If there’s one good aspect of Buffalo’s ghastly fall from grace this season, it’s that the Bills are moving way up in the selection order for the 2012 NFL Draft. In fact, the Bills now appear likely headed for a top-10 pick.
The current “standings:”
1) Indianapolis (1-13)
2 – 3) St. Louis and Minnesota (2-12)
4 – 6) Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Jacksonville (4-10)
7-10) Buffalo, Miami, Carolina, Washington (5-9)
11-12) Kansas City, Philadelphia (6-8)
13-19) 7 other teams tied at 7-7
So what’s this all mean for the Bills?
First, the highest Buffalo could pick is fourth, but that’s pretty unlikely. But picking in the 6-10 range? Highly likely. The Bills are probably going to lose their last two games (vs. Denver and @New England). Unfortunately, so are the Buccaneers and Browns, who each have two tough division games left. But Jacksonville still has a home game against Indy left, and you’d figure they’d have a real shot to win that one, which would leave the Jags in a tie with Buffalo at 5-11.
Meanwhile, the other 5-9 teams (Panthers, Dolphins, Redskins) are all playing well at the moment and all could win at least one more game easily. The Dolphins likely won’t be the Pats this week in Foxboro but could easily close the season with a home win against the Jets. The Panthers have a very winnable home game against Tampa Bay before closing the season at New Orleans – and it’s possible the Saints would have clinched the #2 seed in the NFC by then and won’t need to win. Washington gets a home game against the putrid Vikings before finishing the season at Philly – who might be out of playoff contention by then and won’t care.
Assuming the Panthers, Dolphins, and Redskins can all get one win, the Bills and Jags would be the only 5-11 teams and tied for the 6th-worst record in the league. It would come down to strength of schedule, and I believe Buffalo would win that one, leaving the Bills with the #6 pick.
With the sixth pick, Buffalo would have a ton of good options (I really like the top of this draft) and could even likely grab one of the top-flight QBs. Andrew Luck will obviously be gone, but if Matt Barkley and/or Robert Griffin III are sitting there at #6…that’d be tough for the Bills to turn down. That’s assuming Barkley and Griffin declare for the draft, of course.
But really, Buffalo could grab almost anyone in Mel Kiper’s current top 10 on his Big Board and I’d be okay with it (except Quinton Coples, who isn’t a great scheme fit.)
Anyway, should be interesting to see how this shakes out.