After thinking about the Bills upcoming draft picks I decided to put together a mock of my opinion for the first 3 rounds of the Bills draft. When I was thinking about the selections I figured I would take into account Buddy Nix press conference and what he stated the focus of the teams needs were.After listening to Nix press conference I believe there are some very easy things to take away from his trip to the podium. The first Items are the state of our free agents to be. If you did not get the idea that Stevie Johnson is the biggest priority for the team right now than you were not listening to Nix speak. Also from what I took away from the part about Demetrius Bell is that the Bills want him back at a very cheap price or not at all. When he brought up Scott Chandler he also stated he wanted him back but definitely emphasized that he will not over pay.
Another item that was made clear during this press conference was that the Bills will be aggressive in free agency if there are players they feel will help this team. Folks, last year Nix was aggressive in free agency and swayed Nick Barnett away from the Lions but also lost out on a few players including Tyson Clabo who decided to stay in Atlanta. What to take away from that is Nix was at least trying and going not just waiting for scraps on the second and third week of free agency. He made it clear that the team wants a “Open when he’s not open” type receiver and a pass rusher. While listening to him take about the receiving type he covets (which by the way he made it clear the team is still going after one even if Johnson gets locked up) I thought for a minute “Hmm isn’t there two big play receivers on the market that this team has ties to?”. Yes there is! Nix Scouted and helped the San Diego Chargers draft Vincent Jackson while he was assistant GM of that club and Chan Gailey as an OC and HC coached Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City. My feeling is that either the Bills sign one of these two or we know our pick at number 10 in April (more on that in a few). I know some of you are going to say “Colston or Meachem or Burress ect..” but the fact is that the Bills do not take huge risks in free agency. If they are going to pay a play making receiver its going to be one they know well as there will be a substantial financial investment made in the player.
Hearing the way Nix talked about Shawn Merriman also gave a pretty easy read between the lines message. If Merriman is healthy at the start of camp he is going to be a Bill through camp and get a chance to compete. If the Bills will pick up Lee Evans bonus before last years camp knowing that he was not going to be with the team than they will pick up a bonus in march that is a quarter of Evans to give Merriman one last chance to prove he was a good waiver pick up. Weather you like him or not you have to understand that Nix loves this kid and will give him every opportunity to prove he can still play. Nix and the rest of the football world know that when he is healthy he is a game changer. No, he has not been healthy in years but he is one the right side of 30 and showed flashes last season. Nix made a very good point saying he was missed last year on the field after he was placed on IR. If you really paid attention and watched him play than you know that is true. The guy still draws double teams which frees up other players and was one of the reasons are defense was a turnover machine early in the season. Its not all about sacks folks. Its about consistent pressure and Merriman’s bull rush is impressive.
When listening to Nix talk about the draft he brought up pass rushers he even said he might bring two in and he made it clear the Bills would draft a tackle. On a radio interview the other morning I heard Nix state when talking about the draft that you draft pass rushers at the top of the draft and receivers are found later. Maybe this is true but after Nix drafted Spiller in the top 10 with Lynch and Jackson still on the roster it is clear he means it when he says “best player there at the pick”. Now on with my first 3 mock picks for the up coming draft.
Round 1 Pick 10 – Michael Floyd (WR Notre Dame)
When breaking down the top available talent and after doing my own calculating I firmly believe that even though the Bills want to prioritize pass rushers there just won’t be a pass rusher available at 10 that is a better talent than Floyd at that selection. Blackmon will be long gone, and at least two of the top tackles will be gone. Nix wont reach just to draft a pass rusher he will stick with his formula and take the best player at the pick and I believe it will be a receiver. I am sure Nix will be salivating over the winner of the Defensive MVP of the National Championship game Courtney Upshaw though. If there was a pass rusher taken here I would bet it was him. Nix loves SEC players and Upshaw and Dareus reunited could be great for both players but I do believe at 10 Floyd will be higher on the draft board.
Round 2 Pick 41 – Mike Adams (OT Ohio State)
If Bell comes back this position is probably address a round or two later then I am projecting now but until free agency opens we are dealing with unknowns so my thought right now is that Bell turns down a one or two year take it or leave it offer from the Bills. If Bell re signs I would have a pass rusher or a corner back here. Also keep in mind we have not seen any combine or pro day workouts yet. This tackle pick was a toss up between Adams and Nate Potter from Boise St. who was a LT on a team that runs a spread offense. Based on athleticism and strength of competition faced Adams was my pick.
Round 3 Pick 72 – Brandon Jenkins (OLB Florida State)
This draft has a couple high end pass rushers but where the position is very strong is going to be in the 2nd and 3rd rounds this year. Jenkins will probably take a season to get acclimated but he has all the tools to be a very good pass rusher at the NFL level.
As we get closer to the NFL draft in April and as the combine and pro day workouts start I will update my Bills picks and keep you posted on prospects that could help the Buffalo Bills in the quest for the playoffs. After listening to Buddy Nix press conference I am pretty optimistic about this up coming off season and ready to see some positive strides.