns in his first NFL season, both in the third game of the season. Chan Gailey repeatedly implied that Spiller struggled to adjust to the NFL game, both in terms of learning to pass block and learning to run against an NFL-caliber defense.
Frustrated fans are already screaming that Spiller’s a bust, but it’s way too early for that. Spiller’s going to get every opportunity to earn more playing time this year, and I think he’ll take advantage. His tremendous talent is still there, and a year of experience should clear up some of the things that frustrated Gailey so much. Spiller and Fred Jackson should be a potent backfield combination in 2011.
But if Spiller can’t get it together, 2011 5th-round selection Johnny White could easily steal his time and become the team’s 3rd-down back. Should be interesting to monitor this situation in training camp.
Round 2: Torell Troup, DT – Central Florida (2o1o stats: 15 games, 23 tackles, 1 tackle for loss)
Troup distinguished himself in 2010 by not really distinguishing himself at all. Drafted in attempt to give Buffalo a true nose tackle for the 3-4 look, Troup never made much of an impact in his first season in Buffalo. He was on the field quite a bit, but wasn’t terribly noticeable. Granted, the role of the nose tackle doesn’t lend itself to a ton of stats or big plays, but Troup seemed to struggle taking on and holding blockers as well.
Hopefully a year of experience and time in weight room will help Troup in 2011. He’s going to see time in 2011, as he’s really the top 3-4 style nose tackle on the roster. However, if he’s unimpressive in training camp, perhaps one of two gigantic long-shot projects (Michael Jasper and Kellen Heard) could take some snaps away from Troup.
Round 3: Alex Carrington, DE – Arkansas State (2010 stats: 9 games, 8 tackles, 1 sack)
Carrington is a very large man (6’5” – 284 pounds) who was drafted to be a DE in the 3-4 system. He’s one of the very few true 5-technique 3-4 ends on the roster, but he’s still a bit of a project. He played for college football minnows Arkansas State and was really raw. As a result, he was inactive for seven of Buffalo’s first nine games last season. That’s not to say he disappointed in 2010. I don’t think anyone in the Bills organization really expected more from Carrington than we got last year.
That said, I’m still very high on Carrington’s potential. I think he could develop into a very good run-stopping DE with a bit of pass-rush potential. If he’s still not getting on the field in 2011? Then it’s time to be concerned.
Round 4: Marcus Easley, WR – Connecticut (Did not play in 2010 – Injured)
One the biggest disappointments in 2010 for Buffalo had to be Easley’s knee injury in training camp. I am bullish on Easley’s potential. Easley is a big guy (6’3” – 210) with the ability to go over the middle and play in the slot. As admirable of a job as David Nelson in 2010 filling a similar role, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick will really enjoy having Easley as an option in 2011.
Round 5: Ed Wang, OT – Virginia Tech (2010: six games, no starts)
Wang was drafted as another project-type player. He struggled with injuries in his rookie season and only saw the field in six games. He didn’t look all that great when he was on the field.
Wang has some potential, but he might be in trouble in regards to making the roster in 2011. Is he athletic enough to play tackle? If not, can he beat out a ton of other guys (Eric Wood, Andy Levitre, Kraig Urbik, Chad Rinehart) for playing time at guard? The offensive line story will be one to follow in the preseason.
Round 6: Arthur Moats, LB – James Madison (201o stats: 15 games, 33 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Moats, regardless of what he does for the rest of his career, will always be one of my favorite players for one reason.
Go away Favre.
Anyway, Moats was a pleasant surprise at the end of the 2010 season, earning himself more and more playing time as the year progressed. The man can get after the passer, which is a rarity on the roster right now.
I think Moats is ready for a HUGE 2011 season. And I’m not alone.
Round 6: Danny Batten, LB – South Dakota State (Did not play in 2010 – Injured)
Another huge disappointment in 2010 was Batten’s preseason shoulder injury. I think Batten would have seen the field for Buffalo last year. He can rush the passer and isn’t bad in coverage. The Bills have gone back and forth about switching him from outside to inside linebacker this offseason, but I think he’s best suited at outside linebacker. Given the Bills glaring lack of depth there, I think that’s where you’ll see him. He’s someone to watch in 2011.
Round 7: Levi Brown, QB – Troy (2010 stats: 1 game, 24 yards passing, 1 INT)
We covered this yesterday in the first segment of our roster breakdown, but Brown had something of a lost year in 2010. He was cut after training camp, came back after a few weeks, but didn’t really get snaps as the #3 QB. I think unless he comes in looking terrible he’ll be on the roster again, so maybe he’ll get the chance to show something.
Round 7: Kyle Calloway, OT – Iowa (2010 – cut in training camp)
Okay, so not everyone in this draft class still has a chance to make an impact in 2011.
But still, there’s potential with this group of sophomores. (Not even counting undrafted rookies Donald Jones and David Nelson.) History might look back more fondly on the 2010 draft than we do now.